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Here comes the green bride

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Kayla Bunge
June 1, 2008
— Tiffany Green was appalled at the overwhelming amount of throwaway trinkets and disposable decorations she saw at weddings she attended.

“There’s so much stuff!” she said. “A lot of couples are convinced they have to have every little thing … and it’s just an enormous amount of stuff you never end up using later.”


So when Green, 34, a 1991 Craig High School graduate, got married last September, she resolved not to be one of those brides.


“I didn’t let myself fall into the trap of buying X, Y and Z,” she said.


Instead Green kept things simple, being conscious to make a very small carbon footprint.


Almost every aspect of a wedding—from the planning to the ceremony to the reception—can be “greened” somehow.


Here are some things to think about:


Announcements, invitations and cards

Print engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, shower invitations, wedding invitations, ceremony programs, place cards, menu cards, wedding announcements and thank you notes on recycled or tree-free papers.


Green, a print and Web site designer, created her own invitations and had them printed on recycled paper. They were pretty plain, she said, just a one-sided card with no frills.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests using e-mail or a Web site to communicate wedding information. Sites such as theknot.com and weddingwindow.com allow couples to post how-we-met stories, reception information, gift registries and more.


Rings

Have an heirloom or vintage ring resized or buy jewelry made from recycled metals and alternative gems.


Green and her husband, Chris, bought their rings from greenkarat.com, a company that offers ecologically responsible jewelry. Their rings are made of recycled gold and machine-made diamonds instead of gold and diamonds obtained through destructive mining.


Gowns

Wear your mother’s wedding dress, buy a dress from a vintage shop or consider renting a dress.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests buying a once-worn or sample gown from Encore Bridal (encorebridal.com) or Brides Against Breast Cancer (bridesagainstbreastcancer.org), which donates the proceeds to help women with breast cancer.


If a new gown is a must, pick one made of organic or natural fibers such as linen or silk.


Green bought her dress new. She considered buying a hemp dress, but most of the dresses were too plain and actually cost more than a dress made of other fabrics.


Her maid of honor wore a simple, hemp sundress that she can wear to other occasions, Green said.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests donating your wedding gown to charity. Organizations such as Brides Against Breast Cancer and the I Do Foundation (idofoundation


.org) resell the dresses and donate the proceeds. Bridesmaid dresses can be donated to the Glass Slipper Project (glassslipperproject.org), which provides free prom dresses to low-income high school students in Chicago.


Green is giving her dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer.


Tuxedoes

Buy a tuxedo secondhand or rent it.


Green’s groom wore a suit he already had and coordinated his shirt and tie to the wedding colors.


His groomsmen wore dress pants and shirts and matching hemp vests. Hemp is a sustainable crop that’s organically grown because it’s naturally resistant to most pests, unlike cotton.


Flowers and decorations

Choose organically grown, in-season flowers from a local florist or farmers market or grow your own.


Green went with silk flowers because most fresh flowers are trucked in from miles away and sprayed with chemicals to preserve them en route.


“People couldn’t tell at all (that the flowers weren’t real),” she said.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests transforming your ceremony flowers into table decorations for the reception and using your ceremony decorations to dress up the reception hall.


Green kept her decorations to a minimum because the winery where she and her husband were married in southern Illinois was “naturally beautiful,” she said.


The reception was held in the same locale, cutting down on the amount of driving wedding party and guests had to do.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests decorating with small, potted flowers or plants that guests can take home and plant themselves.


Food and drink

Find a caterer that uses organic ingredients and in-season produce from local growers. Keep the menu simple.


Green served local, farm-raised fish at her wedding and asked the caterer to package any leftovers to be taken home or donated to a homeless shelter.


She also requested dishes and glasses and cloth tablecloths and napkins—“nothing disposable,” she said. And while it was a little more expensive, her wedding produced very little waste.


Favors

Send guests home with items they’ll actually use or buy goods from vendors whose focus is on the Earth.


Greatgreenwedding.com suggests buying organic chocolate bars or fair-trade coffee or giving seeds, plants or trees.


Green made her own favors, affixing wine charms to votive candles.


Perhaps one of the most eco-friendly favors is to make a charitable donation in honor of your guests through the I Do Foundation.


Green said planning her green wedding was sometimes difficult but in the end very rewarding. Not only was her wedding beautiful and unique, but it was Earth-friendly, too.


“It was very personal,” she said.



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