White Weddings Go Green: Using Crafts to Keep the Planet Happy on Your Big Day

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That perfect, magical wedding. It’s a goal couples around the world strive for, often spending months brain-storming, planning, rehearsing, and tweaking to get every single detail just right. As exhausting as these thorough preparations can be, there is one popular trend currently helping not just fatigued couples, but also the environment: eco-friendly DIY weddings. Using handmade arts and crafts, these techniques are adding a homey feel to big days throughout the country. Plus, with a proven track record of giving new lives to old, discarded items, the world of DIY crafts is the perfect way to recycle and repurpose materials in an effort to keep the planet just a little bit cleaner.

Footprint Awareness
Despite the country’s recent economic woes, the wedding industry in the US is as steadily booming as ever. There are 2.3 million weddings a year in America alone—that means 6,300 weddings a day. And of course, these major celebrations come with a price tag: the average wedding budget has been estimated at $20,000, which is also the starting annual salary of many professions. But a wedding’s impact isn’t just felt in the wallet. Large, extravagant ceremonies can also hit the planet pretty hard. Standard nuptials release 63 tons of CO2 into the environment, which is a carbon footprint larger than the 48 tons one couple releases in an entire year, according to Brighter Planet. By planning ahead of time and choosing local, easy-to-find resources, couples can lower their carbon footprint while also lowering their overall wedding bill.

Crafting Perfection
Instead of relying on pricey wedding planners and other third parties, turning each step of a wedding into a personal arts-and-crafts project can be a fun way to stay in control of the proceedings. The hands-on activities can start right away, beginning with the wedding invites. Brides and grooms can choose to send out electronic invitations, either by email or through special sites handling such matters. And if a more traditional route is taken, they can select recycled or tree-free paper to make the summons themselves.

The ceremony itself can be turned into a beautiful, inspiring, planet-friendly event to remember. Holding the nuptials and reception at a local farm or LEED-certified building in place of big, urban temples or banquet halls can go a long way in minimizing the amount of electricity used. Then, once the venue is picked and reserved, all the attention can be devoted on the important details of the special day.

The favors are the easiest parts of the celebration to turn into green projects. Couples can pack seeds or organic vegetables in decorative, biodegradable packages, or they can hand-carve the names of the guests on sustainably harvested wood veneers. These keepsakes can then be placed directly on the table, skipping the crinkly (and environmentally dangerous) cellophane usually used to wrap favors. Table centerpieces can be quickly and simply produced by using potted plants or soy-based candles, which are less harsh than their petroleum counterparts. The bride’s bouquet can also be turned into an ornamental work of handmade art. Collecting local and seasonal blossoms, berries and even moss can lead to a beautiful arrangement without having to rely on flowers from stores, which are most likely trucked in from distant farms, a major source of fuel-burning. And like the garland, the wedding dress itself can be turned into a DIY project. The current trend of knitwear for brides means anyone with some skill, determination and the right resources can now crochet their own memorable outfit. Barring that, the option of reusing vintage dresses or purchasing new ones made out biodegradable fibers like hemp can make for some stunning wear.

Retaining the Magic
In the end, what matters most is that the entire wedding journey (from proposal to engagement to that wonderful walk down the aisle) be seen as a joint adventure by both the bride and groom. Couples that care about the earth as much as they care about each other can find mutual activities to help them bond and fill the ceremony with personal nuances. A couple may choose to personally handle all the decorations, whether it be lining pews or chairs with hand-painted cotton flowers or crafting earthen pots to fill with favors and treats. They may even choose to design, cut and bind a scrapbook of recycled paper to be left open during the ceremony. Guests can then be asked to fill the book with photos, drawings, congratulatory notes or just simple messages of hope and love. This would be the simplest, most elegant and eco-friendly way to forever keep the most important part of the wedding day: the magical memories it creates.

This article was written by Eve Stewart

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