Make Your Wedding Gorgeous & Green

Make Your Wedding Gorgeous & Green
Arranging decor
Rent from the venue. Thryn Lee and Gabe Albin held their ceremony and reception at the Marion Hatcher Center, a historic mansion in the heart of downtown Augusta, Ga.; staying in one place not only reduced the carbon footprint of the wedding, but it also allowed the couple to be flexible with decorating. "They had all the candles and vases we needed on–site, so we didn't have to purchase and transport those items," says Lee.
Borrow from nature. Whether it's fruit or tree cuttings or seashells, Joannie Liss of Joannie Liss Events (joannielissevents.com) in San Francisco encourages you to look around for natural elements to enhance the ambience. "For a farm wedding we did in Sweden, we decorated the site with hay bales, and the bride carried a bouquet of wheat," she says.
Choose local blooms. For flowers, Loux suggests looking for locally grown (and organic, whenever possible) blossoms. "This will help cut down on emissions from shipping," she explains. To support flower growers, choose fair trade flowers. (Visit transfairusa.org to find a retailer near you.)
Get crafty. "Rather than use cut flowers, we made handmade origami flowers that guests took home with them," says Lee. "At the end of their life cycle, they can be recycled."

Hiring a caterer
Find an eco–minded caterer. When planning your menu, "ask your vendors to use organic and local ingredients whenever possible," suggests Loux. "You can save money by offering to help source these items," she adds.
Minimize waste. "A lot of people think a buffet is a green option, but it's not," says Beczner. "Caterers like to keep the buffet full, so they replenish it frequently, and that winds up wasting a lot of food." Think about the type of food service that would be most efficient for your reception; no matter what catering option you go with, contact an organization like America's Second Harvest secondharvest .org to see if you can donate leftover food.
Serve green drinks. Look for organic or Biodynamic wine and champagne, which are made using holistic farming methods. And see if a local microbrewery will provide beer.

Giving gifts to guests
Choose sustainable gifts. Some couples place seating cards in small picture frames, which guests take home at the end of the evening. "We gave squares of Endangered Species Chocolate—it's organic, and a portion of sales benefits wildlife," says Albin. Lee packaged the chocolates in boxes she crafted from leftover sample paper. You can also offer your guests something from nature, whether it's bulbs they can plant in their gardens, packets of wildflower seeds, or bamboo plants.
Donate to charity. When Jessica Wray, 27, married Pete Sanford, 30, in March, she decided against favors and instead made a donation in her guests' names to the Save the Kiwi Trust, a conservation group that helps protect the New Zealand bird; the organization is particularly meaningful to the Utah native, who now lives in New Zealand.

Booking hair & makeup
Style yourself naturally. Pick organic and natural grooming products; you can also hire makeup artists and hairstylists who use green goods. "Many companies like Aveda aveda .com have salon professionals available for special occasions," says Beczner.

Thanking attendants
Buy green mementos. "As a token of my appreciation, I'm giving my attendants monogrammed bamboo towels they can use during our beach wedding," says Molly Douma. Lee chose bracelets from World of Good world ofgood.com, a fair trade online boutique.

Registering for gifts
Ask stores to pack light. "Before you register, ask retailers how they package goods and if they use recycled materials," advises Simran Sethi, host of "The Green" on the Sundance Channel. Douma had to call one of the stores on her registry to ask them not to pack a catalog with each shipment.
Pare down your list. "If your house is already well stocked, come up with a few bigticket items your guests can chip in and buy for you," says Seo. "Or have guests contribute to your honeymoon fund," suggests Sethi.