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Wednesday 13th June 2012

A green wedding opts for environmentally-friendly alternatives to various elements of the celebration, from invitations and the dress to the cake.

Many couples who go green in their wedding planning already recycle, shop for organic food, conserve energy at home, and want to extend their earth-conscious values to their big day.

Green Weddings are a growing trend. While no hard statistics are available on the number of green weddings in the United States, surveys by bridal magazines and businesses — and a thriving mini-industry of green wedding websites and online stores — point to increased demand.
Many couples like the idea of downsizing and simplifying their wedding to prevent more depletion of natural resources. The concept of shunning excess and over-consumption is also particularly appealing during the economic downturn, when wedding budgets often reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The first item on the to-do list of a green wedding is finding ways to shrink the event’s carbon footprint. In the United States, more than two-thirds of emissions are produced by energy consumption and transportation. For a wedding, this translates into choices that minimize long distance travel for both guests and products and that emphasize the recycled over the brand new. The smaller the guest list, the smaller the impact on the environment and this is makes green destination wedding even more appealing.
The Venue
Outdoor venues such as beaches and gardens have the advantage of providing their own natural beauty, which minimizes the need for lavish decorations. Daytime weddings also save on electric power. When considering indoor weddings, hotels, restaurants and even churches should subscribe to environmentally-sound practices for energy efficiency, water conservation and garbage disposal.
Some couples choose a venue to support a cause — an art gallery or museum — because they consider giving back to their community and helping other people a worthy sustainable practice. Some couples choose the cyberwedding, inviting only a handful of guests to their vows and streaming the ceremony live to other relatives and friends around the world on the Internet.
The Invitation
Couples spare trees with invitations made of recycled paper, or by avoiding paper altogether and sending word of their nuptials through wedding Web sites. They can post directions to the wedding location, link to their registry and give other information to guests.
The Registry
In the spirit of avoiding waste, some couples suggest that guests give practical and philanthropic gifts, such as a donation to reduce their honeymoon expense or to an animal shelter. Those who won’t forgo their presents often suggest green items.
The Dress
Many brides turn to a second-hand gown borrowed or bought on Craigslist or eBay, eager to re-use or recycle products to cut down on the energy required to make a brand new one. (The grooms still rent.) Brides who buy new may re-sell the dress after the wedding, or donate it to a charity.
The Reception
Where a product comes from is an important factor to consider in green weddings, because buying local means that items such as food, flowers and decorations don’t have to be shipped thus avoiding unnecessary transportation-related carbon emissions. A local and seasonal menu is frequently more popular than an organic menu, which is usually pricier. Tableware should be reusable, as in rented china and linens and pared down t courses or seated dinners are preferred over buffets, as they help conserve dishwashing requirements.
Party favors tend to be charitable or practical– for instance, a donation to a cause in the name of the guest or edibles such as organic chocolate or local jams and jellies.
Live Greener, Happily Ever After
With more than 2 million marriages taking place in the United States each year, many couples see value in the cumulative and ripple effect of a green wedding, including supporting eco-friendly products and services and inspiring friends and family to follow.
Green weddings can certainly lead to celebrations that are simpler and more practical, and even less costly, but their benefit to the environment is difficult to quantify. Some energy experts say the impact of individual lifestyle choices pales in comparison to what government action could achieve.

Recycling and composting garbage, or buying organic flowers for the wedding, these experts say, are measures that do not approach the benefit to the environment of having the country turn to renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, for all its electricity.
Learn more about Green Weddings in the Romance Issue of the A & B BUZZ which will be released on June 30.


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