By Julia Austin, Planet Green
A 5-star catering company, air-conditioned tent and designer dress offers its own beauty—it’s true—but there is a different kind of beauty to be found in an eco-friendly wedding. Not only will a wedding stripped of energy-sucking ornaments focus the attention more on the love-struck couple, it’s also far less expensive! You can minimize the carbon footprint of your fist steps as husband and wife by incorporating some of these green wedding traditions from around the world.
1. Jewish Wedding
In a Jewish wedding, the couple stands under a marriage canopy, or a Chuppah, to receive blessings and exchange the ring. This portion of the wedding is held outside under the stars at sundown, but it can be even more eco-friendly if you build your own Chuppah out of tallit and branches.
2. Italian Wedding
The amount of time and—more importantly—gas spent on driving from store to store returning unwanted gifts can be astronomical. So much so that many married couples are guilty of creating a monument of their unopened wedding gifts in the garage…that is never touched. Italians avoid this problem by just being honest. What do the bride and groom really need? Cash. And that’s exactly what they get. Instead of bringing gifts, at the ceremony a white bag called la borsa is passed around in which guests can drop their desired amount of cash.
All the makeup and hairspray in the world wouldn’t detract from the smell of a Swedish bride. That’s because in Sweden, it is customary that the bride carry a bouquet of odorous weeds. That’s right, the stuff you were already going to plow away in your garden serves as an ornament. Why? To ward off trolls, of course! At least, that is the Swedish superstition. Lucky for the bride, it’s a favorite pastime of the groomsmen to try and knock the bouquet off.
Certainly the Spanish enjoy receiving massive packages from their online shopping adventures as much as the next person, but when it comes to the wedding apparel, a Spanish bride actually hand-sews an embroidered shirt for her husband to wear at the ceremony.
I knew Canadians were friendly, but I didn’t know they were this friendly. At a traditional Canadian wedding, rather than bringing gifts, the guests form two lines and pay a dollar (or more) for each kiss they receive from the bride or groom. Another substitute for toasters and candle sticks: the guests pay for part of the honeymoon.
Forget the bachelorette party, let’s sew! In the small town of Nikolaevsk, Alaska, the bride and her friends sew the wedding clothing for all of the groom’s family. Considering their location, a Bloomingdale’s is probably a little far.
Indonesians must be more selective when choosing their wedding guests, or else they have a long walk ahead of them. Literally. In rural parts of Indonesia, rather than sending out wedding invitations, the family members of the bride and groom pay visits to each guest they’d like to invite.
The Chinese don’t abide by the idea that it’s bad luck to see the bride before the altar. But in giving up the mystery they gain some green points—the bride and groom go in one car to the ceremony.
9. Buddhist Tradition
The greenest wedding you could have is a Buddhist wedding—which means no wedding at all. In Buddhist tradition, a wedding isn’t considered necessary. Couples can simply have a civil ceremony with their closest family around.
One thing you’ll notice all of these traditions have in common is this: a personal touch. You may be giving up the most in-demand catering company, or that Armani suit you were hoping for your groom to wear, but you know what? That same wedding could be ordered out of a catalog by anyone. By incorporating some of these Green traditions from around the world, you add a personal touch to your wedding that no one else can ever recreate.