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Eco-Weddings: Say “I Do” to Green

Eco-Weddings: Say “I Do” to Green

Many a bride and groom find the choices in planning a wedding beyond daunting. So why not narrow down the choices to those options that are healthy and eco-friendly? By having a green wedding you can start your new journey with your betrothed in a venture that is marked not only by your love for each other, but for the planet as well.

Read this collection of green wedding wisdom for some creative tips. And those of you who have walked down the green aisle already, we’d love to hear your comments about choices that made your wedding a sustainable one.

Invitations
The greenest invitation, the good old Evite, may seem too spartan for most brides, but you can green your paper invitations. Aim for non-chlorine-bleached paper with at least 30 percent post-consumer waste. Reduce the number of sheets per invitation, and provide information for an e-mail RSVP. By eliminating the reply card and extra envelope you reduce paper and extra mailing. A lovely option is to use “plant me” paper for your invitation. These varieties of handmade paper with embedded flower seeds and can be buried in the garden. Not only is this automatic composting great for reducing landfill waste, but the perennial blooms will serve as a lovely reminder in the gardens of your friends and family.

Registry
Do you really need 12 place settings of fine china to clutter a cupboard and collect dust? Some green retailers, like Gaiam and 3R Living, are providing registry services now, and though they might not have fancy crystal, some of the prettiest goblets I’ve seen lately are from recycled glass. If you want to save yourself the headache of too much stuff and not support the manufacture of said too much stuff, while giving something back at the same time, register for a non-gift gift. At the target=”_blank”>World Wildlife Fund wedding registry, guests can make charitable contributions to WWF in the couple’s name.

Rings
Go heirloom or vintage. If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are a number of eco-friendly jewelry designers that make stunning engagement and wedding rings. Why is this important? Although there has been a lot of work to end conflict diamonds, there is still major environmental impact associated with the mining of diamonds. The same with metal. Eco-friendly jewelers use recycled metal and some, like Green Karat, use recycled gems or “created” gems that are very difficult to differentiate from ones that come from the earth. “Created” diamonds are made by subjecting the same elements to the same heat and pressure as with natural diamonds. The energy consumed in the lab process, however, is rather modest and uses little power.

Flowers
Let’s just say these two words: Local and seasonal. Maybe not so easy to say if you are planning a winter wedding in the northeast, but get creative or work with an eco-minded florist. Evergreen sprays, forced branches or forced local bulbs are mighty impressive and don’t require transportation. If you are planning a wedding during growing season, opt for flowers from a local grower, preferably organic. Many organic farms are now adding flowers to their crops. Work with a florist on this, or get friends to pitch in to help arrange. If imported flowers are the only ones that will make you swoon, check out fair trade certified flowers. These are increasingly easy to find at national retailers. Go to TransFair USA to learn more and find a retailer.

Dress
Steer clear of synthetic materials, which are petroleum based. Instead, choose a dress made of natural fibers. You’d be amazed at what they’re doing with hemp these days!
See Threadhead Creations, Wholly Jo and Conscious Clothing to get an idea of what’s available. You might also consider wearing a vintage dress or gown, or at the very least, select a dress that can be worn again.

Libations
If you have a local brewery or vineyard, use their products! If you can source organic wine, do. If nothing local is available, consider the travel miles of your purchase and use this easy guideline to inform your purchase: If you live to the east of Ohio, buy wine from Europe, and if you live west of Ohio serve wine that was made in the western United States. By doing so you minimize the environmental impact of shipping.

Location
If you can hold your event outside, it will decrease the energy consumption required for climate control and lighting. Also think about getting married at a business or organization that supports altruistic causes: Retreat centers, parks, museums, foundations, etc. That way the money spent on the rental of the space can be reinvested in a good cause.

Travel
Plan your wedding in a location closest to where most of the people attending live to lessen the impact of travel. Calculate the mileage guests will travel and offset their carbon dioxide emissions by donating to programs that plant trees or preserve rain forests. Arrange for hybrid rental cars, and plan shuttle buses or carpooling for travel between events.

Favors
Homemade favors are probably unrealistic, but at least opt for something locally produced and practical, something consumable like a small jar of local honey with a custom label is great. The target=”_blank”>World Wildlife Fund allows couples to make a donation in lieu of favors and download beautiful table tents to inform guests. There are any number of charitable favors. How about a tree planted in the name of each guest. Wouldn’t you rather leave a wedding knowing that there was a tree in your name somewhere rather than a tulle baggie filled with custom trinkets destined for the trash?

Read more: Crafts & Design, Green Home Decor, , , , , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Producer for Care2 Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

31 comments

+ add your own
5:39AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

Thanks for the tips; Now I wish I could get crazy & married;LOL

9:13PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Yes, there are ideas here that can be used for other occasions. I'm all for buying local and in season. Thank you!

9:16AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

We're getting married in September and are using a number of the strategies in the article - vintage ring, local setting, donations in lieu of favors, and requesting donations instead of gifts. We also opted for eco-friendly disposable cutlery and plates for our outdoor reception, got most of our decorations at Goodwill and on Freecycle, and plan to donate the leftover food. It's been a challenge but we've enjoyed trying to green our wedding as much as possible!

8:50PM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

Now I wish I could get married. =P

10:40AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

Love all things vintage for a wedding! Just another way to reuse. Another eco-friendly jeweler is Turtle Love Co. (turtleloveco.com). They have engagement rings and wedding bands, support independent artisans, and are committed to making ecologically-sound and socially responsible choices.

12:07PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

What a lovely article. I shall use your idea of 'Plant Me' paper for any handwritten notes/invites in future. Thank you. M x

10:31AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

what is wrong with NY wines? California isn't the only state with quality vineyards! if you don't have anything local there are fine options in every region. if you don't have something truly local, better to get something that came from a day's drive away than overseas. also watch out for extra miles from manufacturer to distributor to store: buy direct or have the winery (or brewery) ship to you local store where this is not possible.

5:44AM PDT on Jul 9, 2010

Great article and these tips can be used for any special occasion for planning.

5:36AM PDT on Jul 9, 2010

Great article! Very useful!

7:41AM PDT on Jun 9, 2010

Great Article! Everyone should see this, and in many way it cuts Costs!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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