by Abbie Burgess
No matter what your wedding colors are, being green is one thing to consider when planning your wedding. Need some reasons why? The average American wedding generates about 400 pounds of waste, according to the Conde Nast Bridal Group. With 2.3 million weddings a year, each one-day celebration adds up. You can go eco-friendly and still have your wedding be as glam as you dream–it might even be more beautiful and less spendy, too. It’s all in the choices you make. Whether you want to have an entirely eco-friendly wedding or just greenify one or two details, here are some ideas to get you started.
Save the Dates The paper waste generated by wedding planning starts with sending Save the Date notices. Before Ashleigh and Brian Peltier tied the knot in September 2012, they made paperless Save the Dates by wood burning discs cut from a fallen tree branch. While Ashleigh admits the project was work intensive, the all-natural Save the Dates gave guests a sneak preview of their nature-inspired wedding and could be re-used as coasters, composted, or burned as firewood.
Décor Salvaged wood signs are trendy right now and totally eco-friendly. You can buy or rent them from The Barn Wood Company in Galesville, Wisconsin, or from Lisa Curry of Lisa Curry Designs, who salvages her own wood for custom signs and will ship them to locations in the United States. Signs that point guests toward locations at the venue such as the dancing or cake cutting are whimsical as well as functional.
Wedding Gown There are options other than dropping thousands of dollars on a bleached white gown you’ll only wear once. Shop online, at thrift stores, or in vintage shops for a secondhand gown or get an heirloom dress tailored to give it a modern twist that suits your tastes. FOAT Design, whose mission is to protect the earth by salvaging and upcycling clothes and fabrics, will create the dress of a bride’s dreams by either starting from scratch or using pieces of an heirloom dress. You can shop FOAT’s bridal collection online or make an appointment to visit their showroom in Minneapolis.
Bridesmaid Dresses Not only are mismatched bridesmaid dresses super in style, the trend lets bridesmaids choose a dress they’re likely to wear again. They might even already own a suitable style, saving their pocketbook and increasing the eco-friendliness of the wedding. Brides can still give color, length, and fabric guidelines to ensure a cohesive look.
Groomsmen Attire Don’t forget the guys! Rental tuxes are a sustainable option but for a more original look, Dan Michael Batista, owner of men’s image consultancy Dapper Dan Michael and author of the e-book Why Buy New? A Thrifter’s Trade Secrets Revealed has some tips. He recommends dressing up a classic suit with a vest and tie to make an ensemble that’s re-wearable. For a personalized look, bow ties made from upcycled vintage fabric can be custom made for a reasonable price point, which also makes a great groomsmen gift. Batista also recommends shopping at vintage and secondhand stores for suits. “You can buy a suit in an amazing fabric and amazing quality for an amazing price.” And, he adds, it’s more sustainable than buying new.
Beauty The FDA does not review cosmetic ingredients or even have the authority to require assessment of their safety, making beauty products some of the most unregulated items on the market. So if you’re getting professional salon services for the wedding, look for a non-toxic salon. BellaZenn SalonSpa, located in Medford, Wisconsin, is currently the only full-service, ammonia-free salon in western Wisconsin. Chelsea Zenn opened the shop to offer non-toxic services for clients who want to keep manmade chemicals and fragrances out of their bodies and the environment. Zenn offers bridal services including hair, makeup (using vegan mineral cosmetics), skincare, and spa services with space for bridesmaid parties or small bridal showers. “Part of the reason we exist is to educate people about the risks of fragrances and manmade chemicals in beauty products,” Zenn said. “What we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in them.”
Centerpieces Make your own with reused materials instead of buying new. Centerpieces can be as simple as mason jars filled with water, floating candles, and wildflower blossoms, or more detailed, such as a handmade terrarium. Overwhelmed with DIY projects or not crafty? Gather a group of relatives, friends, bridesmaids, or groomsmen and throw a crafting party. It’s an invaluable opportunity for people to meet and make connections before your wedding, and they’ll be proud to have had a hand in personalizing your big day.
Favors Look beyond mass-produced plastic favors destined for the trash. For a natural alternative, potted plants or seed packets are a way to send guests home with a memory from your wedding that will grow for years to come. Another option is to forgo favors and make a donation in honor of your guests. Put a card at the table telling guests that in lieu of favors, a donation has been made to a charity that’s near to the hearts of the newlyweds.
Recycle Your Wedding After the reception is over, avoid throwing things away or letting them sit unused in storage. Resell your wedding decor, dress, shoes, or accessories to other brides who will be happy to reuse them. A good place to start is Ruffled, a blog that doesn’t charge a commission to post items.
These are just a few of the ways to easily incorporate sustainable practices into the big day. Whether you choose one eco-friendly idea or many, guests are sure to appreciate the care that went into the wedding details and you’ll be able to enjoy the wedding without worry over wasted resources. The small choices you make as you plan your wedding have a bigger impact than you realize. Weddings are a 60 billion dollar business. By using wedding budget dollars to support eco-friendly companies, couples can affect change in the industry and be part of the newest wave of wedding trends.