Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saying "I do" to a green wedding


By Lauren Elkies

Alison and Rob Teitelbaum took pains to be eco-friendly at their Jan. 9 wedding in Washington, D.C.

Their minister was "super-eco," their venue was environmentally responsible, they brought in eco-friendly vendors and they reduced paper by posting directions, maps and dinner cards on a wedding website.

The couple gave out edible favors and they registered for a honeymoon rather than "stuff," other than some green products through a more traditional home goods registry. Alison's engagement ring is antique, her wedding day jewelry was vintage, her gown was recycled, and the couple and their guests stayed in an eco-friendly hotel.

"We really tried to incorporate as many eco-friendly elements as we could," Alison said. "I started the wedding planning process with looking at a venue with eco-friendly practices and then went on from there with as many of my vendors as possible." (To see full-size green wedding slide show, click here.)

Going green for their wedding wasn't such a stretch for Alison, 30, and Rob, 32, though.

"We try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and so when we got engaged and started to discuss planning our wedding, doing an eco-friendly wedding was just a natural decision for us," Alison said.

And that tends to be the case for many eco-conscious couples.

"I've found that couples planning a green wedding already shop for local produce at farmers' markets, already recycle their trash and already engage in a green lifestyle. The wedding is really an extension of values they already have," said Mireya Navarro, author of "Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-friendly Celebration."

There is not just one way to have a green wedding (see chart for tips on having a green wedding).

"Green weddings range from what I call 'light green' to 'totally treehugging,'" said Tracy DiNunzio, founder & CEO of Recycled Media, which runs Recycled Bride, an eco-chic wedding resale website. "A light green wedding might include local flowers and be lit by energy-saving candles, while a ‘totally treehugging’ affair would have a vegan menu, sustainably produced attire, and low-carbon transportation."

Any move to be environmentally and socially responsible can make a difference, the experts said.

"There are 2.5 million weddings a year in the United States, with an average of more than 150 guests each," said Kate Harrison, CEO of the Green Bride Guide, a site for eco-friendly wedding ideas, products and services. "If every wedding this year used a disposable aisle runner and they were laid end to end, they would circle the globe twice. Similarly, the amount of paper used to make invitations could cover the island of Manhattan. The bottom line is that every green choice makes a difference -- no matter how small."

a list of green wedding tipsMilena Viljoen, 30, is adamant about recycling at home and in the office, she tries to take her lunch to work, she uses her own mug at Starbucks and her fiancé Eric Gavala, 32, bikes to work. The duo has become more aware of their carbon footprint and that has carried over to their wedding planning.

The couple's main wedding celebration is Nov. 27 in Cochabamba, Bolivia where Viljoen's family is, and they are having a second reception Feb. 19, 2011 in San Diego, Cali., where the couple resides.

"Whether or not you call it green probably depends on your perspective," Viljoen said. "The fact is, I'm technically having two weddings, which makes me that much more cognizant of the amount of useless stuff that goes into weddings and gets tossed. Plus, a lot of the green stuff I'm doing, quite frankly, saves me money -- from an estate ring to a used dress to online save-the-dates -- it really adds up!"

While organic food costs more than "regular" food, many green experts said green weddings cost less, not more, than one that does not minimize environmental impact.

Harrison of the Green Bride Guide put the savings at up to 40 percent.

For a lot of people, it's not about the cost savings -- it's about doing the right thing.

"In survey after survey, brides and grooms have said that they want their weddings to go to a greater good. That is what being green is all about," said Katie Martin, owner of Elegance & Simplicity, and editor-in-chief of Eco-Beautiful Weddings Online Magazine & Blog. Martin arranged the flowers for the Teitelbaums' wedding.

But can a green wedding work in an urban setting like New York City?

It can be easier, many eco-friendly experts said, because there's great access to public transportation and farmers' markets for food and flowers.

Harrison said that the simplest way to make a wedding that is good to the planet as well as chic is "by creating your vision and then looking for eco-friendly substitutions. Want roses? Just use organic roses. Want to serve steak? Offer grass-fed beef. "

Brides and grooms should not fret if they don't immediately find green elements that work for them.

"There are many eco-friendly options out there. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of searching to come up with something that fits your style," said Laura Rankin, co-founder of Green with Envy Events.

Heather Teague, founder of Dream Green Weddings, an online eco-wedding boutique, advised keeping six things in mind when looking to go green: "Try to look for wedding products and services that fall into these types of earth-friendly categories: organic, natural, recycled, renewable, sustainable or handmade."

Should all of the greening seem overwhelming, Danielle Venokur Greenberg, founder of sustainable event planning company dvGreen said to "hire a green planner so you can stay sane and enjoy the ride."

2 comments:

Kendall said...

Eco-Friendly weddings are becoming more and more popular among couples. Great Post! We love linking to you from Wedding Resource

Lauren said...

Thanks. Can you make the post on your site go to the article?

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