By Diane Small
Your dress is vintage, your ring was his grandmother’s, you’ll be riding up to the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage, but guess what? Your wedding could still be eco-friendlier.
Greening up your wedding is not just important for the planet–it’s symbolically important, too. Considering most marriages are the starting point for creating a new family, whatever you do today will impact your future children’s lives tomorrow.
Whether you’re making one eco-gesture or a hundred, every little bit counts. Here are some great eco friendly wedding ideas to help make your big day as green as it is glorious.
For any eco-wedding, recycled paper invites is a must, but there’s one type of recycled paper that really has a greener edge: seeded papers! These contain tiny flower or herb seeds that sprout when buried in the earth. Designed in a variety of colours, sizes, fonts and styles by companies like Botanical Paperworks, paper doesn’t really get more planet-friendly than this.
While of course sending an e-invitation to guests isn’t the most romantic of gestures, it is growing in popularity (even prestigious Fashion Week invites are often electronic!).
I was recently invited to a wedding where the couple did send out electronic invites, and it was so convenient, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it–guests could RSVP online with a simple click; could see a map to the venue, and could even find links to the bridal registry. The invitation was also animated, showing slides of the couple from when they met to the present. Sweet! What may have made this more memorable is creating a printable version of the invite, or giving invitees the option to ‘order’ a paper version of the invitation.
Organic is usually a good idea, but not if it has been flown in thousands of miles! Local is just as good in this case, so treat your guests to a feast of locally grown delicacies. To seriously reduce your carbon footprint, of course that means the meal should be as vegan friendly as possible–a nice, hearty pasta is always a universally loved main course. I once attended a wedding that served heart shaped pumpkin ravioli with truffle oil. Delicious, and memorable!
That being said, even vegan couples often give their guests a non-vegan option: in this case, try to stick to locally farmed chicken, which has a much lower environmental footprint than beef. Avoid shrimp, imported fish and food that’s out of season (like strawberries in winter) at all costs, as these have hugely negative implications for the environment.
As for the cake, keep in mind that many weddings waste mounds of it. Have you ever seen the entire cake devoured? As delicious as they may be, the fact is that after eating for hours on end, guests are usually too full by the time the cake comes to eat much of it. Keep it small, keep it simple, keep it sustainable!
As with food, local is better. No need to import French or Italian wines–just source the very best of the local vineyards. The same goes for water: who needs imported bottles of mineral water when filtered local water is just as good? Put carafes of water on each table and ensure they’re always full. Giving guests an option with slices of lemon, cucumber and a bit of mint offers a nice alternative to plain water or juice, and staves off hangovers for those indulging in that local wine!
This is the easy bit–there are endless options for creating a wonderful centrepieces, from using locally grown flowers in pitchers to long branches of evergreens. Guests can find their seats by searching for their names printed on seeded paper (as above), or even written on smooth, locally sourced pebbles.
Try to avoid table cloths, as these need washing, and that uses energy. Instead, keep it bare with polished wood, or for an added decorative touch, use strips of eco-friendly burlap or hemp to show guests where their table is, as in the example below.
Gifts for Suburbanites
These little delights left on the tables are what guests will take home with them to remind them of your big day.
The traditional pieces of fruit cake or bags of sugared almonds can certainly be done sustainably if they’re packaged in recycled paper or eco-friendly fabric, but there are lots of other options, too.
For example, why not give guests a heart-shaped seeded card they can hang on a branch to feed the local birds? Guests will always remember your wedding if they plant a tree in their garden to commemorate your big day, so you could offer them small cedar or pine saplings, or the option to take seeds home, as in the pictures below.
Gifts for Urbanites
Urban guests without gardens or outdoor space nearby would love to take small pots of plantable herbs or small flowers home, which they can plant in a window box to enjoy fresh herbs and flowers all year round. Alternatively, you could support the cork industry (which is essential to protecting cork wood forests) by offering a party favour of customised coasters.
And everyone loves scented candles, so why not offer your guests an organic one, with floral notes from the bridal bouquet? It’s an especially lovely idea, as the candles at each person’s table placing will also fill the air of the reception with a memorable scent. Milana makes some wonderful ones and will also accept custom orders, but you can find plenty more on Etsy.
To get help with more ideas, why not hire an eco-wedding planner? There are plenty around, and the speciality is growing.
Eco Friendly Weddings Gifts for the Newlyweds
Since the bride and groom have gone out of their way to make their wedding eco-friendly, why not follow their lead and make your gift green as well? Of course, if the couple is on a registry, you may as well help them out with the things they’re likely to buy later anyway. But if not, and if cash is not part of your gifting tradition, then there are lots of sustainable gifts you could offer, like:
* a day of his-and-hers pampering at an organic spa
* a donation in the name of the couple to a charity that’s important to them
* services, such as paying for the organic landscaping of their new home
* vintage gifts, such as a set of antique cutlery or a tea set
* a donation towards the couple’s (hopefully eco-chic) honeymoon
With a little creativity and forward planning, there’s no reason why every couple can’t have a big, fat green wedding.