How to Plan a Green Wedding
Sure, green weddings are all the rage, but you'll need to go the extra mile to make yours stand apart from the rest.
Green Weddings – Things to Consider:
The overarching theme here should be simplification. There are eco-friendly versions of most wedding products, but the best option is usually to forego the items altogether. Reuse wherever possible - and save not only resources, but cash too.
Weigh the expenses
That said, some items you just can't live without, and usually the green version is more expensive than the original. You'll need to factor this into your wedding budget. To keep your budget in check, determine which areas you're willing to spend more on for a good cause (i.e. organic cuisine), and where you can save to make up for that added expense (i.e. forego the wedding dress or favors). This wedding budget guide offers even more budgeting advice
Many new companies have entered the growing green weddings market. Before booking your vendors, check out businesses that claim to provide green services and confirm that they really do.
One green turn deserves another. Let your guests know the steps you've taken to plan your green wedding, and show them that an elegant event doesn't have to be harmful to the environment. Who knows, many of your guests may be inspired to do the same.
All in the Details – Green Wedding Ideas
Invitations & Stationery
- Recycle - use recycled paper or paper made from alternative fiber – such as hemp or bamboo. Check out these resources for an array of custom, recycled papers: Custompaper.com or JamPaper.com
- Splurge on calligraphy – calligraphy may cost more, but it saves inks, toners, solvents and chemicals involved in printing.
- Condense – save trees by minimizing inserts and other paper products. Always print on front and back, and try to fit it all on one sheet.
- Go completely green – send all correspondence via email. The etiquette gods may swoon – but if you're dead set on being green, electronic mailings are the most earth friendly way to go.
- Rent for a cause - find a venue that will benefit from your site rental fee – such as a museum, gallery or other cultural organization. Confirm how that venue will use your fee.
- Go outside - a beach, the woods, gardens – they all make an ideal setting for a green wedding (just be sure to leave it as you found it).
- Find a green venue - some venues are demonstrating a commitment to saving water and energy, reducing waste, or serving locally grown/organic menus. Check out these resources for green minded venues:
- Green Hotels Association (www.greenhotels.com)
- Green Seal (www.greenseal.com)
- Use candlelight – not only are candles energy efficient, they also create a soft romantic glow for an elegant reception. Better yet, look for soy candles - they're cleaner and longer burning since they're made from a renewable resource.
- Use bamboo – one of the most sustainable materials on earth, bamboo is an eco-friendly décor option with an organic, modern feel. Use bamboo stalks for centerpieces or other décor elements.
- Think double duty – invite your ceremony arrangements to the reception! You can use them to decorate your cake or gift table – you'll waste less and save money doing it.
- Buy organic, locally grown blooms – organic flowers are grown in an environmentally friendly way, without pesticides.
Getting locally grown ones will save the fuel burned from transporting the flowers. If you can't find a local florist who can provide organic blooms, order yours from OrganicBouquet.com
- Conserve cut flowers – using cut flowers just once is a waste. See if you can share yours with another wedding taking place on the same day.
- Skip cut flowers altogether – top your tables with potted arrangements for guests to take and plant in their yards after the wedding.
- Think organic – ensure that you, your guests and the staff won't be exposed to pesticides. Many caterers specialize in organic foods, and almost any caterer can provide an organic menu if you ask them.
- Think local – if you're concerned about the cost involved in a completely organic menu, go local instead. Serving locally grown food eliminates fuel reliance and supports local farmers. Check out Localharvest.org or Localfoodworks.org to find farmers markets, farms and other sources of local food.
- Reuse utensils – find a caterer who recycles materials and/or uses linen and china instead of disposables.
- Donate the leftovers – work with your caterer to send leftovers to a food shelter or other organization.
- Sub ingredients – have your baker use organic and/or local sugar, flour, butter and eggs. Some bakers even specialize in organic cakes.
- Go secondhand – a used gown reduces fuels used in creating a new one.
- Get green fibers – natural fibers like silk and organic cotton are better for the environment than synthetic ones.
- Go couture – if your wallet can afford it, couture gowns are usually made from natural fabrics.
- Donate – provide a green gown decision for another bride when you give or sell yours after the wedding.
Avoid wasteful trinkets - donate to a charity in the name of your guests
- Limit long distance travel – have the wedding in a location where few guests will have to fly to get there.
- Walk - host your room block, ceremony and reception at the same site – or within walking distance
- Carpool – organize car pools for your guests in hybrid vehicles
- Getaway in low emission style – get creative and use a non-motorized vehicle for your final sendoff – bikes, horseback, sleds, skates, wagons, or any old school conveyance will do.
Other Green Ideas
The truth is – no matter how great your green intentions are, most weddings have a huge environmental impact from the fuel used transporting your guests – via car or plane – to your wedding. Since this is extremely difficult to avoid, the "greenest" brides are purchasing carbon offsets to reduce their wedding's footprint.
How it works: calculate the mileage guests will travel, and offset their carbon dioxide emissions by donating to programs that plant trees or preserve rain forests. TerraPass.com