Wedding Style

How to Throw an Eco-friendly Wedding

Tips to throwing an environmentally conscious affair

The Environmentally Conscious Couple

"Ecologically friendly" and "wedding" aren't terms that you usually see together, but the fact is, planning an event that's environmentally P.C. can give your party a surprisingly beautiful spin. And it's not about putting the bridesmaids in nonleather shoes.

One of the easiest ways to honor the planet is by using the great outdoors as the backdrop. Any open-air space—a beach, the woods, even your own backyard—can make an ideal setting. Anita Weaver and Dean Boase held their October 2002 wedding in the rural countryside of Weimar, TX. "There were deer roaming the grounds and cows wading in the lake during our ceremony," says Weaver. "It was stunning." Instead of rice, the couple asked guests to shower them with autumn leaves. Botanical gardens, nature preserves, and arboretums also make great ecosites, along with national and state parks.

And don't think having an earth-friendly wedding means sacrificing style. From the Grand Canyon to Yosemite, you'll find four-star resorts that offer grand ballrooms, while abiding by strict conservation guidelines. For other options, check out greenhotels.com and greenerlodging.com. Both are reliable resources for properties that employ safe waste disposal and water-and-energy conservation practices.

Stars Who Say No to Meat

Some celebrities have a beef with, well, beef, and stay true to their strict vegetarian beliefs even on their wedding day. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, who married in June 2002 at a 17th-century Irish castle, served a lavish meat-free Indian feast topped off with a sumptuous strawberry dessert. Following in her father's footsteps, fashion designer Stella McCartney also honored her veggie roots. At her September 2003 wedding to Alasdhair Willis, held on the Isle of Bute off the Scottish coast, the menu featured artichoke soufflé, organic mushroom pastries, and veggie burgers.

Free-Range Fare

Yes, you can treat your guests to an organic feast—and not a spoonful of soy butter in sight. Check out the sample menu, perfect for a reception, from chef Michel Nischan, author of Taste Pure and Simple: Irresistible Recipes for Good Food and Good Health (Chronicle Books, 2003).

Hors d'Oeuvres/Salad
Niman Ranch BBQ pork shredded over
Organic mini biscuits
Caviar and Peconika vodka station
Elysian Fields lamb chops with organic, locally grown choyoga-beet mash and golden-beet syrup
Organic field greens with Great Hill blue cheese
Organic root vegetables and sunflower vinaigrette

Entree
Roast heirloom turkey with maple-roasted hubbard squash and sunchoke purée or pan-seared sablefish with whipped Russian fingerling potatoes and a wild-foraged mushroom nage.

Dessert
Newton's pippin apple financier with vanilla-quince ice cream and maple caramel.

The Gift of Green

Do the planet a favor and say thanks to your guests with a take-home reminder of your earth-friendly day. Pine, spruce, or redwood saplings, packaged in pretty recyclable tubes, or personalized seed packets and gift-wrapped flower bulbs make great nature-themed gifts. The National Arbor Day Foundation (arborday.org) and vendors such as nuptialseeds.com and plantamemory.com offer a wide array of forest finery. If flora isn't your thing, give jars filled with organic jams, jellies, or honey. Handmade soaps or lavender-scented beeswax candles are sweet parting presents, too.

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