lovers Wedding traditions are no longer as rigid as they once were, and engaged couples feel more free to express their own values and preferences, no matter what the wedding etiquette books say.

Still, a certain amount of tradition is important to many of us — and to our families! — so the environmentally conscious bride-to-be can face a challenge.

How do you plan an earth-friendly wedding… that still has enough of those lavish traditions to satisfy your Inner Princess Bride?

1. Think lasting.

Avoid the use of disposable products and items that will be used for one time only — disposables are wasteful use of our resources, and eventually will end up in the landfill.

2. Think local.

Long-distance transportation of goods is a huge energy expenditure that also contributes to pollution and global warming.

3. Think lean.

What parts of the traditional wedding are most important to you?

If your most precious wedding daydreams include flowery pew markers, go for it… but is your heart really set on an imported orchid, or a single perfect rosebud that owes its unblemished bloom to heavy pesticide use?

Focus on those wedding symbols that truly do lend meaning to your union.

wedding hands
Take the Long View

You’re entering into marriage for the long term, right? But we’re on this earth for the long term, too. Fortunately, the two things don’t have to be incompatible — yes, you can have the Big Day of those girlhood dreams and honour the environment, too.

Pop a New Question

It comes down to asking yourself the kind of questions you may not find in a traditional wedding planning chart:

• Which is less wasteful and more original — a fountain of chocolate splashing on the buffet table, or individual dark chocolate shot glasses with an after-dinner liqueur?

• Does this caterer offer a menu based around locally grown foods, fresh in season? Organic? Vegetarian?

• Could you have your wedding invitations printed on recycled paper?

Chances are, with the fine quality of paper they’re making from post-consumer fibre nowadays, you’d love the results. Look for Green Seal Certified paper, made using green energy sources. And why not ask your guests to RSVP with a postcard (save an envelope!)?

• How badly do you want your bridesmaids to wear hideous gowns that they’ll want to burn right after the ceremony?

A better choice for the environment would be a simple classic style of gown — one that doesn’t scream “I was a bridesmaid, yo” so it can be worn to other fancy functions in the months ahead. (And your bridesmaids would thank you, too!)

Challenge your Aunt Millie

Yes, we do love our wedding traditions… the big poofy dress, the whole big poofy day… and yes, you may get a bit of grief from Aunt Millie if you break with the tiniest of rituals. But what the heck, it’s your day — so, go ahead, challenge tradition!

Just ask yourself where your strongest priorities lie and do it up right, so the Biig Day is as special as you want it to be. Then, simply drop the wasteful extras that you’ll never miss, and you’ve already gone a long way towards a greener wedding!

After all, how many helium-filled balloons does it take, for a bride to feel that she is really truly married?

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