How to Have a Green Wedding

Seven Methods:InvitationsRegistryWedding Clothes and RingsVenue and TravelFlowersThe Reception MenuHoneymoon

Weddings are often extravagant affairs, with much money, care, attention to detail and time being lavished on creating the ultimate day for the bride and groom. If you are an environmentally and socially conscious couple, you may like to consider sharing your eco-savvy and social awareness with your family and friends by actively demonstrating how it is possible to "green" a wedding and still maintain the essence of elegance and sophistication many expect from such an important event.

Method 1

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    Make recycled invitations. The invitation and the envelope can be made from recycled paper. Better still, if you have the patience and ability, make your own paper and include pressed petals in the paper. Rather than printing the invitations, have a local calligrapher write them for you. This eliminates the energy used in the printing process, employs someone locally and the effect is stunning.
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    Alternatively, forgo paper invitations altogether and instead send out invites electronically. You can direct guests to a personalized wedding website with all the necessary information, plus more than you could include on a standard invitation, such as links to local hotels, an interactive map of the location and photos of the happy couple.

Method 2

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    Use a green bridal registry, many of which can be found online. Also, when choosing the items for the wedding registry, choose only eco-friendly items. If there is a store you like that sells eco-friendly products but it doesn't have a bridal registry, ask if they would mind setting one up for you. It might just be the impetus the store needs to do it regularly.
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    Request charitable donations in lieu of gifts. If you want the registry to be less focused on giving gifts to yourself and your new spouse, and more focused on directing resources toward those in greater need, you can consider having the registry be a list of possible donations to charitable causes. Suggest to your guests that in lieu of gifts, they should donate that money to a charity that supports environmental, educational, or social causes.

Method 3
Wedding Clothes and Rings

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    Recycle or rent your wedding clothes. You will wear these clothes once, so there are several possibilities that might suit your needs. Renting a dress or suit is one response. Recycling a friend's or family member's wedding clothing is another option. This is a great way to reuse and recycle!
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    Search the shelves of consignment stores or thrift stores and have the clothing altered to your size and style. Some people find a perfect solution in finding a dress or suit that can be used again with a little altering. If you're handy with a sewing machine, consider making your own wedding clothes from eco-friendly fabrics.
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    Encourage others to follow your recycle, rent, or reuse approach to clothing. Talk to the bridesmaids, matron of honor, best man, and anyone else with significant roles in the wedding, and have them do the same. Have them wear simple clothes that can be worn again or clothes they already own that adhere to a certain color theme. Be a little flexible and allow a range of colors that fit within a theme. Brides can always check out the bridesmaids' choices in advance to ensure that continuity is maintained.
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    Use recycled gold for your wedding rings. The mining of gold and other precious metals leaves environmental devastation in its wake by leaving arsenic residues and other problems associated with mining. Diamond mining also has negative environmental consequences [1][2]. There are many jewelers now recycling gold and turning it into wedding rings. This is not only a great method for recycling but it is also a wonderful connection with the past and the loves and lives of those who have gone before us.
    • Consider materials besides gold for your wedding ring, such as titanium.
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    Purchase antique rings from a pawn shop or estate sale and simply have them sized.
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    Consider a wedding ring tattoo. You'll never lose it!

Method 4
Venue and Travel

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    Select a wedding venue close to home. The closer the venue, the less distances required to travel and the less energy consumed. Consider a venue that has abundant natural light and take advantage of the sun rather than all-electrical lighting. Other considerations include the ability of your venue to withstand hot or cold temperatures without having to turn up the heating or air-conditioning.
    • Don't rule out your own home as a wedding venue, especially if you are having a smaller wedding. If you have a home and yard, you could put the money you might otherwise spend on a venue into fixing the place up and planting a garden.
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    Choose a venue where you can host both the ceremony and reception to eliminate travel in between.
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    Get creative with transportation. A horse-drawn carriage, while old-fashioned, is efficient and can be romantic. Likewise, bike taxis are fun and carbon free. Arrange for carpools among the wedding party and encourage guests to do the same.
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    Use a carbon calculator. How many guests are coming to your wedding and where are they coming from? Include a request in the invitation for them to offset their travel by calculating their carbon impact and purchasing an offset.
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    Overall, Keep the wedding small. More guests equals more impact from travel, costs and quantity requirements from the venue size to the amount of food to be prepared. Moreover, can the bride and groom really focus on 200 people? Go for the more intimate affair and treat all of your family and friends with your attentiveness.

Method 5

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    Use locally grown floral arrangements. They travel less, they arrive fresher and you are supporting your local community.
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    Choose organic flowers that have not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
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    Choose fair trade flowers. If you want special floral arrangements that require roaming further afield, consider fair trade flowers. The floral industry is currently under scrutiny for its poor working conditions and fair trade flowers help to ensure that consideration of the workers' conditions is taken into account.
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    Reuse the floral arrangements. Arrange for someone to take the flowers from the wedding venue to the reception venue. It is a logical solution to otherwise wasting the flowers and it reduces your costs. Even better, decorate with potted plants and flowers that can continue to grow. Your wedding decorations could become a garden to enjoy for years to come.
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    Select a venue where flowers are already naturally in bloom, such as a botanical garden, and avoid purchasing flowers altogether.

Method 6
The Reception Menu

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    Select organic and locally grown produce that is currently in season for the reception food. Supporting local growers is a great way to cut down on costs and travel distances. It can also provide you with an opportunity to showcase local specialties. Organic food is symbolic of an intention to start married life together with a focus on creating a health-conscious and informed way of living. Ask your caterer to shop at farmers markets and order as much of the food as possible directly from local farms.
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    Consider a low-meat or meat-free reception menu. Meat production has a high environmental cost, and highlighting some delicious vegetarian choices at your wedding could give guests new ideas for different foods to try. Consider vegan appetizer stations made with foods that even meat eaters consume on a daily basis.
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    Do not over-cater. A lot of food gets wasted at large events and weddings are no different. Calculate the food needs carefully. If there are leftovers, ask the caterers to package items and freeze where possible; where this is not possible for hygiene and safety reasons, ask them to compost as much as possible.
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    Keep the wedding cake simple. A simple cake can still be elegant and convey all the same meanings as a more expensive, resource and labor intensive one. Use simple themes and opt for organic, edible flowers instead of plastic decorations.
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    Use utensils and plates that can be washed. Avoid disposable items. Serviettes should be cloth. Use glasses and cups in place of disposable items. If you are using a caterer, make your preferences clearly known to them on this count, including the serving platters and utensils.

Method 7

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    Take an eco-considerate honeymoon. Consider eco-tourism for your honeymoon destination, such as helping at an organic coffee farm in tropical Costa Rica.
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    If traveling, keep it eco-friendly and make it part of the fun, such as traveling by train or even sailboat. Try to avoid travelling by plane as planes have been blamed for large CO2 emissions.
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    Conversely, keep the travel close to home and have a local honeymoon while discovering more about your own region. Try a backpacking trip together.


  • Use digital cameras for your candid photos instead of disposable table cameras. In the United States alone, more than 24 million disposable cameras are used just once then thrown away each year. Developing those photos also requires a great deal of chemicals, which aren't exactly eco-friendly either. Plus they take very low quality photos. Consider renting one or two digital cameras for your guests to take candid photos, or simply encourage your guests to bring the phones and cameras they most likely already own. You'll end up with a lot more photos that are much higher quality, plus most companies that offer this service provide website hosting of the photos so all of your guests can enjoy the memories they helped create.
  • For music, consider an acoustic band and avoid the energy consumption of the amplified music of an electric band or DJ.
  • Think outside the box—outdoor weddings open up an enormous vista of possibilities for your guests to have a great time. Get married under the trees and then "set your guests free" by allowing them to take advantage of the location to explore, play sports, take a walk, or share a wedding picnic together. Such active weddings are becoming more and more popular and reflect the spirit that the occasion is about truly involving the guests in celebrating your shared consciousness about the importance of a healthy planet for healthy people.
    • An outdoor venue can also give you and your guests the option to dress casually. If you choose to dress down, spell it out in the invitations that jeans, shorts, and sneakers are welcome, that guests should bring swimming attire for use at the beach, or whatever the case may be. You may well find that everyone is more comfortable when they're not dressed so formally.
  • Hire vendors who are already green. You can find green wedding DJs or green photographers or videographers, who already reduce their carbon use by using low-powered high-output equipment and offset any remaining carbon use.
  • Some dressmakers are now specializing in reworking wedding dresses into everyday evening wear or even daywear. They can remove bows, sequins, lace, puffy sleeves etc. and restyle the dress into something you can wear often.
  • Scrap it all and simply elope! If a traditional ceremony is not what's important to you, you and your beloved can take a walk down to city hall and tie the knot right then and there.


  • There will be naysayers. There will be some people who complain about this being the only event in your life where you should splurge and not worry about the consequences. However, if you truly believe in an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, giving in to such complaints will not only betray your passion but will also not provide an opportunity for creating a space that gently raises people's awareness through demonstration of the possibilities.

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