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February 15, 2008

It's a nice day for a... green wedding.

So it's Wedding Week (or days) over at Evil Slutopia... and as ill as it makes me to have to write about wedding one more time, this one is actually kind of important.

A few months ago we wrote about how to have a green holiday and how to have the most eco-friendly sex life. People always talk about having a "wedding to remember", but how many of them realize the environmental impact a wedding like that has? On the day that you pledge to love and honor the special man or woman in your life, you should show your commitment to loving and honoring the earth as well. What better opportunity than your wedding to share your values and inspire others?

So here are a few tips on making your white wedding a little greener.




Location

  • Have your wedding at a location that will benefit the most from your business, such as a museum, cultural gallery, or non-profit organization.

  • Insist on a hall or other location that recycles, uses efficient energy, and is LEED certified.

  • Consider the distance your guests will have to travel when selecting a location and try to select a place that is as close to as many guests as possible. (Avoid destination weddings for this reason).

  • Encourage your guests to carpool or use energy-efficient, low-emissions and eco-friendly modes of transportation whenever possible.

  • Calcuate the mileage guests will travel and offset their emissions by donating to organizations that preserve the rainforest or plant trees.

  • Instead of limos for the wedding party, opt for transportion that will result in lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions such as shuttle buses that run on biodiesel fuel.


Catering


  • Consider hiring a caterer that will use all organic food and beverages (important for both the health and environmental benefits).

  • Whenever possible, have the caterer use local and seasonal foods in order to cut down on the environmental impact caused by the travel required for each ingredient.

  • Depending on your philosophies you might also choose to go vegetarian or vegan for the menu.

  • If you've asked your caterer to prepare fish, be sure that it has received certification from the Marine Stewardship Council.

  • Donate any leftover food to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, rather than throwing it out.

Invitations and Other Paper Goods


  • Use only recyled paper or tree-free paper for invitations, programs, thank you cards, etc.

  • Have everything printed with vegetable-based inks instead of petroleum-based inks.

  • Whenever possible have guests RSVP via email or phone, to cut down on the amount of inserts to the invitation.

  • Instead of printing place cards for seating arrangements, simply have a sign with the table assignments or use a non-paper alternative.

  • Rather than placing a menu at every setting, have one or two for each table. Or better yet, have the servers read your guests the dinner choices and avoid the need for paper menus all together.


Tableware and Decorations


  • Rent linens and tableware instead of buying new.

  • Avoid one-time-use materials.

  • Have recycling receptacles easily accessible.

  • Consider biodegradeable items such as compostable plates and utensils.
  • For a romantic and energy efficient setting, try candlelight. Soy candles because they are longer-burning, cleaner, and made from a renewable resource.

  • Decorating with flowers? Try to use only flowers that were grown organically, without the use of pesticides or genetic engineering.

  • Avoid cut flowers and opt for something less wasteful, such as potted flowers, plants or bushes that can be planted later on.

  • Recycle your decorations when you're done! Flowers can go from the altar to the reception hall and then be donated to a nursing home or hospital. You can even talk to your florist about sharing floral arrangements with another party.


Attire


  • Don't assume that eco-friendly clothing can't be stylish and sophisticated. You can find many attractive dresses and menswear pieces made from an eco-friendly material such as organic hemp.

  • Don't rule out rentals of tuxedos - and gowns - seeing as they will likely only be worn once.

  • Consider a wearing a family member's wedding gown or other vintage or secondhand dress.

  • Support terminal breast cancer patients by buying your dress from one of the Brides Against Breast Cancer trunk shows.

  • Sell or donate your wedding gown after the wedding. Bridesmaid dresses can be donated to underprivileged teens who can't afford a prom dress.

  • When laundering bridal wear (or preserving, if you wish to save it) avoid coventional dry cleaners who use harsh chemicals and go to one with more eco-friendly practices.


Jewelry

  • Before buying rings or other wedding jewelry, look into whether they were created ethically.

  • Look for "conflict-free" diamonds and metals that were sourced from non-warring countries and those that have documented and standardized environmental practices.

  • Ask for a certificate or origin and research the mining companies on your own.

  • Consider vintage or "recycled" jewelry.

Presents and Photographs


  • Don't register for items that you don't need. (Yeah, it's that simple).

  • If you do register, register for eco-friendly items from a green vendor.

  • Consider setting up a charity registry, so guests can make a donation in your name instead of buying a wedding gift.

  • In lieu of wedding favors, make a donation to a charity in their names.

  • Hire a photographer that uses digital photography and can provide digital proofs (to cut down on the amount of printing necessary).

And the most important thing you can do is spread the word. Let your guests know what you have done to make your wedding more environmentally friendly and why.

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