It’s April! Which means we want to educate all of you on how to make your wedding decor a bit more eco-friendly. We know that most of you can’t make the entire thing organic and environmentally conscious, but as you’re planning, think about the small things you can do. We’re starting with potted centerpieces. Ask your florist the best way to go about this. They will be able to help you, and be able to present the flowers in the most aesthetically pleasing way.
Potted Herbs | Colorful Potted Flowers | Box Potted Flowers | Potted Cacti | Crystal Potted Flowers
Tips from the Green Bride Guide
Do-it-yourself projects can be a fun way to add eco-details and a personal touch to your wedding. Utilize your creative talents to decide what kinds of projects you can do, then green your DIY ideas by choosing repurposed, recycled, or vintage materials.
Photo Credit: Samantha Warren Weddings
Have beautiful penmanship? Create your own place cards from recycled cardstock. Crafty with a sewing machine? Stitch purses using reclaimed fabrics and give them as bridesmaids’ gifts. Have a penchant for paint? Repurpose old picture frames by painting them in fitting colors for your décor. Print or draw table numbers or menus on recycled paper to put inside the frame, or fill them with family or childhood pictures of you and your intended to decorate the ceremony or reception site.
Photo Credit: Blueberry Photography
Green Your Decor
One time use décor pieces abound at weddings, and land in the trash can afterwards. Eco-friendly options are plentiful as well, though, and don’t require you to sacrifice on style or elegance.
An easy way to green your décor pieces is to incorporate natural elements. Wood pieces can be a great starting point for your natural décor. Fallen branches in the backyard can be collected and repurposed to create rustic ceremony adornments, or cut to become surprisingly elegant name card holders. You could even use a thin slice of wood as a uniquely beautiful ring pillow!
Photo Credit: AJH Photography
Rocks and stones offer a variety of colors and textures to suit your wedding’s style. Work them into centerpieces, line them up at the ceremony site to create an aisle (instead of a wasteful disposable aisle runner), or use a water-based paint pen on them to create place cards without paper.
Photo Credit: Tinywater Photography
Coordinate the use of natural elements with the season of your wedding, and your eco-chic décor possibilities are limitless: richly colored leaves in the fall, pinecones in the winter, beach sand and shells in the summer…you get the idea. These items can be composted or simply returned to nature after the celebration.
When You Can’t Reduce, Reuse or Recycle, Offset
So, you’ve planned your wedding and made some eco-friendly choices along the way. You’ve put together an elegant celebration that showcases your personal style, and isn’t so hard on the earth. All the green choices you’ve made, no matter how small, will make a difference in lessening your wedding’s impact. If you’d like to take things one step further, consider offsetting the carbon impact of your wedding. Use a carbon calculator to determine your wedding’s impact, and then purchase carbon credits through an organization like Brighter Planet or Carbon Fund. You can offset the overall carbon impact of your wedding day, and/or take into consideration your guests’ travel and any travel you might be doing for your honeymoon as well.
Photo Credit: W. Scott Chester Photography
The average engaged couple has so many choices to make for their wedding day, and making those choices with the earth in mind is simple and often budget-friendly. Best of all, you can begin your sustainable marriage with a beautiful and sustainable wedding celebration.
(Guest Blog Post: Eco-Beautiful Weddings)
So many wedding magazines and blogs have tried to take their own spin on what going green for your wedding day means. Unfortunately, with so many different points of view about what makes a green wedding, the choices can become overwhelming and downright difficult. An eco-friendly wedding is defined by you and where you are. Pretty simple if you take the time to think about it.
The basics of going green for your wedding truly depends on your geography and what is available locally. There has been a huge misconception for years that eco-friendly weddings were either cheap or way too expensive due to organic menus. A green wedding can be any budget! No – you don’t have to have a backyard vegan barbeque for your wedding to go green. You also don’t have to spend a fortune on organic food. The choices are widening and more vendors are going green. Simply ask your vendors questions. Find out if your vendors are buying locally or using eco-friendly office procedures and products. Buying organic does not necessarily mean it is eco-friendly, especially if those items have to be trucked or flown in from a far away place. On the other hand, not all local produce and flowers are eco-friendly either due to the incessant amount of pesticides that certain regions require. The key is to use common sense and make sensible choices while asking the right questions. If buying local fish is better than buying local flowers laden with pesticides – go with the fish and ask your florist about using flowers from another source that is eco-friendly.
Your wedding can be anywhere from light green to dark green depending on how many elements are eco-friendly. If each bride and groom took at least one element of their wedding and made it green, it could literally the change the world! Having a beautiful wedding while changing the world at the same time is what being green is all about!
Love Life Images (www.lovelifeimages.com)
Documentary Associates (www.documentaryassociates.com)
About our Guest Blogger:
Katie Martin is one of the world’s leading eco-friendly wedding experts. She has owned and operated Elegance & Simplicity, Inc. since 1998. Her firm has designed 1000’s of eco-friendly events and has been heralded internationally by magazines, newspapers, blogs and other forms of media. Ms. Martin is also the Editor-in-Chief of Eco-Beautiful Weddings® Online Magazine & Blog. She has 3 books that will hit bookshelves in 2010:
- Everything Mother of the Bride Book, 2nd Edition – On bookshelves now!
- Everything Wedding Book, 4th Edition – On bookshelves, Fall 2010
- Eco-Beautiful Weddings® – On bookshelves 2010
Erin + Greg
Erin wore a ‘recycled’ vintage family wedding gown that was worn by her grandmother and aunt, altered slightly for a more modern fashion sensibility. A photo tribute of brides in the heirloom dress let guests appreciate its family significance. A welcome table on the front lawn greeted guests with hot spiced cider and tea cookies. Handcrafted escort cards hung by clothes pins on a twine line between massive front lawn trees. Tables dressed with linen and burlap overlays, fall flowers, twigs, berries, pumpkin and gourds were named for Nashville landmarks and identified with art collage table numbers. A harvest-inspired home style dinner with locally sourced southern cuisine began with biscuits, butter and jam pre-set on the tables and ended with wedding cake and home made pie.
Wedding venue: Cedarwood
Floral and design: Cedarwood
Photos: Jim Veezy Photography
Favors: The Nature Conservancy
Here are a few ways this eco-conscious couple reduced their wedding imprint on the environment:
- Having the ceremony and reception at the same venue eliminated travel emissions and the couple provided shuttles for out of town guests to reduce traffic
- Instead of traditional favors, Erin and Greg purchased carbon offset contributions through the Nature Conservancy
- Outdoor settings for the ceremony and celebration saved energy
- No plastic! All food service and bar ware were re-usable china and glassware. The venue also recycles and composts organic materials from their flower design studio and catering kitchen
- Served beer by the barrel (kegs) purchased product from a local brewery instead of bottles to reduced landfill waste. No bottled water – the venue provided chilled filtered water instead
- Cedarwood designers included seasonal produce and flowers from the farmer’s market as part of their ‘farm fresh’ arrangements of natural, renewable flowers and greenery for wedding décor
Tips from the Green Bride Guide
Green Your Travel
The impact of wedding-related travel is significant. Consider a small-ish wedding of about a hundred guests; even if four guests pile into a car (which is unlikely; most cars probably only carry two guests), that’s still twenty-five vehicles driving from one location to the next and contributing to global warming. One of the easiest ways to cut down on your wedding’s travel footprint is to have your ceremony and reception in the same place.
If a single location for both parts of your wedding celebration is not a good option for you, consider hiring a bus or van to move everyone en masse. If you provide snacks and drinks on board, a wedding bus can be a real highlight for you and your guests.
Photo Credit: Studio Mathewes
According to The Wedding Report, about 75% of couples travel to and from their wedding in a limousine, at an average cost of $674. What about a more eco- and potentially budget-friendly option? Imagine the attention and excitement you and your intended would receive if you traveled to your wedding on some form of public transportation. Even better, consider the unique, arty photographs that could result from a ride on the trolley, bus, or subway. More romantic and personalized options could include a tandem bicycle for the athletic couple, an elegant horse and carriage ride, or a rowboat or sailboat for the wedding at water’s edge.
Photo Credit: Jeff Downie
Choose to Reuse
Much of the wastefulness of weddings comes from the multitude of single use items that are associated with them. Clothing, décor pieces, and even leftover food can find a use beyond the trashcan if you plan ahead.
When you consider bridal party attire, think with future use in mind. The men can purchase new suits that they’ll wear again and again, or coordinate their looks with formalwear they already own. If tuxedos are a must, rentals are the best option since most men do not have a need for a tuxedo in their personal wardrobe. Women’s attire can be a little trickier, but matching gowns in one color are the hardest type to reuse. Instead, bridesmaids and children in the wedding party can be given a color palette from which to choose something they already own, or to purchase something they will wear again.
The bride herself can consider refashioning a family or vintage gown, or buying a once-worn gown on a site like SmartBride Boutique. If her heart is set on a new gown, she can consider reselling or donating it afterward. Bridal shoes are also typically a one-time wear. Like gowns, these can be bought once-worn and then resold after, or the bride can choose shoes in a color besides white that she is more likely to wear again.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Canlas
Leftover food and flowers can also find another use after the wedding, but these details require advance arrangements. Contact local hospitals or nursing homes ahead of time to see if your flowers can brighten up their patients’ days after your wedding. Arrange to donate your leftover food to a shelter or soup kitchen so none of it goes to waste.
Even décor pieces can be repurposed or reused. Sites like Recycled Bride and Brideshare allow couples to share or resell décor pieces to save money and cut down on waste. Think creatively when it comes to décor pieces that have the potential to be one-time use items, and get tossed in the trash after your wedding. For example, many couples choose a disposable aisle runner for their ceremony. Instead, why not use a sprinkling of organic flower petals to demarcate your aisle?
Photo Credit: Michele Waite
Other options include using a runner carpet from a special family member’s home, or framing your aisle with soy candle-filled mason jars for an elegant touch to an evening ceremony.
How will your guests remember your day? It can be hard to come up with a small gift to give to over a hundred guests that will be a meaningful token of your appreciation, and a fitting reminder of your day. More often than not, guests leave a wedding with a tiny trinket that eventually gets thrown in the trash.
Consider instead something that your guests will be happy to see every day as they remember your special day. Plantable items, like seeds and tree saplings, are growing in popularity as wedding favors, especially because of the wonderful symbolism they provide: they grow and blossom, just like your love.
Colorado Blue Spruce sapling favors
Photo Credit: Frederick Ng
Edibles make perfect eco-friendly favors too. Chocolates are a popular option, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, you still have choices. You could create a candy station and allow your guests to fill a kraft bag with their favorites. Perhaps there is a local specialty in your area that would be a delicious reminder of your wedding day, like a tiny bottle of maple syrup for a Vermont wedding, or a miniature bottle of wine for a vineyard celebration. You might even gift your guests with a sweet and creative take-home treat: cookies cut and decorated to coordinate with the theme and colors of your wedding.
Apple-shaped cookie favors
Photo Credit: Ellie Grover
In our final article next week, we’ll be sharing tips about incorporating eco-friendly DIY projects, greening your décor (no matter what your wedding colors are!), and offsetting the aspects of your wedding that can’t be reduced, reused, or recycled.