We're not talking about green bridal parties. We are talking about making your wedding reception environmentally friendly. Use recycled paper for your invitations and thank you notes. Have the reception in an eco-friendly environment (your backyard, the beach, a park, a lake, the mountains, a garden restaurant). Use an organic caterer that serves chemically free organic food (consider vegan/vegetarian). Select a vintage wedding gown. Offer sustainable favors. Include eco-friendly items on your gift registry (air purifiers, etc.). Choose an eco-friendly location for your honeymoon (see a list of approved U.S. hotels at: itsagreenworld.com )
One of our brides posted this on her website and we thought it was a great explanation of the new trend in weddings:
Here's some fun ways to go green with us::
Shop at second-hand or vintage shops for your outfit (works for the vintage glamour theme wonderfully!)
Rent a fuel-efficient car.
use earth-friendly dry cleaning afterwards.
Wrap gifts in recycled boxes, paper or bags.
you get the idea!
here's some stuff we're doing::
all seasonal organic food and beverages
online RSVPS and thank-you notes (saves paper)
repurposing decorations for different parts of the event
using natural cleaning products
donating the flowers after the wedding to hospitals/care facilities
using vintage decor
Got some great green tips for us? Let us know!
Take your party outside. Find a venue that incorporates elements of nature and host your event early — you’ll use less energy if you take advantage of natural light by hosting your event while the sun is still shining. Find a garden or terrace for drinks at sunset — it’s mother nature’s entertainment!
I’ve got hungry friends. What about the food?
Contrary to what you may think, an eco-friendly menu does not consist of bland, vegan food. If you serve organic and locally grown food you can have pretty much any type of cuisine you desire, but without nasty pesticides, chemical additives or antibiotics.
Most leading grocery or specialty food stores now offer organic produce and hormone-free meat. Or, find a local green market and support local farms and food artisans. Food that is in season and sourced locally is better for you and the planet. It’s fresher because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate.
If you don’t have time to prepare the food yourself, hire a green caterer in your area. In New York City we turn to Sage Events, a local sustainable caterer (operating since 1997) that prepares delicious food sourced from local family-run farms.
You can also set up a farm table with local artisan cheeses, organic fruits and vegetables and freshly baked bread.
Disposable plates and silverware can't be good for the environment, right? What are the alternatives?
When possible, use glassware for your events instead of plastic (which is made from petroleum) or paper (which ends up in the landfill). Tableware and glassware can be rented from local rental companies or through your caterer. They can deliver right to your door and will take away all the used items afterwards — no dirty dishes to wash!
If you are dining outside and need a non-breakable alternative, there are a few companies like that make clear cups out of polymer, a substance that is made from corn and is 100 percent biodegradable. And Preserve by Recycline has great looking tableware and cutlery sets in different colors made from 100 percent recycled plastic.
What about décor? How do I create a party atmosphere that will make both my guests and the planet happy?
Be creative with your décor. Buying mass-produced, disposable themed décor is unoriginal and, if you only use it once, pretty wasteful. You can find interesting ways to create atmosphere with everyday items. For example, vintage tea tins make great vases. Or find brightly colored fruit that’s in season to display as an edible centerpiece.
You can also buy seasonal flowers from the green market or an online retailer like Organic Bouquet that specializes in sustainably-grown, fair trade flowers. Their roses come in many different colors and smell amazing. Small potted plants are also an easy way to incorporate florals without having to arrange cut flowers. They can be given to guests as they leave or be enjoyed by you after the party.
Go digital! The best way to save paper (and money) is to send a digital invitation. Pingg.com is a new online invitation and event management company that offers a great selection of modern images. Not only are the invitations free of advertising, but the interactive web pages will let you upload photos, video and even set up a gift registry.
If your event is more formal, try paper invitations that are made from 100 percent organic cotton and printed with vegetable inks that are non-toxic. One of my favorite stationery companies is Smock, which handprints the most exquisite wedding invitations and birth announcements. They are the only letterpress printer in the U.S. that uses paper made from bamboo, which is a renewable resource.
Make a note on your registry page: "Making the trip and having you there to share in the celebration is a gift in itself! In consideration of the environment, please do not request gift wrap. Thank you."
There's always so much leftover at the end of a party. What’s the best eco-move for extra food, flowers, etc.?
Dealing with your post-party clean up is the least glamorous part of your event but an important aspect of being green. Sending your guests home with leftover food and bouquets of flowers are thoughtful ways to lessen your load.
You can also put out different bins for recycling bottles, cans and paper. This sends a low-key green message and helps to educate guests. If you hire a green caterer, they will be in charge of separating compostable food from garbage and will dispose of it properly.
Leftover food that hasn’t been touched can be donated to your local food bank. Make arrangements beforehand and find out their specific requirements.
What if you don’t have access to eco caterers and other green vendors? Can you still throw a sustainable soiree?
If local, eco-friendly vendors are scarce in your neighborhood, hop online to see what might be delivered to you. Or, be creative and use what you already have in your home. Vintage items and heirloom table clothes are eco-friendly because you are continuing to use them and not buying something new.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.
For more ideas on how to have a "Green" wedding, go to marthastewartweddings.com/eco-friendly