An Eco-friendly Affair

By Teresa Iqbal

January 31, 2017 5 min read

Weddings planning can be a conflict of interest for those couples who have a wedding style in mind but are environmentally conscious. Traditions of elegant flowers, fancy invitations and flavorful food are not necessarily green-thinking. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives these days. With a little creativity and planning, couples can reduce their wedding carbon footprint and still express their personal style.

Wedding invitations are one of the most important aspects of the planning process. They introduce your wedding theme and inform your guests of your pending nuptials, including logistical information about the big day. There are a number of paper components: save-the-dates, the formal invitation and RSVP cards. To avoid waste, create invitations online. You can consolidate everything onto one central Evite, or even create a wedding website. The Knot is the nation's largest source for wedding news and inspiration. It offers many templates for couples' personal sites. Besides event details and an RSVP function, you will be able to upload directions, information on accommodations, bios of those in your wedding party, a link to your wedding registry and photos. You could upload a whole collection of photos of you and your honey, from your first date to your engagement!

One design aesthetic that can be altered for eco-friendliness is flowers. They are used everywhere, from the bride's and bridesmaids' bouquets, to the groom's and groomsmen's' corsages, to the petals thrown down the aisle, to the centerpieces. Fresh flowers are often grown specifically to be cut and used for weddings and other events. Many couples encourage guests to take the centerpieces home to enjoy, thinking it is less wasteful. But there are many other decorative options that leave flowers out altogether.

Succulents are a great alternative to a living centerpiece. They survive only by being watered very little, in fact. Succulents come in many looks and sizes, so altogether they are a somewhat eclectic aesthetic. Try placing one oversized succulent across a table, or scattering three or four. Terrariums are large glass containers that can house succulents, making a beautiful modern centerpiece that can double as wedding favors.

The big day is another page in each couple's love story. Why not include other stories as a decoration? Antique books make for a great centerpiece. Find them at thrift stores, yard sales and the library discard pile.

One article on Martha Stewart Weddings called "19 Non-Floral Centerpiece Ideas for a Wedding" lists clever centerpieces for couples to "think outside the bloom." Ideas include spray-painting game pieces white, or spray-painting faux bay-laurel twigs gold; collecting seashells to display in vases (Why not take a walk on the beach with your betrothed to collect them?); filling Champagne flutes with ornaments; and arranging rows of tea candles. Not all are considerably eco-friendly, but what's great about them is they can all be brought into the home for later use, whether for special holidays or table decorations.

Couples can also outfit the wedding party with alternative wardrobe accessories. Bouquets made out of paper flowers or feathers are becoming increasingly popular for brides and bridesmaids. In place of corsages for the groomsmen, many are choosing novelty pins, such as navy boats for a nautical themed wedding. Visit the Etsy website to customize your own for a reasonable price. Oftentimes, flower girls throw flower petals as they walk down the aisle. But couples can get creative with this, too. Fallen leaves or pinecones, for example, are a simple, natural touch appropriate for weddings in fall or winter. And seashells can do just the trick for a beach ceremony.

As far as cuisine goes, it's a well-known fact that environmental impact rises the farther food has to be transported. As a way to lessen environmental influence, choose a caterer who specializes in using local, seasonal produce. This is also a terrific way to share delicious cuisine that's special to your area (or the area of the ceremony) and may not be accessible to the guests who've come from other places.

Though the saying "one steps forward and two steps back" is often seen in a negative light, when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of wedding decor, the more steps back, the better.

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