Environmentally friendly ideals are now permeating all aspects of daily living. Many people want to take the concept further and ensure their nuptials — and subsequent reception — are good for the planet as well.
Although there are no firm statistics on the number of green weddings being held each year, emerging trends point to the growing interest in eco-conscious weddings. Individuals who already do their best to recycle, reuse and reduce want to employ those same values on their wedding day.
There are many ways to employ a green mindset to wedding planning and execution. Largely the carbon footprint of a wedding can be reduced simply by scaling back and avoiding over-consumption. Here are some ideas to think about.
1. Reduce travel. Research indicates that more than two-thirds of emissions in the U.S. are produced by energy consumption and transportation. By reducing guests’ need to travel far for a wedding or offering transportation that can accommodate several people at once (like a bus), carbon emissions will be reduced.
2. Home is where the heart is. Keeping weddings close to home is helpful. Those with big backyards or a park nearby can host the event at home or in a nearby park and reduce dependence on large reception halls that use up large amounts of energy to operate. A home wedding also gives couples the opportunity to shop around for locally produced, organic foods.
3. Shop for floral alternatives. Flowers would seem “green” in themselves. However, many blooms available at florist shops are grown in hothouses with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, something that is not very good for the environment at all. Brides opting for something more eco-conscious could consider alternative options, such as bouquets made of sustainable succulent plants and centerpieces full of organic fruits and wildflowers.
4. Choose an open registry. Instead of fine china that may never be used, many couples are opting for open registries that enable guests to gift everything from eco-friendly housewares to charitable donations to cash for down payments on a home.
5. Opt for mixed seating arrangements: Instead of formal escort cards indicating firm seating arrangements, couples are saving paper by allowing guests to choose their own seats from mix-matched options, such as long, communal benches and comfy sofas.
6. Go with something old. Recycled gowns and gently used items are good alternatives for eco-conscious brides. Many Web sites will match up brides with others looking to swap items at low or no cost.
7. Skip the paper. Though etiquette experts frown on abandoning paper invitations for electronic ones, many couples are doing just that. For those who still prefer paper, print invitations on recycled paper. Reduce other wedding stationery needs by posting information on a wedding Web site shared with family and friends.
8. Go small scale. Instead of inviting every last cousin and distant uncle, couples are opting for more intimate affairs, including only the people they are closest to, which saves on cost and helps the environment.
9. Trim some of the wedding day fat. Some couples opt for an all-you-can-eat buffet and then a subsequent dessert bar later on in the evening. Stuffed guests may end up wasting more food than eating it. Instead of all-you-can, go for a more traditional meal.
10. Choose a charitable party favor. Instead of a party favor that collects dust on a shelf, couples are choosing to gift with organic products or a donation to a charitable organization in the guests’ names.