Green may not be the first word that springs to mind as couples run through preliminary ideas how to make their wedding day truly special, but, taken figuratively, green can also refer to a wedding ceremony which reflects growing awareness of our impact on the environment. “Green buildings”, “green energy”, and “green products” are now common parlance among those of us seeking ways to live more ecologically conscious lives, so why not apply these same principles to the most special ceremony in every couple’s life? A truly unique wedding experience can be an environmentally sound one as well as a statement on the part of bride and groom about their larger commitments and responsibilities.
Ohio natives and Seattle residents John and Allyson Lindsley have helped pave the way for others with helpful examples of a green wedding from their own eco-friendly, socially responsible wedding ceremony. It was not enough just to blow a wad of money on an unforgettable wedding bash; For John and Allyson, it was important to make sure that their money was being put to the best use possible:
When we realized we were potentially spending a lot of money for just one day, we wanted to be sure our dollars were going to the right places. To us that meant ensuring our wedding would have a soft environmental impact, and that our dollars were contributing to supporting fair trade.
One important aspect of a green wedding, as the Lindsleys note, is to support both the local and global communities through such practices as buying local or fair-trade products. To support the local economy, it is crucial to buy locally, and this requires research into local florists, bakers, tailors, stationers, and decorators; beer, wine, liquor, and coffee can be bought from local breweries, wineries, and roasters, bouquets, from local florists, and fresh produce, from local farms. When products do come from foreign locales, it is necessary to consider the ethicality of their production: wedding feast ingredients shipped in from foreign countries, for example, should be sustainably grown and come from growers who are fairly compensated for their labor. Sometimes, products available only from foreign producers can be bought wholesale at fair trade and then manufactured locally: Alyson Lindsley bought the raw silk for her and her mother’s dresses at fair price from an Indian wholesaler and had the dresses made by a Portland, Oregon seamstress. It is also possible to support local businesses while also supporting their sustainable practices: the Lindsleys held their wedding reception at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, using their organically grown herbs and produce in their floral arrangements and bouquets.
The environmental impact of the wedding ceremony and reception can also be reduced by finding creative alternatives for things such as paper products and party favors. Published materials such as invitations and programs can be made of recycled paper; party favors can be an environmental investment rather than a disposable novelty. Instead of giving out traditional party favors, the Lindsleys donated to environmentalist organizations such as Oxfam Unwrapped, buying their guests gifts such as potted tree saplings to support the “Plant 100 trees” program, or potted flowers from local, sustainable growers—a great investment in any wedding guest’s own garden.
In addition to considerations of fair trade, buying locally, and environmental friendliness, a green wedding ceremony can reflect an investment in the social
well-being of the community. Although many couples find they require their entire wedding savings for the ceremony and its attendant expenses, those who spend frugally will be left with a profit—couples can donate this to charity in collaboration with the church where the ceremony is held. The church where the Lindsleys held their ceremony, for example, donated the profits to children of the working poor and autistic education efforts.
While the most important step in planning an eco-friendly wedding is putting these principles into practice, it does not hurt to incorporate them into one’s wedding vows too. Most churches have a long tradition of charity work, and an increasing number are recognizing their role as stewards of nature. A good idea is to work with the minister or wedding officiant to write vows which reflect the common commitment of bride and groom to social and environmental awareness.
There are an increasing number of green wedding resources for those seeking to leave a minimal carbon footprint with their wedding, and these include the following:
Planning a green wedding may at first seem a daunting task, but with the growing plethora of resources, it has become an almost natural consideration for contemporary couples seeking a modern wedding. Respect for nature has long been a central value of many in the Universal Life Church Monastery congregation, including those from earth-based faiths such as paganism and Wicca. Ecologically friendly practices are yet another, creative way that ULCM ministers, as well as the couples they marry, can show their dedication to social and environmental awareness.
Green Is Sexy