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GREEN Your Wedding!
Hosting an environmentally friendly wedding is not only healthy and fulfilling, but easy and fun too! You can plan a beautiful wedding without sacrificing your green principles. From the simplicity of selecting a venue which recycles its bottles and cans, to purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset guests' transportation emissions, there is now opportunity to incorporate eco-principles into every moment of your wedding.
Brides wanting to incorporate green friendly practices into their wedding day should begin with their guest list; cut it down! You want to share your day with everyone, but by opting for a smaller more private affair you will also be cutting down on your wedding's environmental impact. Less guests mean less wasted food products, less water flushed, less soap dispensed, you get the drift. Go ahead and get started trimming down your guest list.
Ah, the rings! Believe it or not, there are green friendly options here too. Consider purchasing a set of vintage wedding bands instead of new. Local antique stores and places such as Benson’s Flea Market are the perfect place to find thousands of unique vintage jewelry pieces. These are perfect for not only for you, but bridesmaids, mothers and everyone in your wedding party. Or why not have grandma’s ring re-sized? This also lends a heartfelt way to celebrate family. Consider these green alternatives that don't cause emissions produced by the gold and silver refineries of new rings.
Green runs skin deep. For radiant and healthy looking skin the day of your wedding, take advantage of natural and organic cosmetics. These products are rich in vitamins and minerals that feed your body with potent and active certified organic ingredients. Incorporating these products into your daily beauty regimen delivers direct benefits and something you can truly feel good about.
When it comes to waste, paper is a huge challenge around the globe. Purchasing invitations created from recycled materials is a great way to promote a green lifestyle, and finding them is much easier than one would think. There are hundreds of new products on the market made from handmade, reclaimed cotton as well as recycled fiber and materials. An added green feature is to find a printer who uses soy ink instead of the alternative petroleum-based ink. Soy has low levels of volatile organic compounds, which reduce air pollution by minimizing toxic emissions, and are healthy and safe.
Paperwerks in Sioux Falls, SD, has been utilizing forms of soy ink for nearly 17 years. Kris Haase, owner has other recommendations for the eco-friendly bride. “We do use regular reply cards with envelopes unless specifically requested. Instead we substitute reply post cards to save on paper and postage.” Kris realizes that with the green movement, selling recycled invitation paper in getting easier. “Up until recent years, the recycled green friendly papers have been referred to as post-consumer waste. This deterred brides from utilizing those papers for their invitations. Today’s brides are much more open to the idea and as a result we are continually on the outlook for new recycled papers perfect for wedding invitations.” Most recycled papers on the market contain 30% recycled materials and occasionally, one can find 50-100%. While most brides will purchase some kind of invitation, brides wanting to stay truly green should consider providing invites via email or by phone. There are many websites today that will help the bride create beautiful professional evites, and best of all, they are FREE!
When it comes to reserving a wedding venue, start by researching sites that were constructed using environmentally sound practices. Being green means being eco-friendly both inside and out. All energy saving practices should be considered in your hunt, whether it is waterless urinals or natural light.
The Museum of Visual Materials in Sioux Falls, SD is a “Green Facility” through and through. From the cabinets made from wheat board, an otherwise wasted by-product of farming, to their geo-thermal heating and cooling, it is truly impressive. The cork and bamboo flooring are both rapid renewable resources and lend a unique and beautiful sight to the reception area. Solar panels and soy based insulation create a 13% reduction in energy consumption. Jeremy Brech, Executive Director of the Museum says, “We don’t even allow disposable dishware at our facility to help reduce landfill waste. Plus we recycle everything possible including glass, plastics, aluminum, paper, etc.” Jeremy is especially proud to say that the facility runs completely efficient due to the smart system that is in place which allows for exact heating and cooling keeping the rooms all just the right temperature for no wasted energy. Couples hosting weddings in green friendly venues such as this get all the same amenities of other facilities, but are also rewarded with the peace of mind that comes from hosting a green wedding reception.
Jeremy also runs DJ Jer Music a local DJ company and has adopted several green practices there as well. “We do not have a paper trail, in fact everything the couples need like music request sheets are online electronically. We like to save trees,” says Jeremy. He also utilizes LED lighting which is very efficient compared to halogen and other bulbs. High efficiency amps and a power conditioner also assist his DJ’s with conserving, by utilizing just the right amount of energy needed for no over usage. Jeremy’s passion for the environment has him currently working to create a National Green Certified DJ Organization to spread the knowledge and benefits of being a green DJ, which he hopes to launch sometime in the near future.
On average, couples in the United States spend anywhere between $14,366 and $43,098 on their wedding*. A large portion of that is the food. With that in mind, consider serving localized organic fare at your reception. This may include featuring local and organic wines and beers as well as locally grown food. When stocking the bar, opt for spirits made from organically grown grains. Not only will your food taste better, but is much healthier. Brides should ask their caterers where they purchased their produce. Encourage them to get your wedding day ingredients from the local organic farmers markets. Eating locally encourages the use of local land for farming, thus keeping development in check while preserving open space*. The method of farming organically is better on the environment as it replenishes the soil and reduces both water and air pollution. Brides making their own food are also encouraged to shop for local organic items. During summer months, brides can visit the Sioux Falls Farmers Market; for dates and more information visit www.fallsparkfarmersmarket.com. Otherwise contact your local visitors bureau for fresh markets in your area.
Now that you have ideas for the facility and food, turn your attention to your décor. With a myriad of alternatives for decorating eco-conscious brides can enlist the help of wedding coordinators to get it just right. Envision Wedding Studio of Sioux Falls, SD offers wedding rentals, glass vases, centerpieces, linens and more. How is this green? You are not buying new, but reusing. Karina Joens from Envision says, “We can work with the couples to create whatever they desire. From silk florals to potted plants, our wedding designs are customized and can be completely green friendly.” Decorating ideas include table centerpieces made from recycled containers filled with real grass grown by the couple, a fresh fruit arrangement, or even a recycled container filled with field rocks or quartzite stones. These add a refreshing natural look to any reception. Try to also incorporate favors that are beneficial to your guests and the environment such as organic honey, flower seeds or tree seedlings; all are inexpensive and unique gifts. Take it a step further and thank your guests with a donation in their name to a green organization. If you still would like to offer an additional small favor as a token of your appreciation, give your guests sugar-coated almonds or mints that you made yourself!
Flowers are often a focal point of the wedding. Go green by finding a florist who uses local, organically grown blooms. This will reduce the amount of emissions consumed in the growth and transport of these floral arrangements. If you grow your own flowers, avoid using all chemicals; then make a compost with the faded greens after the wedding. If you choose against incorporating flowers altogether, soy candles are a great replacement. They are produced from the soybean plant and have become an alternative to petroleum based paraffin wax. Soy is a natural resource, fully biodegradable without soot and chemical emmissions of traditional candles. They last up to 50% longer and add a romantic element to nighttime weddings, the perfect alternative to standard electrical lighting. Bamboo or dried arrangements instead of fresh flowers also offer a refreshing spin. But, if fresh is still your preference, think eco-friendly, and ask for flowers dyed in environmentally safe ink; then donate your arrangements to the church for continued enjoyment and use after your wedding.
How can you “green” your wedding day style? Don’t fret! The wedding dress department has options. Some gowns are being made from green materials like organic silk, hemp and even bamboo, and offer a great alternative to customary bridal gowns. When shopping for your gown, consider a bridal consignment shop. Many of these gowns have never been worn. Brides can save hundreds of dollars on a gown in consignment due to a called-off engagement, discontinued bridal shop samples, and overstock, all still bearing the original tags. “Our most expensive gown is $500,” says Mary Wadding, owner of I Do 2 a bridal consignment shop in Sioux Falls, SD. “We do not accept gowns that aren’t in great condition or the latest trends, we are very fussy,” says Mary. “I am even amazed sometimes at the designer gowns we see in our shop that retail for up to $2000 new.” In addition to brides gowns consignment shops carry tons of prom, mother of the bride, and selections for any black tie or special event. Other items found specifically in I Do 2 include candles, invitations, jewelry, and all the wedding accessories at a fraction of the price with a new look! A consignment shop just opened in Sioux City called Bridal Warehouse and is located in the Randall's building. Even if you don’t buy from consignment, after your wedding, consider bringing your dress to a consignment shop.
Cleaning your wedding attire often means the utilization of harsh damaging chemicals. With multiple locations in and around Sioux City, Iowa, Bush Cleaners, a local dry cleaner has found that green products are not only gentle and safe for most fabrics but provide a great clean. Bush Cleaners offers a new GreenEarth solution. This environmentally friendly liquid silicone cleaning product is free from odors and leaves your clothes feeling and looking like new. Be sure that during cleaning and preservation, green practices are not left out of your decision.
You can easily and inexpensively offset the greenhouse gasses emitted by your guests who have traveled to your wedding. First, make sure that your guests are aware of public transportation as an alternative to driving. It would be ideal if you could find a reception site within walking distance of the ceremony and guest accommodations. If this is not feasible, encourage guests to carpool. If you have guests staying in town for awhile, suggest they rent a hybrid vehicle as opposed to a gas-guzzling SUV. To offset the remaining emissions, purchase carbon bonds which will contribute to projects that restore the environment. You can search for a reputable online company that will help you do the calculations and give other suggestions to offset emissions. If the cost is much greater than what you intended, do what you can. Remember, any amount helps towards preserving the Earth.
Wedding registries are utilized by 94% of couples today. The average gift registry runs between 8-14 pages. If you multiply that by just 50 guests who print your list, the damage is a whopping 700 pieces of wasted paper. Encourage your guests to view your gift registries online and write down ideas on one sheet of paper before heading to the store. This can save literally tons of waste each year. Also, consider cutting down on what you register for in the first place. Avoid china and crystal you will never use. Try and register for energy saving small appliances, organic linens throughout your household, and home décor made from recycled materials or renewable resources like recycled glass, bamboo and acacia wood items. The planet will appreciate your contribution.
Green wedding showers are easier than you think. Skip the paper invites completely and again opt for evites or create a website where you can include information about all your upcoming wedding events. While the plastic table covers add nice color they are a huge waste and unoriginal. Instead incorporate cloth linens and napkins that can be reused. Skip plastic plates and silverware and use glass or ceramic from home. If this is not an option consider biodegradable options such as forks and knives made from 80% potato starch and 20% vegetable oil and start at only $5.00 (can be found at www.branchhome.com), bamboo, which naturally decomposes within 4-6 months, or Bagasse, a biodegradable and compostable by-product that comes from the process of refining sugar and is made into cups, plates and other fun items found at www.ecowise.com. Host the event at an outdoor location like a park where no heating, cooling, or lighting is needed, which will also conserve on energy. Finally forgo shower games that produce needless waste of products such as paper, toilet paper and other valuable resources. Instead find games that don’t require any props.
If you think that you can’t afford or find a green locale for your honeymoon, you’re wrong! If you plan on honeymooning locally, take advantage of things such as a week in a rustic log cabin with a wood burning stove, or snuggled together in a tent at your favorite local campground or national park. These are viable options. For good sports, they can also be truly romantic and really put you in touch with Mother Earth. When using ground transportation on your honeymoon, rent a hybrid.
Now if your heart is set to travel abroad, you can still implement your green side while lying on a beach. Begin by looking for resorts that are eco friendly. “Green Globe is a certification given to resorts that are eco-friendly,” says Tracy Heezen of Travel Partners in Sioux Falls, SD. “Those resorts are certified gold, and we have tons of honeymooners that go to these resorts. In Jamaica alone there are 27 green friendly places to stay.” In fact most of the sandals are jumping on board with eco-friendly practice as well and becoming Green Globe Certified. Tracy says they do not get lots of requests for assistance in planning green honeymoons. “We definitely can help and are happy to do the research for those couples who are,” states Tracy. She also suggests visiting these website for ideas on honeymooning green style:
Whether you go wedding shopping with your green cloth shopping bags, or completely greenerize your wedding, every little effort adds up. When you examine the evidence, you cannot afford not to utilize green friendly practices. After all, we have ONE Earth and ONE chance to make a difference!
These suggestions and ideas will help you host a fabulously green wedding.
Daily Tips to Green Your Home
• 46% of home energy consumption is actually energy loss! Unplug small appliances, hair dryers, TVs, radios, etc. when they are not in use. You will save tons of energy and the real green... money!
• Have your ducts and furnace cleaned for maximum efficiency. Then adjust your thermostat just 2% and save 3% on heating costs. With the 2 degree difference you will conserve 2,000 pounds of CO2.
• Cook with a slow cooker or toaster oven instead of the stove or microwave.
• Laptops use 75% less energy than desktops. Also shut them off at the end of the day.
• Switching from regular incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent cuts energy consumption by 60%.
• Keeping your tires inflated properly will improve gas mileage by 3% and every gallon saves 20 pounds of CO2 emissions.
Daily Tips to Green Your Home
*(2005-2008). Average Wedding Cost. Retrieved July 8, 2008, from the Wedding Report Inc. Web Site: www.costofwedding.com.
*West, Larry. “How Does Eating Locally Grown Food Help The Environment?” E/The Environmental Magazine. July 2008. 28 July 2008.
- GonnaGetWed.com Resource
This article was also featured in the 2009 VOW Wedding Planner. To view a PDF of this article, go to the INTRODUCTION section of VOW.