Planning an eco-friendly wedding may be easier and more cost effective than you think. There are several simple and easy steps that can be taken to eliminate waste and help protect the environment.
1. SEND OUT INVITATIONS ON RECYCLED PAPER
For your wedding invites, choose a vendor that uses recyclable paper goods. Companies like Bella Figura and Green Paper Company offer paper made with post-consumer waste for invitations, menus and programs. Bella Figura uses 100% cotton paper made from reclaimed fibers and donates 1% of sales to environmental organizations through 1% for the Planet.
For their Lake Tahoe wedding, Alicia Silverstone and Christopher Jarecki sent out invitations from Green Field Paper Company. The paper was embedded with seeds for guests to plant in their own gardens.
2. PICK AN ECO-FRIENDLY VENUE
Web sites like Green Hotels can help you find an eco-friendly venue for your wedding. Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds chose the Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, an eco-resort located on the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere in Tofino, British Columbia for their September wedding. Kristi Yamaguchi and Bret Hedican were married at Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii, a venue that uses a three-acre photovoltaic system to generate the most solar electric power of any luxury resort in the world.
If you choose not to get married at a hotel, pick a place where your ceremony and reception can be held in the same location to cut down on transportation costs. A natural setting such as a beach or state park can make for a beautiful day.
3. CHOOSE A WEDDING DRESS MADE FROM SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
Designers such as Deborah Lindquist, Rene Geneva, Blue Sky Bridal and White Chocolate Label create beautiful, environmentally-conscious gowns from organic cotton, silk and hemp.
If you dream of wearing the same dress as a celebrity but don’t want to create more waste, check out Pre Owned Wedding Dresses. On this site, you’ll find some of the same Monique Lhuillier or Vera Wang styles you’ve seen on the biggest stars.
A nice option for bridesmaids is to let them wear their own dresses, like Ali Larter and Amy Smart did at this Malibu wedding.
4. CREATE A CHARITY OR ECO/FRIENDLY GIFT REGISTRY
Many celebrities ask for donations to their favorite charities rather than wedding gifts. At their Napa wedding, Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman requested donations to citizens stricken by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Beverley Mitchell and Michael Cameron created a charity registry at idofoundation.org, where guests invited to their Italy wedding could send donations to their charity of choice, The Elizabeth Glazer Pediactric AIDS foundation.
Another option is to register at eco-friendly stores like 3rliving or registerlocally.com. These sites have an assortment of organic towels, bed sheets, hemp rugs and fair trade kitchen products.
5. USE LOCALLY GROWN FLOWERS OR DONATE THEM AFTER THE WEDDING
Most flowers in the U.S. are imported from places such as Ecuador and China. The waste and pollution caused to transport these stems can be cut down by using locally grown flowers from farmers markets. If you have a few months to plan, you can even plant bulbs in your home garden.
Another option is Organic Bouquet, an eco-florist, who uses flowers from organic and green label farms.
And a nice thing to do after your wedding is to donate the flowers. Following her New York wedding to Roey Herskovitz, Lisa Loeb chose to give her flowers to Flower Power Foundation, an organization that provides flowers to hospice and rehabilitation centers.
6. TOSS BIO-DEGRADABLE RICE or SUSTAINABLE CONFETTI
The tradition of tossing rice on the bride and groom can be harmful to birds and the environment. At Chris Kattan‘s Yosemite wedding, guests tossed heart-shaped biodegradable rice. This rice can be purchased from My Wedding Favors. Another option is biodgradable and water soluble confetti, available at Ecofetti.com.
7. RECYCLE AT THE BAR
Make sure that bottles and cans from the bar are recycled after use. Check with your venue to see if they recycle, or provide bins that can be hauled away later. You can also use glassware made from recycled materials rather than paper products. Suppliers like The Green Glass Company offer products made from reclaimed and recycled glass. Biodegradable, compostable dishes and flatware made from cornstarch, sugar cane or tropical leaves are also available.
8. SERVE AN ORGANIC, LOCALLY GROWN OR VEGAN MENU
Organic food is prepared without the use of environmentally harmful pesticides and chemical additives. Check with your caterer to see if they can provide an organic menu, or pick up produce from a local farmers market. If you’re planning a DIY wedding, choose party platters from Whole Foods or other co-ops where organic and locally grown food is available. Alicia Silverstone and Ellen DeGeneres opted for vegan wedding menus, and served dishes like grilled tempeh with black rice, vegetables in a saffron sage sauce and red velvet cupcakes for dessert.
9. HAND OUT ECO-FRIENDLY FAVORS
Soy or bees wax candles make great gifts for guests to take home. At Chris Kattan and Sunshine Tutt’s Yosemite wedding guests took home organic products in tote bags from My Bag Cares, a 100% reusable and washable canvas bag that, in theory, could replace hundreds of plastic bags.
10. PLANT A TREE IN HONOR OF YOUR BIG DAY
Many couples incorporate a tree planting ceremony into their nuptials. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” couple Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney sealed their love with a tree planting ceremony at the Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu. As favors, guests had trees planted in their honor.
Soleil Moon Frye and Jason Goldberg renewed their vows on their 10-year anniversary, and had their two daughters plant a tree during the ceremony. Guests at their renewal were given trees to take home. Web sites like Beau Coup and Bliss Wedding Markets sell seeds at a small cost.
(Photos: Red Loft Studios, Frank Amodo)