Green Weddings

Nice Day for a Green Wedding

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something … Green?

By Randi Jo Gause

While wedding costs can put a dent in the father of the bride’s wallet, Mother Nature might be paying her own price through the amount of environmental waste and damage generated in the creation of your dream wedding. But as the “green” phenomenon sweeps the nation, with its environmentally friendly cars, energy-efficient homes and non-disposable coffee cups, weddings are quickly following suit. For those couples who want to plan an event that is at once elegant and earth-friendly: Read on for some eco-chic ideas.

Something Old

Using recycled items is the simplest way to incorporate environmental friendliness into your wedding. Create wedding invitations and thank-you notes on recycled paper — they’ll look equally inviting, as will the few extra trees at your outdoor wedding reception. If you really want to cut back, send e-mail invitations, or request that guests RSVP via e-mail. Creating a Web site or blog for your wedding information and updates also reduces the amount of paper needed to relay information to your guests.

Wearing family heirlooms can also be a unique way to incorporate your heritage into the wedding, while cutting costs for the environment –— and yourself. Many families pass down rings, wedding gowns and jewelry for generations, and sentimentality is often more valuable than new items.

However, if your grandmother’s dress is just a tad outdated, shop for vintage wedding dresses or second-hand couture. Something that has been worn only once hardly warrants the term “used.”

Accessories can also be reused, borrowed or made from recycled material. Karla DeLong, from Karla DeLong Weddings, recently planned a wedding in which the bride wore a necklace created by a local vendor out of recycled coral, which added a unique touch to her outfit. Rings can also be made out of recycled precious metals.

Something New

If you’re planning a spring or summer wedding in the “Land of the Midnight Sun,” take advantage of natural light sources with an outdoor reception. For indoor weddings, create a romantic glow by incorporating candles into your reception instead of conventional indoor lighting.

Heather Siegel, from Beginning 2 End, suggests adding some class to your reception by using real dishes and napkins rather than disposable tableware. While it may be more costly, this will cut back on the amount of waste.

DeLong suggests sending your guests home with eco-conscious gifts, such as handmade soap or jars of organic honey.

Something Borrowed

Alaska’s vast terrain means that weddings can be held anywhere, from the peak of Flattop to the wildflower meadows of Denali. Do the environment, and your guests, a favor by providing group transportation to your destination via buses or vans. Or simply hold your wedding and reception at the same location to avoid extra commuting.

Also consider making a unique and eco-friendly getaway after the wedding by driving a hybrid vehicle, riding on horseback — or perhaps even taking the dogsled.

Something Green

Why not make your gift to guests a gift to Mother Nature as well? You can ask guests to make a contribution to local environmental groups in lieu of the traditional wedding gift registry.

No wedding is complete without flowers, but aim for local, organic vendors to avoid harmful pesticides commonly found in imported flowers. Make the most of your flowers by reusing your wedding bouquet as a centerpiece at the reception as well. Also consider planting flowers in small pots or to-go containers, so that guests can take them home instead of tossing them out.

Donate leftover food to a local charity, such as Bean’s Cafe, and give flower centerpieces to a local retirement home or hospital.

Siegel suggests using biodegradable options — such as flower petals or bubbles instead of confetti or rice — when the couple makes their escape.

Planning a green wedding can ensure a lasting impression on your guests without making one on the environment. After all, you’re contributing to a future in which you and your spouse will be participating, so start off on the right foot by making environmentally conscious decisions.