Weddings can be expensive, yo. And they produce a lot (like a LOT) of waste for just one day of your life. While my dirty-hippie heart is thrilled that more and more couples are taking that into consideration and planning greener weddings whether they be eco-conscious or just eco-curious, I am decidedly less-than-thrilled when companies charge a sneaky "green tax" for their more earth-friendly products and services. That monkey business just don't jive with me!
When we were planning our own wedding, mindfulness for our planet was a major priority for us, but we were (as most are) struggling for money, and had to come up with some outside-the-box tricks and do some creative finagling to find ways to both save green and be green in the process, blogging about it all the while. Lucky ducks that you are, I've drafted up a condensed crib sheet, so you can do the same for yourselves!
...and away we go!
Choose your venue wisely. If at all possible, keep it down to one site for both the ceremony and reception to save the emissions from people having to drive from one to the other. If not, encourage your guests to take public transit, and provide them with directions on how. Seek out venues rich in character and decor to begin with, so you'll have to bring less in to dress it up. Our ceremony took place in a sustainable garden, already lovely, and the reception site was a restaurant littered with candles and rich in color, so we had to do very little to enhance it. We just slapped up some lanterns for ambience, threw down some simple moss, mums and paper butterflies for centerpieces and called it a day!
Reuse & Repurpose Beforehand. Repeat after me: flea markets and thrift stores are your friends. Decor, fashion, jewelry and infinitely more can be sourced there, likely with more character and personality to pimp up your wedding in whatever style suits you best. Rather than renting dishes, why not pick up a diverse assortment of vintage pieces at the flea market? After the wedding, save a few for your home and nostalgia purposes, and gift away the rest or pass them along to another bride. Buy secondhand from former brides via craigslist or the classifieds on your favorite wedding site. And save your empties! Sauce bottles, olive jars, wine bottles... all that glass can add up to an eclectic array of vases and votive holders for free, people! And free, recycled goodness is not to be taken lightly.
DIY. This is hardly a secret trick, but it can pay off in spades when done correctly. Make your own centerpieces out of succulent clippings and river rocks. The succulents are replantable, and if you live in the right climate, you can even source them for free from your neighborhood. If flowers are more your speed, buy local blooms from the farmers' market, or better yet clip them from your garden, and add a personal touch while saving tons on cost and carbon. Or perhaps do as we did, and keep the centerpieces simple so you can just throw them together as you (or your designated friend or coordinator) sets up the room. But do note that going the DIY route isn't always cheaper or more eco-friendly, so always weigh your options before diving in headfirst.
Shop Handmade. If DIY isn't your jam, you can scour sites like etsy and wedzu, your local craft fairs, or even sometimes the local farmers market, and support local crafsters who can DIFY (do it for you). From cake toppers to invitations, decor elements to dresses, you can score creative (and often customizable) wedding goodies for less kale than their mass-produced counterparts, and save a bundle of cash as well as carbon! You also have a better chance of bartering with independent vendors, so don't be afraid to ask. I worked away 1/2 the cost of my custom, eco-friendly wedding gown by helping out around the designer's studio. It doesn't work in every situation, but a good rule of thumb is that it can never hurt to (politely) ask!
Share. Try connecting with brides in your region or with similar themes/color schemes ahead of the wedding to go in on purchases together and share across your weddings, which cuts your cost and your waste in 1/2 right off the bat! We did this for our wedding, bridesharing paper lanterns, candles, votives, ribbon, paper goods, manzanita trees and more, with a fellow bride using the same location... saving loads of money (and having lots of fun) in the process. It was pretty freaking awesome, and the trend is catching on, so it's easier and easier to find a brideshare buddy every day.
Reuse & Repurpose afterward. Whatever you do, don't just throw it away! Donate leftover food to a local shelter, the flowers to a nursing home or hospital, decor to your friends, another bride or goodwill - unless you plan to resell. The same places you can find items ahead of time, you can sell them off in after. So recoup some of your costs and let your wedding goodies live on to see another "I do".
Go Veg. Keeping your use of animal products to a minimum not only could cut your cost considerably, but it's also one of the best things you can do to reduce greenhouse gasses. Plus, you're more covered that way when it comes to people's various dietary restrcitions these days. Vegetarian food can be hecka yummy - don't worry, it doesn't have to be boring, it's come a long way. And if you sincerely fear a riot from your meat n' taters-fed in-laws, limit your carnivorous offerings to during cocktail hour, just keep the everything beyond that vegetarian.
Eliminate. Weddings are often equated with excess, and the media tends to feed that frenzy with endless check-lists and "must-haves". But, prioritize what you really need to have, and ruthlessly trim the nonessential fat. Are fancy pocketfold invitations, favors, and a stretch limo essential to your joy? WIll the world keep turning if you send postcards or try one of the wonderful electronic invitation companies cropping up, send your guests home fed and happy, or rock the subway (and grab a few fun pics along the way)? Yeah, I thought you might be down with something like that. The most important thing to remember are, there are no rules. Do what you want. It's your day!
Read Blogs. Like mine! And scores of others out there postitively teeming with eco-friendly and cost-conscious tips to help you, too, save green while being green and rock a bad-ass wedding while you do it! Videos are a great resource too.
Your wedding is your chance to dictate the values with which you want to enter this new phase of your life, and spending smart and honoring the earth in doing it is a great step in the right direction. Take these tips and run, my bridal biddies... go forth, and save!
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