By Anna Sachse
Whether your goal is a few simple substitutions or a more advanced overhaul, here are eight ways to go green on your big day.
Waste less paper
Simple – Use tree-free or recycled paper for everything from invites to programs to seating cards, said Danielle Venokur, founder and principle planner for dvGreen, a sustainable event design company in New York.
Advanced – “Revisit traditions with a modern eye to avoid paper altogether wherever it’s appropriate for your particular event,” Venokur said. This can mean anything from providing a single seating chart instead of multiple cards, to using e-mail invites for events like the bachelor/ette parties, bridal showers or a casual rehearsal dinner.
Leave a smaller carbon footprint
Simple – “Choose a location that is central to the majority of your guests, so that less people have to fly to your event,” said Kate L. Harrison, author of “The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget” (Sourcebooks, 2008), and founder/CEO of GreenBrideGuide.com. In addition, try to select a venue that is easily accessible by public transportation and works for both the ceremony and reception.
Advanced – Purchase carbon offsets for travel to your wedding, the big day itself and your honeymoon. Use a Carbon Calculator (find one on GreenBrideGuide.com) to determine your event’s footprint and buy equivalent offsets from Brighter Planet. “We also offer eco-friendly gift registries with free carbon-neutral shipping,” Harrison said.
Simple – “Rentals, in general, are a great way to be more environmentally conscious because you’re reusing,” Harrison said. Up the ante by renting linen from companies that use “green” dry cleaning and offer products made of eco-friendly materials, such as hemp silk.
Advanced – Capitalize on the season or a unique location to minimize extra décor, suggests Harrison. For example, a summer wedding that takes place in a garden will reduce the need for additional cut flowers, while a soiree held in a historic mansion can forgo extra electric lighting in favor of romantic candles or lanterns.
Use local, in-season florals
Simple – Venokur suggests only springing for in-season flowers that are grown locally. Also, consider blossoms that have a big impact with less quantity.
Advanced – “Think about the vessel, too,” Venokur said. Pass on products from China in favor of locally-made pottery or recycled glass. Or consider quirky non-floral centerpieces, like stacks of books and candles or buckets of fresh fruit that can double as a favor.