Can you have a joy-filled wedding celebration and show your love for the planet, at the same time? While this may sound like “The Odd Couple,” it’s not as hard as you think! Read on for some great ways to incorporate eco-friendly touches into your special day.
Choosing a location that’s close to where most of your guests live is an obvious, simple but effective way to limit unnecessary transportation, as is having the ceremony and reception in the same place. You may also wish to seek out sites that have made “going green” a priority, and are pro-active about reducing energy use and waste. Another green idea is to hold your ceremony in a location already dedicated to sustainability, such as parks, protected areas or museums. Finally, having an outdoor ceremony in a beautiful setting will remind you (and your guests) why you make environmentally responsible choices.
Serve local, organic, seasonal cuisine, and include a vegetarian or vegan option. Ask your caterer about locally raised, organic meats and wild caught fish versus farmed. Before the wedding, research places to donate any leftover food, such as homeless shelters or soup kitchens.
Save trees by going high-tech: use a website to list directions, maps, accommodations and other details, and use email whenever possible. For the paper you do use, stick with 100% recycled and renewable cotton paper, and vegetable or soy inks, which use less energy to produce than petroleum-based inks.
Just say “NO!” to attire made in sweatshops and petroleum-based fabrics. Seek out wedding attire made with natural fabrics such as 100% silk or organically grown cotton, and hemp linen – which has come a long way since the gunny sack look. (For proof, visit the Hemp Weddings section of rawganique.com.) Another very green idea: recycle! Use your Mom’s wedding dress by investing a little time into alterations, or find a vintage dress in specialty stores or on eBay.
It’s always green to recycle, so for your wedding ring, consider vintage or antique jewelry, use a family heirloom ring, or place a used diamond into a new setting. For new jewelry, seek out recycled gold or fair trade silver, and of course, only buy conflict-free diamonds.
Because diamond mining is so hard on Mother Earth, consider diamond synthetics or diamond simulants instead of naturally mined diamonds. Diamond synthetics are made only of carbon, just like naturally mined diamonds, and are approximately 15% less expensive than natural diamonds. Diamond simulants are made from carbon and seven other elements. They look, feel and act like natural diamonds and are a fraction of the cost. Good for the earth and your pocketbook!
Standard birdseed mixes can include seeds for invasive plants that are not native to your area. If your wedding is in the city, or if you’ll be surrounded by manicured, non-wild yards, this is not a problem. If you’re in a natural spot such as a nature preserve or state park however, this could create problems in that ecosystem. In these cases, find eco-friendly alternatives such as blowing bubbles, ringing bells or tossing petals. Or, keep it simple, and let the chorus of loved ones shower their love and joy upon you as you leave the church.
The gifts, favors, flowers
All those beautiful touches that make weddings special and unique can easily be turned green… and your first stop should be to idofoundation.org. Here you can include charitable donations on your gift registry, donate a percentage of gift registry sales to your favorite charity, and make a charitable donation in your guests’ honor in lieu of wedding favors. When it comes to your wedding flowers, find a floral designer that uses local, organically grown, seasonal flowers, and repurpose the ceremony flowers for the reception to make fewer flowers go farther. (This is also nice for your budget!) The day after the wedding, donate the floral arrangements to places such as nursing homes, hospice centers or hospitals, so others can enjoy nature’s beauty and all those gorgeous flowers don’t end up in the trash!
Certainly, staying close to home avoids those gas-guzzling airplanes, but if travel is in your future consider a “green hotel” – environmentally-friendly properties. Start the search by visiting greenhotels.com. Another idea: consider ecotourism – socially responsible travel that focuses on conserving the environment and improving the well being of local people. Visit ecotourism.org for more information.
If going green is a big priority to you, consider hiring an eco-event planner, a specialist in green weddings. They will make your life easier, know the right vendors, get the job done and save you time, money, worry and stress – all while saving the planet.
With just a little creativity, thought and research, your wedding can reflect the earth-loving couple that you are!
More tips for a green wedding
If you wish to dine by candlelight, use soy or beeswax candles, which are greener to produce than crude oil-based paraffin candles.
Buy a like-new, beautiful used dress from the Brides Against Breast Cancer movement (bridesagainstbreastcancer.org). All proceeds fund breast cancer research. Also consider donating your gown to this organization after your wedding.
An eco-friendly wedding favor idea is to give guests tree saplings: the earth could use more trees! Or skip the favors, and instead make a donation to your favorite earth-friendly non-profit organization in honor of your guests.
Consider potted plants for your centerpieces. They can be given away to guests after the wedding, or you could plant them in your yard to enjoy for years… a growing, living memory of your special day.
Use handmade paper with flower seeds embedded for your wedding invites… your guests can plant your invite after the wedding – the ultimate in recycling.