Weddings are easily one of the most important events in any couple’s life. Joyous occasions like weddings require a lot of planning and often involve high levels of stress. Due to this, even the most environmentally and socially responsible couples often ignore the principles of sustainability while wedding planning, either to save money or simplify planning.
Unfortunately, weddings can have major environmental consequences. With the increasing effects of climate change, it’s now more important than ever to keep these special occasions as eco-friendly as possible.
The consequences of our disregard for the environment are quickly building up — not only in terms of physical changes like excessive flooding and temperature rises but also in terms of how it impacts our personal finances. In fact, one articles estimates that we can expect to pay $126,000 over the course of lives as damage costs due to climate change.
So if we don’t do anything about the deteriorating state of our planet, this cost is bound to increase. One way to contribute to a greener future is to ensure each aspect of our lives has minimal impact – including having an eco-friendly wedding. Even though it sounds like a lot of effort, planning a green wedding can actually save you money and help sustain our environment in the process. Here are some tips for a sustainable Big Day:
Every wedding needs a budget, or things can quickly get out of hand. While there are many different ways to fund your wedding, one of the first steps should be talking candidly with your partner about your plans. Open and honest communication about finances is crucial to wedding planning. It’s even more important when planning an eco-friendly event that might require certain substitutions or sacrifices.
Making a list of “must haves” is a great place to start and will give you a good idea about your fiance’s wedding priorities. Based on this list, you can properly allocate your resources, ensuring that your wedding is both environmentally and economically friendly.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding is through invitations. You could choose to send invitations made from recycled paper, printed using vegetable-based inks. Better yet, have a local calligrapher write out your invitations to eliminate printing altogether. Not only will you have beautifully curated, handwritten invites, but you will also be saving the environment from the toxic chemicals.
A web business in the business of weddings, The Knot, also recommends creating a website with wedding details for guests to refer to in order to reduce the number of inserts in your wedding invitations. Finally, rather than mailing out “save the dates,” consider going paperless for this component. Electronic save the dates are gaining popularity, and there a number of online services that allow for beautiful customization. As an added bonus, electronic save the dates make the process of RSVP-ing so much easier, helping you easily keep track of guests responses. Greenvelope.com has elegant email wedding invitations that save you time, saves trees and saves you money and helps you track RSVPs.
Food and Drink
Your choice of wedding food and beverages can contribute largely to energy and food wastage. The greenest option is to choose locally produced, in-season food. Choosing local options can reduce your carbon footprint significantly and positively impact the local farming community.
You could also make a point to choose food suppliers that follow the principles of conscious capitalism. As defined in this article by Northeastern University, conscious capitalism is “a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world.”
Companies that adhere to its principles still pursue profits, but do so in a way that considers all stakeholders — including the ones that can’t speak for themselves, like the environment. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s follow conscious capitalism, so these might be good options to consider for your caterers, wedding cake maker and other wedding vendors.
Additionally, try to make wise seafood choices. Opt for sustainably sourced seafood, rather than seafood that is a result of unfriendly practices like overfishing or trawler fishing. Choose seafood that is in season, as these options are less likely to harm fragile marine ecosystems. Alternatively, you could always choose to avoid seafood options entirely; this route will also save you some money.
Finally, plan your menu according to the number of attendees to reduce wastage. A buffet dinner, although easier, often generates way more food waste than a course-by-course meal. If you absolutely must have a buffet dinner, consider donating the leftovers to a food bank or charity in need rather than simply throwing them away.
Not all flowers are organic. To ensure that your blooms are sustainable, opt for responsible vendors and follow the “farm-to-table” concept. Much like food options, choose flowers that are in season and local — in addition to helping the environment, this will save you some money too. If you are determined to use non-seasonal flowers, The Knot suggests looking for companies that have VeriFlora certifications. VeriFlora-certified companies grow flowers without using chemicals and do not promote harsh working conditions.
Having simple bouquets filled with locally-grown, native flowers will also reduce your environmental impact. Your florist will be able to point you in the right direction, or alternatively, you can pick these yourself if you’re planning a fuss-free, simple wedding day filled with natural, DIY flower arrangements.
After the event, consider donating your decor. An article on Brides.com highlights the many ways to reuse, recycle, or donate decor elements, including flowers at the conclusion of environmentally friendly weddings. There are many organizations that will collect your flowers after the events and donate them to local hospitals, senior centers, and homeless centers. In terms of other decor items, like mirrors and lanterns, you have the option of dropping them off at goodwill or other thrift stores for a tax-deductible donation.
One of the last things we think about when it comes to weddings is fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Guests flying in from different locations, transportation needs for food and decor, honeymooning — the the carbon footprint of weddings and attending guests is quite high.
While this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite guests who live in another state or country or choose to not go on a honeymoon, there are things you can do to reduce carbon emissions through transportation and fuel consumption.
For one, try and pick a wedding location that suits the majority of your guests. Encourage guests to carpool to your wedding, and consider offering a shuttle bus service. Remember, while destination weddings might be fashionable, they are highly unsustainable.
You could also consider cutting the number of guests you plan to invite. Fewer guests mean fewer people travelling/flying/driving and that means less carbon emissions.
Thirdly, when it comes to choosing a honeymoon destination, consider the impact of travel on the environment. Instead of choosing a location that involves a lot of air travel, you could opt for a honeymoon a little closer to home, saving the world some resources in the process.
Big cities like New York or London are great options, as they have many attractions and things to do for people of all budgets. As an added benefit, cities tend to be quite walkable and have amazing urban bicycling routes, so you won’t have to waste fuel during your honeymoon sight-seeing activities either.
Ultimately, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your wedding is as eco-friendly as possible. As you can see, most of the suggestions above are not actually hard to implement. Use these tips to plan your special day in a sustainable way and you’ll be extending the love to the planet when you do.
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