Making Earth-friendly choices for your wedding

To commemorate Earth Day, I am dedicating this blog to discuss how you can make your white wedding a little more “green”!

If you’re like most people, you care about the environment, recycle, use a travel mug, buy organic and local food when you can, and probably make a lot of small, but positive, earth-friendly actions and choices in your day to day life. So why wouldn’t you want to do the same when planning your wedding? It’s a great way to not only feel good about your event, but show others that eco-weddings can still be affordable AND fabulously chic.

Top 10 Things to Consider for an Earth-friendly Wedding
1. Have your ceremony and reception in the same location.

Unless they are so close that you and your guests can walk or bike from the ceremony to the reception, you and all your guests will be getting back into their cars and driving. Car exhaust is the number one way that individuals contribute to air pollution. Choosing to have your wedding all at the same location is a good idea for other reasons too: convenience, cost-effectiveness, and less stress!

2. Use recycled paper for your stationery needs, or use e-vites and your wedding website’s RSVP feature.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but deforestation is a serious concern, and the process of paper making is toxic to human and environmental health. There are many options for couples to use recycled, tree-free, and even seeded paper (plantable paper that contains wildflower seeds!) so you are supporting ethical and sustainable paper companies. I purchased mine from a terrific local company, Another option is to use the internet. Wedding websites are very common these days, and you can send out very pretty email invites and direct your guests to RSVP back on your wedsite (or give your phone number if Grandma isn’t online).

3. Hire a caterer that uses organic, locally-sourced produce and free-range, ethically-caught meat and seafood.
Organic food tastes better, and you feel good knowing it was grown without pesticides or GMO seeds. When you buy free-range and ethically-caught meat and seafood, you are “voting with your dollars” against factory-farming, and unsustainable wide-net ocean fishing. When you can’t get organic, always choose local.

4. Wear a pre-owned wedding dress.
Sadly, many brides think they need to buy a brand-new, $1500 dress to fulfill their wedding fantasy, without looking into other options. Does someone close to you still have an old gown? A creative seamstress can re-work that dress to update the look and suit your style. Or, capitalize on all those gorgeous gowns being worn for only one day and go hunting on craigslist, ebay, preownedweddingdresses, smartbrideboutique, or the classifieds of online wedding communities like weddingbee and offbeatbride. Oh, and for the bridemaids: co-ordinated mismatched is IN! Choose a dress (together, ideally) that they truly will wear again.

5. Grab deals on used decor on Craigslist, in thrift stores, or borrow from friends and family.
This one saves you money AND is a good environmental choice. Your decor doesn’t need to be new- with “shabby chic” being a popular trend right now, there has never been a better time to decorate your wedding with thrift store finds or gently-used items from a newlywed bride, desperate to sell her stuff.

6. Consider the post-wedding usefulness of everything you buy/make.
My fiancée and I refuse to use any disposable, one-time-use decor. Anything we buy or DIY must have a use post-wedding, double as a gift to someone, be able to be re-sold, be recycled or second-hand to begin with, or be biodegradable or edible!

7. For “bridal beauty”, support a salon that uses organic, cruelty-free hair products and cosmetics.
I have been using all natural products for my hair and skin for the last 15 years. Natural, organic cosmetics can be harder to find. Thankfully, one of my bridesmaids connected me with a make-up artist that works out of Vancouver’s only green-certified earth-kind salon, Clover. I am very excited for my salon experience on the morning of my wedding, and knowing that their eco-ethics are aligned with mine makes it so much better.

8. Buy only fair-trade, organic flowers if they are imported, or support locally-grown blooms.
Hands-down, the floral industry has the heaviest pesticide use of any crop, and workers on the flower farms in South America have terrible respiratory diseases because of it- never mind the almost-slavery conditions. Choose local whenever you can when it comes to flowers, or buy from somewhere like Whole Foods that is dedicated to providing fair-trade blooms.

9. Encourage your guests to carpool or use public transit.
I’ve included this on our wedsite. You can’t control what other people choose to do, but you can at least mention it to make them think about it. As for limos for the wedding parties, I’m actually torn on this one. Because if renting a limo means one vehicle is transporting 8-10 people instead of three, then maybe the good offsets the bad. I’ve looked into hybrid limos, and they aren’t very common- yet. So I’m on the fence.

10. Wear ethical jewelry.
Is that slavery or strip-mining on your finger? You want beautiful bling AND a clean conscience when it comes to your wedding jewelry. If you can, going the antique route by wearing a family heirloom is a wonderful choice. If you don’t like the style, you can have the stones re-set in a new band, or somehow re-worked. Otherwise, we are fortunate now in 2012 that there are many, many ethically-minded jewelry companies and diamond alternatives. Check out brilliantearth, bluenile, ingleandrhode, and ruffandcut to name a few.

This is by no means a comprehensive list! Check out these online resources:

Happy eco-wedding planning!


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Eco wedding decor « now… westcoast wife!
  2. alisonjdodd
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:59:33

    I’m so excited that I’ve found someone else who’s getting married at Celebration on Water! My wedding isn’t until September 8th, but I found you through your post on Offbeatbride, noticed that you were in Vancouver, and thought I’d pop over to check out your blog. I haven’t been out to the venue since last summer (I was away when they held the tasting in November), but I’m so excited about all of it. Hopefully your blog will give me some tips & tricks for things to consider with this venue! 🙂


    • westcoastbridetobe
      Apr 23, 2012 @ 15:26:41

      Hello! so cool, thanks for saying hi. It’s such a great venue, isn’t it? I’m so happy we found it. Did you see my blog post about the tasting in November? Too bad you missed it. Weren’t they doing another one this month? We are hoping to visit again in May, to scope the layout for our decorating. 🙂


      • alisonjdodd
        Apr 23, 2012 @ 20:35:05

        I did see that post of yours! Reading it made me feel a lot better about the change of hands from Michelene to Suzanne; we’ve met Suzanne to discuss some details but initially set things up back when Michelene was running that side of things. They were planning on having another tasting around this time but haven’t had a chance to set it up yet; we’ve already picked out our menu (we’re doing the ceremony & dinner thing and then having guests show up for a party-style reception later in the evening) but haven’t actually tasted anything yet, so hopefully they do that soonish.

        Sometimes it’s hard to think of decorations for a venue that is so unique and beautiful on its own. We’re going a pretty simple route with sunflowers in mason jars for our flowers and a biblio-nerd motif (library cards, antiqued books as centerpieces, etc.) for the bulk of the decorations. I’ve taken care of a bunch of the bigger details and am super excited about getting crafty 🙂

        Can’t wait to see what you do with the space!

  3. Kristy
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 06:59:35

    I think this blog is well written and extremely important. As you know from personal experience, there is a ton of unnecessary waste created by many aspects of weddings including the food, decorations and favours. Giving people the tools to make earth friendly choices is a wonderful idea. Great job! … an eco-conscious reader. 🙂


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