LIVING GREEN: "Making marry" ...how to green up your weddingWishing for a wedding with an unforgettable impact?
By: Susan Darley-Hill, Living North
Wishing for a wedding with an unforgettable impact?
You can achieve that and set a great example for your guests with a low-impact, “green” wedding. It seems counterintuitive: A low-impact wedding with impact? After all, you just want a beautiful celebration with friends and family.
Trying to assess the ecological footprint of wedding showers, a rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and the post-wedding celebration seems beyond daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Determine your wedding priorities and consider the environmental impact of your must-haves. Seek a balance that incorporates care for your planet into your plans for a memorable celebration.
Couples face an overwhelming array of goods and services that can bury those special wedding moments under a heap of single-use, short-lived discarded stuff.
It is easier than ever to “make marry” without creating mountains
of waste. Several Web sites can help you with information about staging
low-impact weddings. They include http://www.ecowedding.org and
Reusable rental items and compostable goods are readily available in
the Northland. In recent years, many Northeastern Minnesota couples have had low-impact, waste-free weddings, so your inquiries for such goods won’t elicit bewilderment, but rather, “How many do you need and when?”
Couples who strive for simplicity, pare excesses and focus on fewer, more meaningful elements in their wedding celebration often are rewarded with a significant drop in overall expense.
Start by scrutinizing your guest list. This is the single best thing you can do, as consumption – be it food, energy, guest favors, decorations or dollars – is multiplied by the number of guests in attendance.
Recycled paper makes unique, stunning invitations. E-mail and personal Web sites reduce paper usage for RSVPs and wedding venue information.
Locations – indoors or out – that are already adorned with beautiful architectural features or striking vistas eliminate the need for elaborate decorations and the accompanying costs. No need to guild the lily when a rose garden in full bloom or a well-adorned ballroom offers the perfect setting.
You can rent reusable cloth napkins, linen tablecloths and serving ware from local companies – or your caterer or the hosting venue can provide it. Local vendors sell bio-compostable utensils, plates and napkins for outdoor receptions at remote locations.
WLSSD offers portable bins for collecting recycling and compostable items and food waste. Many couples have used this free service in the past three years at sites from backyard garden weddings and multi-day wedding encampments at Gooseberry Falls and Grand Portage.
Proper advance planning will ensure that your environmentally friendly efforts are mistake-proof. If you want your guests to participate, adequate and clear signs help make sorting painless. Or eliminate single-serve items and go with all re-usable or all compostable serving ware, reducing the number of recycling choices your guests need to make.
Plan a menu based on locally grown food. Caterers welcome the opportunity to feature Minnesota and Wisconsin-grown (or caught) specialties. Flowers, fresh in season or as dried arrangements, are available from local farmers and vendors. Winter decorations that use our abundant varieties of evergreens make for a truly green wedding – and come from a renewable resource.
If you remember the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – as you
plan your events, you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful, green
Susan Darley-Hill is an Environmental Program Coordinator for Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.