Photo via WeddingChicks.com
When I tell people that I’m an event planner, they usually know what that means. But once I elaborate, and begin explaining how we specialize in eco-friendly events…I almost always get the same response ~ “How do you make an event green?” To simplify the process, we’ve created our What Shade of Green Are You? checklist of dozens of steps the average person can take to make any event more sustainable.
But being wedding season and all…I thought it might be a good idea to offer you a short and sweet list of 10 simple steps to a Green Wedding. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy, and stylish it can be.
1. Choose your venue wisely- When scouting out locations for your wedding, think carefully about your selection. Look for a venue that is outdoors, so you can maximize the natural resources for lighting and décor. Also consider having your wedding in one location, so that guests won’t have to drive…or look for venues that are close to public transportation.
2. Save Paper!- Most wedding guests end up with a stack of paper products, including invitations, menus, programs…most of which get thrown out. We suggest eliminating as much of this waste as possible. Use an online invitation service to manage your guest list; create an event website or blog with all of the important wedding details; write your menu on a funky chalkboard at your reception; and if you must use paper…use recycled or plantable seed paper for all elements.
3. Buy Local, Buy Organic – To give your guests an irresistible menu, buy only organic and/or locally produced foods and beverages. Not only will you guarantee the freshest and most natural ingredients for your guests, you’re minimizing the carbon footprint of your event. Buying local cuts back on freight, shipping and distribution and it’s a great way to support the local farmers.
4. Give the gift of Green - Everyone loves receiving party favors, so why not give the gift that keeps on giving. Try and avoid favors that are mass produced or made from plastics, and send your guests home with an eco-friendly gift. There are hundreds of options available; everything from reusable bags to organic soaps, mini bamboo plants to fair trade chocolates. Some hosts even donate to charity on behalf of their guests!
5. Minimize Waste – One of the simplest things you can do to Green your wedding, is to cut back on waste. Actually, cut back on everything! If you’re serving food, opt for finger foods to cut back on plates. If you’re serving beverages, mix them ahead of time in large pitchers to cut back on bottles & cans. Assuming you’ll have to use some plates, cups, and napkins…use real ones. You know…the kind you can reuse! And if you have leftovers, I suggest taking them to your nearest shelter.
6. Responsible Diamonds & Dresses- Arguably the most important parts of any wedding…the Ring and the Dress! And Yes, these can be green too! We suggest looking into a repurposed or used wedding dress, or purchase a dress made with organic materials. Some brides are even wearing vintage gowns…how’s that for re-using? Same goes for the rings! Consider antique or heirloom jewelry, and if you must purchase a new ring, make sure the diamonds are conflict free. And when it’s all said and done, donate your wedding dress so someone else can get use out of it.
7. Do-It-Yourself – An important element to any wedding is the décor! So for your wedding…think outside the party supply store. Rather then buying mass produced plastic decorations that are made in China…find inspiration within. There are hundreds of D.I.Y. websites that give you step-by-step instructions for creating the most unique décor elements. Enlist your friends and family to help out, and you’ll not only have a great time doing it, but also a great conversation starter at your wedding!
8. Fabulous Flowers- Speaking of décor…flowers are by far the most popular wedding décor. However, most of them get thrown out at the end of the night. We recommend incorporating live plants or other natural options instead of fresh flowers to eliminate green waste. Many brides are even using alternative flower choices, such as fabric flowers, succulents and vintage broaches. The best part about it is that most of these items last forever, and can be sent home with your guests. But if you must use some flowers, make sure they are in season and indigenous to the region…and arrange for them to be brought to a shelter at the end of the night.
9. Vendors Vendors Vendors- One of the easiest things you can do when planning your wedding, is choose eco-friendly vendors that are committed to sustainable business practices. Be sure to ask them what they’re doing to be Green. Not only do you want vendors that offer a sustainable service, but it’s important that they uphold this commitment in their office too! Usually these vendors can recommend other eco-friendly vendors in town, so it makes planning a breeze.
10. Recycle – Ok, this might seem like an obvious one…but you’d be surprised how much waste is produced at a wedding. Make sure you setup visible trash bins that are clearly marked for recycle. And not just cans and glass…paper goods too! Let your guests know what items can be recycled, and encourage them to help you out. To make this not-so-glamorous habit a little more appealing, create a fun trivia game about recycling that will not only engage your guests, but ultimately help spread the word about its importance.
So there you have it. Today there is no excuse for not making your wedding as eco-friendly as possible. You have so many resources at your fingertips! Save the planet, save money…and throw one heck of a wedding!