Greening Your Wedding (without Breaking the Bank!)

Bride and BridesmaidsSince my wedding is coming up in two weeks, I’ve been doing some exploring into all the trendy “green wedding” options. It’s amazing how awareness has grown in the past few years! Unfortunately, having a completely green wedding can often double the already expensive costs. But if every couple made even two or three decisions based solely on environmental concerns, the planet would be as happy the newlyweds.

When planning your own wedding, consider integrating even one or two of these ideas:

Skip the disposable cameras, and ask friends to bring digital cameras. Before the wedding, set up an account on sites such as or, and email the login and password to your friends. After the wedding, everyone can upload the photos they took to the account, and you’ll have an instant album of candids that everyone can enjoy. And if you want to have prints, you’ll be able to print only those pictures you really want.

Besides wearing a pre-owned gown (remember, a good tailor can make an poofy 80’s gown into a stylin’ 21st century dazzler), think about using heirloom jewelry for the engagement ring and wedding bands. If you must have new, matching bands, be sure to ask the jeweler about reclaimed, recycled, ecologically responsible gold.

Skip the cut flower decorations and have potted plants as centerpieces that guests can take home and re-plant. Use only organic flowers in bouquets, and display the bouquets in vases during the reception in lieu of additional centerpieces.

When interviewing caterers, ask about using organic, locally-grown food, as well as recycling. While you’re at it, ask them if they use any ingredients that are genetically modified, which some consider a health risk (many corn, soy, and canola oil-based foods are genetically modified).

Organize one or two shuttle buses to take guests from the ceremony to the reception, and back, so that each guest doesn’t have to drive their own car. Many shuttle services now have vans that use bio-diesel fuels. (Or better yet, choose a venue that can handle both the ceremony and the reception.)

Skip the favors altogether (how long will your friends really want to save your monogram?). If you really want your guests to leave with something that commemorates your day, leave them with the announcement that you will donate to organizations that plant trees – one for every guest in attendance. Look into Trees for the Future ( or Heifer International (

Use organic beeswax candles instead of petroleum-based candles. has several sizes of long-burning Northern Light candles.

Think before purchasing extras that people consider traditional (and therefore necessary), such as printed paper napkins, matchbooks, programs, menus, etc. My fiancé and I opted not to use RSVP cards in the invitations because we didn’t want the additional paper waste and expense. (People called and e-mailed instead, and it was actually a lovely way to connect with them!)

Consider local honeymoon options instead of far-flung destinations. Chances are you’ll be so exhausted from the wedding festivities that you’ll sleep the first two days straight anyway, so why not minimize the carbon footprint? Greece and Italy aren’t going anywhere, and you might enjoy the trip much more on your anniversary.

Regardless of your choices, every decision you make should be as conscious of the environment as it is your budget. Every little bit makes a difference! For more ideas, check out,, and

Written by Deb Hiett

Deb Hiett spent several years in New York City, where she was an actress, dancer, musician, and playwright. In reviewing her first original one-woman show, The Village Voice called her "the bold new voice in solo . . . a sure-shot writer." Her work has won The Carl Cherry Center for the Arts “One on One” Writing Competition and The Western Stage's “Starving Artist” Playwriting prize, and her short stories have appeared in several literary journals.

Deb’s love of writing married her passion for healthful, organic, and environmentally-conscious living once she moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. She has spent the past year planning her wedding, writing screenplays, and applying a variety of broad-spectrum sunscreens.


  1. There are some good ideas in here! I like the idea about the digital pictures uploaded to one site.

  2. Just keep in mind that guests will all take pictures of the same thing unless directed otherwise – the cake cutting, the kiss, etc. You may need to tell some people to wander around and photograph the less popular subjects – like each other!

    We didn’t do favors. No one noticed at all.

  3. That’s a good point. We have some teenagers coming, and I plan to ask them to be sure to snap certain things/people with their folks’ digital cameras, to make sure they shoot some things they might have missed (and to give them something specific to do!). One bride I know developed this elaborate kind of scavenger hunt for her guests to take pictures, with different lists on different tables, which could be fun. But I know my guest list and they wouldn’t really be into any assignments like that — the only assignment they want is to toast, eat, visit, and relax!

  4. I think this newish wave of “green” advice for brides can indeed, be overwhelming and I think you’re spot on to recommend trying to incorporate a few suggestions into your day, and try to keep our vanishing environment in their thoughts every day.

    I too, really dislike the notion of favors (though I do like bulbs, seeds, saplings and the like). An alternative idea that one of my cool brides incorporated was to make a donation to a pet rescue society. They named their tables after different pets (instead of numbering them), had a dog’s water bowl on the bar (instead of a tip cup; they took care of the bartenders’ tips and all the bucks went to their rescue), and they had information about various pet rescues on their wedding website. AND of course, their poochies were the ring bearers….(I would not recommend having the actual rings tied to the actual dogs…)

    It was so cool; I think I need to blog about it again!

    Thanks, and best of luck on your wedding day,


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