It's 2008 and you're newly engaged! Congratulations! Envision it. . . big party, all your friends, all your family, great music, great photographs, the most gorgeous gown you can imagine. . . Catch your breath. Wait a minute. Take a minute to think about the wedding industry. Take a minute to think about:
1) How many different pesticides are used to treat most food we consume, flowers in many exotic countries, or the silk which your gown may be made of?
2) How many trees are destroyed to create 100 wedding invitations, with response cards and envelopes?
3) What is the amount of fossil fuel that will be burned to transport everyone to your service, then from your service to your reception location?
4) How much deforestation is required to create the grazing land for each serving of meat?
I know, I know. . . you're probably saying “Wow" right about now. I am hoping that if you are reading this article, you are reading it because you are aware of how our daily actions impact our world. Perhaps, you are just now beginning to wonder what all the commotion is about. Either way, I know that even the most inexperienced (green!) conservationist will be able to use at least one of the following ideas or resources to decrease the size of the footprint your wedding will leave. Keep in mind, the following are not ranked in any particular order. One is not any more important than the other. Each of us has our own tolerance and desire for conservationism. Let your heart drive you. After all, the heart is what got you here, isn't it?
1) Consider hiring a caterer that can prepare a 100% organic menu. There may be a higher price tag attached to this choice. Have you ever eaten an organic tomato? Compared to one grown in a hot house, an organic tomato is like a small slice of heaven. What if it were a delicious pasta dish prepared with organic sauces and vegetables? Mmmmm. . . My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
2) Serve organically grown coffees, teas, wines and beers. Two places to find information to assist you in your search are: A) Organic Consumers Association . and B) Fair Trade Coffee Company .
3) Consider serving an organic vegetarian menu. If you do not want to deprive your guests of beef, poultry or seafood, ask your caterer to guarantee that the animals were raised in a cruelty-free environment and only fed feed that is 100% free of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. Did you know that farmed salmon could have as many as 14 cancer causing chemicals? If you want more information, see the article here: Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon .
4) If you are having an outdoor wedding and reception, be certain to NOT use disposable plates or plastic ware, tablecloths or napkins. Specifically request that the plates are biodegradable and the “plastic ware" is made from recycled materials or sugar cane. You may also decide to use regular china dishes, silverware, fabric napkins, and tablecloths. Imagine how stunning an outdoor reception will be if it is beautifully decorated, as if you were actually dining in a formal establishment.
5) Consider donating your leftover food to a shelter or soup kitchen. This one is easy. Simply pick up your phone and call them and ask. Many organizations are more than happy, ECSTATIC even, to pick up the leftovers from your celebration. Imagine your carefully selected, perfectly prepared, delicious reception food going to a homeless shelter to feed the less fortunate in your city. Not only are you providing them with a meal, but it may be the best meal that they have had in months or years. Just the thought of doing that should make the most timid tree-hugger's heart swell! You and your new spouse may even get a tax deduction out of it. A second thing to consider is to donate your flowers to a hospital, nursing home, or retirement facility. Most wedding coordinators already know of an organization that will be happy to have your flowers and your coordinator may also deliver your flowers for you! How easy is that?
6) Consider giving tree saplings as a favor. Be careful if you have a lot of guests flying in. Airlines will not allow you to take plants of any kind on the flight. If you would prefer to give away a more traditional favor, you may consider utilizing plantable paper containers to box them. Plantable paper can also be used for invitations, save-the-dates, table numbers, seating cards, or any other wedding related paper good. You could also consider giving a donation to an organization such as the World Wildlife Fund or your local women's shelter in the name of your guests. Just be sure to print (on plantable paper!) table cards announcing your gift in your guests name. Turn this idea around and instead of having a traditional registry, request that your guests give monetary donations to The Sierra Club or your local soup kitchen. This idea is especially great for couples who have already acquired a household full of linens, dishes, and silverware.
7) Wear your mother's wedding gown! If it's not your size or style, perhaps a seamstress can modify it to suit your needs. You could also consider purchasing a gown from a consignment shop. If you must have your own, brand new gown, then purchase one from the Brides Against Breast Cancer gown sale which benefits the Making Memories Foundation for terminal breast cancer patients. The gowns are not used and the money goes to a fantastic cause.
The list of ways to make your wedding a socially, environmentally responsible event is endless. I hope that I have given you some good ideas to start planning your new life and the celebration to start it all. Good Luck in your planning and Congratulations!
*I am not involved with any of the organizations or website links given in this article. I am providing them as a service to the reader only. I do not receive any compensation for mentioning them or if you decide to utilize their services.
Layla D. Smith has been creatively guiding brides to their bliss since 2005, removing the stress from planning their wedding every step of the way. Her company, Wed With Ease, was founded on the principle that every client and every wedding is unique.
Layla is a proud member of the Association of Bridal Consultants, whose guidance is invaluable in assisting brides with the demands of planning a once-in-a-lifetime event!
Layla lives and works in the lovely northeast Florida area. To contact her, please visit her website at Wed With Ease .
This article may be reprinted and distributed in any manner whatsoever, as long as no portion or section has been changed or modified and the author's complete information is included.