Eco-friendly weddings on the rise

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As more people strive to reduce their carbon footprint so, too, are couples planning their weddings. Green or at least “pale green” weddings have been the “in thing for the last few years,” according to Richard Markel, of the Association of Wedding Professionals.

He advises couple to talk to their vendors about their desire to be kind to the earth on their wedding day. For instance, ask the electrician how to reduce electricity by 10 percent; or ask the chef for locally grown and organic foods.
Invitations
All wedding event invitations, thank-you notes and programs can be printed on recycled or tree-free papers made from cotton, bamboo and discarded cloth, according to Markel. Trims can be made of organic materials or the paper embedded with a custom mix of wildflower seeds for planting. Whatever you choose, use a reply postcard instead of another envelope to save paper and money.

Wedding Attire

Consider vintage garments and accessories or those previously worn by family members. If you’re buying new wedding clothes, look for earth-friendly fabrics, such as hemp, organic cotton, linen and silk.
Donate the proceeds from sales of gowns at  www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org and raise money for a great cause. That way the gown can be recycled again after the wedding. Bridesmaids can recycle their dresses at www.glassslipperproject.org, which distributes formals to students who can’t afford prom attire.

Flowers

Choose in-season, organic and, if possible, locally-grown blooms. Dried or silk flowers are another earth-friendly alternative, and crafty couples can make boutonnieres and bouquets from paper (recycled, of course).

Ceremony and Reception

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to provide transportation for all of your guests by renting buses or trolleys. If that's too costly, suggest that guests car pool.
Outdoor weddings and receptions can save water and electricity while honoring the earth you love.
Ask if leftovers can be given to a local food bank or an organization like Second Helpings.

Favors

Giving tree saplings, seeds, bulbs or plants to guests is an easy and popular “green” trend, according to Markel. Find evergreen seedlings in a tube with instructions for turning the tube into a birdfeeder at www.greenworldproject.net, for example.
Guests will love edible “green” treats such as “Endangered Species” bars or other organic chocolates, or jars of fresh local honey or jam (and they can recycle the jar!). Or skip the favors and make donations to your favorite nonprofit organization in honor of your guests at  qww.idofoundation.org.

Centerpieces

Try pots of perennial flowers, small bushes or bamboo that guests can take home and plant, or put rocks or shells in vases made of vintage or recycled glass or metal or renewable materials like bamboo. Another option is wheat grass centerpieces or a hurricane lamp with a reused soy candle. Another option for a casual wedding could be painting a flower on recycled paper as a centerpiece.

Even the honeymoon…

The website www.ecomall.com will help you find a travel agent who can book you a socially and environmentally sensitive trip. REI Adventures books incredible eco-tourism adventures and offsets 100 percent of the carbon emissions generated by all aspects of your trip by donating to support renewable energy projects.

By Gail Westerfield