Cheers to the Environmentally Conscious Couple: How to Have a Green Wedding
Engaged couples these days can't wait to say their vows, but now they're more conscious than ever about the wedding industry's impact on the environment. From invitations that end up in a landfill to all that packaging waste from wedding registry items, the average wedding contributes 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Chicago Tribune.
With so much happening with the environment — rising sea levels, deforestation, reef destruction — the last thing you want to do is contribute more to climate change and environmental distress. That's why more couples these days have committed to throwing a sustainable and green wedding.
Having a green wedding can be done by simply modifying wedding traditions and making them work for you and your partner. From invitations to honeymoon registries, there are plenty of easy ways to cut down on your environmental impact and still have the beautiful wedding you deserve.
Throwing a green wedding may be easier than you think. Here are our best tips on how to have a green wedding.
Ditch disposable dishes and utensils
Wedding costs can balloon quickly, especially when you have to pay several vendors in a short amount of time. With costs building, some couples look for ways to save money with their vendors, and with caterers, the easiest way to do that is to forgo the china and use paper or plastic dishes and utensils for the reception.
But those utensils will almost assuredly end up in a landfill, so request sustainable or compostable dishes and utensils. They may cost a little more than the average paper or plastic dish set, but you'll still save some money and keep your green wedding going.
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Consider online or eco-friendly invitations
These days, it's not enough that you have to send invitations to weddings. You also have to send save-the-dates, RSVP cards and then thank-you cards, and that turns into a lot of paper waste, not to mention a major expense. In keeping with your green wedding, there are other options than ordering a ton of paper.
If you think it will work for your family, consider doing online invitations, rather than sending out physical ones. That's probably the most environmentally friendly option, though it won't be right for every wedding. Grandparents and older relatives might not have regular internet access — or even an email address for some — and you will have to gather everyone's email address to make this work, but you'd have to get their regular address anyway, so it's not too big of a stretch.
You can also split the difference with invitations. Send physical copies to parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles and use online invitations for friends. Formalities are usually less important among friends, and your friends probably understand the need to cut down on costs and support your green wedding.
If you cannot forgo wedding invites, choose an eco-conscious company that provides beautiful invitations while reducing the environmental impact of all that paper. Some print locally to avoid shipping waste, and others use recycled materials in their cardstock.
Hit the vintage shops for your wedding dress
Popular culture has pushed the notion that a bride needs to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress, but the fashion and textile industries are one of the biggest contributors to pollution. To avoid this, head to your local vintage or second-hand shop and check out their wedding gown selection.
With a little creativity, you can transform one of these dresses into a stunning gown that is wholly unique and will make a statement as you walk down the aisle. A tailor can help you add lace, beading or rhinestones so you get the right cut and look for the big day.
Don't forget: You can also find tons of vintage gowns on Etsy, and there are charities such as Brides for a Cause, which resells pre-loved wedding dresses. Not only will this save you money on your green wedding, but you'll be cutting down on your environmental impact simultaneously.
Ask bridesmaids to rent, rather than buy, their dresses
Your bridesmaids can certainly benefit from a green wedding. These days, being in a wedding party can be a big honor, but an expensive one. From gifts to bachelorette parties, bridesmaids often spend over $1,000 on a wedding, and at the end, they're usually stuck with a dress they'll probably never wear again.
Instead of having bridesmaids buy a dress, try renting them instead. Companies like Rent the Runway make it easy for brides to pick out a dress they love and let bridesmaids rent it. Bridesmaids usually save a little money and don't end up with a dress they don't like, and they get to wear a dress that usually fits a little better and isn't as bland as traditional bridesmaid dresses.
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Choose a honeymoon registry over a traditional wedding registry
A traditional wedding registry can be great for couples just moving in together after the honeymoon, but these days, even traditional couples have a good assortment of dishes, sheets and vacuums. Rather than ask for more stuff that you probably won't use — and all the paper, plastic and cardboard wrapping that comes with them — opt for a honeymoon registry over a physical wedding registry.
This is a great way to continue your green wedding initiative and ensure that you and your partner have an amazing honeymoon. A honeymoon registry like Hitchd lets wedding guests buy experiences for the happy couple, such as a zip line tour or a snorkeling excursion, rather than another blender or bedspread. Honeymoon registries have different price points, so guests of all budgets can contribute, they can be more meaningful than traditional wedding registries.
The whole point of a green wedding is to cut back on your environmental impact and modify traditions that just don't work for you as a couple. A honeymoon registry keeps that spirit of the traditional wedding registry alive, but it's also tailor-made for each couple so they can have the ultimate honeymoon experience they've always wanted. The money from guests goes directly into your bank account so you can make reservations for the honeymoon of your dreams.
Keep wedding favors simple and useful
How many times have you gone to a wedding and completely forgotten to take your wedding favor? More importantly, how many times have you actively avoid the favor because you didn't want any more clutter around your home?
Skip the usual party favors and opt for a succulent plant or seed packet instead. You can get seed packets personalized for your big day, and if people forget their succulents, then you have more for your home. If you have a short break between your wedding ceremony and reception, consider a small treat for guests if you're not serving hors d'oeuvres. This will quell their hunger while you keep the receiving line going and take photos with your wedding party.
Overall, having a green wedding means being mindful of the environment as you plan your big day. With a few small adjustments here and there, you can cut down on your environmental impact and still have the wedding you've always wanted.
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