How to Host a Green Wedding
How to Host a Green Wedding
& Still Maintain Your Aura of Cool
Being green is cool. Just think of Kermit, The Mask, that green slime from Nickelodeon. But it just isn’t very sexy. So how does a Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG) make a sustainable, low-carbon, earth friendly wedding without looking like Al Gore on the wedding night (or that douchebag with the Birkenstocks that your fiancée dated in high school)? It’s not easy being green, but with a little work you can pull off a wedding that’s both eco-friendly and as slick, sexy, and conscientious as you dreamed of.
Get married locally
Destination weddings are cool. But staying local will help lower your overall carbon imprint. Local might mean different things to different couples. Say for instance, your fiancée has 10 brothers or sisters, plus plenty of cousins back in West Virginia, and you are considering whether you should even invite your stepmom? Well, West Virginia it is.
Carbon offsetting is a good way to pay for your sins, and ensure that what you take out – in terms of trash, water use, flights, wedding singer drive times, Uncle Mike’s methane output – is put back into renewable energy or land preservation. Here’s a handy calculator to get you started. Sounds like for just $80, you can write off an eight-ton wedding. But going green isn’t just about offsetting your impact, it’s about reducing, reusing, recycling. Got family rings? Great! Got a huge set of china you can use at the reception instead of paper plates? Even better. Wanna have people donate to your favorite charity instead of giving you a soup tureen? Here are five alternatives to a traditional gift registry.
What about the birds?
At some point in the early 1980s some idiot said that throwing rice at a wedding – a tradition that goes back to the ancient Egyptians – could kill birds. Well, that dude was wrong. According to a Mental Floss article on the subject: “The reality is that rice poses no harm to them. Wild birds eat uncooked rice all the time with no ill effects. Many types of waterfowl, shorebirds, and migratory birds depend on flooded rice fields to maintain fat in the winter. A bird called the bobolink eats enough rice that it's considered a pest by farmers and has earned the nickname ‘ricebird.’”
Think about the food
The food we eat has a remarkable impact on the environment. While we wouldn’t recommend going full-veg – unless you live in Berkeley and your girlfriend’s name is Honey Possum – cutting out the red meat will do a whole lot to lower your overall impact on the environment. Red meat production uses 28 times more land and 11 times more water than chicken or pork. It’ll also keep your beloved Uncle Greg from having a heart attack midway through the first course.
Think about the venue
Like meats, not all wedding venues are created equal. Take a look at your venue’s environmental policies to assess just how green they really are. Sure, most will recycle, but do they compost, do they have energy efficient windows and doors, and do they use solar energy? It’s a balancing act. Our advice is to pick the one your bride likes the most and shut up.
Think about the honeymoon
So you went out of your way to have recycled napkins, vegan, gluten-free, non-diary, non-cruelty, non-tasty-by-any-stretch-of-the-imagination food, and now you’re set to go on your honeymoon… to Bora Bora! Well, we think you should go. But consider staying longer, consider giving back while you are there, or consider taking a trip to a local vineyard instead. It’s all good. A wedding happens just once (or twice) in your lifetime. Enjoy yourself without guilt, but do your best to have as little impact as you can along the way.
Involve the wedding party
Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, bridesmaids and best men… they all want to help. Involve everybody in making the wedding just a little more eco-friendly. Your cousin Chris can be on beer can recycling patrol (most of them are his anyway), your Aunt Carol can bring her huge collection of serving trays (yep, they all have bears on them, but it’s better than a plastic dish), and your cousins from Cleveland, well, they’ll just have to carpool. (See other ways to own your DIY wedding.)
Think about what you wear
Skip the Birkenstocks. You’ll look like a tool. Trust us. Instead go for a classic brown burnished shoe. Still feels earthy, but without the hairy toe jam. Plus, consider this. By renting a tux instead of buying one, you are contributing to lowering your eco-impact. Really, how many times are you going to wear a cummerbund, suspenders and dress shoes? Use it once, return it… look good, feel good, do good.