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For anyone who has gotten married or attended a wedding in the last decade can attest, most weddings these days are hardly a quick ceremony followed by a cake-and-punch reception in the parish hall. The standard wedding has turned into a bigger, more elaborate affair, with dinner, drinks, dancing, and more. This trend, while fun and inclusive for family and friends, has also seriously driven up the price of matrimony for most couples.
So on that note we have decided to come up with
5Ways to Save Money & the Environment With a Green Wedding
1. Send Electronic Invitations
Although estimates vary widely depending on many people you’re inviting and how elaborate you want to go, even basicwedding invitations can cost several hundred dollars. The price tag can quickly edge into the thousands when you add specialty paper, pictures, and fancy card linings.
In addition to being pricey pieces of paper, these invitations have the potential to be quite wasteful. Even if youmake your own invitations, you’ll still use paper, ink, and postage. There’s also the environmental impact of shipping invites to guests and having them send RSVPs back to you from all over the country — or the world.
Instead of mailing expensive paper invitations, think about sending electronic invitations using a website likePaperless Post, Joy, orEvite. Electronic invites are becoming more and more common because they’re free to use, they make it easy to track RSVPs, and they’re better for the environment.
The decision togo paperlessdoesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You could send out electronic save-the-dates and paper invitations if you prefer, or choose to mail invitations only to guests who aren’t as computer savvy, and then rely on technology to deliver the invitation to everyone else. If you want to send a paper invitation, consider asking guests to RSVP online and rely on your wedding website for most of the information traditionally sent via paper.
2. Buy or Rent a Secondhand Dress
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress,” you probably know that wedding dresses can easily cost thousands of dollars. If a dress costs $3,000 and you wear it for 8 hours, that’s a rate of $375 an hour —for something you’ll only wear once.
Instead of opting for a brand-new dress, shop forsecondhand or vintage wedding dresses and save the environment and your budget. Sites such as Once Wed, Nearly Newlywed, andStillwhite offer a wide variety of sizes and styles, with discounts ranging anywhere from 15% to 75% off the original sticker price.
If you’re not interested in owning a wedding dress, regardless of whether it’s new or secondhand, some clothes-rental websites also rent wedding dresses. The popular site Rent the Runway nowoffers wedding dressesin addition to other high-end clothing. You can rent most dresses for less than $100. Once you’re happily wed, just return the dress in the prepaid shipping envelope provided by the company; they’ll take care of cleaning the dress and then re-list it for the next person to wear.
By choosing to rent a dress instead of buying one, you’re not only saving yourself money, but you’re also doing something good for the environment. The textile industry is an enormous producer of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to the rise in global temperatures, and it’s also notorious for polluting waterby using toxic chemicals to dye and process clothing.Renting a wedding dress saves you money and keeps a perfectly good wedding dress in rotation, ready for the next bride’s special day rather than sitting in a closet degrading and collecting dust for 30 years.
3. Let the Wedding Party Wear Something They Already Own
In addition to shopping the secondhand marketplace for your wedding dress, consider letting your wedding party wear something they already own. This way, you’re not forcing your friends and loved ones to purchase an outfit they’ll probably only wear once, and everyone will save money and help the environment.
For my wedding, we simply asked the groomsmen if they all had black suits, a fairly common wardrobe staple. They did, and they all wore those suits for the wedding; no one had to buy anything new.
For the bridal party, you can poll them to see if everyone has a dress or outfit in one color or a color family — such as shades of pink or grey — and then coordinate from there. If you’re open to letting bridesmaids wear any color they like, even easier!
Finally, if the wedding look you want is for everyone to match, consider asking your attendants if they’d be willing to rent bridesmaids dresses rather than buy them. Some websites specialize in renting bridesmaids dresses, includingUnion Station and Rent the Runway. This will save your wedding party moneyand hopefully alleviate any guilt or obligation you may feel to pay for part or all of their wardrobe to mitigate the expense.
4. Choose Vintage or Antique Rings
If you can opt out of buying a new diamond and insteadchoose a vintage option or forgo the stone altogether, you’ll save a ton of money on your wedding jewelry.
Although itvaries widely from state to state, the average cost of a new engagement ring in the United States is currently a hefty $6,324. By comparison, antique rings (jewelry over 50 years old) and vintage rings (jewelry made less than 50 years ago that isn’t brand-new or contemporary) are often less expensive and more unique than the ubiquitous six-prong solitaire or halo-set stones that seem to be on everyone’s fourth fingers these days.
In addition to thehuman rights horrorsassociated withdiamond mining in developing countries,serious environmental degradationalso comes with the practice. The most common type of mining is open-pit mining, where the top layer of the earth is removed to get to the diamonds underneath. Removing acres upon acres of land can irreparably damage the surrounding the ecosystem; open-pit mining is often associated with acid mine drainage, which happens when rainwater and other runoff flows over the toxic metals exposed during mining and pollutes streams and drinking water sources. In the developing nations where these diamonds are mined, including Sierra Leone, Botswana, and Guinea, there is often little oversight and few, if any, environmental regulations.
Instead of visiting a chain jewelry store for your engagement ring or wedding bands, think creatively about ring options. Does your family have anyheirloom jewelryyou could repurpose? Even if no one has a diamond engagement ring, you could have any precious metals or stones remade into a set of rings.
Furthermore, there’s no law saying rings must match. When my parents got married as poor graduate students in the 1970s, they bought two inexpensive, non-matching gold bands secondhand and have been wearing them happily for over 45 years. You could also consider going with a reputable vintage ring supplier, such as Brilliant EarthorBlue Nile. Thinking outside the box could save you money and reduce your environmental impact all in one fell swoop.
5. Skip the Flowers
There are plenty of articles withtips on how to save on wedding bouquetsandcenterpieces, but here’s a way to take it one step further: Skip the flowers altogether.
When I first started planning my wedding, one of the things I knew I didn’t want was any cut flowers. I’d recently learned that most cut flowers aren’t grown in the United States; they’re imported from far-away developing nations in places like Central America or Africa. Bysome estimates, almost 70% of cut flowers are grown elsewhere and then flown to the United States for American consumers.
Moreover, in the countries of origin for most of these flowers, there isn’t as much oversight when it comes to the fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals used to grow these beautiful blooms — a risk to both the environment there and the health and welfare of floral industry workers.
Finally, these flowers are water-intensive crops, and they’re oftengrown near or in sources of drinking water that become contaminatedby the chemicals used to ensure their growth.
Even if you manage to find locally grown, organic flowers, you’ll have to dispose of these flowers after the wedding, at which point they’ll release methane back into the environment as they decay. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that has been linked to a rise in global temperatures and a number of extreme weather events.
So if you don’t have any cut flowers, what can you carry down the aisle or pin to your lapel? When I was tackling this question, I perused handmade marketplaces like Etsy and found many fun options, including bouquets made of cloth flowersandvintage buttons. Because I have a serious crafty streak, I decided to make my own bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages out of paper flowers.
Following atutorial I found online, and armed with a glue gun and some vintage books I’d picked up at Goodwill, my bridesmaids and I spent a few hours one Saturday afternoon putting together paper flower bouquets that people still rave about to this day. At the end of the wedding, I gave away all the bouquets since I didn’t need them any longer and was happy to have them go to guests who wanted to display them in their homes.