As green as possible

By on July 3, 2010

You just got engaged, and much to your delight, your fiance has suggested you keep the wedding close to home and make it as green as possible. Like you, he supports many environmental causes and believes everyone should do their part, even when they are getting married.

You have already made the first good green decision, keeping the wedding at home. The closer the wedding is to your guests, the shorter of a commute they will have to make and the less fuel they will consume. For guests that are willing, you can set up carpools to transport them to and from your wedding to save even more fuel. For guests that are out of town, try finding bus or train routes they can take and encourage them to use those modes of transportation to save fuel.

The next step is finding an eco-friendly venue. Obviously, having your wedding outdoors is the easiest way to save energy, but if you’re getting married in the early spring, late fall or winter, that option may not work for you. Eco-friendly venues are out there; you just have to find them. Many hotels and resorts now offer eco-friendly wedding packages. You might also go an alternative route and get married at an organic farm or orchard. If you can’t find an eco-friendly venue, don’t despair. You can go green in many other ways.

When shopping for apparel, keep the three Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—in mind. Buy vintage gowns and tuxedos and turn them into something else afterward, or rent or borrow gowns and tuxedos. If you must have new apparel, look for pieces you can wear again or shop at eco-friendly suppliers. Many designers now make wedding dresses and other formalwear out of hemp and other sustainable materials.

You should use the same principles when shopping for wedding rings. Consider buying vintage or used rings and having a local jeweler turn them into pieces you’ll cherish forever. If you prefer new rings, look for ones made with recycled metals and stones.

Tree-free or 100 percent recycled paper is the way to go with invitations. Of course, if you really want to reduce waste, consider sending electronic invites. Mail tangible invitations to guests who rarely use the computer and electronic invites to those who use their computer for everything.

As for the food, flowers and favors, you can definitely make green choices in these areas. Local is the key word here. Find an eco-minded caterer and work with them to create a menu made from foods grown locally. Rent your linens and tableware, or look into biodegradable or recycled disposable options. Donate your leftover food afterward instead of throwing it out. Select an eco-minded florist to create arrangements using locally grown flowers or make the arrangements yourself using flowers from your own garden or a friend’s. Throw the flowers into the compost bin afterward. Finally, look for eco-friendly favors that will make your guests more aware of the environment and the importance of making good choices.

When selecting decorations for your ceremony and reception, again keep the three Rs in mind. Borrow or rent as many items as you can. Then look for items that you can reuse or recycle. Add bows to the pews and turn them into throw pillows afterward. Place your wedding cards in various places around the room and recycle them afterward. Strew flower petals on the tables and toss them into the compost pile afterward.

You can even go green with the music. Skip the band or DJ. Hire an instrumentalist or vocalist instead and ask them to leave all of their electronic equipment at home. Whether acoustic or sung a cappella, the music will be beautiful.

Continue your efforts to go green with your wedding gifts. Set up a registry of eco-friendly gifts. If you are combining houses and don’t really need anything, request your guests contribute to one of your favorite environmental causes in lieu of buying you a wedding gift.

Contrary to popular belief, going green at your wedding doesn’t mean you have to settle for less. You can still have the wedding of your dreams; you just have to be willing to take the time to explore your options. If it seems overwhelming, consider hiring an eco-minded wedding planner. They will know all of the ins and outs of having a green wedding and have access to people and places that you don’t.

by Tresa Erickson, MultiAd Builder