For couples wedding planning, green may be a consideration, but it's not a priority.
Budget, stress and time constraints can complicate the planning process, putting green in the backseat behind staying on budget. For others, the extra effort is simply too much when added to everyday responsibilities.
But while green was off the radar 10 years ago, most of today's brides report an interest in green, rating it as a priority between four and nine on a scale up to 10 in a monthlong survey conducted online.
The following Green Quick Fixes from brides that are casually green to those environmentally dedicated can help lay the foundation for making the big day greener. Next week's column will address green invitations, dÃ©cor, entertainment, honeymoons, transportation and favors.
The most important factor in lowering a wedding's carbon footprint is the location. A destination wedding for 300 as opposed to a local affair for 100 proposes two dramatically different emissions scenarios.
The more local a wedding is, the lower its impact. Some green weddings are entirely local, from guests to food. One California bride kept it small and intimate to keep overhead low, and that resulted in a greener wedding.
Consider City Hall or local houses of worship for ceremonies with receptions just a short walk away to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.
Having a wedding at home, or in a neighbor's yard, is one way to keep it green. A recent Beverly wedding at a picturesque seaside public way was followed by a beautiful backyard reception within walking distance.
Jennifer from Massachusetts and her California vegan chef husband, Barry, held their ceremony in a neighbor's yard and the organic reception for 90 in their own.
For others, a local wedding is not possible if family lives in another state or region.
"If I ever do marry, it will be at my family home in Vermont," said Linda, who currently lives in San Francisco. But, "We will compost all food scraps because it would be nuts not to. We'll eat local meat and veggies. Decorations will be minimal and mostly picked from family's gardens. We've already had four such family weddings," including one that hosted a "Cadillac" outhouse, she said.
Outdoor weddings during the day can reduce electricity needs.
When one Massachusetts couple realized 95 percent of their guest list would have to travel more than one hour, they held the wedding at a campground, and guests stayed on-site.
Another decided on a small wedding for 20 and honeymoon at a green resort.
Numerous hotels offer green weddings, including the Lenox and Seaport Hotels and Museum of Science in Boston. Some green-labeled locations use renewable energy or purchase offsets, cater with local, organic foods, and recycle. Be sure to inquire about specific green policies.
An eco-friendly wedding can offer organic and vegan fare, or local foods and free-range meats.
One California couple served wild-caught salmon and insisted on local produce for their wedding.
Serving a chilled, gourmet lunch outside during a warm, summer wedding will satisfy guests and eliminate fossil fuel consumption required by traditional hot dishes.
Jennifer and Barry made their organic vegan, gluten-free nuptial menu themselves with the help of the wedding party. It included garden salad buffet, artichoke dip, roasted garlic hummus, French lentil pate, barbecue tofu, vegetable enchiladas, sesame-encrusted tempeh with a coconut milk cream sauce, vegan cheese platter, and fruit salad with rolled date bites, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a gluten-free chocolate and cherry wedding cake.
Set up your own bar with organic wines and locally brewed beer.
Plating: reuse and recycle
Borrowing is best when marrying at home. Kate from New York City is originally from Alabama, so her parents hosted her wedding in their spacious backyard, borrowing serving dishes, equipment, tables, chairs, cake tiers and punch cups from neighbors, friends and family.
Buying secondhand is another option that can generate charity.
"Instead of getting cups we have been purchasing secondhand mugs with 100 percent of the proceeds split between the local animal shelter and the local program to support adults with disabilities," said Jenny from Massachusetts.
Register for bamboo or recycled serverware for the bridal shower and use it first at the wedding!
Backyard and outdoor local weddings offer the opportunity to recycle and compost if a bride and groom — and host — is willing to put in the effort.
Attractive biodegradable plates and serverware, made from corn, can be composted along with food waste.
When it comes to reception sites, it may not be easy figuring out their recycling practices.
"We asked reception sites about recycling, and in almost all of the cases, they said it was up to the caterer and bartender to recycle. When we asked the caterers, they were generally not accommodating, unless they specialized in eco-friendly food options," said Christine from Massachusetts.
One Midwest couple had all leftovers packed in recyclable paper containers for guests and avoided throwing it all away. Depending on food pantry rules, leftovers can sometimes be donated.
Andrea Fox, a Beverly resident, has been writing about environmental sustainability and eco-topics for nine years. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and a watershed protection advocate in Salem Sound Watershed. Visit her Web site at msgreenquick fixes.com.