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These days, green is everywhere — as in environmentally green. Look around and you can find green cars, green clothing, green homes, and yes, even green weddings.
Planning a wedding without incorporating eco-friendly aspects can be complicated enough. Trying to figure out how to throw a wedding that is conscientious of the planet's resources can seem even more intimidating. But there's no reason why greening your wedding needs to be complicated. We've put together this guide to help you plan a stylish green wedding.
According to wedding and event planner Corina Beczner of Vibrant Events, a green wedding is one that considers the environment and society. Integrating social responsibility is important to Corina. "The wedding itself can consider social causes and give back to the community," she says. Read on to find out how you can include environmentally and socially conscious ideas into your wedding.
There are many venue choices for celebrating your wedding ceremony and reception. When it comes to a green wedding, choosing a venue that makes the most of the natural environment to set the tone and mood of your wedding is ideal. The less you need to rely on physical decorations, the better. Wedding decorations not only cost money, they add more waste to the environment.
If instead, you have your heart set on throwing your ceremony or reception at a hotel, select a locale that incorporates sustainable programs like saving water, saving energy, and reducing solid waste. One way of locating such a hotel is by checking with the Green Hotels Association (greenhotels.com).
What bride doesn't dream of that fairy-tale gown that'll make her the belle of the ball? Fortunately, even in green weddings, the bride and the wedding party can find suitable attire that's not only stylish, but good for the environment. For brides, gowns made of raw silk, bamboo, and hemp are the materials of choice for eco-designers. Green wedding gowns are still hard to come by and hiring your own designer to get the perfect gown and bridesmaid dresses is one solution. For gowns made to order, Olivia Luca creates custom-made wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses that are chic and surprisingly affordable. According to Corina, grooms and groomsmen will have an easier time finding wedding apparel in the form of hemp suits. Alternatives to making or buying new wedding attire include renting stylish apparel for the wedding or wearing a vintage or heirloom gown.
A green wedding can be environmentally conscious right down to the invitations. Online invitation sites are one way to lessen the impact on the environment, but even with stationery, you can find eco-conscious ways to let guests know that nuptials are in order. Corina recommends going with a graphic designer if you have the budget and you're looking for quality. "Designers these days should know what green papers are available." And for invitations, it generally means avoiding cotton, which has a high pesticide content and choosing papers composed of recycled papers instead. "I've had brides make their own paper out of recycled mail," says Corina.
What's best to serve at the wedding? Organic foods, of course. If you don't have a vendor in mind, you might visit greenpeople.org to find an organic caterer. But finding a caterer to serve appropriate meals and hors d'oeuvres can prove to be a little more challenging if you're looking to serve a specific ethnic menu. Bay Area newlywed Bhavna Shamasunder, who had her nuptials in Southern California, claims it's still doable. Bhavna served Indian cuisine at her wedding, which blended both Indian and more westernized cultures together. "Don't be afraid to ask a vendor to substitute organic foods because you will find those that will do it," advises Bhavna.
Just like the menu, the flowers can be organic. Wedding couples can look for a florist who deals with organically grown flowers, but there are other options as well. "Some brides don't want fresh flowers at all," says Corina. The event planner says she's seen alternatives used like paper flowers as well as designers who come out to the wedding site and use materials from the grounds to decorate the wedding. According to Corina, "One designer took local flowers from the farm where the couple was getting married." Part of having a green wedding event means being creative about turning existing materials into something really beautiful.
Rather than spending your wedding dollars on traditional chocolates, photo frames or refrigerator magnets, consider giving favors that give back to the environment instead. Activities such as guests traveling to your event and staying at a hotel contribute to carbon emissions. Corina recommends working with an organization that will offset these carbon emissions.
Nonprofit organizations such as CarbonFund (carbonfund.org) and LiveNeutral (liveneutral.org) allow you to purchase carbon offsets. Another organization, Terrapass (terrapass.com), has an online calculator so you can figure out what your wedding's total carbon footprint is before you decide how much you should contribute. The funds are put to use towards projects that reduce the emissions. Carbon emissions gas is the number one greenhouse gas contributor to global warming on our planet. By reducing carbon emissions, your beautiful wedding can also contribute to the beauty of our planet.
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