When most people think of their wedding day, ideas of conservation and other environmentally friendly practices seem far removed. However, many eco-conscious brides and grooms view a "green" wedding as a way for them to showcase their passion and have loved ones become involved. While still enjoying the wedding of their dreams, there are many ways a couple can choose to be "green" on their big day. Let’s take a look at an eco-friendly wedding’s Who, What, WEAR & How…
Interested in creating an intimate environment? Keep your guest list to your closest relatives and friends. If you come from a larger circle of loved ones, this may not be a viable option. One solution is to offer a "live stream" of the wedding so all your friends and family ‘may attend’. If downsizing the guest list is non-negotiable, consider other fuel-conserving options. In your invitation, you may suggest car-pooling, local transportation or a shuttle service.
When attempting to be green, it is important to carefully select the wedding destination. A couple must give thought as to how guests will arrive. It is a difficult and integral part of any celebration but for the "green" wedding it is of even greater importance. Couples should consider the fuel usage in car travel or plane flights. To decrease a carbon footprint, consider a venue able to house both the ceremony and reception. A destination wedding will inevitably increase the environmental impact; they typically result in a large percentage (if not all) guests traveling. Couples are encouraged to choose a local venue, which caters to the majority of guests attending. Local farms and gardens are wonderful options. The recurring theme in a "green" wedding is, "Less is MORE."
What about the ‘Wear’? A one-time bridal wardrobe can offend eco-conscious couples. Fortunately, there are many options available for you and your entire party. Vintage pieces are always in style. You can mix a bit of tradition with a modern flair. Family heirlooms are a touching way to incorporate "something old"; many guests will be delighted to see a restored gown given new life. Is vintage not your style? Consignment shops also can provide brides with a large selection to choose from. (And at quite a discount!) If you choose a vintage item, a trusted dry cleaner can work miracles restoring vintage garments. A talented seamstress may provide everything from gentle altering to a garment’s full restructuring. Purchasing a new gown from a sample sale? Make sure to consider the fabric. Natural fabrics are more environmentally friendly. The Knot recommends "organic cotton, silk or hemp" instead of satin or tulle. During the wedding planning stages, it is important to give some thought to your post-wedding gown care. Cleaning a gown provides a bride with many options. You may then preserve it or put your dress aside for future use. When you allow stains to sit, they may not be able to be fully removed which may hurt your gown’s prospective uses. (Donating your wedding gown? Some non-profit organizations require the dress to be cleaned.)
If you choose to preserve your wedding gown, this opens the door to many possibilities. Preservation is simply the full cleaning of a gown and then its proper storage. Once preserved, a gown can be used in a loved one’s future wedding, worn on a milestone anniversary or restructured later in time. Dresses and veils may also be transformed into christening gown or other religious formal attire. Look for a certified green cleaner from the Green Cleaners Council.
Not interested in purchasing a single-use gown or dealing with the post-wedding commitment? Fortunately for you, bridal attire has evolved to where simple dresses and suits are welcome (especially in an elopement setting). There are also plenty of rental options such as Rent the Runway, Vow the Chic and Little Borrowed Dress. Rentals especially make sense for the groom and his party.
Green brides tend to lean towards DIY décor. Luckily, there are many resources available such as Pinterest and Etsy. Your own personal items can add an intimate touch…and are a great example of repurposing. Need a little inspiration? Books, photo albums and potted plants are some popular choices. You may invite guests to share their own wedding photos in original frames or provide prints for you to hang on a clothespin photo line. Weddings held in local gardens and farms are already full of color; this will eliminate the need to import flowers from outside resources.
In general, the "green" bride tries to choose local vendors. In-season flowers purchased from local farmers reduce the overall cost and remove the additional footprint required to import specialty arrangements. Food choices are often vegetarian or vegan. Look for "green caterers" whose entire operation is carried out with the intention to use the least energy possible. Consider food choices that do not need to be re-heated. Try fun, healthy foods such as "hay stacks" use tortilla chips, beans and organic vegetables; they allow guests the ability to customize… and require little or no extra energy at the reception.
There are endless eco-friendly, invitation options. Think recycled or seed paper. Keep the design simple thus eliminating multiple sheets. Detachable reply cards or an online RSVP option assist in your conservation efforts. E-invites allow you to use all the color and pizzazz minus the waste. Personalized wedding websites can provide guests all the necessary information; they also present guests a place to RSVP and/or leave their own personal message to you. As cute as monogramed picture frames may be, a "green" bride puts sustainability over sentiment. Choose favors that will be used such as edible organic gifts or seedlings.
Even the most conscientious bride will make some choices that may impact the environment. Your wedding celebration wouldn’t be complete without the arrival of your grandparents from Italy or your cousin in Sweden, but don’t worry there are ways you can counteract the impact. Online calculators allow you to input the statistics of your wedding and see the comparable monetary price in damage. You can then choose to donate the designated amount to an environmental agency to offset your footprint. Many brides are also choosing to forgo the traditional registry and instead ask their gifts to donate to a charity or particular wild life reservation. Whatever choices you decide on make sure they both reflect the ideals of your cause and also are true to who you are as an individual.