It’s Easy Being “Green” for Your Wedding
by Apryl Chapman Thomas

Do you think you have to sacrifice everything to have a green (eco-friendly) wedding? Think again. Jennifer Stambolsky, Atlanta-Ga.,-based creator of earthlyaffair.com, featuring earth-friendly wedding invitations, and earthfriendlywedding.blogspot.com, says that is one misconception that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s not a situation where it’s it's either all or nothing,” she says. “If you talk to a die-hard environmentalist, they'll probably tell you that eloping is the most earth friendly way to go. However, as weddings go, eloping isn't something all brides are willing to consider, and so it usually ends up being more about compromise. While there are some brides who do a fantastic job of making sure that every aspect of their wedding is earth friendly, I think most brides are happy finding a middle ground. They may still have a destination wedding, but perhaps they serve local, organic wine, send out earth friendly wedding invitations and invite fewer guests to cut down on waste.”

Nicole Kraft, editorial director, mywedding.com adds planning a green wedding is hard, just like planning any wedding.

“But with the right information, it doesn’t have to be any more difficult than planning a traditional wedding. In fact, often times going green means to simplify. Maybe with this new goal in mind, you’ll decide to leave out a few unnecessary details which will make planning much easier overall.”

Stambolsky says the Internet is a necessary tool when it comes to planning eco-friendly weddings.

“Brides are able to research and contact vendors, whether they're across the country or in their own hometown, and connect with other earth-friendly brides as well.”

However, perhaps the real change has been with wedding-related companies and vendors. According to her, many of these companies are offering more earth friendly options due to demand and many vendors are encouraging green choices as well. In fact, Stambolsky points out, one Southern California photographer, Beth Beljon (wwww.behtbeljon.com/Green-Offer.html), is offering a free wedding photography package to a couple throwing an environmentally friendly wedding.

Kraft agrees, “Couples have a lot of options these days to keep their weddings eco-friendly and chic.”

You don’t have to put out a lot of green (as in money) to have a green wedding either, she says.

“The cost of your wedding really depends on your own tastes and personal choices. If you are willing to choose carefully, as with any wedding, you can save money. “

Kraft and her husband planned an almost exclusively green wedding over four years ago for $11,000.

“People still tell us it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to. So ultimately, I think it depends on what your priorities are.”

Looking for some ways to incorporate eco-friendly practices for your big day? Consider any or all of these following options:

Hire Local, Independent Wedding Vendors
Even if they aren’t exclusively eco-friendly, hiring local vendors over large national chains keeps your area’s economy thriving and cuts down on the use of fuel used to ship products across the country, points out Kraft. Hire a caterer who uses locally grown food and a florist who uses seasonally, locally grown flowers.

Take “Something Borrowed” to the Next Level
“If you have friends who’ve recently gotten married, you could repurpose their centerpiece items and transform them into your own unique creation,” says Kraft. She adds another big trend today is to use mix-and-match vintage items for wedding décor.

“One of my personal favorite earth-friendly wedding ideas is to purchase a vintage wedding dress, which allows the bride to reuse the energy, materials, and resources used to create the dress in the first place,” says Stambolsky. “And it doesn't have to stop at the dress. Brides can purchase vintage accessories, bridal party gifts as well.”

Buy Recycled Paper
Use “post-consumer” recycled paper for your invitations, save-the-date cards, programs, and place cards, recommends Kraft.

“Recycled paper is just as beautiful as the kind made from virgin trees. Besides preserving trees, recycled paper requires less bleaching.”

Choose Digital Photography
Choose a photographer who exclusively uses a digital camera.
“This will give you the ability to view all of your photos from your computer and only print the photos you love, cutting down on the use of paper and chemicals used to develop traditional photos,” she says. You can also set up and online photo album for friends and family to view as well.”

Make a Difference with Favors

When it comes to favors, choose something that won't end up sitting in someone's kitchen cabinet for the next three years, or worse, in the trash, says Stambolsky.

“Edible favors almost always go over well with the crowd, such as homemade cookies or organic chocolates. Some brides are even choosing to purchase carbon offsets or donations in lieu of favors.”

For a wedding favor that keeps giving to both the guests and the environment, consider handing out something for their yard or garden.

Another option, Kraft suggests, is to donate to your favorite environmental charity.

“Donate to a worthy cause in each of your guests’ name. Organizations like the I Do Foundation (www.idofoundation.org) offers this service complete with a card for each guest announcing the donation.”

Remember, every little thing counts and more importantly, you can make a big difference at your wedding without sacrificing.