Simple Tips for a Memorable Planet-Friendly Wedding

Did you know that over two million couples wed every year in the US, costing an average $30,000 per wedding, as of 2014? That adds up to uncountable numbers of flowers, not to mention the millions of gorgeous cakes, wedding rings, dresses and suits, and dinner plates. The good news? Many couples are planning weddings that align with their values, their wish to tread lightly on the planet. Get started planning your eco wedding with these primary considerations.

Jewelry. A symbol of your commitment to each other can also be a symbol of your commitment to socially responsible and ethical metal and precious-jewel sourcing. Look for jewelers (like Todd Reed) that use recycled metals and have a policy of transparent sourcing of “free-from-conflict” jewels. Heirloom or vintage jewelry is another popular way to make a retro fashion statement while conserving loads of energy and mitigating other impacts of mining.

Dress or Tux. If you’re opting for a brand-new dress or tux, look for those made from sustainably produced, organic and/or repurposed fabrics. But a brand-new to you rented or repurposed get-up can be an equally good choice, reducing the land, mineral and water resources that go into harvesting, processing and producing new fabrics. It’s also often easier on the pocketbook!

Flowers. Beautiful conventional bouquets often come with some not-so-pretty chemicals, plus the impacts of shipping from long distances. If possible, choose organic blooms from a local grower. Not available? Look to your natural environment—the beautiful grasses, native plants and other natural elements that surround you—for inspiration.

Location. Many small organic farms provide space to host weddings, and work with caterers to supply the raw ingredients for the meal too. Not only are farms beautiful settings in which to say “I do,” but you can feel good about providing vital support to the farm and the many species of birds and other creatures that depend on organic farmland. Alternate locales, from outdoor chapels to art museums, can also show your commitment to your values and community.

Food. More and more caterers are catching on to the taste and appeal of serving local foods at big events. Particularly if your special date is in mid- to late summer, you’ll likely have a bounty of fresh ingredients from local farmers. It’s in smart protein choices that you can have the biggest impact. Ask your chef or caterer to choose organic and free-range meats, fish that meet the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch sustainability standards, plus delicious vegetarian or vegan protein options.

Check out these books on green weddings for more inspiration:

Eco-Chic Weddings by Emily Elizabeth Anderson (Hatherleigh Press, 2007). Tips from a Martha Stewart Living writer on how to reduce, reuse and recycle to have an affordable, eco-friendly wedding.

Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration by Mireya Navarro (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2009). Authored by the West Coast Style correspondent for the New York Times, this beautiful book is as inspiring visually as it is helpful in practical matters of planning your wedding.

Your Green Wedding by Audra Kenner and Shana Glasser (Amazon Digital, 2012).

Practical tips for greening your wedding, from venue ideas to centerpieces.

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