Wedding Style

How to Throw an Eco-friendly Wedding

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You can also make a donation to your favorite environmental charity in your guests' names. Place a note card (printed on recycled paper, of course) at each table announcing your green gesture. Or leave it to your guests to get back to the land. In lieu of traditional wedding gifts, Stella McCartney and her fiancé requested that friends and family give them tree saplings to be planted on the grounds of their home.

The Hype About Hemp

Thanks to its natural pest-resistant properties, this versatile plant requires no pesticides—making it a supremely eco-friendly fiber. Known for strong and durable strands, hemp is often blended with other natural materials like silk or cotton to make clothing or linens. Give your reception a little hemp haute by using fringed tablecloths and napkins, and even place cards created from the fiber.

Want to make a stronger statement? Walk down the aisle showing off the organic opulence of a hemp wedding gown. Visit organicweddings.com for a collection of glamorous—and groovy—dresses, ties, and jackets made from hemp blends.

What's Old Is New Again

Finding a caterer who will recycle bottles and paper products is a great start. Other ways to give the earth a hug:

Buy invitations made from recycled paper. Check out twistedlimbpaper.com or greenfieldpaper.com for eclectic ideas.

Give your attendants gifts crafted from previously used materials. Sites like eco-artware.com sell bracelets made from multicolored recycled-glass marbles, and cuff links and tie clips created from spruced-up typewriter keys.

Transform ceremony flowers into table decorations at the reception—similarly, altar decorations can be used to dress up the dance floor. After the party, donate them to a local hospital or senior citizen center.

Ask your caterer to give leftover food to a homeless shelter or food bank. Contact harvest.org to find programs near you.

Use centerpieces that double as favors. Table decor like mini-rose bushes or colorful vases made from recycled glass make terrific take-aways.

Donate your wedding dress to a charitable organization—the ultimate in recycling. Makingmemories.org sells once-worn gowns and uses the proceeds to grant wishes to breast-cancer patients nationwide. And ask your bridesmaids to give their gowns to the glassslipperproject.org, a program that distributes formal dresses to high-school students unable to afford prom attire.

Road Rules

Michelle Kozin, author of Organic Weddings: Balancing Ecology, Style and Tradition (New Society Publishers, 2003) offers these tips for cutting down on the pollution caused by your guests' traveling time:

Two for one. Find one location for your ceremony and reception—this cuts their drive time and fuel emissions.

Share the ride. Encourage carpooling and/or hire a shuttle bus to transport your guests between sites.

Fly the eco-friendly skies. Have guests book their flights with a travel agent such as Better World Travel (betterworldclub.com), which donates a portion of each fare to environmental cleanup efforts.

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