If you are planning a wedding and cringing at the idea of all those disposable decorations and trinkets, consider some more Earth friendly alternatives. It is good for the Earth, and for you, to reduce the impact that over 2 billion weddings each year have on our planet. The wedding industry will tell you that there are many things that you must have, but think about the alternatives before you choose a destination wedding, chemically treated flowers, or bright embossed invitations. Here are our top ten suggestions for an environmentally friendly wedding and reception.
Rather than a gift that may look cute on the table but is quickly thrown away when the festivities end, choose a wedding favor that your guests can enjoy for years to come. Seedlings in small burlap bags, potted plants, or tropical fish in small bowls are unique items that can serve as natural décor and give your friends and family something special to take home. Long after the day has passed, they will enjoy memories of it every time they look at their living reminder.
Shopping for The Dress is a number one priority to most brides, but who says it has to be new? The average wedding dress costs £1,000. Not only is that a chunk of your budget, but it is spent on something that will not be used for much longer than the confetti that your guests throw into the air. Many of the gorgeous dresses that brides bought last year are available for a small fraction of the price, and the same goes for bridesmaids’ dresses. Choose a color or palate for them to work with rather than a specific dress, and you will save them money and create an eye-catching bridal party. Shopping for used dresses together can be even more fun that trying on new, as you will not have sticker shock each time you check a price.
From invitations and goodie bags to the gold in your jewelry, you can find suppliers who can provide recycled items for your wedding. Recycled paper has come a long way and is just as beautiful as new paper. If your friends and family are tech savvy enough, you can even consider ditching paper invites all together. Develop a wedding website with the day’s itinerary and electronic RSVPs. You will save on postage and paper. While you are asking your jeweler about recycled gold, also make sure that their gems come from fair-labor mines.
Shop locally for things like food and flowers. For many flower shops, a high percentage of the cost of your flowers is related to having them shipped in. It makes sense for your flowers to be green, so make sure yours are locally supplied. You will also want to make sure that your food will not be transported in. Not only does this add to your cost and the pollution in the air, but it also means that the food will not be as fresh. Look for a caterer who used locally grown, organic food for the most Earth friendly option.
Keep it Simple
Companies will sell you as much wedding tchotchke as you are willing to buy, and it will all seem very tempting. Of course, you will think, we need printed napkins, customized place cards, and personalized gifts. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself a question. A week after your wedding, will it matter whether or not you had that item? How about after a year? The wedding industry is just that: an industry. Most of this stuff is junk that will find its way to the trash before you have it paid for.
Nothing says green like the outdoors. With little need to decorate, you will save money and the Earth. Take advantage of the natural beauty of a garden, woods, or beach for your wedding and create a different kind of atmosphere than a stuffy, indoor venue. If weather concerns make it necessary for festivities to be held indoors, you can still bring a natural feel inside through décor. Instead of balloons and crepe paper, use home grown flowers, boughs of greenery, and other natural items. Get creative and fill clear vases and bowls with berries, lemons, or apples to match your color scheme.
Most photographers these days use digital cameras, but make sure that you only have pictures printed that you need to save on the paper and chemical waste that photo printing creates. Same goes for your photo booth or passed around cameras. Ask for the photos on CD so that you can screen out the unnecessary pictures. Create a digital album that can be shared online and more people will see it than a “dead-tree” version anyway. Your mother can probably show you her dusty old box of wedding photos that she has never done anything with. Do not start a box of your own.
Many eco-friendly alternatives exist for the moment that guests wait eagerly to shower you with confetti. Possibilities include birdseed and biodegradable rice. Butterflies made of rice paper or sparkling fake snow will make you feel like you are in a movie! You can even make this fun by setting up a confetti bar offering your guests different choices of Earth friendly options to mix and use. You will not have any guilt over birds or other wild animals ingesting something harmful or handfuls of waste settling into the ground.
You are in control of the spending of your family and friends through your wedding gift registries. Make sure that you request the purchase of environmentally friendly items when you shop. Also remember to think of how far and by what method gifts will be shipped. If you already maintain a household, you may like to ask guests to donate money to the cause of your choice in lieu of purchasing and transporting or shipping gifts.
If you are hoping to avoid a long plane trip to a resort that wastes more water and food than you care to think of, investigate some eco-friendly vacation options. Stay close to home and avoid transportation emissions and costs, or travel by train. Visit a conservation area and lend a hand. You can have fun on your honeymoon while doing good.
It is possible to have a green wedding on any size budget. Some of these green ideas will even save you money! If being environmentally friendly is one of your top priorities, you can use the money that you will save buying that used dress and put it into serving organic, locally grown food. Give your wedding an intimate, home-grown feel by keeping it green. The creative theme will surprise and impress your guests, and you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have done your part to reduce waste and protect our environment.