Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming enough without factoring the environment into every decision. We get it. But, oftentimes eco-consciousness goes hand in hand with a more relaxed (read: less stressful) occasion — not to mention fresher food, lower costs and more room to get creative with the details. After all, an afternoon affair for 50 in your local park requires no lighting or artificial heating or cooling (provided you plan with the seasons in mind), and lets you inject your personality — and budget constraints — into every aspect of the event. But even if your dream is a designer dress, 700-strong guest list, exotic flowers and dancing ‘til dawn, there are ways to tread lightly without sacrificing the traditional wedding experience.
That’s where we come in. Inspired by fall’s ascent as the new wedding season (August-October is the new April-June, according to the National Association of Wedding Ministers), we’ve pooled all our green wedding resources so you don’t have to. Whether you’re just getting started planning a low-key gathering or rounding out the final checklist for an over-the-top party, our guide to eco-friendly weddings is here to help.
• Wedding Paper Divas: If you’re not looking to spend on a custom invitation, Wedding Paper Diva—where Good on Paper and other high-end designers also contribute collections, Target-style—is a can’t-miss alternative for less expensive, ready-to-purchase options.
• Cranes: For more formal or traditional invitations, this old standby has cotton paper, a more ethical, tree-friendly choice, which is easier to take to a local printer.
• Smock Paper: For those willing to do a bit of research, there are some great letterpresses and off-set and digital printers who have carbon-neutral or otherwise green business models. Smock Paper, for instance, sustainably letterpresses its own custom-created, pesticide-free bamboo paper and uses wind energy to power the process. Additionally, the upstate New York studio gives one percent of its sales to environmental causes and offers wedding albums covered in the most indestructible, handmade flax paper.
(Of course, if you can bear to send an Evite to your guests, you can avoid printing invitations altogether!)
• eBay: If you have your heart set on a certain dress, look for it here before investing in something new. You’ll save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and get the dress you really want.
• Preowned Wedding Dresses: This online depository has hundreds of preowned dresses from every major label—from Amsale to Vera Wang. Reuse is, after all, one of the main tenants of green living.
Brides Against Breast Cancer: This humanitarian-minded e-tailer will recycle your dress after you wear it for young victims of breast cancer.
• Glass Slipper Project: Donate gently used wedding and formal bridesmaid dresses to be remade into prom dresses for teens that wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend.
• Boll Organics makes high-quality, organic cotton dress shirts for men.
• Loup Charmant has the most beautiful array of delicate lingerie and underthings for the Big Night and honeymoon.
• Te Casan has a line of vegan shoes by Natalie Portman, but they are not 100 percent eco-friendly so be sure to ask about the production process.
• Cri de Coeur is a lovely newish line of vegan and environmentally responsible shoes that would be perfect for a slightly edgy bride. Or, if the season is right, just go barefoot!
(And don’t forget: Opt for organic, mineral, or all-natural make-up without synthetic colors, chemicals, additives, or fragrance.)
• Flowerbud.com and California Organic Flowers offer bulk shipments of fairly traded, pesticide-free blooms, like tulips, roses, and irises, along with a wildcard box of whatever is in season, for much less than you’d pay at a traditional florist. They even have tips for when to order and how to arrange the flowers.
Registry (i.e. Stuff)
More ways to get inspired:
Story by Jessica Tzerman. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.