Monday, March 22, 2010

Eco Friendly Wedding Dresses and Weddings?

Ok, not to get all hippy on you, but I recently came across designer Olivia Luca offering a hemp wedding dress; beautiful and eco friendly? It almost seemed to good to be true. I recycle, compost, buy local, carpool, and avoid styrofoam at all costs, but the thought of a "green" wedding dress had never occurred to me until now.

Here are 6 amazing designers turning organic and fair-trade fabrics like organic silk, cotton and hemp into stunning wedding gowns.
Gwendolyn Gleason
Gwendolyn Gleason
Rene Geneva

Chrissy Wai-Ching

Morgan Boszilkov

Deborah Lindquist

Olivia Luca

Since I am now all revved up on an eco friendly wedding, and I am always revved up on saving money, so lets roll with it!

One of the core concepts behind the eco-friendly wedding is cutting out the extra stuff - cut back ruthlessly and find inexpensive natural alternatives for otherwise expensive “stuff” that would otherwise find its way into landfills once the ceremony is over.

So, here are 8 ideas for a cost effective AND eco-friendly wedding:

1. Have Fewer Guests

Why its frugal: A smaller wedding is cheaper! Less food, smaller hall, fewer flowers… small is good.

Why its green: Less stuff. Less waste (a lot of food gets thrown out after a wedding - consider donating it to a homeless shelter). Less travel (less carbon and pollution created). Just less, which is usually good for the environment.

2. Wear a vintage or second-hand dress
Why its frugal:
You can find designer dresses for less than half of what a new dress costs, even with alterations

Why its green: Wedding dresses are worn once. Since it takes a lot of effort and energy to make a wedding dress, keeping it in circulation means the original environmental and economic footprint of the dress is lessened

Encore Bridal

3. Use electronic invitations, RSVPs, announcements, etc.

Why its frugal:
Many web sites will handle all electronic invitations for free or for a very small fee. No postage either.

Why its green: Less paper and ink. Paper production is very rough on the environment and electronic communication - especially if it is not printed out - is a better choice.

Notes: You will probably still need some paper invitations for those who are not online - some grandparents, etc, I love frugal, I love green, but I also love beautiful invitations, there is always recycled paper...

4. Use flowers grown in your garden (or a family member or a friend’s garden)

Why its frugal:
Seeds and bulbs are much, much cheaper than cut flowers.

Why its green: Commercially-grown flowers have enormous environmental impact, from the massive amounts of pesticides used to grow and preserve the flowers, to the transportation costs and impact - most commercial flowers are grown in South America or Africa.

Notes: This one takes quite a bit of planning. If you are considering this, talk to several people including the local nursery about the right flowers for the area and time of year.

5. Hire musicians from the local college or music conservatory

Why its frugal:
Music students work very hard and are skilled, and they will work for cheap. A quartet can work for the price of a soloist.

Why its green: Classical musicians generally do not need electricity for amplification, or choose a musician who will play “unplugged”.

6. Honeymoon locally

Why its frugal:
Less travel = less cost

Why its green: Less travel = less environmental impact

7. Keep the favors simple - five sugar-coated almonds is very traditional

Why its frugal:
Enough sugar-coated almonds for 75 people should cost about $30-$40 (depending on where you get them, of course)

Why its green: Food is always a good choice for favours - there’s less chance of waste (kids tend to eat all the leftover favours). Knickknacks tend to accumulate (and accumulate in landfills) and aren’t appreciated by everyone. Some bakeries and cookie decorators will do combined placecards and favour cookies. There are a lot of other options you could consider, like donations.

8. Keep the reception simple (remember simple does not have to mean plain!)

Why its frugal:
Large extravagant banquets are very expensive - anywhere from $50 to $200 per guest. Plus, with a banquet, its harder to mingle with the guests.

Why its green: Less waste.

Keep in mind that the wedding isn’t about the size of the party, it’s about the first moments of the rest of your life together. Make the day uniquely yours by adding in the special touches that make it personal - growing your own flowers is far more memorable than writing a check to a florist. 

You can have a beautiful wedding, reduce costs, and reduce impact. And enjoy the day - it goes fast!

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