How to Have an Eco-Fabulous Wedding

Your wedding will mean more—to you, to your community and to the earth—if you put extra effort and creativity into making it a green event.

| May/June 2002

  • Fresh flowers, direct from the garden, add seasonal color to the cake.
    Photos by Joe Coca
  • Simple food such as bread and cheese adds a sense of bounty to the wedding-day feast.
  • Collecting money for a charitable cause adds meaning to your wedding day and helps build community.
  • Tomato and mozzarella salad is a convenient menu item.
  • Have activities such as croquet or horseshoes available for young and old alike.
  • Olives are elegant and require no preparation.
  • Serving food that can be enjoyed at room temperature is easy and time-efficient.
  • Give small jars of local honey to your guests as party favors.
  • Take advantage of fresh produce from your garden and local farmer’s markets.
  • Natural beeswax candles are healthy and beautiful.

This spring, when Chicago interior designer Nicky Olesky and her fiancé, Chris Morris, take the vow to love, honor, and cherish, they’re doing it with a ceremony that celebrates both their union and the earth. Like many couples today, they want their wedding day to reflect their environmentally conscious lifestyle. “Once you learn to conserve and be eco-conscious, that attitude becomes part of your life, affecting everything,” Olesky says. “So, for us, there was no question that we would plan an ecologically friendly event.”

Creating a simple wedding expresses who you are as a couple, including your concern for the planet. And by hosting the ceremony and celebration at your own or your parents’ home, you’re putting your personal stamp on the event and expressing how much you value your community of friends, family, and neighbors. “A wedding is always more natural in a setting where you have a heartfelt connection,” says Lyle Davis, owner of Pastures of Plenty organic farm and Big Bang Catering in Longmont, Colorado. “That’s why a home wedding is so special.”

Davis speaks from experience—he and his wife, Sylvia Tawse, married four years ago in their remodeled farmhouse. “Because sharing food is so important to us, we asked our close friends to prepare a different part of an eight-course meal as their gift to us,” says Tawse. “Lyle and I made the soup, which we mixed together—a symbolic act that we thought was appropriate for the occasion.” Davis and Tawse now rent the farm for catered parties and weddings set amidst fields of colorful flowers at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. But even if your own yard isn’t so vast, you can still buy fresh food and flowers from the local farmer’s market and serve seasonal produce. This type of celebration can also save the costs of hall or restaurant rental and minimize the amount spent on decorations.

Your own backyard

A simple celebration at home is especially attractive to couples who’d rather not spend about $16,000 (the current average) for their big event, according to Carol Reed-Jones, author of Green Weddings That Don’t Cost the Earth (Paper Crane Press, 1996). “It’s not about being stingy or feeding your guests crackers and peanut butter,” she says. “It’s about having a celebration that’s meaningful for you.”

A backyard wedding offers many practical advantages as well. The flowers, trees, and landscaping in your backyard eliminate the need for wasteful streamers or balloons. The house remains a backup option in case of rain, and your kitchen is readily accessible. If you hold both the ceremony and the reception at home, you’ll cut transportation costs and conserve gasoline that guests would otherwise burn when driving from venue to venue.

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