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A sustainable destination wedding it really is possible!

As the world continues to grow in its knowledge of all things sustainable and green we are presented with an event that could be considered a contradiction by many social & eco-enthusiasts; a sustainable/green destination wedding. While the name alone suggests irony, this growing movement has been well thought out by many couples passionate about the cause. 
Researching many of the ideas, thoughts and plans around this concept, we have compiled resort choices and other key elements of how engaged couples can host responsible destination nuptials.
Choosing a location
The sky is the limit when choosing a location for your destination wedding. From intimate boutique-style properties to sprawling beachfront castle-esque resorts, there is something for every taste, budget and environmental concern. Couples interested in having an environmentally friendly wedding should look for hotels & resorts with high sustainability standards such as the following:
Barceló Hotels & Resorts
Located throughout the Caribbean, Barceló Hotels & Resorts have made a solid commitment to the social and environmental aspects of the tourism industry. Signing the United Nations Pact on Human Rights and the Environment, Barceló is governed by several principals and commitments, some of which include (for the entire list, refer to 
  • Customer Satisfaction: The primary goal is to make sure that guests enjoy the experience of staying in Barceló hotels and return to the same or other hotels in the chain. It therefore provides an increasingly customized service with highly-qualified staff and the use of new technologies.
  • Collaboration in environmental protection wherever Barceló is: The environment is the most important asset to its business; because it is the main reason guests use its services. Barceló therefore believes that the organization is duty bound to spend part of its efforts on attaining sustainable development.
  • Ongoing improvement: All staff members are generators of quality. It is fundamental for us all to aim at improving. Barceló has systematized its quality and environmental management by introducing procedures and operating instructions aimed at reaching its targets.
  • Promotion of professional development among our employees: The company aims to reinforce the professional development of its collaborators with support from their superiors and on-site ongoing training. This is oriented towards promotion (whenever possible), with staff members given priority in relation to new vacancies.
RIU Hotels and Resorts
For many years RIU Hotels and Resorts have been working to preserve the environment in which its hotels are located. Focusing on the following guidelines, RIU prides itself on being a better choice for travellers.
  • When building new properties: Nature is priority wherever Riu builds a new Hotel. It respects the essential quality of the landscape and the typical architecture of its locale.
  • In RIU hotels: RIU hotels avoid generating waste as much as possible, implementing a conscious recycling system, along with an effective energy and drinking water management. These are just some of the numerous measures adopted in RIU Hotels to protect nature.
  • In the environment: The water supply in RIU Hotels is treated with its own purifying equipment or through the local plant. Furthermore, it feels responsible for the preservation of the beaches where its hotels are located. A commitment that certainly is worth the effort.
  • With the media: RIU carries out an active and challenging advertising program to divulge its serious environmental involvement. Furthermore, it supports organizations and events destined to promote these important values with donations as well as service contributions.
Marriott Resorts
Marriott recognizes that sustainable environmental practices reflect the interests and concerns of today’s traveller. Proving its commitment to sustainable practices Marriott has been recognized in some of the following ways (for detailed list of Marriott’s awards and efforts, refer to
  • Marriott was profiled in a Green Lodging News article about the success of the Energy Star program. The article notes that Marriott represents 200 out of the 247 hotels within the program.
  • Marriott is the first hospitality management company to join the EPA's Climate Leaders program and is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly one-fifth over the ten year period from 2000 to 2010--approaching one million tons of climate warming gases.
  • Marriott is a member of Tourism Partnership, a global program of The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum which works with travel and tourism industry leaders to have a positive impact on environmental, social, and economic issues.
  • Marriott's Environmentally Conscious Hospitality Operations program (ECHO) focuses on water and energy conservation, clean air initiatives, wildlife preservation, "reduce-reuse-recycle" waste management, and clean-up campaigns.
Choosing a travel provider
When planning your destination wedding, choosing a responsible hotelier is just half of the commitment. In order to fully support the cause you need to look for a tour operator that has put forth a strong and dedicated effort towards sustainability. Signature Vacations, a division of TUI Travel PLC, has taken the following steps and is continuously working on improving its efforts.
  • Charity Partnerships: Signature Vacations donates US$5 to The City of Joy Foundation for every client travelling to Cancun or the Mayan Riviera and staying in one of five Real Resorts & Hotels, a founding and supporting member of the foundation. Local to the Cancun area, The City of Joy Foundation is an organization that provides specialized services to vulnerable people in need including the elderly, small children and young mothers.
  • Supplier Partnerships: SkyService, Signatures’ airline partner, has a program in place called “SAFE” to reduce fuel consumption, which will translate to over 7,000 less metric tones of CO² being released into the environment in the 2007/2008 winter travel season.
  • Employee Awareness: They have created a Sustainable Tourism committee which convenes regularly to review and improve upon current practices and policies. As a result of this focus, the group has already implemented carpooling initiatives, a shuttle service, electronic invoices, e-ticketing and more.
  • Responsible Product: Signature Vacations offers all the hotel chains mentioned above as well as others that have received environmental accreditation such as the Viva Wyndham hotels in the Dominican Republic who have been recognized as Green Globe Certified.
Off setting the impact of your trip
Carbon Credits
  • Carbon Credits provide a way to counter the greenhouse gas emissions from personal or business travel by donating a monetary value to a carbon development company. While there is still much debate about the validity of Carbon credits, the general consensus within most circles is they are a valuable and highly recommended concept. Companies such as Carbonfund allow you to calculate your exact emissions and then donate the equivalent dollar amount to carbon reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.
  • Get in touch with a representative from your travel company (your travel agent can help you with this) who works locally in the destination you have chosen and ask for assistance in setting up a time to volunteer. Look for charities where a couple of hours of your time can make a difference, such as food preparation programs or basic construction & repairs on homes or schools. If you are travelling with a group of family and friends, ask everyone to come along and turn the day into a pre-wedding event. A group volunteer project promises to be a unique addition to your wedding and something each guest will always remember.
Did you know that conventionally grown cotton only uses an average of 3% of the world’s farmland, but uses 25% of the world’s chemical pesticides? While the cotton industry originally used many sustainable techniques, today it relies heavily on chemicals and machinery which is harmful to both human and environmental health. So what other alternatives are there?
  • Eco-best cotton; which is certified organic cotton that is left its natural colour or tinted using vegetable dyes.
  • Organic-cotton blended with hemp or silk hemps or bamboo cotton.
  • Vintage dresses that can be altered and personalized with updated accessories or hemlines.
Your invitation is the first piece of detail guests will receive about the big day. They are a tiny statement on what lies ahead, so make them just as unique as your day will be. As a guideline the best paper choices are ones that are non-chlorine bleached with 30% post consumer waste.
  • Choose a printer that offers alternative paper options such as recycled card stock, plantable papers or paper made out of tree-free substances such as hemp, bamboo, banana stalks, kenaf or organic cotton.
  • Turn a photo into a post-card with your details on the back instead of sending out multi-envelope invites.

Set up a wedding website and dedicated e-mail account to send to family and friends.


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