Congratulations! You just got engaged with a conflict-free diamond ring, and now you're busy planning your very own "green" wedding ceremony. But before you wiggle into that fairy tale dress of hemp, why don't you take a long sip of your favorite organic wine and make an eco-friendly to-do list?
Just because you and your partner are committed to saving the planet doesn't mean you can't have a fabulous wedding. You just need to think a little more creatively.
Here are some ways to vow to do it greenly:
*Start by limiting the "excesses" of the entire event. Keep your guest list to a minimum. This will eliminate some of the "waste" often associated with large crowds and cut down on other costs associated with invitations, catering, etc.
*Send out your wedding invitations on recycled paper or via e-mail. You also can set up a Web site for guests to use to RSVP and request the chicken or fish.
*Consider limiting your gift registry. If you don't need china and glassware, you might want to suggest that guests make donations to your favorite charity.
*The attire is usually a major expense for any wedding, but even if you're going "green," you still want to look fabulous on the big day. There are lots of eco-friendly alternatives available today, whether it's wearing your mom's gown, going to a consignment shop or having a vintage gown remodeled. You even might want to buy a gorgeous evening gown that you can wear for years to come. And there are plenty of eco-conscious fashion designers now who use eco-friendly fabrics.
*Let's face it; most wedding gowns are worn only once, so there are plenty of ways to think "recycling" on this expense. Ditto for the groom and the wedding party. You can go to http://www.GlassSlipperProject.org, where bridesmaids' dresses are recycled for girls who can't afford prom dresses, and http://www.BridesAgainstBreastCancer.org, where you can donate your gowns for a great cause.
*Wedding jewelry is a great place to go green. Many jewelers now have alternatives to consider, from using recycled stones to remaking vintage pieces to sources for conflict-free diamonds.
*When you pick the venue for your green wedding, choose a location that is easy on the environment. An outdoor locale, especially for a daytime event, will reduce the need for energy consumption. There are several eco-friendly resorts or nature centers that may benefit from the money you spend.
*Catering is also a way you can definitely go green on your wedding day. Choose a caterer or chef who specializes in using local and seasonal organic foods, and then work closely with him in selecting a menu with food that will appeal to a variety of your guests. If you will be serving organic wines, be sure to sample them first.
*Flowers are always "greener" when chosen from a local farmers market or flower farm instead of flown in from around the world. Cut back on the huge centerpieces, and use smaller, more natural bouquets or other "organic" materials, such as seashells, tree branches, sand, etc. Dried or silk flowers may be another option.
*Favors for your guests may be as simple as a gift of plantable flower bulbs or a tree seedling (check out the Arbor Day Foundation) or even wildflower seeds. Chocolate from organic fair trade cocoa beans is another delicious possibility. Or you can make a donation to your favorite charity in your guests' names.
*There are lots of eco-friendly travel destinations to consider when making honeymoon plans. Explore the possibilities of camping on the beach, hiking in the mountains, relaxing at a spa or seeing the countryside by train. You even can stay in a treehouse (http://www.PostRanchInn.com)! When you say "I do" to minimizing your carbon footprints, you never know where they will take you.