Going 'green' does not entail holding a candlelit service in a tent and feasting on veggie burgers at the wedding reception. You don't have to suffer to be an eco-bride, and to prove it, here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling as you plan your eco-wedding. Good luck!
The biggest impact your reception venue will have on the environment will be the electricity used to light and heat or cool the place.
Combat this by:
- Hire a venue that's an appropriate size for your guest numbers. Cramming hundreds of guests into a tiny chapel on a hot day is likely to have you turning the air-con up to full throttle.
- To reduce the impact of the lighting you can use candles, they will create considerably fewer emissions than a standard lightbulb. A naked flame contributes to an ambience, which is almost impossible to create with artificial light.
- Wastage is the biggest factor to consider when ordering food. Don't overdo it - and if you do, make arrangements for one of your guests to deliver the excess food to a homeless shelter. It's not difficult to find a shelter in the major cities that would be grateful for a delivery, just call and ask. If you find it tricky to organise this, then arrange with your caterers to provide 'doggie' bags for your guests. Those who haven't spent time behind the scenes at functions would be horrified by the stunning volume of food that can go to waste - and for most of us, professionally catered 'left-overs' are a yummy departure from our everyday meals of meat and three veg!
- It's also worth considering the labour involved in making your wedding feast. What sorts of fruit, vegetables and meats are being served and where are they sourced? Local, seasonal produce is not only more environmentally friendly, it's usually fresher and often of a higher quality.
- What's the power output involved in making your meals? This may be an area that you're not willing to compromise on, but do remember that cold 'finger-food' type dishes generally require less preparation and thus use less electricity. This is not always true - but one thing is for sure: in our Island Nation, a plate full of fresh rock oysters is not only a sensible choice for eco-brides, it's a heck of a crowd-pleaser too!
Flowers are the obvious factor to consider. Exotic flowers can be a lovely choice but in many cases there is a locally-grown native flower that's just as beautiful. Natives often have the benefit of being less costly than exotics, and they help the environment in a number of ways.
- Even natives grown in a controlled environment will promote the pollination of local wild flowers from insects and birds that visit them both.
- There's less transport and refrigeration involved with native flowers.
- They are a great choice for brides because they will often deal better with excessively hot weather, and their freshness means that they'll last longer. You might even come back from your honeymoon to find your mum still enjoying the centrepiece you gave her!
In other decorative terms, there are a few pointers that will get you on the path to being an eco-bride.
Always opt for re-useable decorations. Ribbons and fabrics that can live to decorate another day are a clear way to reduce landfill. If you must use shells, find out where they were collected and whether the local industry is looking after its seas and reefs. Natural fibres have already created fewer carbon emissions by the time you use them than plastics and artificial fibres like rayon and polyester. Petro-chemically derived products like plastic flowers and nylon chair covers support the biggest contributor to global Climate Change: the oil industry.
Sometimes, there is simply no alternative to using paper. But there are ways of using paper that limit your environmental footprint - both before and after you use it. If you're using a 'standard' type paper or card for your invitations, check that it is recycled - and be sure to remind your guests to recycle as well! Nowadays there are plenty of papers around that look like 'new' paper even though they've already lived one life as a newspaper or a schlocky romance novel. However, you might choose to go for a rustic, hand-made look that inspires a theme for your big day.
For those who are fond of thinking outside the paper box, consider fabrics like linen or cotton for your stationery instead. This is a more expensive option but naturally grown renewable fibres are much more eco-friendly than chopping down trees - and they look very classy too.
This is not the part where we tell you to walk to the church. But when considering your transport, do think of this - the bigger the vehicles you use, the more people you can fit into them. And wouldn't you rather be on your way to the church with all your best buds than just one or two? What fun! Stretch limos are a great option for the social bride, and they're a more economic way to travel. Invite your remaining guests to car-pool or taxi-pool - it's not just a good way to avoid drink-driving. Perhaps you could even introduce your guests who live nearby each-other. They'll roll up to your wedding already knowing someone from the car trip - and saving on petrol use as well!