Your Style: Eco-Chic. How to Have the Wedding of Your Dreams
An eco-friendly wedding doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice elegance. Here's a guide to the green wedding of your dreams. (expert advice)
You have always dreamed of having an eco-chic wedding. Without sacrificing style, you want your wedding to be both socially and environmentally responsible. Planning such an affair can seem overwhelming, but if you break down your day into tangible categories, there are some simple implementations that will make your wedding both earth friendly and beautiful. Keep in mind that the simpler and smaller the wedding, the less waste and consumption there will be. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a huge bash; just be prepared for greater expense and added waste-reduction challenges. Remember to communicate your vision to all involved when planning, and then watch your dream wedding become a reality.
Go paper-free and send out digital invites. Or, if you still want guests to receive a tangible invitation, consider sending out emails for save-the-date requests and also set up a website for RSVPs. At the very least, save paper by using a postcard RSVP instead of an enveloped one. A website can include registry information and directions, thus reducing the number of inserts with the invitation. Print your invitations on eco-friendly materials. Try non-tree-fiber papers such as hemp of kenaf, which require less bleaching and cultivation, or opt for recycled and/or recyclable paper. Seek out a printer that offers soy-based ink. It’s made from renewable soybeans and also gives you a brighter, cleaner look.
Fashion has come a long way in the area of eco-friendliness. Many designers now offer natural and organic fabrics. Thanks to the Internet, you have access to countless gorgeous, customizable dress options. You can also promote local business by finding a neighborhood seamstress to sew your gown. Borrowing a dress, buying a vintage gown, one made of recycled materials (really!) or walking down in the aisle in your mother’s wedding attire are also great ideas. Pick something you love with the intention of passing it down to future generations. Consider donating your gown to a charitable organization where it will benefit a great cause and give another woman a chance to have her dream day. Research environmentally conscious precious metals for ring options, and use natural and organic makeup products to finish off your gorgeous look.
When it comes to bridal-party transportation, try to reduce the number of vehicles used in getting everyone to the ceremony. Opting for hybrids is a great idea, as is planning the bride’s arrival to the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage. The latter option is both romantic and easy on the planet. To save on emissions (and to save money), consider either hosting the ceremony and reception at the same venue or arranging for a shuttle service to move all your guests from one location to another.
Make sure that your officiant is aware of your eco-friendly theme, especially if you want him or her to make your guests aware of some of your planning choices. He or she may be able to draw attention to the values that you’ve built your day around. Plan to decorate the ceremony location with flowers and candles (preferably soy) that can be reused at the reception site.
Find a florist who uses local organic flowers. If you plan your floral scheme around seasonal offerings, you’ll be saving money while also saving the planet. Consider decorating with potted plants, as they can be transplanted after the wedding. Try to avoid artificial flowers, as they’re often made in substandard conditions and aren’t biodegradable. And talk to your florist about how his or her store typically disposes of flowers. Donate your flowers to a local church or shelter after the wedding, or compost them. Perhaps you’ll even give some of the arrangements to guests as favors.
Food and Drink
Think local, flavorful, organic ingredients. Find a caterer who understands your eco-chic vision and who will incorporate seasonal vegetation. You can save energy by simplifying the menu and reducing the number of courses. Make sure that the menu includes vegetarian options, or opt to go completely meat-free. Stock the bar with organic wines and spirits, and have all bottles and cans recycled at the end of the night. Even your wedding cake can be baked with organic ingredients. Do a little research and you’ll be surprised by your culinary options. In sharing your vision, emphasize that you don’t want leftovers going to waste. Arrange for a delivery of what isn’t eaten to a local shelter or soup kitchen, and insist on a no-Styrofoam policy. Cleanup is a significant part of eco-friendly planning.
Use recycled, organic, and/or reusable materials for your napkins and tablecloths. Renting linens is a great way to reduce waste. And instead of placing a menu at each setting, opt for only one per table. Perhaps you’ll choose to save energy by holding the reception outside and making use of daylight and solar lanterns; there are plenty of gorgeous parks and nature reserves that support your nature-friendly cause. Or consider lighting your indoor venue with soy candles.
Try to avoid the use of disposable items, including the cameras that are frequently used in the popular disposable-camera trend. Instead of decorating with crepe paper and balloons that will just end up in the trash, stick with your organic flowers, potted plants, candlelight, and natural elements. You can even reuse your bridesmaids’ bouquets as centerpieces. If you’re keen on the confetti idea, look into using wildflower seeds, flower petals, or bubbles instead of rice, which can be harmful to birds.
If you’re trying to be eco-friendly, be sure to avoid handing out useless trinkets that will only create waste. Use the favors as an opportunity to reinforce your green theme. For favors, stick with consumables in recyclable packaging, give away saplings or packets of seeds, or donate to charities in your guests’ names in lieu of gifts. As mentioned before, consider giving away centerpieces instead of letting your floral arrangements go to waste.
Registry and Honeymoon
Why not register with stores that support your eco-chicness? Let your guests know about your desire to set up an eco-friendly home by registering at places that emphasize sustainable design. Or, in lieu of receiving gifts, you might set up a honeymoon registry. This will help offset the costs of your dream honeymoon to an eco-friendly resort.
An eco-chic wedding is not an impossible dream. Like any wedding with a specific vision, there will need to be careful communication, planning, and execution. Fortunately, “going green” is both a hot wedding trend and a responsible decision. Take advantage of the almost endless online resources and creative possibilities, and dream big.