DIY eco-friendly wedding invitations: 6 steps

DIY eco-friendly wedding invitations: 6 steps


  • total time:

    2 days – 3 weeks

  • Skill level:


  • the expected cost:

    $150 and up

As fun and fabulous as weddings can be, they sure can cause a fair amount of waste. One wedding creates an estimated 400 pounds of trash and 63 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, now multiply that by 2.5 million, the number of weddings that occur annually in the United States alone.

planning a sustainable wedding Possible even with the smallest of trade-offs – like wedding invitations. Despite being made of paper, invitations are not sustainable in nature. few are FSC certified Even worse, many cannot be recycled because of plastic items such as paint and glitter.

One way to make sure your wedding invitations are environmentally friendly is to make them yourself. Yes, you’re busy with seating charts, clothes shopping, and scrolling on Pinterest but hear this: DIY wedding invitations can be cheaper and faster than ready-made ones. Here’s how to make truly unique wedding invitations that are easy on your wallet and the planet.

Are wedding invitations recyclable?

Wedding invitations can be recycled if they are made only of paper or cardstock, but these items often make them unrecyclable.

  • sealing wax: Made of paraffin wax, shellac (from shellac beetles), and/or synthetic resin
  • Glue: Large amounts of Glue It can clog recycling systems
  • garnish: Also known as microplastic
  • paint: It is considered a “mixed material”, and therefore cannot be recycled on a large scale

What will you need


  • FSC certified card stock or eco-friendly paper alternative

  • envelopes

  • Optional creative touches, such as stamping, tape, or punching paper


  1. Create a schedule

    Invitations typically go out six to 12 weeks in advance, and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to print and ship, depending on the printer and the intricacy of the design. Give yourself plenty of time—try to send your design to the printer (or to start printing at home) about four months in advance.

  2. Determine your design direction

    Put your Pinterest vision board into action. Using your chosen color scheme and wedding aesthetic—examples: rustic and earthy, bright and botanical, metallic chic (good news: Recyclable foil printing!) – Create an initial draft, making sure to include names, location, venue, date and time, reception information, dress code, and RSVP details. Consider the cost of ink here: the more saturated and complex the colors, the higher the printing bill.

    If you need some design help, use a downloadable template (available at etsyAnd the Cards and pocketsAnd the Greetings Island). Otherwise, use design software like Adobe, Canva, Sketch, Inkscape, or Affinity Designer.

  3. Decide how you will print

    Sharon Pruett/Getty Images

    Printing at home is cost-effective and allows you to control every step, from paper selection to printer ink to packaging (or lack thereof). But it also requires a high-quality printer. If you think your setup can handle the job, be sure to get tested well in advance—otherwise, you may find yourself paying extra for urgent commercial printing.

    Printing with vegetable ink versus petroleum-based ink can also be tricky because eco-solvent ink often requires an eco-solvent printer. Without a proprietary printer, you can at least use the ink in remanufactured cartridges—Ink tomato Compatible with dozens of mainstream printers.

    If you outsource your printing, find a company that uses sustainable paper and ink. Some green-minded small print, such as those based in Syracuse Bella Figuramay meet your environmental criteria but offer limited customization.

    Alternatively, you can avoid the printing process entirely and hire a (very cool) typewriter.

  4. Evaluate your paper options

    If you have the flexibility to choose paper (because you print at home or use a marker), make sure it’s FSC-certified and recyclable or biodegradable. Today, alternative options include sugarcane-based and plantable paper—both tree-free, the latter made from post-consumer waste and infused with seeds your guests can plant.

    Whatever you choose — recycled, compostable, biodegradable, plantable — make sure it’s sustainably sourced and doesn’t contain plastic elements that could jeopardize recyclability. Keep that in mind with envelopes, too.

  5. Print and trim

    Although printing wedding invitations at home seems simple, it does require a few extra steps. You should make sure you’re using the highest color settings available and clean up your printer’s ink, then prepare your design—generally speaking, PDFs come out better than JPEGs.

    Since most home printers won’t print all the way to the edge of the paper, you’ll definitely need trim marks, for trimming, and a bleed margin, which means your design will go beyond the edges of the trim marks, leaving no unsightly white edges. The most professional way to trim is with a guillotine paper cutter or ruler and utility knife.

    Leave room for errors. As a general rule, print 10% more than is actually needed.

  6. Add decorations

    Karniewska/Getty Images

    Personalize your invitations further with personal touches like a nifty name stamp (again, see etsy), embossing, thread or ribbon, fancy edge through hole paper. You can also cut costs by printing invitations in black and white and adding a little watercolor by hand.

Other eco-friendly wedding invitation ideas

  • Save paper by avoiding save-the-date messages altogether. Send out invitations early instead.
  • Get creative with the materials. People used recycled wood, cotton cloth, and jute instead of paper.
  • Go completely paperless and send invitations digitally.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you make your wedding invitations cheaper?

    Homemade invitations can be the cheapest option outright, but costs can add up with intricate designs, printing supplies, and outsourcing printing.

  • What kind of paper do you use to print wedding invitations?

    Thick paper and cardstock are common, but you can also use plantable paper or other treeless alternatives (cane paper or cotton paper). Most home printers can handle cards.

  • How can you make your wedding invitations unique?

    Add a stamp, pattern or ribbon. Create a border with hole punch, or add a splash of watercolor by hand.

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