Green Wedding Ideas – Plan An Eco-Friendly Event
A green wedding, surrounded by nature’s own shades of emerald, jade and forest on Salt Spring Island is just the ticket for many earth-loving couples tying the knot.
An eco-friendly wedding incorporates efforts to minimize waste and pollutants from your matrimonial activities.
It’s easily done with just a bit of planning and a touch of insight into where things can be tweaked to lessen their impact on the environment.
See our suggestions for making your special day a personal statement by weaving a subtle salute to Mother Nature into your union.
Ideas for your green wedding
Limiting the number of guests at your wedding (although sometimes difficult) is one decision that will reduce the impact of your festivities.
Fewer people naturally equates to fewer resources required to sustain your crowd. A small, intimate gathering makes it far simpler to plan a green wedding.
As a bonus, a smaller gathering is more intimate, each guest feeling especially privileged to have been invited, given the limited numbers.
Look for invitations and programs made with recycled paper (chlorine-free) or ‘tree-free’ options like cotton or hemp.
Don’t include unnecessary bits like return envelopes, extra inner envelopes, etc (there really is SO much paper in one traditional invite).
Opt for a reply postcard that your guests can simply pop in the mail (with their email address) and send any maps or additional detail by email…
Create a wedding website
Eliminate paper invitations and info pages (and the stress that goes with them) altogether by sending all correspondence online.
Create a website for your wedding so you have all the details (dates/times, directions, rsvp, schedule of events, gift registry) in one place, accessible by all guests, around the clock. It’s the ultimate green wedding communication platform.
But a wedding website isn’t all business. It allows you to share your story with your guests (tug at their heartstrings a bit before the momentous occasion). And some services allow you to upload photos and music and have fun features like the creating polls or quizzes.
As a little bonus, you also have an outlet to expound a bit on the ‘eco’ focus of your wedding. Share a bit about the special attention you have given to making green choices for your event!
Green Wedding Garments
The most basic principle in keeping your celebration green is to avoid buying anything new, and if you must, try to buy things that are manufactured in a responsible way and can be re-purposed afterwards. Clothing worn on the big day is as much a candidate for ‘greening’ as anything else.
Men have been renting tuxedos for the one-time wedding wear for ages. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why shell out big bucks for a garment that is worn once. The same logic can be applied to the bridal gown and now there are many sources for wedding dress rental.
If you’d rather purchase your dress, consider a used or vintage dress. The styles available run the gamut (including many designer labels) and can be easily searched with the convenience of the Internet.
For brides who prefer a new gown, many designers are now offering wedding dresses made from natural, renewable fibers including hemp, organic cotton, peace silk and bamboo.
The bridal party could certainly look for vintage or used dresses as well, in keeping with your green wedding focus. If they’re buying new though, consider taking a group shopping trip to find pieces that can be worn again after the wedding. My bridesmaids bought some fun two-piece numbers that would be great worn separately in lots of different combinations.
Choosing a site with colorful natural surroundings will mean fewer decorations are necessary to dress things up. Use local flowers and foliage in decor.
On Salt Spring, there are countless locals who offer bunches of flowers at roadside stands. Simple wildflowers make beautiful bridal bouquets. Flowering potted plants, fragrant herbs, or ‘lucky’ bamboo arrangements make great green centerpieces and can be gifted to your helpers as a special ‘thanks’ for their efforts after the festivities.
Be mindful of the season when planning your flower bouquets and menu. Working with what is readily available helps avoid untold carbon emissions by not having items shipped from far-off lands.
A grouping of bulbs set amongst a bed of river stones (as in the photo at right) makes a great centerpiece for a green wedding. Bulbs can be planted afterwards and enjoyed for many seasons.
Wedding Favor Ideas
Green wedding favors need only be simple eco-friendly wedding trinkets to send your guests home with as a reminder of your union.
When deciding on favors, look for items readily available locally. For instance, we have a local chocolate maker where we could find wonderful bits of decadence to wrap up for our guests.
Use containers that can be re-purposed, like a handkerchief ‘pouch’ or a small tin. Or get crafty (or enlist a creative friend) and whip up a little something.
One of our friends gave out little hand-made wire and bead wine glass markers. Simple, personal, elegant, and useful… even years later!
Tree or flower seedlings, flower bulbs, or plantable seeded cards are very fitting favours for a green wedding.
Purchase pre-made/wrapped seedlings or get your hands a little dirty and create your own ‘green’ wedding favor. This is a very economical option, but does require some planning, especially if you want a plant that will be in flower at the time of your wedding.
The post-ceremony toss
Although the release of butterflies has become popular and seems a nice natural touch to a green wedding, it can actually have a negative impact by disturbing wild butterfly migrations and potentially spread disease and/or parasites.
Rather than throwing rice, which is harmful to birds who come and eat it (it expands in their stomachs and can be fatal), toss some fresh or dried flower petals.
You could also forgo the toss entirely and provide a few noisemakers for guests to ‘play you out’ (i.e., handballs, tambourines, drums). At my own wedding, we handed out little containers of bubbles. Fun!
Green Wedding Rings
Probably the most surprising thing about a wedding’s impact on the environment is that the teeny tiny rings we exchange, with their sparkly precious gems, may be a major offender in little-known ways.
The mining process used to extract gold from the earth can have a disastrous effect on the environment. And the cultivation of diamonds has caused much death and strife amongst the parties involved, not to mention the lasting negative impact on surrounding ecosystems.
A few alternatives? Look for wedding rings made of fair-trade (or better yet, recycled) gold or platinum, with certified ‘no conflict’ diamonds.
Other eco-friendly wedding ring materials include wood and coconut shells.
Vintage (or antique) wedding rings are another option. And with a little searching, you can find a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry in superb condition.
Borrow (or rent)
Ask around for items you could possibly borrow. Let people know that you’re trying to keep your wedding green and how their generosity will support that plan.
Give guests the option to make a donation to your favorite environmental organization or to buy ‘carbon credits’ to offset their inevitable travel footprint created by attending your event.
Holding the ceremony and reception at the same venue, or within close proximity, means that your guests will travel less to attend your day’s festivities.
Go the ‘Locavore’ Way
Simply put, opt for local, organically grown/raised foods to serve at your green wedding reception. Salt Spring is well known for its lamb and goat cheese. Decadent seafood is available fresh and there are heaps of organic growers supplying locally grown grains and produce (not to mention wine from the local vineyards). Some island caterers are committed to using locally available ingredients in their menus.
Extend the earth friendly theme of your wedding to the honeymoon by renting a green accommodation on Salt Spring and enjoying all the island has to offer while you get acquainted with ‘married life.’