Depending on your source, the average wedding costs between $20,000 and $30,000. That is a huge economical impact but it also has a huge ecological impact. Besides transportation and shipping emissions, the water used to wash your dishes and the vases you only used once hitting the landfill, your wedding will impact the earth in many other ways.
In acknowledgement of Earth Day on April 22nd, we will be focusing on a few Eco-friendly wedding ideas over the course of the next 2 weeks. To get started, here are some easy tips to help lower the impact of your wedding in a big way, without losing all the glam.
1. Watch the Numbers – No matter what other choices you make, the biggest factor in the ecological and financial impact of your wedding will be its size. The fact is that each person you invite means more miles traveled, more food consumed, a bigger venue and more waste when it’s all over. Since this is your big day, invite as many loved ones as you want, but keep an eye on the numbers and be aware that the more the guest list grows, the harder it is to draw the line. Many people feel if they invite a certain relative that obligates them to invite someone else they may not normally invite and this may be true. So edit your guest list carefully to save money and the planet.
2. Use Local Vendors and Sources – You can find almost anything you need for your wedding day locally. Use local growers from your area for your wedding flowers, use the microbrewery in town for your drinks and use caterers that won’t have to travel far to your wedding reception. Sometimes the things you really prefer have to be obtained from an out of town source, but whenever possible, choose the local option. This also has a positive economical impact on your community.
3. Use Green Sources and Products – Everything you buy or rent for your wedding will have an environmental and social impact, so keep this notion high on the list when planning. Is there a local caterer who uses organic produce or will the local caterer use it for your wedding? Are the materials used to make your dress made from renewable resources? Are your diamonds mined blood free? Even if you can’t establish the green credentials of every single supplier, at least by asking questions about such issues you are already making a difference. Remember though, what is green may not always be the absolute best choice. While a hemp suit may be a good Eco- statement, if it is going to sit in the closet for most of your married life, you could be much better off with a traditional rental service where the service will reuse one suit many times. Similarly, party rentals for things like linens and glasses are a classic example of a product service system and provide a great means for getting the most out of the resources used to produce items such as these. Shop a thrift store for inexpensive vases for your centerpieces or get your wedding dress on consignment. So many things are made and purchased to be used once for weddings why not stretch those resources a bit further?
4. Location, Location, Location – Choosing a location that is as close to as many of your guests as possible will reduce your wedding’s impact in a big way. It will reduce emissions used to get your guests to your wedding and other resources they use along the way. You can also support a local organic farm or garden and have your wedding there.
5. Travel Green – Have guests carpool to the wedding or provide a shuttle bus or trolley between the ceremony and reception sites. Using a bunch of limos or having everyone take their own cars will add to your wedding’s impact.
6. Use Personal Touches – Use flowers from your mom’s garden and make a scrapbook from recycled paper and ask guests to create a page instead of buying a guest book. Send a square of fabric with each invitation and ask that they create a square for a quilt you can later sew together and have as a memory of your wedding day. Little heartfelt touches can be memorable, beautiful and Eco-friendly.
7. Start With the Invitations – Use invitations made from recycled paper or simply use less paper in your wedding invites. Use reply postcards instead of traditional reply cards with envelopes and single paged invitations.
8. Register Green – Consider your green agenda when registering for gifts. You don’t have to register for a solar cooker at an all green retailer (unless you want to do so!) but be mindful of the impact of the things you put on your registry.
9. Offset your Impact – One couple set up a website to pay for their wedding using recycled cans. They recycled over 28,000 cans themselves and had others recycle cans and donate the proceeds. Not only did they pay for their wedding but they offset the carbon footprint of their wedding and about 5 more years of their collective carbon foot print. You don’t have to do anything this extreme to offset the footprint of your wedding. Just recycle all the time, shop thrift stores and donate to good ecological causes. Do your research to see where the funds go for the cause you choose.
10. Share your Cause – Tell people you are having a green wedding and toss around some facts about the effects of a typical wedding and what your wedding is doing to help the planet and the impact it can have. Education is important in being green and knowing the impact they have may inspire a guest or two to go green themselves.