You’ve spent months meticulously planning every detail of your big day. But what do you do with your wedding decorations after the last guest has left? From centerpieces and ornaments to votives, backdrops, disposable cameras, and wedding cake toppers, many items can actually be reused, resold, or donated.
Gently used wedding items not only pass along the magic from your wedding to couples currently planning their own special days, but you might even be able to recoup some of your costs. Here are some ideas to reuse and recycle wedding decor and other items.
Trying to recycle your wedding decor? Try Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, and wedding-specific online marketplaces for selling all kinds of reusable wedding decorations. You can even ask your photographer to take some nice shots showcasing decor you know you’ll want to sell after the wedding. This helps inspire potential buyers, since they can see them in action. (Beautiful photos also increase the likelihood your items will sell.)
Tell guests they are welcome to take centerpieces, flowers, or other decor with them at the end of the night. Note this with a line on the menu or a small card on each table.
Goodwill and The Salvation Army may accept used decor items. You can also try donating certain wedding items to schools or community centers. Churches and nonprofits who hold events may need tablecloths and runners, for example.
Try to find a special spot for a few items in your new home together. This can work for things like frames, candlesticks, and tableware. Furniture—like a vintage chest for place cards—used at the wedding may also find a place in your home.
Give wedding decorations new life as holiday ornaments or party decor. Vases can double as Halloween candy jars, for example, and candles can set the mood during your next dinner party or romantic evening.
Find a seamstress to redesign your outfit into something you can wear to parties or other less formal events. You can also donate your wedding dress and deduct the donation on your taxes.
Arches or chuppahs make an excellent background for the cake table, the wedding couple’s table or head table, or photos. After the wedding, you may find a place for it in your backyard or garden, or see if you can donate it to a local school for dance photos.
Drinkware printed with your wedding date can be used for guests’ beverages (eliminating the need to rent or use disposable cups)—and they can double as favors.
Hang your flowers upside-down to dry. A few weeks later, glue the petals into an arrangement you can frame. You could also frame your invitation as a special memento of the day.
Any plants that have been incorporated into wedding decor can be gifted to special guests or staff—or added to your home garden after your wedding day.
Several companies specialize in extending the life of wedding flowers—and for good causes. Some will take care of everything from picking up the flowers to helping you with the paperwork, so you can claim a tax deduction. Random Acts of Flowers, for example, will recycle wedding flowers and use them to brighten up the spaces in healthcare facilities. Or you can reach out directly to local shelters and hospitals to ask if they’ll accept the blooms. (Your florist may also have ideas about the best places to donate fresh flowers.)
Offer guests uneaten slices of wedding cake or leftovers to take home, enticingly packaged in cute containers with ribbons, stickers, and thank-you notes. Or, you can serve these sweets at a morning-after brunch.
Alternatively, you may decide to offer leftover food to wedding staff. If you’d like to donate leftover food, consult your caterer or reach out to food banks and shelters to learn about regulations for donations.
Buy linens that work for your big day as well as your home, looking out for wedding colors and fabrics that fit both settings.
Framed family photos can easily transition to your home after your wedding day. Create a gallery wall or group them on a shelf or any flat surface. Remember to buy frames that will work in both spaces.
String lights and lanterns from your special day can add the perfect touch to your home’s outdoor spaces. Keep an eye out for styles and materials that will blend seamlessly with your existing decor.
Ask your venue whether any wedding is happening within a day of yours, and see if a couple is willing to share arrangements and the cost of flowers.
Unused place cards can find a place at the table during your next dinner party; programs and menus can be cut into gift tags; and table number holders can be used to display photos or holiday cards.
Use mirrors and dry erase pens for signage on your wedding day; afterward, hang them throughout your home.
Save favors from the landfill and give guests something they’ll actually use. Seeds are a popular, portable,and symbolic choice that’s also good for the planet, as are edible treats, coffee beans, air plants or succulents, and reusable bags or water bottles.