There is one surefire way of having a minimal impact wedding: elope.
Before you summarily reject this option, think about it. If you can set aside dreams of white veils and towering cakes, elopement is the closest you’re going to get to a zero impact wedding. Your total carbon footprint will be limited to the drive to the county courthouse and a few sheets of paper. Instead of tradition, ceremony, and romance, you get to save the planet.
When it comes to weddings, however, there is room for compromise. No celebration will be genuinely green, but your decisions can certainly minimize its impact. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Reuse and recycle: go for vintage dresses for you and your bridesmaids, reset an old diamond into a new setting (preferably made from gold that has been melted down), opt for recycled paper invitations. or go totally digital. Use as few new resources as possible.
- Trim the guest list. No matter how hard you try to turn a big wedding green, it’s still going to have a bigger impact than a small wedding attended only by your near and dear. More people use more resources and leave a bigger carbon footprint, especially if they need to fly in. Be ruthless and nix your cousin’s great aunt (whom you’ve only met once) from the guest list.
- Spend some of the money you saved by the above measures to get local, seasonal, and organic food and flowers. It may cost a little more, but it will taste better and incur less pollution. Be sure to donate your leftovers to a food pantry and compost the flowers after the big day.
- Offset your carbon footprint by donating to a green charity. Alternately, you can ask your guests to donate to a green organization in lieu of a gift. How many toasters do you really need, after all?
- Skip unnecessary decorations and wedding favors. Holding your wedding outdoors will minimize the need for decoration and electricity. If you really want to minimize your emissions, consider holding your wedding at a solar vineyard. As for wedding favors, they don’t serve much actual function. Even the ‘green’ options, such as plantable cards, single serving packages of tea, and bamboo coasters, use up resources and generate waste.