The “Green” wedding … has its time finally come? Though it’s still a relatively new concept, green-minded brides have been busy looking for a simpler, sleeker wedding gown that bypasses the “princess bride” pageant. Some boutiques have obliged by actually designing wedding gowns in hemp and other easy-on-the-earth fabrics. Other brides find great satisfaction in giving their mother’s gown a second turn around the block.
After that, there’s still plenty to ponder. You could register at the IDoFoundation, where contributions go to charity. Or consider the issues — both political and environmental — involved in gold mining.
Then there’s all the waste of a typical wedding, where oodles of fine food typically hits the trash bin instead of the homeless shelter when the dancing ends. Not so with the green bride: even the flowers (and the bridesmaids’ gowns) can enjoy a meaningful afterlife when given to hospitals, residental homes, and creative charities like The Glass Slipper Project.
What else constitutes an environmentally sound wedding? Well, Bay Area caterers are inundated with brides who want to serve up a fresh, all-organic menu. Even your wedding flowers can be organic (OrganicBouquet is one site that specializes in pesticide-free blooms). Fair-trade issues show up in areas ranging from flowers (many imported flowers are not; try your local farmer’s market instead) to that after-dinner coffee.
Perhaps the best way to pull off a light-footprint event is to pull back from the pros and let your friends and family take up the load. Know a seamstress who can make you that clean-lined dress you’ve always dreamed of? How about a friend with a knack for simple flower arrangements, or someone who can pull together a delicious (but not ostentatious) cake? Wouldn’t your family love to contribute their time-honored favorites to your dessert table? Can someone whip together those beautiful table runners you wanted with fabric from the thrift store? Remember, the word “amateur” means “for love” …. not poorly done! Let your wedding come together out of love, and you’ll have something to remember that’s as beautiful as it is conscientious.
We recently heard of a couple that gave away super energy-efficient light bulbs as favors. While we admire their fervor, we think many brides might prefer something a little … well, prettier.
Things That Glow
The ‘green’ bride might love the romantic flicker of hundreds of tiny votives, yet feel uncomfortable with paraffin or beeswax candles. A popular alternative is the soy candle, which has the advantage of burning cooler, and longer. Soy votives can be bought at many places, but the hands-on bride will consider making them herself from an ultra-affordable block of soy wax.
Things That Grow
What a great fit for the green bride: something that lasts for years and years, while adding its bit of fresh oxygen to the air. If you want to give something living as a remembrance of your day, consider:
Bulb wedding favors. Tuck bulbs in an attractively textured bag (try unbleached muslin, hand-dyed jute or burlap, and stencil a monogram or picture of the flower in front).
Potted Flowers. Do you have a sixth sense for sales? Can you find clay pots or small containers inexpensively? Kill two birds with one stone by cultivating easy-to-grow flowers for your wedding: try poppies, morning glories, shasta daisies, marigolds, or mexican sunflowers. These gorgeous blooms will beautify your reception and make for irresistible favors. In the unlikely event you have any leftovers, your neighbors will love them.
Lucky Bamboo. For a eco-conscious, Oriental-style favor, you can buy a few in advance, and propogate a bunch more!
Seed Packet Wedding Favors: design and print your own labels.
Handmade Paper with embedded wildflower seeds: buy, or make your own.
Live Plants in Tubes.
Tree Seedling Favors. That wonderful, earth-friendly trend.
Tree seedlings can be bought for $3 each from the Arbor Day Foundation, which is a wonderful place for a favor budget to go. These two-year-old seedlings are practically and hardily packaged.
If you love the idea of seedlings but don’t quite have the budget for $3 each, try tree seed kits instead. They’re equally attractive and run a little cheaper. Here are several:
Tree In a Box has an ornamental presentation (with a Celtic knot theme) worthy of any wedding. These gorgeous little packages run $2.50 apiece when bought in ‘wedding quantities.’ If you have a bit more to spend, consider their personalized seals ($.50 apiece).
You can even make your own tree seed kits for rock-bottom prices by buying peat pellets in bulk and inserting tree seeds (both can be cheaply bought online). You’ll need to be creative about the packaging, and be sure you get appropriate planting directions for your choice of tree (some must be planted in fall; some in spring) but this can bring your costs down to nearly nothing!
Cones full of flower-petal confetti smell lovely, and don’t litter up the reception venue, but roses might seem a bit precious. Why not go for something more colorful and earthy, like ‘rosemary and blue mallow’ confetti?
Or, make some beautiful sachets or potpourri bags for your guests, using bulk organic herbs. Time-honored choices like rosemary, lavendar and rose petals are just the starting point: make your own mix (how about balsam needles?), and include a tag with a saying, a history of your chosen herbs, or a complementary recipe.
Lavender for devotion,
Rosemary for remembrance,
Rose Petals for love.
Suited to a Tea
A small bag of organic tea in a cute paper tea-cover (you can easily make your own; template coming soon) makes a fragrant and picturesque gift. Personalize the cover with the couples’ names and a silly saying about tea.
A donation in lieu of favors seem especially appropriate for the green bride. Pick a worthy association (suggestions below), and notify the guests on pretty cards of handmade paper. Plantable seed content optional!
Another fascinating concept which you just might recall from a college macroeconomics class is the carbon offset. Very socially-conscious organizations and some individuals buy carbon offsets to compensate for the amount of CO2 their families — and guests — pump into the environment via planes, trains and automobiles! The idea’s more familiar in Europe, where carbon-offset “credits” have been required of companies for years, but it’s catching on domestically too.