Go Green, Save Green—Quickly!

You care about the earth. You care about being a good person. You care about having a wedding that reflects your values. And you care about doing it all as efficiently as possible! But are you finding that some organic and eco-conscious choices can even more rapidly deplete your time and your precious budget than their energy-zapping alternatives? You could spend $1932.66 on a Recycled Eco Wedding Gown made of repurposed linen, but why not nurture your thoughtful and generous nature with some of these more affordable options?

Go Vintage! Our grandparents’ generation didn’t even think about buying new for most things. Two generations ago, virtually everything was reused, mended, shared, bartered, and saved. Expendability wasn’t much part of the vocabulary. Single-use products didn’t really exist. Now that vintage is hip, model it—in all ways.

  • Consider sporting a once-worn gown you might never otherwise afford, or whose inimitable style would be nearly impossible to find new. Wore it Once (woreitonce.com) has wedding and bridesmaid dresses starting at under $100, Recycled Bride has great used dresses, suits, rings, and just about everything you could need: (http://www.recycledbride.com)  and Great Green Wedding (www.greatgreenwedding.com) lists several wonderful resources and suggestions for doing good and giving back. Plus, you can search online, instead of spending days running from store to store. Cost: $100 and up
  • Decorate your reception with black and white photos honoring your grandparents’ generation—framed, of course, in eclectic thrift store frames. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to add meaning and a beautiful vintage look to your ceremony. (http://www.goodwill.org ) Cost: $5 and up

Go Local: Be aware of less-obvious impacts to our earth—is your location convenient? Will many of your guests need to drive a long ways (expending fossil fuels, finances, etc.), stay overnight in hotels, or eat a few meals out? Does your caterer or event venue offer food choices that are less damaging to the environment-- local or organic food, and entrée options that are less depleting to resources than others? (Organic, free-range chicken, or wild, non-endangered fish) COST: From nothing to on par with non-eco choices.

Go Barter! What skills do you have that might benefit your vendors? Many vendors are occasionally open to trading their services for another service or product of comparable value. Take a chance and see if any of the vendors that intrigue you might reduce their price or even comp their service in exchange for something else. Or, go to a site that already offers bartering services and see if you can secure any of your essentials. What have you got to lose? Just the need to spend your green! Then, consider donating the money you save to an organization that protects the environment, or that will offset the waste produced by your event. (Try Terra Pass at http://www.terrapass.com/ )  To check out bartering, visit a site specifically set up for wedding day barters: http://www.bigdaybarter.com/index.php Or , try two of the biggest general bartering sites out there: The Barter Company: http://www.barterco.com, and Trade Away: http://www.tradeaway.com/ (Find out how one couple bartered their way to spending $3000 for a $40,000 wedding: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/04/10/bartering.wedding/) COST: How low can you go?

Go Gifting!  Sure, getting tons of gifts can be fun, but sometimes giving them is so much more of a thrill. At a time when you might think you are the last person with the time or money to offer to others, your wedding may be a perfect opportunity. If you’ve been blessed and  really want to make a difference to give back, have guests donate to a favorite charity instead of offering wedding gifts—bonuses include: no waste, no gifts to return, almost identical thank-you cards for everyone, and giving back in your time of joy all in one. Or, register with a sustainable or fair trade charity, like Ten Thousand Villages, and know that each gift you receive is supporting artisans all over the world—so you can feel really wonderful that your blessing is someone else’s as well. (Ten Thousand Villages (www.tenthousandvillages.com) has been around since 1946 and is one of the world's largest fair trade organizations. You can create a registry online, and they have a whole section devoted to green gifts.) COST: Free!

Go All Green! Make sustainability the theme of your whole wedding by using a nature theme throughout. Bonsais (Which can live hundreds of years! Like your love!) or other potted plants that guests can take home make gorgeous, sustainable centerpieces. Check your local nursery or look online for a bonsai retailer in your region. COST: $25 and up per table Or, decorate with fresh fruit stacked in thrift store glass vases of varied shapes and heights.  Glass vases are often less than $1/piece at thrift stores, and some beautiful fresh apples, lemons, oranges, and limes may cost you $1.99/pound at the farmer’s market. Cost: $10 and up per table Really getting into the theme? Wear a green dress! I found a gorgeous used light green formal gown on ebay for $39.99: www.ebay.com  Cost: $40 and up for a dress.

Whatever you do, make sure it represents you and your partner, that it is meaningful to you, that it helps connect you to those you love, and, perhaps most importantly, that you have fun doing it!

Rev. Dawn is a tri-lingual Interfaith Minister, premarital counselor, writer, and a coach for professional at a turning point. Her articles and tips have been featured in Whole Life Times, LA Yoga Magazine, Awareness Magazine, GetMarried.com and in the Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine.  She is honored to have presided over more than 300 ceremonies in the Atlanta area. You can reach her at RevDawn.com or WholeLifeSolutions.biz.