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GREEN WEDDING IDEAS

Start creating the world that you want to share with your life partner and the healthier, more beautiful world that you'd like to raise your children in by creating an ecologically sound wedding celebration. Here are some hints to get you started:

LOCATION

* Consider an outdoor wedding at a favorite natural spot to add to the beauty of your celebration and to remind yourself why you make environmentally responsible choices every day.

* Have the ceremony and reception at the same location, or at least near to each other to avoid having your guests drive between the two.

WEDDING DRESS AND TUXEDO

* Consider buying a vintage dress and tuxedo from a resale clothing store.

* Buy an organic silk/hemp wedding dress.

* Choose a simple dress and suit that you can wear again.

* Learn how you can donate your wedding dress for charity at www.idofoundation.org.

INVITATIONS

* Buy 100% PCW recycled invitations that are processed without chlorine. Encourage guests to recycle their invitations, or have seeds embedded in the paper so that guests can plant the invitations and enjoy the flowers that grow from them.

* Use a reply postcard (no envelope) and forgo the inner envelopes-you'll save paper and money.

* Choose a small simple design, or a self-mailer-again, less paper!

* Create a website with details about your wedding-directions, hotels, other weekend events, to avoid having to print this information out for everyone. (OR, only print cards with this information for family and friends without Internet access.)

FOOD and DISHES

* Find a caterer who will provide vegetarian and organic entrees.

* If you are having an outdoor wedding, or will be having casual rehearsal dinner/weekend events for your guests, consider one of the following:

1. Renting real glasses, dishes, and cloth napkins, to avoid using disposable plates, etc.

2. Using biodegradable, compostable dishes and flatware made from cornstarch, sugar cane, or tropical leaves.

FLOWERS

* Find a florist that uses flowers from local and/or organic farms.

* Find a wildflower grower at your local farm market to create bouquets & table arrangements.

* Use potted plants in place of cut flowers for centerpieces. These can then be given as gifts or enjoyed in your home.

GIFTS

* If you are already settled into a home, and do not need kitchenware or furnishings, you may prefer to state on your invitations: "Please no gifts" or "Your presence is your gift to us", or recommend that guests donate to your favorite environmental group in honor of this special occasion.

* If you are still establishing a home, think about registering with an eco-conscious retailer to minimize receiving unnecessary trinkets from guests who aren't sure what you need.

* If you are going to be buying gifts for the people standing up in your wedding, consider non consumptive options like massage therapy gift certificates, useful gifts like wine, soap, fair trade coffee and your local health food coop gift certificates, or 100% recycled or tree free gifts.

RICE THROWING ALTERNATIVES

* Throwing birdseed is a good alternative to throwing rice ONLY if you are having a city wedding, or will be tossing birdseed in a manicured, non wild yard. Standard birdseed mixes contain invasive plants not native to your area, and throwing birdseed in a natural wedding spot, like in a nature preserve or state park, can cause havoc to that ecosystem.

* Alternatives to rice and birdseed are throwing native wildflower seeds or petals, ringing handballs, or blowing homemade bubbles from recyclable containers.

PROGRAMS

* Have your order of service printed on 100% recycled PCW paper that has been processed without chlorine.

* Use your program to let your guests know how important the environment is to you, and all the ways you have considered the earth in planning your wedding. Collect programs at the end of the ceremony and recycle them.

FAVORS

* Instead of favors, let your guests know in the program that you have donated $1-$2 per guest to your favorite environmental organization.

* Visit www.idofoundation.org where you can find out wonderful ways to raise money for charity through your wedding favors, gift registry, and honeymoon!

* Counteract all of the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere (contributing to global warming) by your guests traveling by plane or car to your wedding--by giving each guest an 11-watt compact fluorescent bulb. Each of your guests replacing a 50-watt incandescent bulb with their wedding favor will save 685 pounds of carbon dioxide. We found this climate-neutral wedding tip in Sierra Club Magazine's interview with an environmental studies and biology professor from Oberlin, Ohio

* Give a recycled handmade paper bookmark with wildflower seeds--this is a very useful gift, which can then be planted for even more enjoyment. In place of a bookmark, give a small envelope of wildflower seeds to your guests.

* Give tree saplings from the National Arbor Day Foundation at www.arborday.org.

HONEYMOON

* At this site www.ecomall.com you can find a travel agent who can book you a socially and environmentally sensitive trip, including hotels that recycle and reduce the amount of unnecessary laundering, vegetarian, holistic and off the beaten path adventures and electric/hybrid car rentals.

CREATING YOUR NEW LIFE TOGETHER

* Practice making sustainable choices in your daily life together.

* Invest in socially responsible companies when planning for your retirement and financial well being.

Written by: Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese

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