The wedding day is one of the most important celebrations in a person’s life. But it also tops the list of one of the most wasteful events–it’s estimated that each wedding in the United States produces around 600 pounds of garbage and 62 tons of carbon dioxide. Throwing the perfect wedding doesn’t have to mean harming the environment; keeping your nuptials eco-friendly can be green and chic. Before you throw the most important party of your life, consider these tips to ensure you don’t scorn Mother Earth in the process.
All wedding planning starts with one thing: the ring. It should be a reflection of your personality and values—so if being eco-friendly is important to you, you should pay close attention to what your ring is made of and where it came from. Try choosing a ring made from recycled materials and lab-created gemstones, for example. If your heart is set on diamonds, find a jeweler that uses only conflict-free ones, meaning they are certified ethically sourced and traded. And if you’re so blessed that a family member has shared one of their stones with you, so much the greener!
The single most important dress of your life should make you feel good inside and out. Before you set your sights on this season’s newest fashions, consider a vintage gown. A lot of fabric is wasted making a wedding dress, and certain man-made materials aren’t always good for Mother Earth. Better yet, ask to wear a relative’s gown and check off your “something borrowed” category. Gown restoration companies can refresh the vintage gown to look brand new or redesign it to fit your own personality.
After you’ve got your dress covered, make sure your bridesmaids can go green as well. By allowing them to wear different styles and shades of dresses, you’re increasing their likelihood of using a dress they already own or buying one they truly will wear again, unlike that chartreuse frock that hides in your closet.
Moving wedding communications to the Internet is a trendy, paperless way to make your wedding a little greener. Find a tech-savvy friend or hire a company to make electronic invitations and a wedding website. After sending out your save-the-dates and invitations electronically, you can direct guests to the personalized website housing your engagement photos, RSVPs, information updates, links to registries and more! Say goodbye to snail mail—this is a faster, more reliable way to ensure your RSVPs are received, plus guests can update their head count if need be. If you’ve already said “I do” to more tangible communications, opt for recycled paper or paperless materials for your correspondence.
Give your guests a wedding favor they’ll actually use, and one that’s better for the environment. Make a day out of DIY-ing some personalized mason jar glasses (or another kind of glass, for that matter) for your guests. This way they’ll never lose their drink, and they can reuse the same cute glass all night, conserving much of the energy and water that would be used to wash hundreds of once-used glasses. Pro tip: the glasses can double as place cards if you’re really feeling green.
Keep It Local
Use local vendors whenever possible to keep your wedding’s carbon footprint down and promote the local economy. Think local food, photographers, flowers and clothing designers. The shorter the distance traveled the better. As a bonus, local vendors usually take more care with their products and aren’t as likely to use pesticides or other harmful processes.
Do Yourself a Favor
No one needs another koozie with your great aunt’s daughter’s son’s name stamped on it. Consider donating money to a charity on behalf of your wedding guests instead of wasting money on favors. If your heart is set on favors, though, choose ones that are the least likely to be wasted. Local treats like honey, cookies or candy are sure to be eaten while your guest is waiting for dinner, for example. Plantable favors, such as tree seeds or sprouted herbs, are another great option your guests are sure to enjoy.
Flowers are one of the largest item of the wedding budget, and one of the most transient. If you’re leaving town for a honeymoon, enlist the help of friends to repurpose your flowers into smaller bouquets that can be distributed to nursing homes, hospitals or hospice patients.
Making your wedding as green as possible is a great way to make your wedding unique–it’s all about being creative. Even the smallest changes have an effect and will stick with you and your new spouse as you start your life together. You might even inspire your guests to incorporate similar changes into their own lives. Whether you choose just one of these tips or hire a green wedding planner to cover every detail, you’re making a difference in our planet’s (and your own) health. HLM
Sources: bhg.com, diamondfacts.org, greenbrideguide.com, huffingtonpost.com and theknot.com.