Wasteful weddings suck: My green wedding mission

When I get married next March, my fiance and I will have been dating for 15 years. (That’s more than half my life! Do I have your attention yet?)

You see, we met when we were 13, went to high school together, broke up and got back together too many times to count, went to separate colleges but never fell out of touch, and, eventually, ended up in the same place (Brooklyn) at the same time (circa 2007).

So when my beloved finally proposed a few months ago on Christmas Eve, it would have been easy for us to just run to City Hall and “make it legal” without a big fanfare. After all, we’ve been practically married (or at least living in sin, as my grandparents see it) for years.

Then again, we’ve been waiting for our wedding — talking, planning, joking about it with friends and family — since we were high-school sweethearts. We agreed that when we finally get hitched, it should be a big deal.

Hopefully, though, “big” doesn’t have to mean extravagant, expensive, and eco-irresponsible. As a health and environmental journalist (I’m currently web editor for Whole Living magazine), I strive to make earth-friendly choices every day, and I want my wedding day to be no exception.

Living in New York, a lot of this is easy. I take the subway or ride my bike to work. I shop at the green market every Saturday. And I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by locavore chefs, green businesses, and second-hand shops on every corner.

But a wedding is a big production — one that uses staggering amounts of  paper,  food, dresses, flowers, decorations, and hours of electricity. And our guest list is already at 100 and still growing.

So far, we’re off to a good start: We’ve booked a venue less than a mile from our apartment (and even closer to the nearest subway). But what else can we do to lessen the environmental impact — without lessening the “wow, this is an awesome wedding” impact?

And oh, did I mention we’re on a budget? And a nearly impossible budget for a New York City wedding, we’re quickly realizing.

Stay tuned over the next 12 months as I plan out and report on what will hopefully be an eco-friendly and wallet-friendly Big Day. Your support — and your suggestions — are always appreciated!

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About Amanda MacMillan

Amanda MacMillan is a health and environmental writer whose work has appeared in Prevention, Health, Whole Living, and National Geographic's The Green Guide. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently chronicling the process of planning her wedding while making sustainable, healthy, and budget-friendly choices on her blog, Lean Green Bride.

  • http://noteasytobegreen.wordpress.com/ Jennifer

    We eloped for completely non-environmental reasons — I hate crowds and parties, and Kevin quickly realized that there was no way I would marry him if it involved either of those. In retrospect, we appreciated the eco-friendly aspect of eloping. However, I think it is possible to find a good compromise between a green wedding and an awesome one. A friend of mine who is actually social pulled it off by letting go of fidgety details and instead focusing on what would make the day more enjoyable for her guests and making that as green as possible. So organic local food, check. Monogrammed napkins, no. It might help with the budget, too.

    • http://www.EcoSnobberySucks.com Jeffrey Davis

      Awesome tips Jennifer! I had also never thought of how eco-friendly eloping is, but you’re right, i guess it is a pretty green way to have a wedding.

  • ellie

    I would suggest going the route of renting anything you can. I.E. silverware, table cloths, napkins, cups. Pretty much anything that’s usually disposable. My cousin had an awesome wedding on a budget and I fell it was decently green. She served a snack reception. The drinks were punch, tea, water and coffee all in rented glasses and mugs. The food was wedding cake, cookies and two fondue lines. All vegetarian and reusable material except the wooden skewers.

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