Umbra Fisk on Eco-Weddings

Ask Umbra – Astute Advice on All Things Environmental

Standing on Ceremony: On greening your wedding
By Umbra Fisk
Posted on – Top Environmental News from Around the Globe
“A Beacon in the Smog”

28 Mar 2007

Dear Umbra,

How about some practical thoughts on “green” weddings? My daughter is planning an outdoor July wedding in Wisconsin—any tips? The reception is going to be outdoors at our home.

Tomm G.
Waukesha, Wis.


Hi Tomm,

This week’s theme is 10-foot-pole topics! Or love! They’re one and the same!

Environmental issues to consider for weddings are going to be quite similar to the everyday issues: transportation, food, non-transit energy use, consumer waste. Green weddings are a potentially awkward proposition because elaborate three-day affairs have become the cultural norm. Obviously in consideration of the environment less is more, but in the modern wedding context it might be difficult for the family to feel happy or comfortable just having a simple event, which we might call the “reduce” wedding.

The wedding industry is large, and the “green products” industry is sizable, and they have an area of overlap. The trouble with a lot of “green” consumer stuff is that it is simply substitutive. Vendors exist who can sell you all the things you would like for a regular old giant wedding, only with a green pedigree: organic flowers, organic party favors, hemp gowns, registries with ecologically minded companies. My feeling is that this is somewhat better than the traditional route, and if you want to go ahead with that kind of idea, please punch “green wedding” into your search engine. You might also read my earlier columns about rings, registries, and flying all your guests to Hawaii. My big heretical notion is: the smaller wedding (see last column for heretical notion about smaller family). Either that’s possible given family politics, or it is not. Consider it thoroughly. A small guest list will mean fewer resources used in every category.

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