Green Wedding Tips You may Not Have Thought About

Happy Earth Day!

wedding in the woods
Image from Ready For Your Closeup

Did you know that each year, American weddings produce 62 tons of CO2? That's the equivalent of 23.3 million cars on the road for an entire year. Have you ever thought of the environmental impact of bleached white wedding gowns that are shipped from far-off lands such as China and Italy, or the flowers that are grown on pesticide saturated South American lands then shipped to the US. All those chemicals and shipping take a major toll on the environment. So in honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd share some less common earth-friendly tips for having a green wedding. For more tips and information, see the Green Bride Guide's Green Weddings 101

1. Avoid Creating New Things

porcelain vase with magenta flowers
Lilacs are in season in many parts of the US right now | Image via Kiss the Groom

Wedding Gowns Instead of buying a new dress, check out one of the gently use sites such as Once Wed or Smart Bride Boutique. You'll save money and the environment. The best part, you can turn around and sell your gown to recoup some of your costs. That's what I call a win-win-win situation!

Bridesmaid's Dresses: Rent them! Starting at $50, your bridesmaids can rent designer gowns and dresses from Rent The Runway. They look gorgeous, are gentler on the environment than buying new AND they save money. You and your 'maids can also rent stunning jewelry and accessories.

Gather Family Heirlooms for Your Decor: Instead of buying 10 or 12 glass vases for your centerpieces, ask family and friend to borrow china, silver pieces, or pottery to put your centerpiece flowers or greenery in.

Start or Participate in a Wedding Co-op: With over 2 million people getting married in the US each year, it's likely that someone else in
your area is getting married. Reach out and purchase items together, share them, then sell them and split the proceeds. Check out Bride Share to find items you can buy, borrow, and share. Also the Smart Bride Boutique allows you to buy and sell wedding-related items other than gowns. You can also check out Craigslist, and the Wedding Bee boards or classifieds or do a simple Google search for "wedding co-op"

2. Compost Your Food + Recycle your Recyclables

compost your wedding food and flowers
Public Domain Image from WikiMedia

Look in the dumpster after any wedding ends and you'll find discarded centerpieces, left over food, and left-behind programs. The average wedding produces 400-600 lbs of garbage! You can reduce the amount of garbage at your wedding by:

  • Composting your left over food and flowers
  • Asking your guests to recycle their invitations and programs. Better yet, set up a paper recycling station/
  • Seting up a recycling station for any paper, bottles, cans, and plastic that your guests or the kitchen staff may use.

3. Cut Down on Guest Transportation

Guests arrive at a vermont wedding in school busses
Image from Anna Robin via A Cup of Joe

  • Because planes use a tremendous amount of fuel and their impact is larger since they are higher in the atmosphere, find a central location to reduce flying distances.
  • Offer guest transportation in a cool trolly, or funky bus to and from the venue, or encourage carpooling. This has the added benefit of nipping drunk driving in the bud.

4. Educate + Donate

green wedding favor
Recycled Bride
via Hindsight Bride

  • Educate: Tell your guests what you have done to incorporate earth friendly aspects into your wedding. You might want to print a litle note on your programs encouraging them to recycle.
  • Donate: Green Bride Kate Harrison had cards on each table explaining the carbon footprint of weddings and explaining that in leiu of a give, the couple made a donation to CarbonFund offset the carbon footprint of their wedding.

5. Buy Local

locally grown fiddlehead ferns
Local, tender fiddlehead ferns are coming in season in eastern mountain areas | Image via Squidoo I Am Canadian

  • Perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to create and environmentally friendly wedding is to buy locally when you can.The average food item that you eat has travelled 1500 miles. You know that Earthbound Farm lettuce in the plastic container you feel so great about using. It was grown in the Arizona desert, and, if you live on the east coast, travelled cross country to get to you. Similarly, those local flowers being shipped in from Chile or New Zealand carry with them a huge carbon footprint.  Local seasonal and preferable organic foods and flowers, reduce the impact of shipping goods over great distances. They also can be more interesting, adding a distinctive local flavor to your wedding.

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