by , 07/11/09
filed under: Events, GreenWeddingGuide, News

Green Wedding Guide: Eco-friendly invitations

Welcome to our third installment of the Inhabitat Green Wedding Guide column. So far we’ve covered eco-friendly rings and locations in our Green Wedding Guide. In our third installment of our series, we are talking eco-friendly wedding invitations. Invitations set the mood for the wedding – simple and casual, fancy and elegant, quirky and fun, the possibilities are endless. Your guests will gather information on what to wear and what type of wedding it will be from your wedding invitation. And by sending out an eco-friendly invite, you’re setting the bar for the rest of your gorgeously green and eco-conscious wedding.

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Invitations are exciting to receive for the guests — it’s like getting a gift in the mail; a chance to celebrate with you. Just like your rings, your invitations say a lot about you as a couple. In years past, it was customary to send out Save The Dates for weddings not in your home town 4-7 months before the wedding date. Then you would send out the wedding invitation, which would include the announcement, directions, RSVP card, and more all stuffed inside multiple lined envelopes. That’s a lot of paper, not to mention a lot of work! Fortunately, couples are becoming savvy to how wasteful and time-consuming these type of invitations are. Here are our suggestions on how to send out classy and eco-friendly wedding invitations.

Jill's Wedding website


First, start a website to post information about the location, date, time, etc., so guests will be able to find what they need. Naturally you could build your own, but unless you are a web designer or programmer, don’t add more things to your to do list. There are a number of good websites that will host a wedding site for you. Ones worth looking into are eWedding, Wedsite, and The Knot.  All of them also have planning tools, RSVP tracking, upload/download capability with various monthly fees.


If you are sending out Save The Dates, try opting for an email or Evite (also try MyPunchBowl or Pingg). These online invitation sites can track your guests responses so you can get a better idea of who will be coming. If your friends and family aren’t very email savvy and you still want to go for paper, remember, less is more. Send a little postcard with your picture or a picture of the wedding location printed on 100% recycled paper, seeded paper, or other eco-worthy materials.

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Many wedding etiquette experts (and non web-savvy parents and grandparents) think that sending out paper invitations is still the way to go. You can let your heart be the guide on this one, because there is no doubt that a digital invite is much greener. If you go the digital route, try fancy – have a graphic designer create something or try Paperless Post, which sends out custom online invitations and tracks responses. You could also make a video like this couple did here.

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PAPER INVITATIONS – Try to keep things simple and minimize unnecessary paper

For paper invitations, try to minimize the amount of paper (this also helps to keep postage down), find tree-free paper like hemp or organic cotton, use 100% recycled content paper, and if possible, a local company. Many traditional invitation companies now offer a recycled content line. Here are our favorite invitation designers using recycled or alternative papers and inks: NYC-based Greenwich Letterpress, New Jersey-based Shindig, Portland-based Cardgirl Invitations as well as Oblation Papers & Press, handmade, tree-free invitations from InviteSite, or tree-free Sheep Poo Paper. Another interesting option is Seal and Send Invitations, which use no envelope and has a tear-off RSVP card. Wedivations can make handmade seal and send invitations on 100% recycled paper. also hosts many artisans handcrafting custom wedding invites.

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From the start, I was totally against traditional invitations, thinking it was a waste of paper and money, which is why I sent out Evites for the Save The Dates. I searched and scoured the internet for simple, but fun wedding invitations that didn’t cost much and were made from 100% recycled content paper. There are definitely some great options out there, but none that called out to me, so I ended up designing our wedding invitations myself. Since we were having a destination wedding right outside of Zion National Park, we used it as the theme for our entire wedding. I modeled our invitation graphic after the famous WPA National Park Posters, and went for a simple, 4×6″ card with printing on the front and back.

I contracted Portland-based Environmental Paper & Print, who prints on recycled paper with vegetable inks. Naturally, I would have liked to use a local printing company, but I couldn’t find anyone in my area who uses vegetable inks, and I had already had a relationship with EPP from some other work. They did a fantastic job, and the final invitation was stunning and received many compliments. We ended up using the graphic as a theme throughout the wedding. For the calligraphy on the envelopes, we used this idea for faux-fancy handwriting from With This Ring.

Jill's Wedding website


As you may, or may not know, I am a (green) graphic and web designer, and because of this I was adamant about designing my own wedding website and wedding invitations. For all the eco reasons mentioned above, I wanted to go digital all the way and completely do away with paper invitations. However, when my mother got wind of this plan, she was not pleased at all, stating ‘None of my friends or your grandparents use email – we need to send traditional printed invitations’.

Jill's green wedding invitation

To compromise we decided to try to make most of the wedding communication digital (including email Save-The-Dates, and everything else, like directions, schedule, etc on our website), while still sending out one round of traditionally printed paper invitations. We sourced a local eco printer in the San Francisco Bay Area called Greener Printer that could use 100% recycled paper cardstock and non-toxic soy and vegetable based inks in their printing. We also tried to keep the wedding invitations simple and minimize the use of paper (so many wedding invitations are so complicated with lots of different folds and envelopes). For example, we had an RSVP card, but our RSVP card was a self-addressed, stamped postcard so that we didn’t use unnecessary paper, and that guests didn’t need to go to unnecessary trouble. We only sent paper invitations to guests over 50 years old – and sent e-invitations to all of our web-savvy younger friends.

All in all, I am pleased with the way we did things and would do it the same way again. Our guests seemed to like our invitations and many of them commented on our website— which now it is a lasting memento of the wedding for my husband and me to enjoy.

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  1. amelia palmer January 3, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Great idea! I like this style of sending Eco-friendly wedding invitations. This is the best way to save time and paper by sending Eco-friendly online invitations to lovely guests. I appreciate you for these grateful thoughts. I also want to send my green theme Hindu invitations for wedding online.

  2. sanghamitra September 21, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Thank You for such beautiful idea.Very nice. Cupid Carriagese

  3. debs May 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Oh green weddings. How I love thy complexity.

    I think there is something really special about paper wedding invitations. Receiving them in the mail always seems more…intentional…than a glorified e-vite. However, I understand the premise of wanting to cut back on waste and/or reduce the environmental impact of stationary for your wedding.

    Beware, though, of accepting the “simple solutions” that can counteract any efforts to green up your dream day, without questioning their efficacy towards your goal.

    Simple Solution #1: Replace paper for cotton. Well, it’s not so simple. As Richard stated, many stationary providers DO manufacture using cotton fiber, so maybe commercial stationary is not so bad? It depends on what you think about cotton. If you can’t trace the materials back to organic sources, cotton doesn’t rank very high up on the “eco-meter”.

    “Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production.” -Organic Trade Association

    If you are concerned about paper, though, you may want to consider that, at least in the United States, most paper comes from farmed trees, not natural stands of forest (that could just be because, save for the national and state parks, much of the first and even secondary growth trees have been cut down already). On the other hand, a tree is a tree is a tree. Also, a monoculture of trees isn’t exactly sustainable either.

    Simple Solution #2. Compensate for the use of invitations while also adding a special touch by sending out plantable invitations. The pro: Your invited guests can stick the piece of paper into the ground, and it will sprout lots of little plants, usually full of colorful flowers. The con: You may be sending a bunch of non-natives and potentially invasive species. Now, is your little invitation going to single-handedly ruin a floristic region? Not likely. The people you are sending these to might already have a colorful little garden of non-native ornamentals. But if conserving native plants is an issue you take to heart, you may want to reconsider. If your paper provider is local, maybe you could talk to the manufacturer about blending in native seeds. Or make native seed packets into guest favors instead.

    I do encourage people to find ways to reduce their impact on the Earth on a daily basis. However, uninformed decisions may just be the result of marketing ploys, so consider all aspects and do your homework. After weighing out my options, I have opted for a local human rights group that provides transitional jobs and skills to women facing trouble obtaining employment, through a recycled paper production enterprise. I figure the paper is 100% recycled, it’s local, and it supports a cause (oh yeah, and it’s not very pricey).

    Good luck with your decision-making!

  4. hteague September 30, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Another great option is seeded invitations that grow when planted. I think it is wonderful that guests can plant the invitation in your honor! For plantable invitations and favors (as well as 100% PCW recycled and tree-free invitations), please visit

  5. bijal July 30, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Hi there are other options for eco-friendly invitations:


    They have beautiful invitations/stationary/announcements.

  6. Richard May July 14, 2009 at 8:17 am

    I had thought that a serious “green” organization like Inhabitat wouldn’t have fallen prey to the seductive lure paper-bashing under the pretext that we are saving the environment by not sending paper wedding invitations. First, most fine wedding invitations are made from cotton fiber which is made from cotton (a renewable crop) and cotton rag (recycled waste products for textile mills and other sources). In fact, Crane & Co. has been making paper this way for over 200 years: long before “green” or environmental activism was even fashionable. Secondly, the esteemed Gartner Group claims that the average PC user consumers 28 pages a day of paper (is it the same for the MAC?). By applying the same superficial eco- logic, we should probably ban the use of PCs and email because it is harmful to the environment. Thirdly, email invitations lack substance and style. It’s the equivalent of junk mail. If expediency and the cost factor are more important than elegance and good taste, by all means email is the appropriate choice. But please, don’t pretend you are doing so to save the environment.

    Most of the fine paper companies our stationery store represents are “environmentalists” in the true sense of the word. I wish that organization like Inhabitat would begin to highlight paper craftsmen and keen environmentalists like Oblation, Julie Holcomb, Elum rather than the dreary digital simulations of bad taste masquerading under the “green” label.

    Richard W. May
    Therese Saint Clair and the Stationers Guild

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