As part one of Eco-Guide: How I Turned my Wedding Green illustrated, it is entirely possible to green your wedding while still keeping the green in your pocketbook. Two mantras are tantamount — Think Household Items, not Wedding Items, and Invest Time, not Money .
In last week’s guide, I brought these two principles to life with examples from my wedding last fall, sharing how I repurposed classy but practical household objects into sophisticated wedding accents. I also discussed minimizing the dreaded DIY look through maintaining subtlety and consistency.
This week, we’ll take a look at more ways to green your wedding and introduce the last three principles: Re-Think the Must-Haves; Borrow, Don’t Buy; and Incorporate Heirlooms.
Re-think the Must-Haves
So much of what we have been conditioned to think of as “normal” is really nothing more than excess. We opted to nix the favors, since our guests came for the celebration, not for a handful of heart-shaped candy. If guests wanted a keepsake to remember the day, they could tuck away a copy of our wedding program, which we designed ourselves, thanks to the artistic wizardry of my sister-in-law’s custom-designed damask motif — which can also be seen in the opening photograph.
I asked my bridesmaids to wear dresses of their own choice, classy black numbers that they could wear again — or perhaps already owned. We designed and assembled our own bridesmaid jewelry at a fraction of the price we would have paid for it elsewhere. I purchased a plain, floor-length veil for a literal tenth of the price I was quoted at the bridal shop, and then hand-edged it with seed beads to match my dress.
When it came to our wedding invitations, my artist-husband designed the invitation, which we then had printed on 5×7 photo stock. We went the sleek, minimalist route, rejecting the idea of an extra inner envelope and tossing out the RSVP card altogether, although we did include small map inserts printed on tree-free cotton paper. The invitations were delivered via postal mail, but we requested that our guests RSVP through e-mail.
Incorporate Heirlooms…and Other Sentimental Items
I had saved and dried all the roses my fiance had given to me in the months before we were married. I knew they wouldn’t survive the cross-country move we were planning, but I wasn’t quite ready to just throw them away.
Then it hit me — I could incorporate them into the decor! On the day of our wedding, the dried roses were lovingly scattered across the wedding party’s head table. I loved the significance, and the vintage look added elegance and charm.
These weren’t the only sentimental pieces displayed on the wedding party head table. My husband and I drank from the same engraved champagne glasses that his parents has used on their wedding day, and our attendants toasted with flutes that once belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother.
In lieu of separate centerpieces, we placed all the girls’ bouquets in vases of cool water, which were then displayed on the head table.
Borrow, Don’t Buy
We were incredibly blessed by overwhelming generosity from our friends, who loaned us so many items for our big day. When we were given a giant box of glass hurricane lamps for the guest table centerpieces, I knew I didn’t want to fill them with synthetic candles, faux stones, or fake rose petals. Instead, we stuck clusters of dried milo berries from San Francisco Herb Co. into the black aquarium sand which we’d poured into the base of each glass lamp.
Another friend generously loaned us two beautiful white pillars which she’d previously used in her wedding. My fiance’s mother planted stunning greenery into aged urns to grace the tops of the pillars, which flanked my husband and me during the ceremony. After the wedding celebration was over, my mother-in-law was able to incorporate the urns into her landscaping, and the pillars went on to yet another re-use.
See the World Through Green-Colored Glasses
As for the decor on the gift table, you’d be surprised how elegantly you can pull off a vase full of black beans from the bulk section of the supermarket. Arrange a bouquet of long twigs and branches scavenged from the ground around any hardwood tree…and voila! Instant, understated elegance.
And while the rest of the wedding preparations may not have been as instant as that, the wedding that unfolded after hours of loving labor was definitely, without a doubt, elegantly green.
First and second images used with permission from B. Sarah Klein Photography.
Third image courtesy of Gina Munsey.
Last image courtesy of Bruce and Katy Dockter.