It’s engagement season and if you suddenly find yourself planning a wedding, you might want to include some green options in your plans. It doesn’t matter if you want a simple ceremony or an extravagant black-tie affair, you can always make the most important day of your life a little bit greener.
Check out some of these great eco-friendly, green-living wedding tips, which are all great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Kate Harrison has written a terrific book on The Green Bride Guide as well as Mireya Navarro wrote Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration
But here are a few green wedding ideas that I picked-up myself when research this article and taking to some friends who are planning a wedding and want to make it as green as possible.
With more and more people becoming aware and concerned with our environment and trying to be more eco-friendly, weddings don’t tend to fit into this way of life. Weddings are usually expensive, use lots of energy and produce a huge amount of waste. What makes weddings even more excessive is the hidden costs that can often take the couple by surprise. Travel, stationary and decorations all contribute to the cost and waste that weddings incur.
The best way to get round these charges that we’re not always aware of is to research thoroughly online before you even start planning the wedding. There are plenty of resources available which point out the hidden costs which come with paying for your wedding.
Couples often don’t take aspects such as invitations into consideration; a way to get round this in an eco-friendly way is the make your own invitations electronically and email them to your guests. This also has other benefits – no invitations getting lost in the mail and they’re completely free!
Another cost which couples often remember, yet underestimate, is the flowers. Get round this by using in-season, local flowers. This can save you money and is more eco-friendly than getting them delivered.
Recycled Rings: Gold mining has a huge environmental footprint – 20 tons of mining waste per gold ring. Try either tapping into your family heirlooms or purchasing recycled rings, which is referred to as post-consumer gold. Check out these websites for some greener jewelry options: GreenKarat and LeberJeweler. Also, see the Green Blizzard piece All That Glitters Is Not Gold, about how to be smarter by lowering your demand for newly-mined gold, which has an incredible environmental impact.
Make Nature Your Décor: Oversized drapes, cascading crystals and lights threaded through branches can be elegant and beautiful, but what is prettier than getting married in a garden at an art museum or historical estate, a botanical or sculpture garden, or even a zoo? You’d be surprised how easily these venues can be transformed into classy, romantic settings for any wedding. And with places like these, you can keep decorating costs to a minimum, eliminating waste and pricey decorations. Google “local wedding venues” for some alternative ideas.
Green Churches, Synagogues, Hotels and Reception Halls: If an outdoor venue won’t work for you, inquire about the green practices of the indoor facilities you’re considering. Ask how they routinely reduce, reuse and recycle – but be skeptical of green-washing.
Reuse Centerpieces: Use the same centerpieces at the rehearsal dinner and the reception. If you are purchasing decorations, keep your wedding theme consistent over the entire weekend so items can be reused. Not only will you avoid unwanted waste, but you’ll also save some money that can be put toward the honeymoon or your new home. Check out Beau Coup or Parisian Events for more great ideas.
Paperless Evites: Online evites are free! By using them, you’ll save a ridiculous amount of paper while completely eliminating the cost of invitations. But if you are like me and would prefer a traditional wedding invitation, try these greener options: Poo Poo Paper, which is made completely from elephant waste (smell not included), or Plantable Invitations, which contain seeds that will grow into beautiful wildflowers when planted. For more info on these options, see the recent Green Blizzard post about Paperless Evites.
Greener Gift Registry: If you feel like that mountain of consumerism (i.e. wedding gifts) may be a bit too much, try giving a portion of your good fortune back to the environment. Offer your guests the option of donating to an environmental cause on your behalf. I remember when I was little, my brother had a few trees planted in Israel in honor of his bar mitzvah (to find out more, visit The Jewish National Fund). The range of philanthropic options is endless. You can donate to anything from the Middle-Eastern water crisis to forestry management. Two charities that Green Blizzard endorses are the Environmental Defense Fund and Arborday.
Eco-Friendly Food and Drink: Keeping the booze flowing, the food healthy and your carbon footprint low can be tricky. Here’s some tips for a green wedding: opt for organic wines and locally brewed beers and wines; serve wine from large bottles and beer from a keg; use reusable glasses; avoid plastic cups and utensils; try featuring beer from a local brewery; serve locally-grown food (if you live in a big city, research some urban farms or your nearest green market); and opt for sustainable fish and organically-raised chicken instead of environmentally impactful red meat (read Carbon Impact of Meats).
Be sure to check out these Green Blizzard articles, you will enjoy reading some of our favorites:Are We Eating Fish Into Extinction, Going Green Never Tasted so Good, Which is Better Environmentally, Buying Locally or Online Mass Transit:Shrink Your Carbon Footprint, or Is Planting a Tree Difficult.