Every year, about 2.3 million couples are married in the United States. With an average wedding budget of about $20,000, over $72 billion is spent annually on weddings. Amid all of this spending a cottage "green wedding" industry has sprung up in recent years to offer eco-friendly couples the opportunity to have an environmentally friendly wedding.
Of course you can choose to pay someone a premium to make your wedding "greener" or you can follow a few simple tips that will likely save you money and reduce your wedding's environmental footprint.
Wedding Dress & Tuxedo:
- Avoid the impulse to buy a new dress. The average wedding dress costs $18-20 thousand. Borrowing a dress from a relative adds more emotion to the occasion. You can have it altered to your body and taste. Make sure the dress is dry-cleaned using non-toxic chemicals. If you cannot find a relative with a dress you like, consider other options described in THIS Smart Money article.
- Donate your wedding dress when you're done so someone less fortunate can have their own special day.
- Rather than buying a true wedding dress, find an attractive evening gown you would wear to another occasion. This is true for tuxedos too. Find a handsome suit that could be used again in the future.
- BYO-Suit/Dress...If you invite your wedding party participants to choose their own clothes while sticking to a specific style, color, tie, etc. you ensure they can wear something they already own or something they'll wear again.
- Go vintage and buy classic dresses and suits that will add sophistication to your wedding.
- Or just go casual and wear comfortable clothes, especially in an outdoor wedding, that you will likely wear again.
- Choose only 100% PCW recycled invitations processed without chlorine. Encourage guests to recycle their invites. Or choose these invitations that have seeds embedded in them and will sprout when planted.
- Skip the extra envelope for RSVP cards by using reply postcards instead. They will be cheaper in the long run and will reduce the need for paper.
- For internet savvy guests, consider only sending electronic invitations that link to a wedding site with all the event information and where they can RSVP via email. This system makes it easier to RSVP and it makes it easier to track your guest list in one place. Its also a time and paper saver.
- Instruct the florist to stick to locally grown flowers only. Flowers shipped from other states or countries require a lot of fuel and special refrigeration that uses harsh chemicals.
- Use wildflowers. They grow naturally and can be nearly any color or size.
- Decorate with potted plants rather than cut flowers so your guests can bring home the plants rather than just putting them in the garbage.
- Reusable glasses, plates and silverware are always preferable to disposable varieties. This is especially true with regard to any Styrofoam supplies. However, if you want to be really eco-friendly, consider bio-degradable disposable items made of natural products.
- Avoid the traditional Niagara Falls honeymoon and opt for an eco-vacation where you can be among the beauty of nature and observe creatures in their natural habitat.
- I did a post on eco-vacations you can READ here. Some of the really interesting options are in South American countries near the rain forests.
- Use the back of your wedding program to educate your guests on your honeymoon location and invite them to contribute to some of the great organizations that are working to preserve natural habitats and forests.
- You, or your guests, can donate money to a carbon offsetting organization so that the carbon emissions from your honeymoon will be neutralized by the development of renewable energy sources or from the planting of trees.