Most couples interested in greening their wedding have the easiest time exploring invitations, flowers/dÃ©cor and favors. The following Green Quick Fixes are tried-and-true from local brides and readers across the country.
The most obvious green save-the-dates and invitations are tree-free. Try paper- and ad-free wedding Web sites like Greenvelope.com and Sendomatic.com. Check out Yodioweddings.com to narrate and design engagement announcements, wedding albums and more.
"I thought about sending (invitations) electronically, or having people reply electronically, but then the grandparents would have a tough time," said Janice of Washington, D.C.
If snail-mail hard copies are a must, there are some ways to make them greener.
There is recycled paper with soy-based ink. Locally, try Pixxlz.com and Ruggroadpaper.com.
Use response postcards to reduce paper needed for reply envelopes, or print programs, menus, thank-you notes and more on Greenfieldpaper.com's plantable paper, which is made with wildflower or herb seeds.
Also unique is California's Invitesite.com, which uses harvest waste like mango leaves, sugar cane, and other leaf and grass fibers in artful designs.
Some brides made their own arrangements with garden-fresh flowers. One bride reused the "vases" as cereal bowls.
For an early autumn wedding, plant your own zinnias in the spring and they'll be perfect on your wedding day.
If you don't have a green thumb, ask florists to use only local and organic flowers. There are many eco-friendly vendors knowledgeable about what's in season, and in local hot houses.
It's in the details
Lots of brides want to decorate their wedding and enjoy getting lost in the details.
Lanterns with beeswax or soy-based candles will save on petroleum resources and eliminate carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere proposed by conventional candles while also minimizing electricity in lighting up the party.
Wedding arches are very popular. One bride recommended asking family and friends to hand-sew pieces to make a community offering to the newlyweds.
And if you've always dreamed of loved ones throwing rice, opt for eco-friendly confetti, which won't harm birds and looks great on tables, as well.
Favors for friends
There are thousands of growing giveaways, from seed hearts to small trees. Some consider them a carbon offset, said Kerry of San Francisco.
Try Treeinabox.com. "I chose the ones that come in a tube that converted to a bird feeder ... figuring people would reuse the packaging that way," said Stacy from Salem.
Or, purchase tree starts for all guests through TreesForTomorrow.com, and tender roots will be planted for them.
One local bride gave her guests vegan chocolates, and 10 percent of the purchase price was donated to help preserve endangered species through Greenworldproject.net. Another bride put her favorite candies in organic favor sachets.
Memorable, renewable bamboo coasters with the bride's and groom's names and the wedding date make modern, environmentally conscious keepsakes.
Music and more
Having an intimate wedding? Ask your favorite local musicians for acoustic sets.
Set up your own MP3 playlist and rented or borrowed stereo system. Or, keep it simple and have a friend DJ the reception with a laptop and a set of speakers.
Gifts that keep on giving
Instead of department store registries, local artists can accommodate working with your guests to pick the perfect local, handmade gift.
And if you just don't need the goods, have guests give the gift of charity in your name. Justgive.org has received more than 18,000 wedding donations honoring 2,000 couples, raising nearly $1.5 million for charity in six years.
Greener love nests
There are many resorts the world over offering green stays. However, the farther you travel, the bigger your footprint.
According to one Massachusetts bride, she and her new hubby chose to honeymoon within driving distance in order to reduce their impact and picked a hotel that grew much of their own food.
Always check with hotels beforehand about eco-friendly procedures claimed online.
"They touted their environmentally friendly options on the Web site, like their towel reuse program and in-room recycling but didn't actually follow through despite our requests," said Christine of Massachusetts.
Rings that are all heart
Blood-free diamonds can be as difficult to source as they are everlasting.
"I didn't want my fiancÃ© to purchase a ring that might involve a conflict diamond, or a gemstone that was sourced from somewhere far away. So, we purchased a vintage, certified diamond ring from a local shop," said Kerry from San Francisco.
Others recommended purchasing rings from antique stores or using heirloom rings, which are passed down by family through generations.
There are many vendors today that use recycled metal and advertise conflict-free gemstones. See BrillianEarth.com, Greenkarat.com, Leberjeweler.com and eco-designer Bario-neal.com, which is also available at GOOD, Boston.
Check out the BluePlanetWedding.com and the UK's Portovert.com. Also recommended by Green Quick Fixes survey respondents were Idealbite.com's wedding guide and 2000dollarwedding.com.
For a wedding carbon footprint calculator, go to Terrapass.com/wedding.
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 www.msgreenquickfixes.com