February is National Wedding Month, and as a soon-to-be-bride, wedding planning is definitely on my mind this winter! As one of the most important days of your life, your wedding is the perfect place to show that you’re serious about environmentalism, and hopefully to inspire some of your guests to live a little greener, too. Let’s take a look at 15 great ways to throw an environmentally friendly (and cost-effective) wedding.
When it comes to wedding dresses, there are ton of great options that will be easy on your wallet and the environment.
1. Nearly all grooms rent tuxes, but did you know that it’s also possible to rent wedding dresses? Renting your dress will save you some of the stress of shopping and give you the comfort of knowing that all the materials and labor that went into the dress will benefit multiple brides.
2. Hit the thrift stores. Vintage dresses are in, and the best place to find them is your local thrift store, where you can score a classic dress for less than $100.
3. Recycle a dress. Does your mother or sister still have her wedding dress? Do you have a white dress that could be remade to look bridal? Even if the dresses you have around don’t exactly match your vision for your wedding dress, the magic of alterations can turn practically any garment into one you’d be proud to wear down the aisle.
4. The mining of gold and other precious metals is destructive to the environment, so consider using recycled gold for your wedding ring. You can even take a piece of outdated gold jewelry that you already own and have it melted down and re-shaped into a ring for an even more personal touch.
5. Consider buying wooden rings. The art of crafting beautiful, durable wooden rings is becoming more popular, and the rings use such small amounts of wood that a craftsman could make hundreds of rings out of one tree. You can choose which type of wood you would like to have, request inlays and engravings, and even have precious stones embedded in the wooden bands.
6. Get a tattoo instead. This option isn’t for everyone, but if you tend to lose things, dislike wearing jewelry, or work in a profession where wearing a ring could be hazardous, a wedding ring replacement tattoo may be perfect for you.
7. Use recycled paper for your invitations — either post consumer recycled paper, or paper that you already have lying around; perhaps double-folded newspaper with a piece of recycled cardstock glued inside, or postcards that you have never used.
8. Go paperless. E-invites are more popular, and personalized, than ever. And you won’t have to worry about them getting lost in the mail!
9. Consider forgoing traditional programs. Most people toss them in the trash as soon as they get home. If you will be singing hymns or reciting scripture during your ceremony, try to stick to what’s available in the hymnal at the church and use that instead.
10. Think carefully about your flower choices. Greenhouses use a lot of resources to provide us with fresh, colorful flowers all year round. Try to cut down on the amount of flowers you’ll use, and think about what is in season and what can be grown locally instead of shipped in.
11. Keep the travel to a minimum. Choose a venue that is local to most of your friends and family to cut down on transportation. Choosing a venue where you can hold the ceremony and the reception is even better, so that people don’t have to travel in between and can enjoy your wedding from start to finish in the same place.
12. Choose a venue dedicated to going green. There are more and more event venues that are eco-friendly — and they advertise those choices to attract brides just like you. Being conscious of where you hold your venue can ensure that your reception won’t be over-catered and that no plastic plates or tableware will be used.
13. Consider a low-meat or meat-free menu. Meat is not essential to a tasty and satisfying meal. Work with the your caterer to brainstorm a delicious, environmentally-friendly menu. Focusing on local and seasonal ingredients is also a plus!
14. Keep it close to home. Staying local cuts down on travel costs (budgetary and environmental).
15. Consider eco-tourism. Would you enjoy spending your honeymoon learning about other cultures and providing service to people in other countries? Eco-tourism in South America and Africa is widely available for those ready for a post-wedding adventure.