Weddings are a beautiful tradition. But they can also have a huge impact on your wallet and the environment.
Whether you are planning a wedding for yourself or consulting as a friend or family member, why not consider a more eco-friendly event?
Some simple tips
Go small. Eliminate the long guest list and invite only those you want to share the event with. By limiting the number of wedding guests, you can decrease the resources used and waste generated by each person. You have a more intimate event—and you save money.
Venue. Ask some questions of the venue before you book: Are they willing to provide recycling for bottles and cans? Capture food waste for animals or composting? The Event Planning Guide provides a thorough list of questions for you to ask potential sites.
Invitations. Look for recycled-content paper, or skip paper altogether and send out electronic invites. Many websites offer features where you can customize your invitations, manage your guest list, and provide links to travel accommodations during the wedding.
Registry. If you already have what you need, there is no reason to have a registry. However, many guests will still want to give, so here are some alternative ideas:
- Create a registry that allows guests to donate to your favorite charity.
- Use Alternative Gift Registry to list items that you would be happy to receive handmade or second-hand, like a set of cloth napkins, coasters, or a funky end table.
- Choose to support multiple, local businesses. The Organic Consumers Association provides a list of organic products and businesses in Minnesota.
Dresses and tuxedos. Gently used wedding dress can be a high quality and unique option. More and more specialty shops, boutiques and websites have begun selling gently used, designer wedding dresses for half the price. Or, for a look unlike any other, shop around for a vintage dress at a wedding consignment store. And if you have been considering dusting off a family wedding dress, but it is not quite your style, remember that you can have the dress altered to match your size and your style.
Bridesmaids' dresses can also be vintage or repurposed. There are several wedding consignment stores throughout Minnesota. Alternatively, give the bridesmaids a couple of rules to follow, such as style or color, and let them run with it. This will save them money, and increase the likelihood of the dress being reused.
Groomsmen can rent their whole outfit! There are bridal shops that provide rentals in nearly every city across Minnesota.
Reflect on your ring. An astounding 20 tons of waste is generated when mining enough gold for one ring. So opt for more eco-friendly options, such as recycled gold or vintage rings.
Flowers. Try to include flowers that are native to Minnesota to reduce emissions from growing, fertilizing, and transporting.
- Grow your own flowers, or purchase bulk flowers from the farmers' market. Ask a friend to make simple arrangements for the tables.
- Use a botanical garden or outdoor theatre, where flowers are naturally part of the landscape. Outdoor Weddings.com provides a comprehensive list of outdoor venues in Minnesota.
- Use potted plants and flowers that will continue to grow after the celebration.
- Support local florists and ask for organic and fair trade flowers.
Catering and menu planning. Start by asking potential caterers questions about their willingness to use reusable tableware. Then work with your caterer to plan a menu that includes local foods and vegetarian options. Vegetarian dishes may cut down on the cost of food and use fewer resources to produce. Use Local Harvest or Minnesota Grown to find vendors throughout Minnesota. Eat Wild is a resource for finding grass-fed, Minnesota-raised meats. You can even look for beer and wine made in Minnesota. Surprisingly, there are a number of brewers and distillers throughout the state.
Final touches. Let your guests see that reducing your wedding's impact is important to you both. There are many low-waste ideas for party favors, such as a tree or wildflower seeds, or candies wrapped in recyclable packaging.
Hopefully simplifying and going green can add new sustainable traditions to your family that can be carried on for generations to come.