Among many things, your wedding marks the first day of a beautiful future–and your enduring commitment to that future. What better way to illustrate that vision the future than by making your wedding more eco-friendly? By minimizing your wedding’s “footprint,” you’re making earth-conscious choices for a truly happily-ever-after–for you and your beloved.
Fortunately, there are several ways to green your wedding without sacrificing your fairy wedding vision.
1. The Dress. Buying a second-hand dress doesn’t sound very glamourous. But if you’re open to wearing a pre-worn dress, think of it as vintage instead–even if by “vintage,” you mean “vintage 2012.” Wearing a dress from an older decade will ensure that your ensemble is unique–i.e. it’s very unlikely you’ll see your old classmate wearing the same dress in her wedding photos on your Facebook newsfeed!
Alternatively, you can check out our picks for eco wedding dress designers, all of whom source ethically-produced linens.
2. Your Rings. Find a jeweler who works with conflict-free stones and recycled precious metals. Recycled metals are as good as new and avoid the environmentally-costly process of mining new metals. See our interview with NYC jeweler Barbara Polinsky for tips on selecting environmentally-friendly rings and finding a jeweler you can trust.
3. The Menu. Offering a 100% vegan or plant-heavy menu at your wedding may be one of the biggest ways you can make a difference on your big day. For one, even replacing one meat meal with a meatless meal has an environmental impact–which is just one of the motivations behind the Meatless Monday movement. Second, there’s always a chance that your vegan wedding will inspire a friend or relative to embrace a more plant-based lifestyle.
4. Use vintage or heirloom linens. You know those ornate tablecloths you inherited from your great aunt? Now is the time to bring them down from the attic and put them to good use. Alternatively, you can scour antique stores for pretty linens you can mix and match for an eclectic, shabby-chic look. This is a far more eco-friendly route than buying new linens that you may never use again. If antique linens aren’t your thing, find out if your wedding venue will rent you linens in your wedding colors.
5. Find local vendors. Support the local economy and cut down on fuel emissions by finding local vendors. Another plus of this route is that vendors in the same area often get to know one another’s work. A caterer may be able to recommend a good florist, etc.
6. Your invites and RSVPs. Good news! “Greener” invites may also be less expensive. For example, you can send out regular paper invitations but skip the paper RSVP card. Ask guests to respond to the invitation on your wedding website. Or, you can ditch the paper invite all together and e-mail a cute video invitation to your guest list. If you can’t part with the idea of paper invitations, you shouldn’t have a hard time sourcing pretty recycled or tree-free paper.
7. The Wedding Program. If you plan to have a wedding program, why not write it up on chalkboard stand outside of the ceremony area. This will save you several sheets of paper (and ink!). Plus, you’ll get to take home a cute chalkboard!
8. Your flowers. If possible, find a local, organic florist. Organic flowers don’t rely on dangerous pesticides and are far better for soil they’re planted in. Moreover, they’re safer for all who handle them–from the farmers to the bride!
9. Have a minimalist registry. Only request the items you really need. Not only does this reduce the headache of packing up your house when you move, it’s also a smarter choice for the environment. Just think of all the packaging that comes with a new coffee maker. If you don’t really need much at all, ask guests to contribute to a cause of your choice instead of purchasing gifts.
10. Saying thank you. Skip wedding favors, and thank your guests for attending by donating to a cause in their honor. Or, if you love the idea of tangible favors (I do!), send your guests home with baby trees they can plant at home.
Do you like these eco-friendly wedding ideas? If you have tips from your own wedding, please share!
Also see: 5 Tips to Start Planning Your Wedding
Photos: Albert Palmer via Flickr, Sergine Broallier via Etsy, Barbara Michelle Jacobs, Peaceful Dumpling, The Linen Lavoir via Flickr, Sarah Parrott via Flickr, Polly via Flickr.