Details: An Eco-Friendly Affair

The most stylish color for weddings today isn't white—it's green.


FROM HOLLYWOOD STARS TO NEW YORK socialites, everyone is going green, even on their wedding days. No, they aren’t donning gowns in shades of emerald and chartreuse: Green weddings are all about planning an event thoughtfully so it’s easy on the planet and maybe even gives something back to the earth. Hemp gowns and Birkenstock-wearing bridesmaids aren’t necessary (unless you want them)—a wedding with eco-chic elements can be even more beautiful than the vision in your dreams.

Location

A NEON PALACE THAT COULD BE SPOTTED from space—like just about anywhere in Las Vegas—obviously isn’t the most earth-friendly spot for a wedding. (Creating that unnatural glow draws huge amounts of energy.) What to do instead? You could celebrate alfresco, as long as you’re not setting up a dance floor in a delicate habitat. “It could be a farm or someplace that has a beautiful view near the water,” says Janie Haas, owner of an event-consulting firm of the same name in North Andover (125 Coachmans Lane, 978-725-5956, janiehaasevents.com). “Think about the kind of place you gravitate to.”

Check out botanical gardens, nature preserves and historic sites to see if they allow weddings—the fee you pay for the location will support the preservation of a beautiful place. Proceeds from a wedding at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich (290 Argilla Road, 978-356-4351, craneestate.org) or The Bradley Estate in Canton (2468B Washington St., 781-255-1996, bradleyestate.org), for example, go to The Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts preservation organization. Or book a local Boston venue, like State Room (60 State St., 617-854-5000, stateroom.com) or The Langham Hotel Boston (250 Franklin St., 617-451-1900, langhamhotels.com), that’s certified by the Green Restaurant Association, which means it has comprehensive recycling programs, is Styrofoam-free and is committed to making at least four specific changes each year to become more environmentally friendly.

Invitations

ASK YOUR STATIONERY SHOP FOR eco-friendly invitations—if more brides start making this request, more shops will offer wider selections. Look for invitations made from recycled paper and other recycled materials. Also check out invitations made from kenaf and hemp (we promise this is the only time we’ll suggest hemp), which are renewable resources. Almost all the papers at Boston’s Paper Source (338 Boylston St., 617-536-3444, paper-source.com) are at least partially recycled, and Rugg Road Paper Company (105 Charles St., 617-742-0002, ruggroadpaper.com), also in Boston, carries a few eco-friendly invitation lines.

Menu

“THINK OF THE LOCAL HARVEST, and plan the menu with that in mind,” says Leslie Cerier, founder and owner of The Organic Gourmet in Amherst (58 Schoolhouse Road, 413-259-1695, lesliecerier.com). If your wedding is in New England, that means fresh tomato and basil salads in August, not January; in winter you can think about a starter course of a delicious root vegetable soup instead. Ask your caterer to obtain ingredients from local farms, so the food you serve doesn’t travel thousands of miles to get to your wedding. If possible, use organic ingredients, too. You won’t be sacrificing flavor at all—just the opposite. “The flavor of something locally picked is going to be superior,” Cerier says. “If it’s organic, that brings the taste up another notch.”

Pair foods with organic wine and serve signature cocktails made from organic spirits. (Don’t forget to recycle the bottles!) Even your cake can be eco-conscious. A few bakeries, such as Hippie Chick Bakery in Amesbury (978-388-6644, hippiechickbakery.com), always work with as many organic and locally grown ingredients as they can; you can ask almost any good wedding cake shop to prepare your cake with organic ingredients. If you can, donate leftover food to a local shelter, or at least ask your caterer to please compost instead of tossing remnants into the trash.

Décor

LIKE FOOD, FLOWERS ARE GREENEST when they’re local. Plus, indigenous flowers look right. A summer wedding on Nantucket calls for hydrangeas and beach roses, not exotic orchids flown in from afar. “Ask your floral designer to get local flowers,” Haas says. “Even if they don’t specialize in that, they should be able to do it for you.” Better still, request flowers that haven’t been heavily treated with pesticides; organic is ideal. Choose containers that fit your theme—Haas suggests recycled glass or bamboo—and think about alternatives to cut flowers, such as bowls of organic fruits or pots of organic herbs.

Set the table with linens made from organic cotton, silk or recycled materials. Make sure all plates, glassware and flatware are reusable—no disposable anything. Light your event with candles instead of electricity, but make sure they’re beeswax or soy candles instead of standard candles made from petroleum. Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource, and petroleum-based candles release more smoke and chemicals into the air. After the wedding, “donate fruit centerpieces to a local shelter and donate floral arrangements to a local nursing home,” Haas says.

Registry

PART OF THE FUN OF PLANNING A wedding is picking out gifts. While the greenest option is asking guests to make a donation to an environmental organization such as The Nature Conservancy (nature.org) or World Wildlife Fund (worldwildlife.org) in lieu of gifts, there are other ways to make your registry a little greener. Choose only items you know you’ll use—skip, say, the bread maker, which comes with a whole lot of plastic and cardboard packaging and probably has to be shipped thousands of miles, if you think it might gather dust in a forgotten cabinet. Consider registering for eco-friendly items such as organic cotton sheets and towels and recycled glasses and dinnerware. Your Home, Your World, a new eco-boutique in Concord, New Hampshire, (138 N. Main St., Concord, 603-223-9867, yourhomeyourworld.com) offers a registry full of green items. Want national online registries for guests who live far away? Check out VivaTerra (vivaterra.com) and GreenSage (greensage.com).

Travel

SPEAKING OF GUESTS WHO LIVE FAR away, of course they’ll need to travel to get to your wedding. You can offset the environmental impact of their travel miles—and your honeymoon voyage—by contributing to renewable energy and other environmental initiatives. Websites such as Offsetters (offsetters.com), Climate Care (climatecare.org) and NativeEnergy (nativeenergy.com) make this easy (and affordable) to do. Make like Cameron Diaz at the Oscars and arrange to have a hybrid vehicle as your getaway car. And ask guests who live close enough to drive to carpool, because one of the greenest things you can do is have fewer cars on the road.