From the wedding dress to the menu to the favors and transportation, what to know to start reducing, reusing and recycling for your eco-chic affair.
Research locations where the proceeds support eco-friendly causes. State parks and nature preserves are a great place to start.
Daytime I dos
Celebrate during daylight—and if possible, outdoors—to cut down on electricity. If you’re set on an evening celebration, consider candlelight—soy candles burn cleaner and longer than traditional wax candles—to help illuminate the venue, and create a romantic ambiance.
Minimize paper waste
Find a printing company that uses 100 percent recycled paper that has been processed without chlorine—or one that prints on paper embedded with wildflower seeds that can later be planted. Then, choose a simple design and use a postcard as a reply card. To announce your big-day details, use Brides.com’s My Wedding Web Site. Only print out information cards for guests who don’t have internet access.
Dress the part
Recycle a dress—whether it’s your mother’s gown or a gorgeous find from a vintage shop. If going retro isn’t your style, look for a dress in a natural fiber, like hemp-satin (visit Conscious Clothing getconscious.com), or find a simple white dress that you can alter, accessorize and wear again. Jewelry also makes a great “something borrowed.” What better excuse to raid Mom’s or Grandma’s jewelry box!
Start a green home
Look for eco-friendly home and garden stores that have registry options, like Branch Home, branchhome.com, or Design Public, designpublic.com.
With this ring…
Pledge your commitment to the earth and each other by choosing a ring made with environmentally-conscious precious metals—such as Leber Jeweler’s Earthwise Jewelryline, leberjeweler.com/earthwise, made with recycled gold and platinum. Or, opt for eco-friendly, handcrafted wooden rings from Chicago Joinery, chicagojoinery.com, or Touch Wood Rings, touchwoodrings.com.
Before choosing your bouquet, look for a florist that supports organic flower farms and uses local and seasonal wildflowers so you cut the emissions that would be generated by shipping flowers from far away. For centerpieces, use oxygen-producing potted plants, which guests can take home, and incorporate organic fruits, vegetables and berries.
Put your best face forward
Even if you’re a natural beauty who doesn’t wear much make-up, consider enhancing your look for your wedding photos. Choose a brand of cosmetics that uses natural and organic ingredients—and of course, that avoids animal testing.
Talk with caterers about using local, organic fare and make sure they offer enough options for vegetarian guests.
Toast the earth
Support winemakers who are as passionate about nature as they are about their vineyard by serving biodynamic or organic wines at your reception. Start your search at the online shop for Appellation Wine & Spirits shop.appellationnyc.com, a New York City wine shop that specializes in organically- and biodynamically-made wines
Plan a biodegradable picnic
If you’re planning a simple and outdoorsy rehearsal dinner, think twice about purchasing throw-away plates. Consider renting dishes, silverware and cloth napkins, or use biodegradable dishes and flatware made from cornstarch, potatoes, sugar cane or tropical leaves.
Do the environment a favor
When it comes to wedding favors, give a piece of fruit from a local orchard, or share a living gift—like a tree sapling or a small potted plant—with each guest. For those traveling via airplane, distribute packets of seeds. Soy candles or soap also make great green favors. Or, if you have a favorite pro-environment organization, let your guests know in the wedding program that in lieu of favors you’re making a donation in their honor.
Skip the rice
Throwing rice after a wedding ceremony can be dangerous for birds, and throwing birdseed that contains non-native or invasive plants can cause problems if you’re saying your vows in a nature preserve or state park. Instead, look into tossing native wildflower seeds or flower petals, or have your guests blow bubbles.
Enjoy an all-natural honeymoon
Plan a honeymoon where you can commune with nature—say, at an eco-resort that protects and preserves the environment.
Your honeymoon flight, along with the flights of all the guests who travel to your wedding from afar, will produce large amounts of CO2 emissions. Think about investing in renewable energy credits (or green tags) to help offset your global warming impact.
Think about having your ceremony and reception at the same location—or offer transportation between the two sites—to avoid excess car emissions.