Here's What to Do With All Those Wedding Leftovers

A lot of elements go into a wedding and you may be left with a lot of food and decor when the party's over. Here's how to repurpose all those wedding leftovers and host a more sustainable wedding.

By Deanna deBara

couple eats wedding leftovers
Photo by Zola

So many things go into a successful wedding—literally. There’s paper products, decor items, food, flowers, and more. And most couples know that, no matter how carefully you plan, chances are, when the last song plays and your wedding winds down, some of that stuff is going to be leftover. Pause. Don’t just throw it all away. There are plenty of more sustainable ways to deal with wedding leftovers. Here are recommended solutions for handling anything extra.

What To Do With Leftover Wedding Food

The last thing you want is to run out of food at your wedding. But in an effort to make sure there’s enough to go around, you might swing too far in the other direction—and end up with a ton of leftovers post-reception.

The best thing you can do to make use of your wedding food leftovers? Plan ahead. Before the wedding, stock up on to-go boxes. As the reception winds down, put out them and let your guests take their pick of leftovers (wedding cake and desserts included). Ask the DJ to make a quick announcement to let guests know the food is up for grabs.

If you don’t have to-go boxes handy and end up with a lot of extra food on your hands, you could try donating your leftovers to a local food shelter. If you’re not sure if there are any food shelters in your area, try reaching out to your neighborhood association, city council, or checking a national resource like Feed America. Just make sure to call ahead. Most food shelters have strict regulations on the types of foods they can and can not accept.

If all else fails, take it home yourself. This way, you can continue to enjoy your wedding menu after the actual wedding. Plus, there’s also the opportunity to unload some of your leftovers on your neighbors.

INLINE Andy&CarriePhotography 1080x720 Danielle&Gui Photo Credit // Andy & Carrie Photography

What To Do With Leftover Wedding Flowers

Your flowers are bound to be one of the most admired, talked-about elements of your wedding. Don’t let them just sit on the tables and die after the festivities. Instead, extend their shelf life and send them home with your guests.

As with the food, have your DJ make an announcement at the end of the wedding that the floral centerpieces are up for grabs. If you have specific people you want to send them home with (for example, as a thank you for supporting you on the big day), pull them aside and let them know you’d love your flowers to go home with them.

One thing to be aware of, however, is what’s holding the flowers. If you paid for the vases or containers, you’re good to go. But if you rented your vases, your florist is going to be back to pick them up—so make sure no guests accidentally take home the containers (and cost you extra cash in the process).

What To Do With Leftover Wedding Decor

Even if most of your wedding decor came from your venue or a wedding rentals company, chances are, there are at least a few decor pieces you actually purchased.

If possible, the best thing you can do with your wedding decor is to find a way to repurpose it and use it in your home. Not only will that give you the most bang for your buck, but using your wedding decor in your home will act as a reminder of your big day—and will put a smile on your face every time you see it.

Here are some ways that your wedding decor can double as home decor:

  • Chalkboard display. Did you get a chalkboard to share your signature wedding cocktails? Try using it in your kitchen to show your weekly dinner menu or slap on an inspirational quote and hang it in your home office to help get you motivated throughout the workweek.
  • Mason jars. If you used mason jars as votive holders or flower vases, repurpose them as drinking glasses.
  • Centerpieces. If you had simple centerpieces without much wedding flair (think large white candles in glass holders), simply use them as decor in your home. Recreate the look on your mantle or store them and bring them out for special dinners.

If the decor you purchased is strictly wedding-themed and doesn’t fit in with your home design, you can either try to sell it to other brides-to-be (apps like OfferUp are great for this) or see if you can donate it to your venue.

INLINE Gerber+ScarpelliPhotography 1080x720 Hillary&John Photo Credit // Gerber + Scarpelli Photography

What To Do With Leftover Wedding Linens

Most venues have rental linens, but if you purchased your own linens for your wedding, you’ll have more tablecloths, runners, and napkins than you know what to do with.

First, go through your linens and see if there’s anything you can use post-wedding. Thinks like napkins and table runners can work great in your home—break them out for your next dinner party. See if you can donate leftover table linens to a local food shelter (after a thorough cleaning) or ask your venue if they want to keep them for a future wedding.

Chances are, you’re going to have some wedding leftovers. But now that you know exactly how to repurpose them, you can quickly and easily get those wedding leftovers off your hands—and make your wedding more sustainable in the process.

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