Want an eco-friendly wedding reception but don't know where to start?
Mireya Navarro is online - so get your questions ready!
Mireya wrote the book Green Wedding before she became an environmental writer for the New York Times. Before this she was the style correspondent for the newspaper - so has plenty of experience in making the most of your big day as well as making it eco-friendly!
If you'd like to ask her a question, simply click "post reply" in this thread and type your question into the box. Her reply will appear in the same thread (but please bear with us if we get busy, your question will be answered as soon as we can!)
I'm getting married in August and want to keep things as environmentally low key as possible. For a start, the ceremony is 2min walk away from the reception ... which is great, but am stuck for eco-conscious food ideas, can you help? What can we serve that will be eco-conscious? I still want to serve meat.
Have you got any ideas for eco-conscious favours on a budget? I wasn't going to do favours but I think I'd like to give a thank-you of some sort - any ideas for cheap ones? I don't want masses of packaging etc etc...
I am doing everything in my power to be eco-conscious for my big day, but it's not a passion my H2B or BMs share - what can I do to off set my carbon emissions and make up for the un-ethical things I'm compromising on? Can I clear my un-green guilt!!???
It is very green to hold the reception so close to the ceremony, Twinkle, so congratulations. You are saving on all those transportation-related emissions that contribute to global warming. As for the menu, I'd go with local and seasonal first. Vegetables, for example, that don't travel from afar or are grown out of season in heated greenhouses. And may I ask you to reconsider beef? Its production is very energy intensive and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined! Think about it.
Favors are always optional, CS, so you don't have to feel obligated to include them in your wedding budget. An increasingly popular option for couples is the philanthrophic favor: donating a lump sum of money to a cause of your choice (environmental group, a favorite charity, etc) in the name of your guests. Some organizations like the World Wildlife Fund even give you small cards announcing the donation that you can place between plates on the reception tables. There's also edibles , like organic chocolate mini-bars or jars of jam and honey from a local farm. Be creative!
We are both trying hard to be as eco-friendly as possible in our daily lives (we eat mainly organic food - no meat - from a veg box scheme that grows then transports the produce with as few "food miles" as poss and doesn't air-freight etc and if at all possible we travel by train to go on holiday rather than fly etc etc) so we would like to extend this to our wedding.
However, finding an "eco-friendly" venue in the Midlands (where most of our family live) is proving a difficult task. The only one we have found so far is "Matara" in Gloucs but it is a bit further away then we ideally wanted and also fairly pricey. Apart from this option and hiring a village hall and arranging everything ourselves we are stuck! Any ideas?
I suspect that you are more eco-conscious than you give yourself credit for, Vellage. I'm not crazy about carbon offsets because sometimes you don't really know if the money you paid is doing the environment any good. Google the subject and you'll find a lot of controversy surrounding offsets. I'd only buy them for emissions I can't avoid, such as offsetting the trip for the wedding of a dear relative who lives in another continent. But going green is really not that hard. Ask yourself, how can I avoid waste and excess? Is there a more environmentally-friendly alternative to this menu? To this dress? To this invitation? An invitation made of post-consumer-waste recycled paper, for example, is indistinguishable from that made with virgin paper, so where's the sacrifice? And if you want to go a step further, use a wedding website (usually available for a fee of less than $100 a year) for all other communication, such as directions to the venue, information about the registry and even to post pictures of the honymoon. It's not only easy but it saves you money!
Bringing the wedding to your guests, rather than having the guests travel long distances to the wedding is probably the biggest "must do" of a green wedding, so congratulations on making this a priority, Anja. I'm not familiar with your area but see if any of these ideas open up more venue options for you:
1. Venues worth supporting, such as an art gallery or a museum or banquet halls run by nonprofit groups, such as a church or community center.
2. The fabulous backyard or house of a friend or relative. If you have the space, you can rent everything else.
3.Venues that are close to public transportation, so guests can get there easily, without driving or flying, even if they have to travel some distance.
Does this help?
Your suggestions have thrown up several new areas to investigate although unfortunately we don't have any friends or relatives with big enough gardens or houses to "borrow". I will look into local organisations with gardens/halls and will bear in mind proximity to train stations (really obvious now you've pointed it out but I must admit that hadn't been high on my priority list when looking up until now!).
If you have time, I was also wondering if you have any suggestions as to growing your own flowers to use as decorations and possibly even for bouquets? How difficult/risky is this? We are not very good at gardening and only have a small patch of garden ourselves but were thinking of asking friends and family to help out with this.
We were thinking of using some small trees as part of the decorations at the reception (then giving them as gifts to the parents, bridesmaids etc afterwards) to save on the number of cut flowers needed.
Second-hand is the greenest option, Katie, because you are re-using and conserving resources by doing so. But second-hand should never mean settling for something less than what you'd like. In "Green Wedding" I feature a bride, Gabrielle Giffords -- a United States Congresswoman, no less! -- who borrowed a Vera Wang gown from a friend. So you can borrow, rent or buy second-hand or vintage and still wear a designer gown or the white dress of your dreams. Other options:
1. Buy an evening gown you can wear again
2. Go with eco-fabrics for off-the-rack or custom-made gowns, then donate it or re-sell it so another bride can wear it.
3. Buy the dress from a charity.
Just never, ever, allow your wedding gown to just sit in the closet collecting dust. What a waste.
Decorations, Anja, are one of those areas where you can get as creative as you want. Growing your own flowers may be too daunting a task in the middle of your wedding planning, but you can certainly enlist neighbors and friends to donate flowers from their gardens. A bride in "Green Wedding" did just that. She also rummaged through her neighbors' recycling bins looking for glass bottles. Her bounty included bottles for vinegar, olive oil and spirits in all kinds of shapes. She removed the labels and filled each bottle with two roses and a sprig of rosemary and set the bottles on the tables surrounded by tea light candles. Another bride made paper flowers, at an afternoon tea party with girlfriends. I would also recommend thinking beyond flowers: How about edible centerpieces, such as a tall glass vase filled with red and green apples? Or baskets of different types of breads? Potted plants and flowers are great because they can have a life after the wedding. And if you set your wedding in a natural setting, like a park or botanical garden, the flowers will be just another guest!
Regarding drinks, Marie, these days you can find certified organic wines, sparkling wines, beers, spirits like vodkas and mixers. Biodynamic wines are also available. You will also be able to serve Fair Trade Certified tea and coffee. A neat idea some couples try: find a local micro-brewery and have it make an organic beer in your name. Cheers!
Thank you for all your questions and for thinking about the environment as you plan one of the biggest celebrations of your life. Please don't hesitate to visit my website if you have any more questions or want to keep up with "Green Wedding." And congratulations!