This wedding season, it's easier than ever for brides, grooms, and their guests can make small changes that maximize their budgets and minimize their consumer waste. A lot of people equate "going green" with "spending green", but these Earth-friendly choices are friendly for your wallet as well:
1. Registry -- The greenest gift in the world is literally green! A cash gift doesn't come in a bunch of wrapping paper, doesn't have to be imported or shipped, and is the most efficient way to let the bride and groom get exactly what they need to start their married lives. There are even cash registries that let guests contribute to a honeymoon fund or a down payment on a house. If you don't feel comfortable giving or asking for cash, go for Earth-friendly and Fair Trade products, so you're supporting the sustainable economy and making sure that the gift is made of healthy, non-toxic materials.
2. Location, location, location -- Guest travel is one of the most expensive and carbon-heavy parts of a wedding. If couples can plan their wedding in a location that's convenient to the majority of their guests, that's ideal. But if you're already planning or have been invited to a destination or out-of-town wedding, try to organize guests for carpools and sharing accommodations. There's no better way to make friends with other attendees and save, save, save.
3. Flowers -- Flowers seem natural and Earth-friendly, but conventional cut flowers can actually be a huge polluter! Most varieties that are popular for weddings are grown using pesticides and then transported here from South or Central America. Then we spend thousands on them, and they die a week later! Try replacing flowers with succulents and cacti. They can be used as centerpieces, bouquets, party favors, even hair accessories. Succulents are hearty plants that live for a really long time with minimal care, so after the wedding, you and your guests can take them home to plant. This creates value by taking what would typically be one-time-use wedding decorations and turning them into permanent, green fixtures in your home or garden.
4. The Menu -- Organic food is ideal, but if it's out of your budget you can still go green (and delicious). First, go local. Especially for a spring wedding it's easy to build an entire menu based around a few fresh local foods. The other major thing you can do to reduce spending and environmental impact is to cut down on the meat in your menu. Instead of offering the typical beef or salmon options, try making one of your entrees vegetarian, like a pasta selection. And skip the meat-based appetizers in favor of delicious plant-based options like cheesy polenta cubes or mini gazpacho shooters.
5. Attire -- Oh, the dress! For many brides, the dress is the most sacred and sentimental item they'll buy, and for most women it's the single most expensive item they'll ever wear in their lives. But it's also a product with a supply chain, made up different parts that are often produced in different countries and then shipped here to the States. Wedding dresses are labor and energy-intensive products, and they cost thousands of dollars, and then you wear it just once! And guests often buy one-time-use formalwear for weddings and events as well. Instead of participating in this highly consumptive behavior, think about buying a gently used wedding dress, or selling the one you buy after you've worn it. It's a form of recycling that saves you tons of money and reduces the demand for newly manufactured dresses.
For more green wedding tips, check out RecycledBride.com!