Going green (and saving the green) doesn't mean compromising on your wedding's beauty or romance. Here are seven simple ways to have an eco-chic - and oh-so-romantic – wedding.
1. Streamline your invitations
If you don't want to send your wedding invitations via e-mail (and admittedly, this isn't a very formal option), minimize waste by utilizing e-mail or phone for the RSVPs. Save-the-date notes can also be sent via e-mail. Print invites on recycled or plantable paper (compostable paper that's impregnated with seeds and meant to be buried in the garden).
2. Skip the gifts and ask for donations
With many couples waiting until later in life to tie the knot (often after establishing careers and buying a house), today's bride and groom aren't exactly starting from scratch the way they would have two generations ago. Consider requesting that in lieu of gifts, well-wishers make a donation to your favourite eco-charity. Make it easy by having shower hostesses include the organization's web URL on shower invites.
3. Ask your bridesmaids to buy off-the-rack dresses they'll wear again
They'll save money, reduce waste, and be thrilled to wear outfits flattering to their individual body types. Ensure a cohesive look by agreeing in advance on materials, colours, or by using matching scarves or shawls to pull their collective look together.
4. Wear an eco-friendly gown (and tux)
What bride doesn't want to wow her guests in the dress of a lifetime? Being both gorgeous and green is a snap with these options:
• Vintage: A gently worn dress from the thrift store, vintage clothing boutique or your mother's attic can be taken in, taken out, or otherwise reworked so it fits your style and body size.
• Eco Ateliers: Dressmakers catering to green brides (and grooms) are popping up like trees. Try Canadian e-tailer Rawganique's Eco-Couture wedding collection for men and women.
IsadoraClothing, a member of the Etsy.com online marketplace makes a stunning wedding gown in organic-cotton/bamboo jersey that can be worn in several different ways, and packs well, making it ideal for destination weddings.
• Custom made: Another option is having your dress made using eco-fabrics you've sourced on your own. Hemp, bamboo and organic cotton are popular, but for the ultimate in eco-glam, reach for Peace Silk.
Peace silk is made from silk fibre harvested after silkworms have safely emerged from their cocoons as moths. It costs about $25 US per yard, but since it's made without, um, boiling silkworms alive in their cocoons (as conventional silk is), it's well worth the good karma.
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5. Send your guests home with carbon offsets
Does anyone really need candles with your name tagged onto them? Consider less wasteful choices for bonbonniere or wedding favours, like:
• Carbon offsets. TerraPass has a wedding carbon footprint calculator, and can suggest a suitable offset purchase. Announce it on tiny cards printed on recycled, plantable paper.
• Seeds. A packet of native wildflower seeds provides beauty, as well as food for butterflies and bees.
• Baby trees. A tiny evergreen seedling in a species suited to your region makes a memorable favour.
6. Have a vegetarian reception dinner
You'll save yourself a bundle of cash, while enlightening relatives who've always resisted "new-fangled health-food hippie ideas"! A delicious menu of locally sourced produce may convert even the most ardent carnivore to trying eco-friendly eating choices more often.
7. Use organic flowers for the bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and tabletops
Conventional flowers are grown using resource-gobbling irrigation and often-hazardous chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Fortunately, many major cities now have eco-minded florists specializing in organic or not-quite-organic, but environmentally responsible and sustainable growing practices.
Ask your florist if they carry eco-friendly VeriFlora, Florverde and FLP certified flowers.
If you can't find organics, don't despair. In-season, locally-grown flowers carry a much smaller carbon footprint than conventional imports. In most parts of Canada, local blooms can be sourced between May and October.
• Eco-friendly wedding attire
• How to stay calm on your wedding day
• How to write the best wedding guest list
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