There's a green way to do everything these days -- even get hitched.
If you're in the midst of planning one of the more than 2 million weddings that will take place in the U.S. this year, you could hire
. But planning an environmentally friendly wedding is totally feasible on your own.
Here's what you need to know about several key wedding items:
Traditional wedding invitations use a lot of paper. To reduce your environmental impact, consider using
Forest Stewardship Council certified paper
You might also choose
. Or, perhaps, tree-free paper printed with
suits your style.
Another option is to send your guests invitations on paper they can use.
produces paper embedded with wildflower seeds; after your guests read the pertinent details, they can plant the paper and watch it grow.
These tree-free invitations can run you anywhere from $1.25 to $8 each. But to truly defy tradition, use an
, which is free.
Your wedding dress may be the most beautiful dress you ever own -- yet you'll probably only wear it once. Save some resources (and some dough) by wearing an heirloom, such as your mother's, aunt's, grandmother's or even best friend's dress.
Or, try a sample gown or once-worn dress from
or, of course,
. If you have the time, you may be lucky enough to find the perfect dress at a local consignment shop.
If you want a brand-new gown that's eco-friendly, try hemp dresses ($875 and up) from
, organic cotton or bamboo dresses from
(off-the-rack dresses for $475, more for custom-made gowns) or casual hemp dresses (under $400) from
There are plenty of vintage and eco-friendly options for men, too.
offers hemp blazers, pants, vests and even shoes. Meanwhile, Conscious Clothing sells a
For bridesmaids, check out eco-friendly options at the sites above. Most importantly, though, hook them up with a dress they can (and will want to) wear again.
How do you assuage your guilt from having friends and family travel thousands of miles for your special day?
Provide them with plenty of information on environmentally friendly travel options such as
. If you'd like to purchase the offsets yourself,
offer programs where you can offset all or a portion of your wedding's carbon footprint.
And instead of sending your guests more paper, provide green travel info on a free wedding Web site hosted by a provider such as
To reduce the impact of your own travel, start with your wedding-day transportation. Forgo the "traditional" limo or stretch Hummer and choose a
, a horse-drawn carriage or a tandem bicycle.
For your honeymoon, consider a local trip. If you're determined to hit the road, take an eco-adventure with a conservation-minded company like
, which partners with seven environmental organizations to conserve marine resources, promote sustainable seafood and support scientific research.
, offers carbon-neutral hiking and biking adventures worldwide.
Wherever you decide to honeymoon, consider offsetting the carbon footprint of your trip by using the sites listed above.
Kelsey Abbott is a freelance writer in Freeport, Maine, where she lives with her husband and their dog.