Newest Bridal Trend: Green Weddings
by Lauren Offner
Due to the fact that global climate change is now a scientific and political issue, citizens are taking matters into their own hands and living more sustainably responsible lives. People are beginning to create their own compost in their backyards, driving smaller vehicles, and buying local, organic food. There are many different ways to live “green,” but the newest trend in sustainability falls on peoples’ most important day in their life: their wedding.
A wedding is an extravagant celebration that combines a lot of resources. Gowns, suits, rings, shoes, décor, food, drinks, and an abundant amount of flowers are all wound together to make the day perfect and unfortunately expensive. The trend of green weddings first moved people to change their habits because of the cost for a normal wedding. Now because of prevalent evidence of climate change (hence the foot of snow graciously received in May), brides and grooms alike want to protect Earth as much as possible. Here are some tips to stay as green as possible on your own big day.
Like most weddings, they begin as a proposal and the words “Will you marry me?” cannot be uttered without rings. Many potential grooms (or brides if they seize the opportunity to propose first) flock to their nearest jewelry store and purchase a ring without any inclination where the precious stones come from. Like many diamonds, they are mined in zones of conflict to fund wars. Blood diamonds are highly controversial and are a violation of human rights. A new trend for green weddings is to not purchase a diamond ring, or better yet, not purchase a new ring at all. Family heirlooms suffice and contain sentimental value. Don’t have a family heirloom to propose with? Do some research into where stones come from. Brides can hint they prefer a Kate Middleton “look” and request a sapphire instead or even an emerald stone ring. These stones are certainly more unique than the everyday diamond engagement ring. Sometimes, if couples hold the particular skill set, they forge their rings themselves into different patterns or symbols that refer to something special in their relationship.
Wedding invitations can be fun and exciting to create, but they require a lot of valuable plant fibers to assemble. A way to create sustainable invitations is to request recycled or compostable fibers. If you want to instill a very unique impression, websites like foreverfiances.com can create plantable invitations for your guests. The cardstock is biodegradable and holds seeds. Just throw it in with some potting soil, water, and sunlight, and watch it grow! Otherwise, couples can research designers online and choose which invitations they believe will impact the environment the least.
Choosing a venue can be a difficult task for fiancés. Deciding what is both aesthetically pleasing and large enough for their amount of guests takes time and many tours. But, when planning a sustainable wedding, the first thing to think of before booking a location is travel time. Analyze your guests and choose the most local and centered location so that there is less travel time; the fewer emissions, the better. Outdoor weddings can support your theme and call for fewer decorations or flowers.
Speaking of decorations, what is a wedding without flowers? The most sustainable option is to buy flowers locally and ask a sales rep if they are grown organically. Once the ceremony and reception is finished, what happens with the beautiful centerpieces is entirely within the couple’s control. Some suggest recycling the flowers by donating them to patients at hospitals. Calling ahead of time and asking the organization if this act of generosity if possible, is an excellent idea. Brightening someone else’s day is a lot more rewarding than throwing the flowers in the trash. Another way to recycle flowers is to add them to a backyard compost hole to create more nutrient rich potting soil for a personal garden.
Planning a wedding reception with an organic menu is also another way to remain sustainable. When hiring catering, ask questions about the food. Where it is grown, if it is raised organically, and asking for customer reviews are ways to ensure the food is responsibly grown, fresh, and delicious. Many organic stores such as the Menomonie Market Food Co-op (located on 2nd Street East) allow customers to place special orders to purchase food in bulk for events. Ask for what is possible to order in these cases, and caterers may accept the ingredients you requested. If organic food is out of the question, organize a tasty all-vegetarian menu. Meat products are less sustainably responsible and create more waste in the process, and guests can enjoy a meal one evening without it. As for drink items, if your wedding is supplying beer or wine, order kegs supplied by local breweries such as Lucette Brewing Company, New Glarus, or Leinenkugels. Your guests will thank you for it.
Choosing a wedding gown may possibly be the most exciting thing in a bride-to-be’s life. Although the wedding dress is supposed to be white and not “green” there are sustainable options for an environmentally conscious spouse. Some secondhand stores like Goodwill host large bridal showcases for recycled wedding and bridesmaid dresses. These dresses are stylish and tend to be sold at a less heart-sinking price. The Goodwill event is hosted in the Twin Cities every spring so brides can plan accordingly. Another way to remain sustainable is to be mindful of the material the dresses are made of. Hemp silk is an incredibly recyclable material and can form beautiful gowns. Also, be attentive to the bridesmaids’ requests. Choose a style and fabric that they’d be excited to wear again for another occasion. Then the dress won’t sit in the back of their closet for the rest of eternity. Better yet, donate the dresses if they announce they’ll never wear them again. Another bride-to-be will recycle it.
Whether you live an environmentally conscious life or want to use as few resources as possible for your big day, these ideas and many others can accomplish a beautiful wedding that Earth will thank you for. Researching ideas and asking questions is the best way to plan a green wedding that your guests and local businesses will talk about for years to come.