The following is a guest post by Sarah Parker.
If you just got engaged, congratulations! There are now many any important decisions to make such as the type of wedding you will have, and might I suggest going with a Green, Eco-friendly celebration. This option is becoming increasingly common among couples interested in decreasing their impact on the environment, without sacrificing style or elegance. The average cost of a wedding these days can run as high as $20,000, so go ahead and embrace the economic, social and environmental benefits that can make the big day easy and affordable. Your guests will be treated to a unique and meaningful experience and you will have the opportunity to plan more of a DIY-type affair.
The first thing you will need to do is to pick the location. Traditional wedding venues tend to use enormous amounts of electricity, water and other resources, so have the wedding outside and cut down on the amount of waste. Try to minimize travel and the need for overnight accommodations for your guests in order to save on fuel and hotel costs. For these reasons plan the celebration in an area that is convenient and close to where the majority of them live. Those that do have to drive should consider car-pooling.
There are many websites these days that allow you to send save-the-date cards and invitations electronically. You can also send them through the mail using recycled stationery, or stationery that contains seeds that allow them to be planted in the ground and recycled. When setting up a registry, there is no need to include things that you don’t actually need. Many couples feel that they have to get fancy serving platters and eight different sets of dinner-ware, but this is really not necessary. A selfless idea is to give your guests the option of donating to a charity in your name, instead of purchasing an expensive gift you might not even use.
A Green wedding is the perfect opportunity to support the small businesses in your community. Choose a caterer that serves local, organically grown food. You will create less trash because these products don’t need extensive packaging, and you will save money and fuel because the food does not need to be transported from far away. Don’t use disposable plates: instead opt for real dishes. Any leftovers that do not get eaten can be donated to a charity of homeless shelter. As far as flowers go, many are imported from countries where pesticide use is very high and labor conditions and wages are low. Therefore you should choose a local florist that sells ones that are organic, in-season and locally grown.
Okay, but what about the wedding dress? You can start by checking out vintage stores that have pre-worn gowns. Oftentimes these dresses can be very stylish and unique, and you are giving it a second chance to come out and play. Renting, both for the bride and the groom is another option. If you really want a new dress, check out some designers that work with sustainable fabrics that were created in nature and not in a factory. Organic cotton, linen and hemp are a few examples. After the wedding, the dress can be donated for someone else to enjoy.
Eco-friendly wedding rings can be absolutely stunning. Some are made out of recycled metals, which means they avoid causing pollution from the mining of gold and silver. Also available are cultured diamonds and gems that were grown artificially in a lab, and Palladium which is similar in structure to a diamond but conflict free. There are many styles of wood rings to choose from, and they are all very unique and durable. If you do happen to have your heart set on a diamond, a conflict-free one can be purchased in Canada.
A lot of favors that guests are given end up in the trash can. To reduce waste, some earth-friendly options to give instead are plants, soy candles and seashells. As for the centerpieces, bowls of recycled glass, seedlings, edibles and homemade collages are perfect. These things don’t clog up our landfills and add a personal and unique touch to the decor.