Wednesday, April 8, 2009


We attend a lot of events and one thing that is incredibly striking is the amount of waste involved. Weddings and parties create a lot of trash and are not usually very environmentally friendly. Experts say that the average wedding can create 14.5 lbs. of carbon ~ as much as the average American creates in an entire year. So that said, I'd think that anything, even one thing, you can do to be less wasteful would make a difference.

I know, I know ~ it's already overwhelming to plan a wedding, nevermind also trying to make your wedding eco-friendly.  But you don't have to be a dirty hippie to have a greener wedding. Seriously! It can still be chic, upscale and downright gorgeous ~ while having less impact on the Earth.

We've seen lots of great ideas at real weddings as well in magazines and at wedding shows. Last spring one our brides used potted magnolias as her table centerpieces, and folks were able to take them home and enjoy them. Several of our brides last year decided against favors and instead used that part of their budget to make a donation to local charities.

Here are some more great, greener ideas...

* Look for reusable items as decor. Potted plants and flowers are one idea. You could try stylish glass cylinders of  live goldfish as centerpieces, or artfully arranged fruit. All of which can be given away to guests.

* Rent as much as you can ~ things like linens, vases, chairs, tables, plates/glasses/silverware. It can be reused and you won't be stuck with 25 matching vases to store in the attic.

* Instead of traditional paraffin candles, use beeswax or soy candles. They are readily available everywhere now, even Target and Kohl's!

* Use recycled paper for all your invitations, place cards, menus, announcements and other stationary. Consider an online RSVP through your wedding website to cut back on paper. Many designers also offer stationary printed with soy and veggie based inks, which are as bright and clear as any traditional ink.

* Search for florists that source their flowers locally and organically. And if you go with more traditional centerpieces, either give them away to guests or have a friend take them as donations to local nursing homes or hospitals, so folks can continue to enjoy them.

* Make a donation to charity instead of giving favors to your guests.

* Ask your caterer if they offer any organic food, or could source your ingredients locally. Inquire if your caterer and bartender if they can recycle food/drink containers. Finally, see if the caterer will box up leftovers from the reception to give away to family & friends instead of the food ending up in the trash. Waste not, want not. 

* Go with local or organic wines, liquors and beers for your bar. Maryland has many well-known vineyards and breweries  - and even an organic winery - Black Ankle Vineyards!

* Consider a dress made from organic silk. Canadian designer Adele Weschler offers an entire eco-couture line.

* Release butterflies, throw dried herbs or use live doves instead of sparklers for your send-off.

* Instead of going with the usual registries at Macy's or Bed Bath & Beyond, try an antique shop like Retropolitan in Ellicott City, or a store with eco-chic options, like Nest in Clarksville or bluehouse with locations in Inner Harbor East and Towson.

We are also lucky enough to work with several other vendors  who are committed to making events greener.  Carole at A Garden of Earthly Delights is very serious about eco-friendly weddings.  Paul at Dionysus' Kitchen was one of the first in the catering biz to offer local and organic options in menus. Michael at ZBest Limos can tell you about their new hybrid SUV limo options. Ellen at LoCoFlo offers only Maryland-grown flowers.

Another great green vendor is event planner Lori Hill.  Lori specializes in planning greener events and has shared some of her wonderful tips for brides: 

* Invitations ~
Print on 100% post consumer recycled paper that is non-chlorine bleached. Encourage guests to recycle their invitations. Use paper with embedded seeds so that guests can plant the invites and enjoy the flowers that grow from them. Use a reply postcard (no envelope) and forego the inner envelopes. Use corks from wine bottles as escort card holders. Instead of escort cards, stamp guests' names on stones.

* Transportation & Venue ~
Transport guests with hybrids or bio-diesel vehicles. Choose a destination that requires minimal travel. Encourage guests to use mass transit & provide information, passes and maps in guest packages. Choose a venue that requires few added decor items such as a botanical garden,  a farm or a seaside resort. Hold the ceremony and reception at one place to minimize driving.

*Decor ~
Use local, seasonal and/or organically grown  flowers that minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and eliminate cross-country shipping. Choose centerpieces and decorations such as living and/or flowering plants that can be reused.

* Food & Beverage ~
Work with caters who can provide locally & organically grown food, wine & liquor. Opt for vegetarian or vegan meal options. Provide filtered water served in glasses instead of bottled water. Ask the caterer to compost unusable leftovers or ship them to a local farm. Donate leftovers to a local shelter.

*Wardrobe ~
Consider vintage dresses for the bride and bridesmaid. Purchase vintage rings, or ones made from 100% recycled, reclaimed, responsible gold.

*Gifts ~
Provide guests with handmade gifts, such as pottery. In lieu of gifts for yourself, ask for donations to a favorite charity.

See... a greener wedding doesn't mean granola. All this should get you started and headed in the right direction. Happy planning & stay green !

~ Rissa

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