It's a Nice Day for a Green Wedding

It's a Nice Day for a Green Wedding

In honor of the impending wedding season, The Nature Conservancy offers tips to make your special day one Mother Nature will celebrate

ARLINGTON, VA - June 16, 2008 -Something old, something new, something borrowed, something…green? It's really not as out of the ordinary as it sounds-last year, estimated that approximately 33% of future brides and grooms in the U.S. are planning an eco-friendly wedding.

Today, The Nature Conservancy is issuing tips for planning a greener wedding or commitment ceremony, with ideas from invitations through the honeymoon to help reduce your celebration's impact on the planet-and maybe even reduce the impact on your wallet as well.

"There's no need to sacrifice your dream wedding for a green wedding," said Sanjayan, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy. "Just imagine the power of one simple change-be it as small as reducing wedding travel or serving organic food at the reception-multiplied by the thousands of couples who plan to marry this year. The littlest changes really add up, and can leave a positive impact on the Earth for generations to come."

Invitations: Sending invitations electronically or on recycled paper stock will save money and trees. Bonus for going the electronic route: You'll save on the fuel used to deliver the cards.

Gift registry: Register for gifts that you actually need and will definitely use, and if possible, are healthy for the planet. Many of your favorite stores probably carry organic and environmentally sound products already, and with a little research, you can ensure that your new ice cream maker has a minimal carbon footprint.

Reducing consumption can have more of an impact than simply buying recycled/recyclable products. If you don't need anything, ask your guests to donate to your favorite charity.

Flowers: Organic flowers are one option, but tastefully arranged dried or silk flowers can make as big a statement as fresh floral arrangements.

If you're set on fresh flowers, try decorating with potted plants native to your area. What's fresher than still-living flora? You can even plant them when the ceremony is over-wedding décor and landscaping in one fell swoop!

Fashion: The Condé Nast Bridal Group estimates that most brides spend about $900 on just their gowns-and that's not including the many accessories most brides need to polish their look. An environmentally and cost-friendly solution is to wear a vintage or hand-me-down dress. A female relative or friend's gown has likely (hopefully!) only been worn once, and you do need something borrowed, right?

If you'd prefer a new dress, look for one that's made of certified organic cotton, since polyester is petroleum-based, and most other cotton is grown with harsh pesticides. Grooms and ushers can get on the all-natural natural-fiber bandwagon as well by wearing a dress shirt made of hemp or organic cotton.

Do your bridesmaids a favor and forgo the puffy sleeves and universally unflattering fits, and select a gown that your girls would gladly wear again. If you're stuck with a frock reminiscent of an '80s-era prom nightmare, forgo dumping that hideous gown in the garbage, and check out HGTV's suggestions for turning sequins and taffeta into stylish home accents.

The Rings: The production of one tiny band of gold results in 20 tons of mine waste, according to Earthworks, an organization that works to protect the environment from the impact of mineral development. Show your commitment to your brand new spouse with a recycled or heirloom ring, or start a new trend by sporting silver bands, since the mining of silver is a bit gentler on the environment.

The Location: Holding your festivities in a central location will cut down on travel for your guests, which will make both them and Mother Nature even happier to be a part of your joyous day. Another thing to consider when choosing a wedding locale: "Believe it or not," said Sanjayan, "big cities might be better than country locations because cities, for the most part, have less energy use in terms of per capita carbon."

It's possible to keep the travel to a minimum once your guests have arrived, too.  When Evan Parker, The Nature Conservancy's manager of digital members