The moment you make the leap to “ever after” is monumental. And it’s a big opportunity to give the planet some love. No matter the size of your wedding, there are clever ways to save energy, resources and time. Read on for inspiration and tips from Suzanne Halperin, VP Catering & Banquets Operations for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. You’ll soon see: Reducing your footprint is something that’s easy to stay committed to.
1. Save paper and plant trees.
You can go fully digital for eco-friendly invites. But if you do choose paper, make it purposeful. “Use seed paper — a type of handmade paper that actually has plant seeds in it which germinate when planted,” says Halperin, who sees sustainable wedding invitations as a big trend right now. “Or use seed paper for your menus. It becomes a wedding favor in its own right.”
2. Source flowers locally.
Flowers that bloom during your wedding season are typically more cost effective and don’t have to be flown in from afar. You can even work with a local flower farmer to get a crop that’s both beautiful and plentiful. “If you want calla lilies in November, those will have to be flown in,” cautions Halperin. “Work with seasonality and use what’s abundant. Think of flowers in the same way you do food — farm to table.” Halperin adds that botanicals are more sustainable than florals because they last longer. You can even use interesting branches and leaves for impact. Live in California? Try palm fronds.
3. For the feast, think seasonal.
“Work with the chef to come up with a menu full of fruits and veggies grown seasonally in your area,” says Halperin. “Sometimes, local ingredients can even be delivered by bike, which reduces carbon emissions.” You can approach fruits and veggies with the same nose-to-tail, zero-waste concept as meats. For example, with soups – make sure every single piece of the veggies is used. Your venue’s chef is a great resource when it comes to creative, sustainable and eco-friendly approaches to your menu.
4. Go linen-less and plastic free.
Tables don’t need linens and we all know plastic straws can go. You can even go so far as to not use traditional dinnerware and serve food on biodegradable vessels like bamboo plates. It saves dishwasher water and energy! Want a bit of visual interest for your tablescapes? Check eBay for reused wedding décor that deserves a second life.
5. Look into energy offset.
Energy offset programs are a form of trade; when you buy into one, you fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The end result could be restoration of forests, the updating of power plants and factories, or energy efficiency increase of buildings and transportation systems. If this is something you’re passionate about and have done your research on, consider asking your guests to contribute toward the offsetting.
6. Cut down on transportation.
Ask yourself: Where are most invitees based? Then have your wedding there. “In the big picture, it’s important to be mindful of drives and airplane transportation – the less of it, the better,” says Halperin. Also, have reception and ceremony in the same place to avoid commutes from one location to another.
7. Pay it forward — donate!
Donate your flowers after the night is through. “There are great organizations that accept floral donations, like children’s hospitals and senior citizens centers,” says Halperin. Also, you may request wedding gifts in the form of donations to your favorite cause, whether that be monetary contributions to organizations like Dress for Success or gently used toys given to foster homes. Bring your eco-friendly mindset to what you wear, as well. Sustainable wedding dresses, bought gently used or on consignment, are a great choice. And you can donate them when you’re done.
8. Go out with a bang.
Confetti is fun, albeit wasteful. But not if you use biodegradable forms of it, like fresh herbs, dried flowers and fragrant leaves. Everything goes back into the earth, while your spirits soar.