DIY Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations: 6 Steps

Making your own invitations can be cheaper, quicker, and more sustainable.

Overhead view of hands assembling wedding invitation

VictoriaBee / Getty Images

  • Total Time: 2 days - 3 weeks
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $150 and up

As fun and lovely as weddings may be, they sure can rack up a fair amount of waste. Just one wedding produces an estimated 400 pounds of trash and 63 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, Now multiply that by 2.5 million, the number of weddings happening per year just in the U.S.

Planning a sustainable wedding is possible with even the smallest of swaps—like wedding invitations. Despite being made of paper, invitations are not inherently sustainable. Few are FSC-certified and, worse, many can't be recycled due to plastic elements like coating and glitter.

One way to make sure your wedding invitations are eco-friendly is to make them yourself. Yes, you're busy with seating charts and dress shopping and Pinterest scrolling but hear this out: DIY wedding invitations can be cheaper and quicker 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're made only from paper or cardstock, but these elements often make them nonrecyclable.

  • Sealing wax: Made of paraffin wax, shellac (from lac beetles), and/or synthetic resin
  • Glue: Large amounts of glue can clog recycling systems
  • Glitter: AKA microplastic
  • Coating: Considered a "mixed material," therefore not widely recyclable

What You'll Need


  • Guillotine paper cutter or ruler and utility knife
  • High-quality printer (if printing at home)
  • Plant-based ink (if printing at home)


  • FSC-certified cardstock or eco-friendly paper alternative
  • Envelopes
  • Optional creative touches, such as a stamp, ribbon, or paper punch


  1. Establish a Timeline

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

  2. Determine Your Design Directive

    Set 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: Foil print is recyclable!)—create a rough draft, making sure to include names, venue and location, date and time, reception information, dress code, and RSVP details. Consider the cost of ink here: The more colorful, the more saturated, and the more complex, the higher your printing bill will be.

    If you need some help designing, use a downloadable template (available on Etsy, Cards and Pockets, and Greetings Island). Otherwise, use a design program like Adobe, Canva, Sketch, Inkscape, or Affinity Designer.

  3. Decide How You're Going to Print

    Stack of wedding invitations with red and purple ribbon

    Sharon Pruitt / EyeEm / Getty Images

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

    Printing with plant-based ink versus petroleum-based can also be tricky because eco-solvent ink often requires an eco-solvent printer. Without a special printer, you can at least use ink in remanufactured cartridges—TomatoInk is compatible with dozens of mainstream printers.

    If outsourcing your printing, look for a company that uses sustainable paper and ink. Some green-minded boutique letterpresses, like Syracuse-based Bella Figura, might meet your eco-standards but offer limited customization.

    Alternatively, you can eschew the printing process altogether and hire a calligrapher (very fancy).

  4. Assess Your Paper Options

    If you have the flexibility to choose your paper (because you're printing at home or using a calligrapher), make sure it's FSC-certified and recyclable or biodegradable. Today, alternative options include sugarcane-based paper and plantable paper—both tree-free, the latter made of post-consumer waste and embedded with seeds your guests can plant.

    Whatever you choose—recycled, compostable, biodegradable, plantable—make sure it's sustainably sourced and contains no plastic elements that could compromise its recyclability. Keep this in mind with envelopes, too.

  5. Print and Trim

    Though seemingly straightforward, printing wedding invitations at home requires a few extra measures. You should make sure you're on the highest-quality color setting available and clean the inkjets, then prepare your design—in general, PDFs come out better than JPEGs.

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

    Leave room for mistakes. As a rule of thumb, print 10% more than what's actually needed.

  6. Add Embellishments

    Blank invitation surrounded by craft supplies

    Karniewska / Getty Images

    Customize your invites even further with personal touches like a stylish name stamp (again, see Etsy), embossing, twine or ribbon, and fancy edging courtesy of a paper punch. You could even keep costs down by printing invites in black and white and adding a bit of watercolor by hand.

Other Ideas for Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations

  • Save paper by eschewing Save The Date mailers entirely. Send out invitations early instead.
  • Get creative with materials. People have used recycled wood, cotton cloth, and jute in place of paper.
  • Avoid using paper altogether and send invitations digitally.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is making your own wedding invitations cheaper?

    Homemade invitations can absolutely be the cheapest option, but costs can rack up with complex designs, printing supplies, and outsourced printing.

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

    Thick papers and cardstock are common, but you can also use plantable paper or other tree-free alternatives (sugarcane-based or cotton paper). Most at-home printers can handle cardstock.

  • How can you make your wedding invitations unique?

    Add a stamp, embossing, or ribbon. Create a border using a paper punch, or add a splash of watercolor by hand.

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