Friday, October 16, 2009

With a Flourish 'Green Wedding' Article

This is an article I wrote several months ago, on little things you can do to make your wedding a little greener:

No doubt you’ve noticed that green weddings are growing in popularity.  Maybe you’ve jumped on board wholeheartedly, maybe you’re considering a few eco-elements, and maybe you think all of us “eco-wedding vendors” are a little bit nutty.  The truth is, the idea behind green weddings is simple.  Many of us in the wedding industry have seen (and often been) people who recycle, who eat organically, who shop for gifts at local stores, yet also throw away 10 pounds of recyclable stationery at our weddings, feed our guests processed foods and give away sweatshop-produced favours.  Frustration with the status quo and a desire to make weddings better for our world and a more true reflection of the couple getting married has led wedding vendors all over to establish more sustainable practices.  Eco-friendly weddings are becoming more practical, more elegant, and more common.

A sustainable wedding can be achieved by anyone and it doesn’t even have to cost you more money.  Often couples can hold a green wedding for less cash and a little more creativity.  Most of the following ideas don’t take that much extra time and the result will go a long way.  Here is a list of a few things you could do in each area of wedding planning to make it a little more earth-friendly:

-Alter a second-hand wedding dress, or your mother’s dress.
-Buy vintage.
-Look for organic silk, hemp, or bamboo materials.
-Have your dress sewn locally.
-Ensure that the company that sews the dress pays their workers fair wages and promotes healthy working conditions.

-Use tree free or 100% post consumer waste paper.
-Eliminate the need for an RSVP card by putting the RSVP information directly on the invitation and having guests respond by phone or email.
-Send bridal shower and bachelorette party invitations by email.

-Grow your own! If you can’t grow everything you’d like in your bouquet, grow one or two kinds of flowers and purchase the rest at a florist.
-For centerpieces, consider potted flowers or grass – honoured guests or family members can take the pots home at the end of the night.

-Ask your photographer to use only digital.
-Choose your favourite pictures from an online gallery. Have only your favourites printed.

-Rent decorations instead of purchasing decorations that you won’t use again.
-Search out the homes of friends and family members for items that can be used for décor.
-Use soy candles instead of paraffin. Soy candles are made out of natural ingredients and can burn for up to 7 hours.

-Have the maximum number of people allowed ride in the limo or bus.
-Take public transportation – you’d get great pictures!
-Encourage guests to carpool by letting them know who lives in their area so they can catch a ride together.

-Have both the ceremony and reception at the same location. This will eliminate fuel used to get to the reception from the ceremony.

-Edible or usable favours are typically better than trinkets that will sit on a shelf (or in a closet).
-Make a donation to a charity in lieu of favours.
-Skip them. If you need to save some cash, favours should be one of the first things to leave out.

-Fair-trade coffee and tea are easy to find and the extra cost is easily made up for by the extra delicious taste.
-Organic wines are available. Choose the brand that travels least to get to your table.

-Buy local and organic as much as possible (some caterers specialize in globally minded events and have relationships with Manitoba farmers).

-Ask for organic ingredients as much as possible.

-Designate a friend or your wedding coordinator to make sure that all packaging and paper products get recycled.
-Donate your flowers to a hospital or nursing home.
-Donate left over food to a food bank.

-Tell your guests about your green wedding! They may be surprised to see that a green wedding no longer means walking barefoot down the aisle in a brown hemp dress – it is fashionable, elegant and completely practical. This will encourage them to add eco-friendly elements to their next event.
-Research products and services before you buy in. A lot of companies are advertising that they are going green and sometimes it is hard to know what is really green and what is simply clever marketing. Simply asking the company to describe their green products will give you an idea of what shade of green they are!

You don’t need to take all of these tips, of course, but even one or two eco-elements can make a big difference.

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