We're all for helping the earth and you can do it without sacrificing your budget, vision or sanity. We have 7 easy tips for going green without walking down the aisle in a biodegradable paper dress. (Could you imagine if it rained? Oh my!!)
Your venue sets the theme and feel for any event and is often your first major decision. One of the largest ways to cut down on energy consumption is to get married outdoors where the sun provides the majority of your lighting. Our favorite venues for this option would be Arrington Vineyards or Cheekwood Botanical Garden. We know outdoor ceremony and receptions don't work for everyone. If you prefer to be indoors, there are several ways to still make it green. For example, you can hold your ceremony and reception in one place so your guests do not have to travel from one venue to another, cutting back on emissions. You can also select a venue that gets plenty of natural light and host a daytime wedding. This way you can leave the lights off. You can also look for hotels that recycle and use energy efficient appliances and biodegradable products.
Millions of trees are felled every year to create paper products. Unfortunately the process of producing these items pollutes the environment. If you wish to make more eco-conscious invite choices, we still recommend old school snail mail for your formal wedding invitations, but for your save-the-dates, going paperless is becoming more and more common. You can also be more
eco-friendly by reducing the number of inserts in your invitations. Instead, we recommend directing people to your wedding website for any extra details. For your invitation, we recommend stationery designers that offer products created from recycled paper and those who also use soy-based inks. Some paper products are even plantable. Yes, plantable! Paper is embedded with seeds, so guests can plant them following your wedding and the paper blooms into flowers, plants or herbs instead of cluttering up in a landfill. You can opt for sustainable resources such as cotton or bamboo.
You may realize, but not all flowers are organic. Some farms use chemicals to keep insects at bay, which can end up affecting organic matter in soil, and in some cases, causing illness in the workers who handle them. To make sure your blooms are as sustainable as possible, look for florists who source locally grown blooms that are farm-to-table, so to speak. Floral farms that cut the stems and have the flowers to you within a few days are ideal. And less refrigeration time means less electricity use! By hiring a florist who only uses in-season, locally grown flowers is not only environmentally friendly, but you will also have the freshest, best quality stems at the best price. However, if you have your heart set on a flower that isn't in season and an in-season replica simply won't do, be sure to ask your florist to only use flowers that are VeriFlora-certified. This means that the blooms aren't grown with chemicals or grown under harsh working conditions.
Don't want your beautiful flowers thrown away after your celebration? Work with a florist that will pick up the arrangements and reuse them or donate them on your behalf to a local hospital or hospice. Our favorite eco-friendly choice is using potted lush green plants, topiaries or colorful flowering plants as centerpieces. This way, you can take them home and replant them after your wedding.
Not a flower person? A beautiful bundle from the farmer's market creates not only a lovely and unique bouquet to carry down the aisle, but then also doubles quite nicely as decoration for your reception tables.
Food is the center of any celebration, and going green doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on taste! With the farm-to-table movement in full swing, it is even more accessible than ever to source
eco-friendly food. Keep in mind that organic food does cost more when you are planning out your budget, however, asking your caterer to source from in-season, locally-grown products, this will help keep the cost down a little while guaranteeing the freshest finds.
We also recommend that when you source your cake artist to ask them if they would be willing to use locally-sourced ingredients like flour, eggs and butter for the cake. When bought directly from growers, food needs less time in the fridge and less packaging to stay fresh and since the food is coming from a shorter distance, less fuel is needed to transport it.
The most eco-friendly way to source your dress is by re-wearing a gown. It could be your mothers, or grandmothers even. If you love the idea of wearing her dress, but find that the style doesn't quite suit you , work with a seamstress who specializes in formalware to make it more your own. If you don't want to wear her dress, check out vintage clothing shops or consignment boutiques. If you still don't see something that speaks to you, did you know you you can buy or rent pre-worn gowns? Our favorite site for this is Nearly Newlywed. In the same vein, we suggest allowing the bridal party to wear clothing that they already own, or rent from another of our favorites, Rent the Runway. Be sure to give them a few guidelines, such as color and hem length and them let them show off their personal style. If you prefer to wear a brand-new dress, we love designers that use sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, silk or hemp, such as H&M's eco-conscious wedding collection or Reformation.
We love when guests offer plantable favors like potted saplings, herbs or succulents. However, if a fair amount of your guests are traveling, keep in mind that they won't want to try to pack a pot of soil into their suitcase. In those cases, consider biodegradable seed packets. You can also go the edible route which is one of our favorite options. Support local businesses like coffee houses by offering your guests mini bags of their signature beans or go to a local candy shops for chocolate or even jams or honey in reusable glass jars. Another fun idea? Send your guests home with your wedding flowers! Have an attendant ready to arrange your florals into individual bouquets for friends and family to enjoy at home. For an entirely different option, we also suggest you consider a charity donation. Display a sign letting guests know that a donation has been made in lieu of favors to a meaningful organization. You can also pick a few of your favorites charities and let your guests choose. Offer them a little information on each, designate it a color, and allow them to decide which organization they'd like you to donate to on their behalf.
There seems to be an eco-friendly option for just anything and everything you might think to register for. We suggest that you pay close attention to where the items you select are made and what materials are sourced. Consider items such as organic bedding, canvas shopping bags, reusable bamboo plates and all natural kitchen and bath products. If you'd rather forego a traditional registry altogether, consider asking for a charitable donation to go toward a green organization or register for your honeymoon in lieu of traditional gifts.