As many people become more conscious about their environmental footprints, even brides and grooms are finding ways to go “green” at their weddings. Whether you’re incorporating just a few eco-friendly practices or you are planning an all-out eco-friendly affair, there are a variety of ways to have a “green” wedding. From flowers, décor, food, paper and even transportation, rest assured you can feel good about your wedding’s impact on the earth on your big day — and here are a few tips on how:
1. Source local. When it comes to choosing your menu, work with your catering professional or venue to source locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats. Many local vendors source within in a 30-mile radius to keep costs down and their carbon footprints low. This may mean you will have to be flexible about what you serve to your guests. But because so many of our local vendors are experts at inventing creative menus with locally sourced foods, rest assured it’s likely that your guests will never even know.
2. Think in season. Getting married in the spring? Choose flowers that are seasonal to springtime. If you choose a flower that’s not in season, your florist will have to have it shipped in from far. Lilies, poppies, delphinium, hyacinth, lilacs, peonies, ranunculus and tulips are all in season during spring. Consider looking into eco-friendly flowers that are grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals, as well. Talk to your florist about homegrown, organic blooms.
3. Arrange for mass transportation for your guests. Rather than have your guests all drive from the hotel to the church and then to the reception, arrange for a trolley or bus to take them all. If the locations are within walking distance, encourage guests to make the trek. (You can even provide flip-flops for the ladies’ comfort and even beverages at the start of the destination to make it special.)
4. Recycle décor. When you purchase anything for your wedding, including table markers, frames, photo booth props, flower vases and attire (the list of what you buy is really endless, isn’t it?), make sure you can reuse it. When making wedding purchases, ask yourself if you will be able to use it after the big day. If you can’t, find an alternative or skip that purchase. Reusing items is one of the best ways to keep your costs down and remain eco-friendly.
5. Don’t purchase more than you need. Going along with tip No. 4, carefully consider what you are buying or committing to buying. As an example, when you can use the same flowers for your reception that you used at the ceremony location, why buy more reception flowers than you need? Have your wedding planner or a designated friend move the ceremony flowers to the reception for you. Small steps like this will reduce waste.
6. Donate your leftovers. When the party is over and there are trays of untouched food and large bouquets of beautiful, living flowers just sitting there, don’t just throw them out. We know a local wedding planner who always takes the unwanted bouquets to nursing homes, and it brightens everyone’s day. Take trays of untouched food to local food banks or charities in need. Don’t waste what’s still good.
7. Go vintage. Really want to reduce your footprint? Recycle a vintage wedding gown and make it yours. Perhaps your mom or grandmother saved her gown and you can wear it. Have it altered to fit you perfectly and save money on the cost of a new gown. Check out the website preownedweddingdresses.com to search for previously worn gowns. Get some cash for your wedding gown after the day by selling it there, too.
8. Use recycled paper goods. You can quite easily reduce the number of paper goods that are printed for your wedding. Skip the wedding program and write the ceremony order and participants on a chalkboard or in gold pen on a glass mirror. Skip printed menus and write food offerings on a large menu board for display. Skip printed place cards and opt for more casual, open seating. You can also forgo other welcome brochure materials and sending save the date cards. Use a wedding website to keep guests organized and save on paper. Whatever you do, though, don’t skip a printed invitation mailed to your guests. There’s a place for eco-friendly and there’s a place for time-honored etiquette in weddings. Some traditions are best saved.
9. Keep the favors eco-friendly. Rather than getting expensive chocolates wrapped in foil and packaged in cartons and tags, consider personalized flower seeds, small potted herbs or even a small plant decorated with the couple’s names. Homemade soaps or canning jars filled with homemade goodies are also a great green idea. A small “green” favor for your guests to take home will be unique, which sets your favor apart from all those chocolates and other traditional items while being eco-friendly.
Stay true to who you are and stay true to your cause by incorporating some of these ideas into your wedding planning process. Trust the local experts on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton to help you incorporate “green” practices, too. With all their experience, they have a good handle on what works best for your wedding and the environment.