Eco-friendly options have come a long way in recent years as brides continue to look for different ways to incorporate green elements into their wedding. Today, there are many earth-friendly options for the eco-conscious couple.
Print on Green Paper
Going green starts with your save-the-dates and invitations. There are so many options from recycled paper made of hemp or cotton to tree-free choices. SB&G recently had invitations printed with the help of Jessica Yee from The Oblique Pen that were embedded with herb seeds, so once the event was over, people could plant the actual invite in their garden, then wait for surprise herbal blossoms!
The ink that’s used also matters: Soy and other vegetable-based ink products are less harmful to the environment than their petroleum-based counterparts. Check out SB&G’s list of stationers and ask for a rundown of their eco-friendly, biodegradable options.
You can also cut back on paper by creating a wedding website that holds information like your location, gift registry, maps and accommodations. Instead of including all this information on printed pages, just direct people to the site from your save-the-date or formal invite. This option can also be interactive so guests can respond or ask questions with everyone having the opportunity to see what your suggestions are, which may save you time by not having to handle the same question multiple times.
At the wedding, consider hiring a calligrapher and using table settings from natural objects like cute pieces of wood, shells, rocks, pinecones, or even pieces of fruit. And instead of individual menu cards or place settings, hire a calligrapher to write the information on a chalkboard or mirror displayed at the entrance and near the food stations.
Book a Green Venue
When searching for a wedding venue, it doesn’t hurt to ask the manager if they have any green practices in place, such as recycling or re-purposing disposal items used for one time events. Your wedding planner might also be able to recommend a list of venues that were either built with green technology or that incorporate sustainable lodging elements.
The King’s Daughters Inn in Durham and The Mayton Inn in Cary (under the same ownership) were created using the latest in green building technology, incorporating things like solar panels and water cisterns to keep the property running efficiently in an earth-friendly manner. Their commitment to both environmentally responsible building and living drove them to find creative ways to offer guests sustainable lodging without sacrificing the warmth and charm of a historic inn, or the conveniences of a modern, luxury hotel.
Photos above: Casey Rose Photography
The Rand-Bryan House has its own Christmas tree farm on site. In general, Christmas Tree Farms have a low impact on the environment because the type of crop spends years in the ground prior to harvest. Plus, it’s a perfect green photo opp for winter weddings!
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the importance of pollinators like bees and butterflies. Chatham Mills, with a renovated warehouse perfect for weddings, and also includes “Pollinator Paradise” demonstration garden on site. North Carolina plays an essential role in the protection of honey bees. Consider making a theme of it and giving your guests local honey from Bumble & Branch or seeds for flowers that attract these important creatures.
Buy an Eco-Friendly Ring
People are also more aware of the negative consequences of diamond mining in Africa, which cause wars, displace locals and pollute the land. “Conflict-free” diamonds, which are environmentally and socially conscious, are available at Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, Diamonds Direct Crabtree, and Anfesa’s Jewelers.
But, the diamond isn’t every girl’s favorite stone and some brides dare to be different. A stunning sapphire, precious pearl, or sentimental moonstone can be designed into a unique one-of-a-kind engagement ring or band.
Also consider shopping used. Vintage rings are full of character and history! Take a look at the impressive estate sections in SB&G Preferred Jewelers’ stores.
Design with Seasonal/Local Flowers
Many florists have the option to source from seasonal local flower growers. Be sure to ask about this, and remember to keep an open mind—depending on what season you’ll be married, different types of flowers will be available. No matter what’s in season, your creative florist will be able to design beautiful arrangements.
Photo above: Walters & Walters
Instead of cut flowers in your centerpieces, ask about potted plants. These can also serve as gifts to your wedding guests who can take them home to plant in their own backyards and will become a living memory of your wedding day! Biodegradable and natural items like fruits and vegetables, pumpkins, herbs, succulents, moss and branches can also be incorporated in creative ways.
Another option to consider is instead of going all-out with your flowers, consider balancing out the look with non-floral decor and accents like lighting, chandeliers, sculptures, and even soft gorgeous drapery. Themeworks and and Get Lit Special Event Lighting can put together impressive, funky and memorable displays that work with or without floral components and dramatically improve the look of the space.
If you do go with cut flowers, there are ways you can recycle them after the wedding, such as donating them to hospice, nursing home or hospital. There are local organizations like Random Acts of Flowers, Flower Shuttle and Heeling Flowers, which pick up and re-purpose flowers from events, delivering them to patients at UNC hospital, etc.
Give Eco-Friendly & Local Favors
Why not leave your guests with eco-friendly parting gifts? Oak City Candles creates customized candles for decorations or as party favors and they use soy wax, which comes from soybeans grown in the USA (you can even use the melted wax as lotion!). All their fragrance and essential scented oils are plant-derived and phthalate-free. Plant-based hemp wicks are hand wicked for every candle. Even the packaging is recycled and recyclable or up-cycled.
Bumble & Branch, a party favor speciality company which is operated from a family farm in North Carolina (Bodenhamer Farms) employs natural methods to produce Southern, eco-friendly, and bespoke wedding favors from the farm, including authentic North Carolina raw honey favors and burlap wrapped longleaf pine tree favors.
Photo above: Casey Rose Photography
Chocolate is sure to be a hit with your guests and Videri Chocolate Factory makes some of the sweetest treats around! This local Raleigh chocolate shop is a favorite among locals and makes a great parting gift.
Another way to support local shops and give your guests a sense of the city/state in which you’ve chosen to be married is by putting local products in a welcome package for them! This is especially fun when you have a lot of people coming in from other states and countries. Grab cans of your favorite local beer (like Ponysaurus in Durham) and include them for your guests to enjoy! Or shop at Southern Season in Chapel Hill, which carries a lot of local North Carolina products that are perfect for gift baskets!
In lieu of gifts, there’s always the option of making a charitable donation to an eco-friendly cause, like the protection of wildlife and endangered species or local non-profits that educate about sustainable growing practices and land conservation.
Eat and Drink Locally
Many caterers are catching on to the farm-to-fork trend and are happy to create a menu that focuses on fresh, local and seasonal food. Whether it’s humanely raised local beef, sustainably sourced fish, or produce from a nearby farm, you and your guests will taste the freshness.
Everything from Donovan’s Dish, for instance, is made fresh, from scratch and sourced locally as often as possible. Southern Harvest Catering also consistently sources food locally.
Catering Works puts a high-end spin on traditional comfort dishes and regional NC-based cuisine—like coffee-braised short ribs with local Yates Mill polenta or NC Berkshire pork shanks.
The Chapel Hill Restaurant Group catering cooks out of a kitchen in The Page Road Grill in Morrisville (which is also perfect for rehearsal dinners). The group is also a leader in sustainably and was named “Sustainable Business of the Year” in 2007. It was the first Green Plus certified business in the United States, and MEZ (another one of their restaurants) was the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-designed restaurant in North Carolina.
Even many bakeries incorporate local ingredients into their desserts. The Cupcake Shoppe, for instance, loves to buy from the NC Farmers’ Market for seasonal items like strawberries in the summer and fresh zucchini for their popular chocolate chip zucchini bread. And The Freezing Pointe, which creates homemade ice cream, sorbet, and Italian ice, sources fresh local ingredients, like strawberries from local farms, for its popular strawberry ice cream, whenever it’s in season.
Photo: F8 Photo Studios
The local craft brew scene is strong in North Carolina. Work with your venue or caterer to provide your favorite local craft beverages during your wedding. Consider partnering up with a local brewery, like Raleigh Brewing Company, which has private room available for rent.
Even if you’re having a more casual welcome dinner or reception, avoid plastic and paperware and go in favor of recycled and compostable utensils and plates.
Of course, rental companies have everything you need for your event from fancy China to glassware and plate options. This way, you don’t have to waste anything! See SB&G’s full list of rental companies.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint with a Carpool
It’s easy to encourage guests to carpool with a reminder on your invite and wedding website. For larger weddings, rent a shuttle van or bus so that you use less fuel and carry more people. Remember having your wedding and your reception (and even, sometimes, accommodations) in the same location is also a big fuel saver!
Your plans for an eco-friendly event start right here by looking through Southern Bride & Groom. We take pride in working with the best local vendors in North Carolina, and by using local vendors you are helping sustain the local economy, bringing it all full circle.