Environmentally Friendly Tips for Weddings

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something…green? You heard right — green is the color of the wedding season.

A poll on brides.com in 2007 found that 33 percent of future brides and grooms in the United States were planning eco-friendly weddings.

To honor your green intentions, The Nature Conservancy has tips below to make that special day one Mother Nature can celebrate, too. Our green ideas — from invitations through the honeymoon — will help reduce your celebration’s impact on the planet, and on your wallet as well. Read below for green tips and ideas for fashion, invitations, favors, flowers, food, locations, etc.

Sending invitations electronically or on recycled paper stock will save money and trees. Bonus for going the electronic route: You’ll save on the fuel used to deliver the cards.

Gift Registry
Register for gifts that you actually need, will definitely use and (if possible) are healthy for the planet.

You can also include an option for your guests to donate to your favorite charity or create your own personal fundraising page specifically for your wedding — complete with photos, updates and a guestbook.

Organic flowers are one option, but tastefully arranged dried or silk flowers can make as big a statement as fresh floral arrangements.

If you’re set on fresh flowers, try decorating with potted plants native to your area. What’s fresher than still-living flora? You can even plant them when the ceremony is over — wedding décor and landscaping in one fell swoop!

Wearing a vintage or hand-me-down dress is the most environmentally and cost-friendly way to go.

But if you prefer a new dress, look for one that’s made of certified organic cotton, since polyester is petroleum-based and most other cotton is grown with harsh pesticides.

Grooms and ushers can get on the all-natural natural-fiber bandwagon as well by wearing a dress shirt made of hemp or organic cotton.

The Rings
The production of one tiny band of gold results in 20 tons of mine waste, according to Earthworks, an organization that works to protect the environment from the impact of mineral development.

Show your commitment to your brand new spouse with a recycled or heirloom ring, or go for silver bands — the mining of silver is a bit gentler on the environment.

The Location
Holding your festivities in a central location will cut down on travel for your guests, which will make both them and Mother Nature even happier to be a part of your joyous day.

Another thing to consider when choosing a wedding locale: “Believe it or not,” says the Conservancy’s lead scientist Sanjayan, “big cities might be better than country locations because cities, for the most part, have less energy use in terms of per capita carbon.”

Feeding your guests unpronounceable pesticides is no way to show your appreciation for their attendance, so consider serving organic food and wine at the reception.

Local produce is also a great, low-impact option, and your menu will be fresher for guests and easier on nature.

The Bridal Association of America estimates that the average couple spends over $400 on favors for their guests, which seems like a lot for a couple pounds of after-dinner mints. A greener option? Donate the amount set aside in your budget to a favorite charity.

Help reforest Brazil’s Atlantic Forest by contributing to The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign.
The Honeymoon
The party might be over, but the honeymoon fun has just begun. One way to lessen your trip’s environmental impact is to forgo a far-flung destination. (And as the cost of fuel continues to rise, keeping it local will also save you a bundle in travel costs.)

If you’re heading off to an exotic location, remember that many travel companies offer eco-trips or environmentally friendly excursions. You could even go on a Nature Conservancy Conservation Journey!

No matter how you decide to spend your honeymoon, you can buy energy offset credits to offset the toll your travel has on the environment.
…And Baby Makes Three?
If there’s a baby on the way, or you’re planning to start a family soon, have eight trees planted on your child’s behalf, says Sanjayan.

“Eight trees will offset the amount of carbon a person releases by simply breathing during an average lifetime,” he says. While you’re at it, why not plant a few for yourself as well?


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