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7 quick tricks to ‘green up’ your wedding day

Did you know that an Ann Arbor couple ‘greened’ up their marriage ceremony and you could do it too? It was in August 2010, the Ann Arbor couple (Engel and Dyer) were married in a “green” outdoor ceremony and reception near the Huron River, fit to pay homage to their shared love of the environment and the outdoors. The trend toward green weddings certainly isn’t new, but industry experts say it has evolved to allow husbands and wives to incorporate their own personal preferences and still afford their special day.

Most people are curious about a green wedding and when they hear about exactly what it entails, they end up going a different route. Our heroes Engel and Dyer considered they wouldn’t be able to keep everything absolutely green, but were going to try their hardest. And the most essential element was to make the day instructive as well as fun for guests. They organized the marriage ceremony at a science and nature center where tours were offered to guests in the hour before they walked down the aisle. The tour featured different water and energy conservation technologies used at the center like the solar-panel arrays for electricity, solar-powered heating and water heater systems and no-flush compost toilets.

The couple also focused on little details they said make a big difference.

– Dyer wore an heirloom – a vintage green dress that had been her great-grandmother’s in the 1930’s.

– Her ring was made with recycled gold and had a beryl stone instead of a diamond.

 – Her makeup was certified organic.

 – Guests were given local lavender buds – rather than sachets of rice – to throw in celebration.

 – Tables were covered with local wildflowers and locally sourced foods.

 – Leftovers and unused food were recycled (by sending to local farms) or reused.

 – They found a generator that was solar powered and able to produce enough power to run the lights and the audio system they needed for the entertainment.

For all their efforts, they still made some choices they knew weren’t the most eco-friendly options :While they served Michigan white wine beverages and a Michigan sparkling cider, they couldn’t find a red from the state they liked. So they decided to have a burghundy from the U.S. for that option. And they could’ve gone with Internet invites rather than printing and mailing invitations, but Dyer said she felt paper invitations were important – on recycled paper, of course.

So you? What can You do to ‘green up’ your ceremony day? While green weddings are becoming more common, planning and pulling off the event is not as easy as one might imagine. Sorting through claims of environmentally friendliness when shopping in the present marketplace is a big enough problem for normal purchases, let alone for such an emotionally charged and personal event as a wedding. The best way to reduce the impact of an event is to start a life cycle analysis on different elements of the ceremony. For instance, where is that food coming from, how much energy is expended to produce it, how does it get to your plate and where do the leftovers go? While meat typically takes more energy to produce than fruits and vegetables, considering how far some fruit and veggies must travel might let them have a larger carbon footprint. The best way to minimize an event’s carbon footprint is to cut back on the number of guests invited. Fewer guests mean fewer meals, fewer needs for centerpieces and other decor and fewer miles traveled to reach the ceremony. 

By Lucy Thomason

About the author: L. E. Thomason writes articles for the http://www.eventplanningcareers.net/  blog, her personal hobby weblog focused on recommendations to help people figure out how to organize a green event to spend less energy and reduce carbon footprints.  For weddings see http://www.eventplanningcareers.net/7_Easy_Ideas_to_Green_Up_Your_Wedding_576.doc