Planning an environmentally friendly wedding is no longer just a trend, but something many brides and grooms are trying to achieve. We asked Mireya Navarro, author of Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-friendly Celebration and environmental writer for The New York Times, how couples can have an eco-chic wedding. Here she tackles some common misconceptions about going green: —Anne Chertoff
- A green wedding is harder to plan than a traditional wedding.
Couples who have planned green weddings big and small agree on this point: green weddings don't take more time to plan, just a different way of thinking. For instance, you want to keep guest travel at a minimum to avoid all that transportation-related pollution, so you may choose the venue (and city) closest to most guests.
Going green also means trying to follow the principles of reducing, re-using and recycling as much as possible. Shopping for wedding bands made of recycled gold or invitations made of recycled paper is not hard. The market for green products and services is pretty extensive and growing rapidly, so don't be afraid of green stress.
- Green weddings are more expensive.
Yes, some things, like organic food, are more expensive. You may pay a mark-up of 10 to 30 percent or more for green because the green market is still in its infancy. But prices should come down as suppliers step up to meet the growing demand and more competition ensues.
And you can green your wedding at any budget because...
there are ways to get around some of the expenses. If you plan your wedding in a natural venue like a garden or park, you can save on flowers. If you go local and seasonal for elements like flowers or food, you not only save on all those transportation-related carbon emissions but also on the price mark-up for anything shipped from somewhere else (sometimes from another continent!) Couples have to sacrifice elegance or personal style.
And remember, green weddings by definition stand against waste and excess. This translates into savings.
Green and stylish are not mutually exclusive. A green venue can be an elegant mansion with an organic kitchen and solar power. Buying a vintage or second-hand dress, or borrowing it, is green because it saves on resources, but this doesn't mean the dress can't be couture or from a well-known designer like Vera Wang. Going green just means opting for the environmental-friendly alternatives, not looking like oatmeal!
Green wedding force brides to break with tradition.
Perhaps you've read the bit about not tossing rice at weddings because it's bad for the birds. ("Baloney," the conservation director for the National Audubon Society told me, saying birds eat rice all the time and nothing happens to them.)
Or perhaps you have seen a wrinkly hemp gown and said: "Not for me, thank you, I want silk." Unfortunately, there's some misinformation about what it takes to go green. All you need to do is stop and think: "Is there an environmentally friendly alternative to this ring? To this dress? To this menu? You may still send out those paper invitations (etiquette experts frown on sending emails,) but you may also want to have a wedding website for all other communication, thus saving on paper altogether. What can be more tree-free?
For some couples the goal is to go all green, from ring to honeymoon, but most couples I know incorporated the green elements that best suited their tastes and needs. If you still want to wear brand new white gown, go for it. This is your wedding, your memories. But if I may, why don't you donate it after the wedding to a nonprofit organization that can sell it and raise money for a worthy cause? Or put it on Craigslist, so that another bride can buy second-hand.
Green weddings really won't make a difference.
Wrong. More than two million marriages take place in the United States each year. Even if some of those are not celebrated with a wedding party, you still have thousands upon thousands of weddings each year and a multi-billion wedding industry that caters to them. In cutting out waste, in supporting green products and services, in setting an example for guests and in their ability to build momentum for a whole industry to shift to greener practices, couples who go green can have a significant cumulative impact on the environment. How significant will depend on how well today's pioneers inspire others to follow suit.
Discover more green wedding ideas in our Eco-Chic Wedding section.