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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
By Melissa Breyer, Senior Producer for Care2 Green Living