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Books - Organic Weddings: Balancing Ecology, Style and Tradition

Book Review:
Organic Weddings: Balancing Ecology, Style and Tradition

Michelle Kozin
New Society Publishers, 2003

This new book with beautiful graphics and layout is a practical, up-to-date guide on planning a wedding that incorporates environmental, social, and personal values. It is one of the few wedding planning books available with such a focus.

It has the usual sections included wedding planners, such as budgets, checklists, timelines, and tips. However, Organic Weddings also looks at the different elements that make up a traditional wedding celebration, examines their potential environmental and social impact, and explores elegant alternatives that are healthier for the planet and more attuned to the couple's values. It does all of this in a fun, positive, and enlightening way.

Topics covered include wedding attire, beauty products, invitations, decorations, ceremony sites, vows, food, flowers, gifts, favors, and honeymoon travel. There are lots of descriptions of real-life weddings in which the couples applied their values and imagination to create a unique celebration that was beautiful, meaningful, true to themselves, and gentle to the planet. The information on weddings is interspersed with short interviews of sustainability leaders and their opinions on why organic weddings are a positive step for our world.

There is a lot of creativity captured between the covers of Organic Weddings. It is chock-full of wedding ideas and environmental angles that I never would have thought of, even after being part of the sustainability movement for four years.

The only aspect of Organic Weddings that I take issue with is that its emphasis seems to be on retaining all of the elements of the big, traditional wedding popularized by our consumer culture and replacing them with organic alternatives. It's true that these alternatives are better for the planet, and that the diversion of dollars to sustainable businesses might make the wedding industry sit up and take notice. However, as consumers of organic products may surmise, this can be an expensive way to plan a wedding, and there are other approaches to having a sustainable, meaningful wedding.

One such approach is to have a small, intimate wedding, and I would have liked to see Organic Weddings provide more coverage of such celebrations and their advantages. Small weddings, by their very nature, are simpler, have a smaller consumption footprint, and can be more affordable and accessible for those who don't have the means to buy organic everything for 200 wedding guests. By giving careful consideration to the guest list, and by making conscious choices about which elements of the wedding celebration that are personally meaningful and which are just cultural expectations, it is possible to have a small, intimate wedding that is earth-friendly, more meaningful, and less stressful and overwhelming than a big wedding might be.

To its credit, Organic Weddings did have a lovely feature on one small wedding. The featured couple had an intimate, laid-back beach wedding with their closest friends and family, joining them for drinks after the ceremony.

Overall, I highly recommended Organic Weddings, especially for brides-to-be who are in the very early phases of their wedding planning.


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