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Articles - Planning a Wedding? Make It Green

Planning a Wedding? Make It Green

By Amanda Johnson
Co-op America
Reprinted from http://www.coopamerica.org/newsroom/editorials/greenwedding.htm

Here comes the bride, all dressed in . . . green. Green? While I may not actually wear a green wedding gown, my fiancÚ and I have decided that it is important to us to have an environmentally friendly wedding. Not only are we attempting to create less of an impact on the earth with a truly memorable celebration of our love, but we also hope to save some money. The average American wedding for 125 people costs $19,000, which, like many young couples, is way out of our price range.

After committing to a green wedding, we started to research different ways to plan a fun, earth-friendly ceremony and reception. Some easy decisions for us include donating leftover food to a local shelter, recycling all bottles and cans from the reception and having organic beer, wine and vegetarian options available. With these simple solutions for food and drink in place, we soon discovered there are many other components of the wedding ceremony and reception that have easy and inexpensive green alternatives.

We found that one way to cut down on costs, while adding charm, is to make things yourself. From wedding veils and decorations to invitations and favors, do-it-yourself projects are a great way to spend time with friends and family who may enjoy helping you make beautiful things for your special day. I have always wanted to learn how to make recycled paper from scratch, so I am making handmade recycled paper invitations with my mother and my mother-in-law to be. If you are pressed for time, companies like Twisted Limb Paper (www.twistedlimbpaper.com) make wonderful handmade paper and offer do-it-yourself kits to cut the cost even more. Greg Barber Company (www.gregbarberco.com) also offers recycled paper invitations with an environmentally safe printing process for a great price.

Decorations were another interesting challenge because flowers tend to be very expensive, are often grown with lots of pesticides, and then shipped a long way - a big energy bill for flowers that perish so quickly. Balloons are much less expensive, but are terrible for the environment. Candles are also another inexpensive option, but many candles are made from paraffin and animal fats, which is a health risk because paraffin is made from left over residue from refining petroleum. We are looking into a combination of local organic flowers and candles made from beeswax or vegetable-based wax. Candleworks (www.candleworks.org) has clean burning, 100 percent biodegradable candles at reasonable prices.

We are also being creative about favors. We want to reduce cost and waste while giving our guests something memorable to take home. Luckily there are many great ideas for party favors that can fit into your budget and celebrate both the earth and your lifelong commitment to each other. One great idea is to donate money to a charity you support and leave a certificate on each table to let your guests know that you have donated money to a good cause in their honor. For our wedding we have decided to alternate tiny potted plants or flowers with packets of organic flower seeds. This way, guests who have a garden can plant these seeds as a living memory of our wedding day, and those who don't, can take home a living plant. The plants also serve as decoration for the tables! And a green honeymoon? We're currently pouring over websites featuring lush eco-tours in Central America and the Caribbean. For off-the-beaten-track travel with respect for the Earth's resources and inhabitants, check out Earth Routes (www.earthroutes.net) and Green Earth Travel (www.vegtravel.com).

So you want to know more? One of your best resources for planning a green wedding is a book by Carol Reed-Jones called "Green Weddings That Don't Cost the Earth." Co-op America's National Green Pages also provides a wealth of information about businesses and services that can help you plan your big day. Call 1-800-58-GREEN to order your own copy. If you are planning a wedding, remember to plan a celebration that reflects your love for each other and the values important to you.

Amanda Johnson is the Public Education and Media Coordinator at Co-op America, a nonprofit consumer education organization for environmentally wise purchasing and investing. She can be reached at ajohnson@coopamerica.org.


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