Eco-friendly and socially responsible weddings

Ecological weddings

Ecological, green or socially responsible weddings are becoming ever so popular among the brides and grooms of today. We’ve rounded up some ideas for an ecologically sustainable wedding and even if you don’t incorporate all of these suggestions into your wedding, you can still make a difference even if you only follow some of them. The key to a conscious, ecological and stylish wedding is to simply, simplify. The details and materials used should not only serve the purpose of saving money, but also save resources. Use local and seasonal resources and feel good about the effort put into doing so.

Location

The first element to consider is the wedding location, which may mean choosing a botanical garden, a beach or even your own backyard. Another option, in this case indoor, could be a place that will be benefited by your wedding, such as a museum, a cultural association or an art gallery.

Keep the wedding local

If possible, use only local resources for your wedding. Choose small local businesses as your vendors. Besides saving on transportation and polluting less, you’ll be contributing to the growth of small, local entrepreneurs.

Location and lighting

If possible, celebrate your wedding with natural light, which means having the celebration outdoors and reducing all electricity costs. In regards to artificial lighting, always go for candles because, besides creating a very inviting and romantic atmosphere, they represent a cleaner type of energy. Choose candles made of soy which, besides being more ecological, last a lot longer than traditional candles.

Bride’s dress and groom’s suit

Use natural fibers, such as organic cotton or silk. If you’re going to have the bride’s dress and/or the groom’s suit made, pay special attention to the fabrics used: make sure their composition does not include synthetic materials or chemical dyes. Many brides and grooms that wish to have a green wedding, choose vintage dresses, their mother’s bridal dress or their father’s wedding suit, which also adds a touch of nostalgia to the wedding. If you don’t plan on keeping the bride’s dress and/or the groom’s suit, donate them to an institution after the wedding. You may even sell them and donate the money to charity. This way, your wedding will be based on an even greater act of love.

Invitations

Choose invitations printed on recycled paper or on alternative materials that do not harm the environment, such as bamboo. Nowadays, there is a huge selection of beautiful recycled paper that will make all the difference. On the other hand, you can also make your invitations out of cards from institutions such as UNICEF. In most cases, you’ll need a lot of additional information on your invitations, such as maps or local information – one great option is having your own wedding site on the Internet where you can post all the information your guests need without wasting paper. Print your wedding site on the invitations with a message like: “Don’t forget to visit our corner –

www.johnmary.com”.

Escort cards

When creating your escort cards, instead of using traditional paper, write your guests’ name and table on fruit, such as apples, oranges or pears. You may also place the guest’s name and table on a piece of fabric which could double as a wedding souvenir. An elegant alternative for a formal wedding, for example, could be hiring escorts who have a layout of the room and tables and who escort the guests to their seats. Besides being a very sophisticated idea, you’ll be giving someone a job, without consuming too many resources.

Coffee and chocolate

If you’re going to serve coffee and chocolates to your guests, buy them from a Fair Trade shop or choose products that have this designation on the packaging. This means that not only will the farmers that produced these products receive a fair price, but in most cases you’ll be buying products that were cultivated in an ecologically sustainable way. Another idea is buying coffee and chocolate from socially responsible companies.

Catering

When selecting your caterer, try to go for one that is specialized in organic ingredients. A caterer does not have to be exclusively vegan or vegetarian, it could simple be one that uses organic ingredients in its kitchen. Speak to your catering service about the possibility of creating an interesting and delicious menu that could be meat-free or without processed sugars. As an accompaniment choose an organic wine – one whose grapes came from vines where synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were not used, as well as chemicals that may harm the soil or water.

Wedding cake

Choose a cake designer that can make you a fabulous organic and natural wedding cake, made exclusively with Fair Trade ingredients. Don’t forget to serve it with Fair Trade coffee as well!

Wedding favors

Give your guest something that grows and that keeps on giving, such as flower pots with tulips or hyacinth, aromatic herb or flower seeds. Present your guests with bags of organic tea and cinnamon biscuits made by your local bakery, personalizing the package with recycled paper and the bride and groom’s names. You may also offer biological jam or honey from local producers. Another idea for green wedding favors is making donations to a charity, museum or natural park in your guests’ name and having the institution sign personal donations cards that you can present your guests with.

Make-up

If you’re going to use make-up, choose natural cosmetics, such as those from The Body Shop. These type of cosmetics are not tested on animals, their ingredients are 100% natural and are purchased from disfavored populations so as to contribute to their sustainable growth.

Celebrate nature

Plant a tree! On your wedding day or when you return from your honeymoon plant a tree in your backyard, in a friend’s backyard or at your parents’ country house. With this attitude, not only will you be contributing to preserve the environment, but you’ll also have nature celebrating with you each and every wedding anniversary. Who knows, maybe one day you can use this tree to make a swing for your children.

Flowers

Flowers that are pesticide-free reveal a beauty that no other flower possesses. Flowers with delicate and involving fragrances are always organic flowers because they grow naturally, without pesticides or genetic modification. Speak to your florist and use local and seasonal flowers. You can add aromatic herbs and fruit, all of which should come from local producers. Flowers made out of synthetic fabric or plastic are not good options because they provoke dangerous residues. You can also choose natural flowers or small potted trees to present as wedding favors to your guests.

Bouquets

Go for bouquets made up of organic, flowers, jewellery or even a beautiful “sevillana” fan, silk flowers or flowers in organic cotton.

Jewellery

When choosing engagement rings or wedding bands, make sure that “blood diamonds” (diamonds whose sales profits are used towards wars) were not used in their composition. Choosing synthetic diamonds is a smart way to avoid buying “blood diamonds”. Opt for recycled jewellery, which means that the gold was melted and recycled into a new piece – this gold is just as valuable as a piece of gold that has never been melted. Many gold mines are devastating for the environment or responsible for great economic and social conflicts. Did you know that a wedding band requires 30 tons of rock to be made?

Use butterflies?

Releasing butterflies that were bred for that specific purpose could be disastrous for local butterfly populations, especially if the released butterflies have the typical diseases, so common to insects that are bred in captivity. Besides that, these type of butterflies do not have a large survival rate, which means that a beautiful day such as your wedding does not need to have incorporated this type of idea.