Simple green steps for your walk down the aisle

So it finally happened, the moment you have been waiting for … your true love popped the question.

You are now ready to start planning your wedding, the most important day of your life. With all the decisions to be made with your future life partner, you should consider the impact your wedding will make on your mother — Mother Earth, that is.

As professional event planners, we have some tips that can help you practice tikkun olam.
INVITATIONS

E-invites are a hot new trend and since they are paperless, they are eco-friendly and affordable. You can create a “Save the Date” card, a wedding invitation and a wedding website. There are so many beautiful and creative options to select from, and many look like actual wedding invitations. You simply email them out. This not only saves you time, money and stamps, but it saves a tree since there isn’t any wasted paper. One of our favorite sites is www.paperlesspost.com. And you can manage all your RSVPs electronically. It doesn’t get much better than this.
CENTERPIECES

Traditional flower arrangements are always beautiful and fragrant, but not long-lasting. We suggest using potted plants such as succulents or orchids as alternative centerpieces. Another creative option is to artistically arrange fresh fruit in a basket or in an elegant bowl. If you plan to use candles in your table décor, beeswax or soy candles are the best for our environment. And after the wedding is over, you can donate these items or give them to your guests as favors.
RECYCLE YOUR WEARS

Let’s face it, the wedding dress is always a focal point for the bride and guests alike, but what do you do with it after the big day is over? Realistically, it usually ends up in a box taking up space somewhere in the back of your closet.

So think about purchasing a pre-worn wedding dress and plan to re-sell it afterwards. You can find your favorite designer and get the perfect dress for a much more affordable price. There are websites that buy and sell everything from wedding gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, bridal veils, candles, vases, picture frames, party favors, and so much more. You might even be able to pick up these items yourself, which helps to decrease fuel emissions and also saves on shipping costs.

One of our favorite sites offers eco-friendly and budget-minded vintage décor and do-it-yourself projects: www.ruffledblog.com/resell-used-wedding-décor. You can find kippahs made from recycled materials at www.a-zara.com (click on “eco-suede kippot”).
EAT LOCAL

“Going green” can be as easy as “Going local.” Ask your caterer if they purchase from local, organic food purveyors and make sure that they serve seasonal vegetables and fruits at your event. Ensure that they are cooking with cruelty-free meats, such as free-range chicken, and be sure to request wild-caught fish rather than farmed.

Check if they are using free trade beverages and organic wines. Don’t hesitate to inquire about their green practices; you can find out whether they recycle their bottles and cans, and if their dishes, flatware and glasses are all washable and reusable. Ask if they compost their leftovers or if you could donate any un-served food to a local homeless shelter.
PRINTED MATERIALS

You can try to reduce printing and minimize paper-waste by following our invitation tips above, but when needed, be sure to print on recycled paper. One unique idea to avoid using paper products is to write your menu out on a chalk board and prop it up on an easel. Also, instead of using traditional printed place cards, use a small decorative picture frame — which serves as both your guest’s place card and a favor. They’ll find their seat with their name hand-written on the inside of the frame, and then they can take it home.
FAVORS AND GIFTS

Organic favors such as natural soaps, cloth tote bags, small plants or seedlings and organic chocolate are great ideas. In terms of receiving gifts, why not donate to your favorite charity? You can set up a link on your wedding website that will direct guests to your favorite green organization.
TRANSPORTATION

Ideally, it would be great if all guests could walk or take public transportation to your event. Plan the ceremony and reception at the same location. If this is not possible, we suggest carpooling or hiring a shuttle. Many transportation services offer green transportation such as hybrid and bio-fuel powered vehicles.

Please recycle this article by passing it along to a friend who is planning a wedding.

Shana Goldberg of Walnut Creek and Tanya Shore of Fremont run Simcha Sisters, an event-planning business specializing in Jewish lifecycles. Information: www.simchasisters.com or (925) 984-7024.