Most young couples select a few cherished and time-honoured traditions for their special day which are dear to their hearts or beliefs. In the 21st century it is becoming more common for brides and grooms to unite traditional wedding customs with a passion for the environment. With any size budget and a little creativity, having an earth-friendly celebration does not mean sacrificing style and elegance.

Earth-Friendly Weddings: Trading Senseless Pomp for Eco-Friendly

It is a new age – a time to toss aside the “cookie-cutter” weddings for originality and sustainability. It is time to trade senseless fluff (and waste) for mindful indulgence. From the rings to the honeymoon, options that offer environmental value come together with the tradition and style common to most weddings.

It is estimated that most U.K. couples budget an average of £20,000 for their wedding, not including the cost of rings or the honeymoon. Americans spend £72 billion each year on weddings, £19 billion per year on wedding gift registries, and £8 billion per year on honeymoons. Why not take some of that money and add new depth and meaning to an already momentous occasion?

7 Steps to a Green Wedding

1. Invitations

The typical wedding invitation consists of several pieces of paper – the actual invitation, possibly a separate reception invitation, a map, an RSVP card and return envelope. Why not consolidate everything down to one or two sheets and use 100% recycled paper or tree-free paper? An ultra-modern and Eco-friendly way to invite guests to the big day is to create a wedding website, send out electronic invitations, and allow guests to RSVP to the website. There is also the option of sending out a traditional paper invitation and having guests RSVP through a supplemental website.

2. Location

Choosing a location that is convenient to most guests to minimise the amount of travel impact or picking a spot where the ceremony and reception can be held together are great ways to set an earth-friendly tone. Consider picking an outdoor venue if weather permits – the beach, a large garden – it will require less decorating and provides a setting for the pre-ceremony photo session and reception as well.

3. Rings

Consider purchasing diamonds which were synthetically grown in a laboratory versus mined diamonds. They are real diamonds (they just did not take billions of years to form) and they are less expensive. Another option is to melt down an heirloom ring to create a new and unique piece of matrimonial jewellery. Don’t forget about Ebay and local stores that sell vintage jewellery for finding one-of-a-kind pieces.

4. Wedding Dress

One of the most favourable “green” options here is to wear an heirloom wedding gown passed down from the bride’s mother or grandmother. Again, look into Ebay and second-hand stores for finding unique and often considerably less expensive choices. If a used wedding gown is out of the question, consider having a custom gown made from organic hemp-silk or buy a dress that could be worn again for other special occasions.

5. Flowers & Favours

An artistic alternative to fresh cut flowers is to make paper flowers that can be recycled, or use silk bouquets. If fresh flowers are an absolute must, find a local florist that offers organically grown, local in-season flowers or, buy fresh flowers from the local farmer’s market.Low-cost, Eco-friendly choices abound for wedding favours. Here are a few ideas for keepsake and edible favours:

  • Wedding soap favours
  • Seed packet favours
  • CD wedding favours
  • Gourmet organic chocolates
  • Reusable cloth tote bags
  • Small charitable donation in each guest’s name
  • A small plan

6. Food

Going organic, seasonal, and local is the simplest way to provide guests with a green gustatory experience. Have the cake decorated with locally grown seasonal flowers rather than plastic toppers, or choose a keepsake topper that will be kept afterward. Consider renting real linens, glassware and dishes rather than opting for disposables. Donate leftover food to a local homeless shelter or food bank.

7. The Honeymoon

A viable choice for a green honeymoon would be to go somewhere local, or select a destination that could be used for the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon. Many couples today are choosing to engage in ecotourism for their honeymoons. Listings for these green excursions can be found at Conservation International, National Geographic, Planeta.com, and Responsible Travel.

Going Green – A Beautiful Thing

Every couple hopes their wedding day will be a celebration and reflection of who they are and what is important to them. A green wedding is a unique and personable way to make the special day more meaningful and show guests how a sustainable lifestyle can be both beautiful and chic.

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