simple classic centerpiece
Photo: Amber Vickery

Of course, it's difficult to plan a zero-impact wedding, but here are a few simple tips for eco-friendly event novices.

Use a wedding website.

You'll still probably want to send out invitations (but you can order them on recycled paper), especially if you have older relatives. However, skip the extra enclosures and RSVP cards. Instead, include a line at the bottom of your invite that lists your wedding website url. Make sure to update your wedding website with all the information that they might otherwise expect to receive in the invitation, such as hotel recommendations, directions to your venue, and details about any pre-wedding events.

Consider distance when selecting your location and vendors.

If the majority of your guests have to travel to get to your wedding, that isn't the most eco-friendly of choices (if you can't help that, however, look into donations for you to offset that damage). When selecting your vendors, choose those closest to your wedding and ones that endeavor to use locally-sourced products, from farm-to-table catering to organically-grown flowers.

Is your venue eco-friendly?

If you are hosting your wedding at a venue with a farm or gardens, what types of chemicals to they use? Are they equipped with dishes, so that you won't need to hire a rental company to make a separate trip out? Do they have plenty of bins and offer recycling services? These are the types of questions you should ask in your introductory conversations with a wedding venue as you are assessing which location is right for your green affair.

Encourage positive attitudes about eco-friendly choices.

No one enjoys bring preached to. Show your friends and family how wonderful and positive eco-friendly events can be. Your wedding can encourage people to make changes in their own lives to be more environmentally-minded. Particularly if your wedding is hosted outdoors, draw attention to the beauty of nature and the abundance of fresh food. If you want to do donation favors, offer your guests a choice of different charities for their own favor. For example, give each guest a bean and three different jars relating to eco-friendly causes for them to drop their bean into.

Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

You can buy a million things when planning a wedding, most of which you don't really need. The key to a successful green event is a practical philosophy. Follow the old adage, and don't purchase what you cannot reduce, reuse, and/or recycle. Consider how many of your items can be donated to charity, or re-used for future events or projects. We suggest using neutral-colored decor in order to maximize the potential of being able to use details again. For example, gray tableclothes and silver candlesticks can be used at holiday celebrations and incorporated into everyday living.