Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas

CC flickr photo courtesy of makelessnoise

Even if your wedding color isn’t green, you may still want a “greener” wedding. Whether we are talking about a quiet, quaint experience of only a few dozen close family and friends, or a party for 200 guests, all weddings are major events which can have a large carbon footprint and produce a lot of waste. For couples who are even mildly eco-conscious, there are options that can add an eco-friendly and natural vibe to any size gathering.

Location

One of the biggest decisions a couple will make together is where to get married, and your choice will have a large influence on how eco-friendly your event is. In searching for a sustainably run venue, whether a winery, hotel, or wedding facility, it is important to know:

– Do they recycle?

– Do they take measures to conserve energy and water?

– Has the facility used green building materials in its construction and interior décor?

– If the food is provided for by the venue, are vegetarian, local, or organic options offered?

– If any paper products are used, are they made from recycled, post-consumer waste?

– How far is it located from the homes of most of your guests?

Season

Selecting a late summer or early fall wedding date ensures that local food and flowers are available in abundance, allowing you to avoid having to ship them long distances.

Attire

Weddings are about joining the lives of two people in love.  We all know that.  But let’s be honest ladies…. once we know we are getting married, the first thing we want to do is pick out that wedding dress. For the bride who wants to consider a more sustainable garment, here are a few thoughts.  And remember, there is a sense of romance that can come from considering a garment of less synthetic materials, or one that has a history that precedes the current day, if a bride is open to such ideas.

– The easiest, and often most cost-effective, choice for a wedding dress is to find one on consignment. It can be the most romantic level of recycling, and often a dress can be found for a bargain that is of a much higher quality than the average bride could have afforded new.

– Check out the wedding gowns of your mother, grandmother, aunts, etc. You may just find a family treasure waiting for you in the attic.

– There are many new materials being used to make wedding and other special occasion dresses as beautiful as ever.  Hemp-based silks, organic cottons, nutshells, and more are being used all over the country to create gorgeous pieces. Companies like Conscious Elegance out of Pennsylvania use fair trade policies, and an environmentally sound working environment to carry their eco-friendly values throughout every aspect of their production.

There seem to be fewer eco-friendly options for the groom, but consider the following:

– If you must have tuxedos, renting is more eco-friendly than buying. Consider having your cummerbunds or ties handmade.

– If you are open to more casual suits, several companies make eco-friendly men’s suits, such as this organic hemp suit from Rawganique.

– When renting, look for a place that uses “greener” dry-cleaning methods to clean the suits after you return them.

For the most eco-friendiness, consider a beach or backyard wedding, with a casual dress code for both the wedding party and guests.

Eco Friendly Wedding Food Choices

More than any other choice a couple makes for their wedding, the food they decide to serve can have the largest environmental impact. Factors to consider:

– Is the food locally grown?  This cuts down on the fossils fuels used to deliver the food (and therefore often cuts down on costs as well).

– Is the produce organic?  Sometimes more costly, but often more fresh, and always healthier for both people and the planet.

– Are the meats free range or grass fed?  At the moment both choices tend to cost a bit more, but when it comes to a wedding, the differences are small compared to the statement you make on this milestone event in your life.

– Are sustainably harvested fish or vegetarian choices available?  Often, the delicious meals that incorporate these lower-on-the food chain choices are the greenest, cheapest, and most delectable of all wedding menu faire.  And guests never miss the meat!

Environmentally Friendly Wedding Flowers

Brides often have a favorite flower they want in their bouquet, or a color they want to match the wedding theme. Keep in mind that the most environmentally savvy choice is almost always locally grown. Ask your florist what flowers are in bloom and locally available during the month of your event. If you choose a location of natural beauty, such as a garden or beach, you can let mother nature take care of most of the decorations.

Eco Friendly Wedding Favors

One of the most fun and creative aspects of planning a wedding is choosing the favors that each guest will take home.  There are limitless eco-friendly choices, and they can both be beautiful and inspiring. Tiny trees in a little pot in the wedding colors look gorgeous on a table and can be a reminder of the day for years to come. Packets of flower or herb seeds are another wonderful keepsake, and are inexpensive. Soy or beeswax candles are a bit more costly, but a very elegant gift.  Anything that can be used again and again rather than thrown away is a good choice. Or skip the favors altogether and make a donation to an earth-friendly charity on the behalf of your guests instead.

Transportation

Nearly every wedding party relies on a limousine of some type to get the whole gang to and from each venue.  We have seen Hummer limos, Escalade limos, and the traditional sedans as well. While it may be the one and only time a bride and groom opt for such a gas-guzzling machine, the more couples that choose greener, cleaner forms of transportation, the more limo companies will be forced to invest in other types of engines for their vehicles. If using a limo of some kind is unavoidable, choosing a venue where both the ceremony and reception can both take place cuts down on wasted energy — and wasted time commuting from one spot to another.

Of course, it goes without saying that eloping or making a quick trip to the local courthouse is the most eco-friendly choice of all… but who doesn’t want to celebrate their love with friends and family? Incorporate a few eco-friendly ideas and give the planet a reason to celebrate with you.

Sara Anderson June 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm

When I got married, I wore a dress I got on E-bay, and it’s been passed on since then. In fact, both of my sisters used the same cake-topper I used (Homer and Marge Simpson in their prom regalia).

I think it makes a nice tradition to pass these items around.

I like to say it was a lucky wedding dress. I have no idea how things turned out for the first bride, but I’m 8 years into my happy marriage.

senfiretech July 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm

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Lori Del Genis April 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Dear Lars and Kent –

Oh my goodness! I just found this. Thank you so much for mentioning my business on your post. It was a wonderful surprise and it made my whole night.

I have to compliment you on your research; I couldn’t have found a more appropriate blog for my sustainable business if I tried. Kudos to you both for educating folks on eco-friendly matters and practical tips — goodness knows that there’s a lot of noise out there and people just need a little real info to get started. Thank you for doing this.

If you think that your readers would like to see a pictorial post of pretty pretty dresses, just let me know. I have lots of colorful images of this season’s designs, and you said it yourself: “But let’s be honest ladies…. once we know we are getting married, the first thing we want to do is pick out that wedding dress.” And with Earth Day around the corner (and the wedding season just revving up) it might be a timely event.

We also have a sustainable wedding dress design in the current American Textile History Museum exhibit:

http://www.athm.org/exhibitions/current_exhibitions/behind-the-veil-exhibition.php

The museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, which means that I get to say that we have a piece in the Smithsonian. (OMG OMG OMG!). And as a separate program, we’ll be teaching museum-goers about what we do on their Super Saturday Family Day. Because eco-chic is totally IN these days and Green is Gorgeous. And like you, we want to educate the world.

News article on the exhibition: http://www.nashobapublishing.com/ci_22915647

Thoughts?

Be well (and thanks again)
Lori

Lori Del Genis,
Director and Designer, Conscious Elegance Handmade Eco Wedding Dresses
http://www.consciouselegance.com — Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Wedding Attire

Featured in ‘Small Business, Big Change’ – Night Owl Press, Winter 2012/13
Winner of Wedding Wire’s Bride’s Choice Awards 2011, 2012 & 2013
Green America Certified Member since 2009
Environmental Agency/North Tyneside Council Business of the Year Award Winner

OffBeat Bride and Ethical Weddings Approved!
____________________________

Conscious Elegance
2056 Chelsea Lane, State College, PA 16801-2709
By appointment: 814-308-9555

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