Green Your Wedding! Low Cost, Zero-Waste, Eco-Conscious Options
Image credit:J. Pfeiffer.
The average wedding in the USA costs $20,000. Yikes! In this economy, that's not just insane; it's silly.
Why not go green and save green? Creative couples can hold a fantastic event for $500 or less, and share their love with the planet. Here are a few ideas from a June Bride (the author), who plans to rock her wedding by walkin'‚ the Treehugger talk. 1. Hold your wedding outdoors in a nature reserve, county park, arboretum, private garden, library courtyard, or on conservation trust land or a local farm. The possibilities are truly endless. Ours will take place on a Northern California state park beach. Space Rental Cost: $0.
2. Consider a potluck or BBQ instead of a catered meal. For our wedding, the bride and groom are supplying bucket loads of organic salad, gallons of sun tea, and sparkling wine from local organic vineyards. ˆ Our beloved guests are bringing the rest. Food Cost: $50 - $200.
3. For on-site cooking, solar cookers are cheap, easy to set up, and non-polluting. If you go the BBQ route, rent or borrow a gas grill (most eco-friendly option) or purchase natural briquettes from Cowboy Charcoal, and use a cylindrical charcoal starter instead of lighter fluid. Solar Cooker Cost: $60.
4. Do-it-yourself-tableware. Invite guests to bring picnic baskets with their own dish kit, purchase what you need from a thrift store (and then donate it back), or buy compostable dishware from sustainable living sites such as Branch. Adorn the tables with batik or woven cloth from a Fair Trade vendor like World of Good, and invest in cloth napkins from a local consignment store (or borrow several dozen from friends). Cost: $0-$150.
5. Paperless invites. Use online e-vites, such as Pingg to invite your guests and encourage them to talk to each other (including arranging for carpools!), provide logistical details, weblinks and maps, and create a place where afterwards everyone can share photos and video clips. Cost: $0.
6. Make your wedding attire fabulously unique by going vintage, or buying gently used clothing. Mix and match pieces, or create your own. I knew a California bride who hired a costume design graduate student to create an outrageous gown using embroidered gold, silver, and silk brocade fabric sourced from vintage racks. Cost: $100 - $400.
7. Grow your own flowers by planting seeds a few months ahead of time, or source your flowers from friends' gardens. For a more upscale bouquet, buy a few orchid plants from a local nursery, clip the flowering stalks, and cultivate the original plants for years to come. Live orchids are a chic wedding souvenir - better than a piece of cake stashed in the freezer. Cost: $30 or less.
8. Let them eat cake, and give them a choice. Assemble a cake-baking group and wow your guests with multiple choices ˆ chocolate for the die-hards, carrot cake for the health-conscious, angelfood cake for the weight-sensitive. Or bake an assortment of cupcakes. Decorate inventively with edible flowers, star anise, chocolate-dipped or sugared fruit, gum-drops, pistachio nuts, whatever turns you on. Cost: $20 - $50.
9. For the get-away vehicle, go ultra-hip with a bicycle taxi, horse-drawn carriage, electric bike, or a hybrid car or Zipcar. Or walk to the nearest bus stop or subway station give all the other passengers a delightful thrill by taking public transport and sharing your joy with the world at large. One Boston bride and groom actually held their entire wedding on an MBTA train! Cost: $5 - $100.
10. Did you know it's possible to make your own customized rings out of recycled gold? My sweetheart proposed with two rings made from the same molding of gold flakes from a local jeweler. For those of you who don't have jewelers as personal friends, you can order recycled gold commitment rings at Green Karet (http://www.greenkarat.com/) Cost: $100 - $200+.
11. For your honeymoon, instead of spending a wad of dough on a far-away trip, lower your stress levels by choosing a breathtakingly beautiful hideaway within a 100-mile radius. Camping is the most eco-friendly, a rental cabin or room at a bed-and-breakfast the next best option. Save money, support your regional parks service or small business owners, and decrease your carbon footprint, all at the same time. Cost: $20 - $200+.
12. For those wedding gifts, think first. Do y'all really need more loot? Or can you encourage your guests to donate to a charitable cause? We decided we really didn't need any more stuff. Instead, we're giving our friends the option of contributing to a scholarship fund for cultural heritage conservation.
These ideas are just the beginning for a wedding with pizzazz and panache. Weddings are an opportunity to build new traditions; a chance to share our joy and love not just for the couple getting married, but for the world at large.
BY: Jeanine Pfeiffer, Earthwatch Institute
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