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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Green Wedding Planning (Part I)

You all know that we’re finalists in Clay Hill Farm’s Green Wedding Giveaway contest, and as our campaign progresses we’ve been trying to share some advice on how we can all green our everyday lives. You may be wondering how we’ll be greening our wedding, too.  This is something we’ve been pondering for a while, before we knew the contest even existed.  Weddings are a wonderful tradition, and we are so excited to bring our family and friends together to share the most important day in our lives.  However, the multi-billion dollar wedding industry produces a lot of waste, and we do NOT want to share that with our loved ones.
What’s a green couple to do?

The good news is there’s a LOT you can do!  We’ve been scouring the web for information – here’s a portion of what we’ve learned so far (more to come later):

Venue Choice
Problem: Often, ceremonies take place at one location (church, scenic outdoor locale, etc.) while the reception takes place elsewhere, adding to the transportation (and thus energy) demand of the wedding.
Solution: Have your ceremony and reception at the same location, or if you must have separate locations, hire an eco-friendly method of transportation to get you and your guests from one place to the other, rather than having everyone drive separately.  To go further, find a venue that applies green practices as part of their daily business (like Clay Hill Farm!).

Problem: In this day and age, we can get food from anywhere in the world during any part of the year, but at what cost?  Sure, you want your guests to enjoy a delicious meal, but the carbon footprint of the exotic and out-of-season ingredients in your wedding menu will increase your wedding’s environmental impact.
Solution: Work with your caterer to source locally supplied, seasonal foods, preferably from organic and sustainable farmers within a 100 mile radius of your venue.  This will reduce your carbon footprint and support local, eco-friendly businesses in your community!  What about the leftover food?  Find a local food bank that will accept a donation.

Paper Use
Problem: You might be tired of hearing people tell you to use less paper (and recycle what you do use), but the wedding invitations produced within the US in one year could cover the entire island of Manhattan!  That’s not even counting the Save the Dates, Thank You cards, menus, and programs, yikes!  That's a lot of trees.
Solution: Relax – you can send invitations and still have a green wedding.  Select paper products made from 100% post-consumer recycled material (or tree-free!) and have your invitations printed with environmentally friendly inks and dyes that are widely available in the stationary business nowadays.  If you want to go even greener, send electronic Save the Dates and call your friends and family that are less tech-savvy to communicate the date of your nuptials (this will be our approach).  Odds are your guests will be well aware of the date of your wedding without receiving that trinket in the mail, so go ahead and save those resources AND your money.  If you go the electronic route for your invitations, the tracking of RSVPs is a big headache-saver!

Problem: This is a big problem for an international couple like us – we’ll be inviting guests from *literally* all ends of the earth, and there will be fossil fuel emissions associated with their travel to Maine for our wedding.  Gulp.
Solution: Other than just eloping to begin with and having zero guests, one option is to provide as much opportunity for carpooling to your guests as possible, perhaps even renting a “green” vehicle to shuttle guests around during your festivities.  To cover the fossil fuel emissions associated with our wedding travel, we will be calculating the carbon footprint of our guests’ flights (to be covered in a future post), then purchasing and retiring carbon offsets on their behalf.

More ideas to come later!


  1. Congratulations Douglas and Amy! I found your card in my mailbox and was more than glad to read your amazing, inspiring story and to vote for you. A particularly nice touch was the Cristo Redentor/Lady Liberty juxtaposition. Best of luck in the Green Wedding Giveaway, and in your life together!

  2. Dear Neighbor,

    Thank you for your kind message! We are very grateful for your support, and glad to know our campaign is reaching our local community. See you around the complex!