Green Celebrations

Make a big statement — and a small footprint — with an earth-friendly weddingYou recycle your trash and you’ve bought a Prius, but have you considered making your wedding more earth-friendly?One of the hottest new trends in weddings is “going green.”“Having a green wedding means planning an event that’s ecologically and environmentally responsible, looking at things in a more sustainable way to minimize the impact on the environment,” says Kelly Wing, director of New Hampshire Audubon Center operations.“Green” can encompass an entire range of eco-awareness in your celebration, including some things that you might already be doing.Amy Piper of Signature Events in Wolfeboro says, “Many brides provide transportation or car and van pools for guests,” not only saving them the hassle of driving, but saving gas as well.“Choosing a dress made from silk or wearing her mother’s gown are also ways in which brides have been ‘going green’ for a long time,” she says.More and more brides are also donating flowers from the ceremony and the reception to a local nursing home or hospital.Leftover food is sometimes also donated, but there are state regulations that restrict what can be given. Piper advises calling the agency in question to check on the rules for accepting food donations.For your ceremony or reception, why not choose a site that’s green and, well, green — as in being certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as meeting environmentally responsible standards.The New Hampshire Audubon’s McLane Center ( in Concord is LEED-Gold certified, meeting the USGBC’s most stringent requirements.“Outdoor spaces for ceremonies are very popular,” says Wing. “We’ve seen green weddings going hand in hand with those looking for nontraditional spaces.”Around the McLane Center, as just one example in the Granite State, brides enjoy the courtyard, with its native plants and flowers. “Serene spots allow the couple to have union in line with things that are important to them,” says Wing.A bride working with Signature Events’ Piper is holding her September 2008 green wedding in the Kirkwood Gardens at Squam Lakes Science Center ( in Holderness (see page 47).There is an almost endless array of green options for food for your event.Both Wing and Piper say that thinking organic and buying locally or regionally are ideal ways of incorporating a sustainable ethic to your event. They recommend stressing your desire for organic or locally-sourced foods early in your talks with your caterer.“Also consider natural beef or free-range chicken,” says Piper.Some brides have also been considering organic or all-natural wedding cakes — even gluten-free for those with guests with certain dietary issues.Local and organic can also be applied to flower choices. Piper has also heard it said that organic flowers may last longer.“Or even consider good quality silk flowers or other botanicals,” she adds.She also suggests using flowers that are in season versus those that must be imported halfway around the world, which increases delivery costs — both in terms of dollars and costs on the environment. Flowers currently in bloom locally are often cheaper as well.Another wedding Piper has helped organize is just using candles, river stones and driftwood to lend a beachy air to the event instead of plants. Not only is an option like this more creative, it’s more personable and possibly less expensive, too.To make an even bigger green statement, some brides are sending invitations made from recycled paper and printed with soy ink. Some invitations have wildflower seeds embedded right into the paper itself (, which can then be planted in the garden after the wedding.“Many brides are using reply postcards instead of the elaborate inner card, vellum and envelope,” says Piper.For more casual weddings, Wing says some brides are “requesting RSVPs by e-mail. Some are even sending the invitations by e-vite,” says Wing. While a very green idea, the etiquette here even in today’s looser restrictions is still somewhat dubious.Like invitations, some photographers are using recycled paper for prints — or ditch the paper altogether and put an album together digitally. More and more photographers are shooting with digital cameras allowing for computer-generated creativity as well.Tablecloths, napkins — even the wedding dress — can be made from natural fibers like cotton or even hemp, a fiber used for millennia in making everything from shirts to ship rope.Move beyond the Jordan almonds or disposable table camera for some truly unique favors for your guests.Wing suggests goodies from New Hampshire eateries like locally produced syrup or chocolates from a local confectionary like the Granite State Candy Shoppe ( in Concord.“Consider anything that is edible or can be used or redeemed,” says Wing, “instead of a plastic trinket that might be later forgotten on a shelf.”Piper has seen many of her brides give small plants, seedlings or bamboo, which is said to bring good luck. “Many brides are also making a donation to a charity in lieu of favors,” she says.Jewelry and diamonds are another area that can take a greener shade. Ethically mined diamonds, gems and precious metals are available with a little digging — in terms of research, that is. For some ideas, check out Green Karat ( or Zales (, a member of the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices, an international organization committed to promoting responsible business practices.Rings and jewelry made from recycled metals are also an option, as are estate or heirloom jewelry.Want to really make an impact without making an impact — climate-wise? Take a page from Piper’s September bride (see next page): She’s purchasing carbon offsets for those guests that are flying to her wedding.Carbon offsets, also known as carbon credits, are purchased almost like stock certificates, aiding renewable energy programs such as wind, geothermal and solar. Purchased credits balance out, or “offset,” the greenhouse gases created by car, heating and electricity using non-renewable energy sources.Visit the New Hampshire Carbon Challenge page at the University of NewHampshire Web site (http://carbonchal or Carbon Fund (www. for more information.While going green may cost a little more green in some places, such as organic food and produce, you can often save some money, too. Locally sourced foods may cost less due to lower transportation costs. Materials, such as driftwood, that are gathered with permission might even be free.“You can still have an elegant and sumptuous wedding that’s also environmentally sensitive,” says Piper. “I don’t see anything that’s a hinderance or different than what brides do all the time.”