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Eco-friendly Weddings 

click to enlarge Consider wearing or altering a vintage wedding gown for an affordable and eco-friendly option.
  • Consider wearing or altering a vintage wedding gown for an affordable and eco-friendly option.

You're ready to say your "I do's" in front of your family and friends. Planning a memorable celebration of your commitment to each other doesn't mean you have to compromise on your commitment to the environment. It's possible to create the wedding of your dreams and stay "green," even in the cold months of winter.

  Environmentally conscious weddings are a hot trend, according to TheKnot.-com, a popular wedding-planning website. If your vision of the perfect wedding marries eco-friendly green with winter white, here are some tips and ideas to help you turn your vision into reality.

Friendly feasting

  Great food is an essential part of any wedding, whether you're serving a sit-down dinner or just hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. When you're planning your menu, keep in mind how the foods you choose may affect the environment. For example, is that fish entree net caught, line caught or farmed?

  A dish's environmental impact depends on several factors, including how the product was raised and harvested, how it was transported and how far it had to travel from the point of origin to the plate. Choose locally grown products or those grown and harvested using sustainable practices.

Reuse, recycle and revel

  Brides in bygone generations gladly wore their mother's wedding dress, but the practice fell out of vogue as more brides wanted their own unique look for their wedding day. The green movement has breathed new life into the practice, since reusing and recycling eliminates the need to use materials and energy to make something new. More brides are finding that recycling a wedding dress has other advantages, too. It's possible to achieve a great vintage look with a used wedding dress — whether it's one handed down from your mother or one you found in a secondhand clothing store. A new gown can cost thousands of dollars, while a repurposed dress can be purchased much more cheaply.

Wedding favor wonders

  Sure, it's a cool idea and the groomsmen will likely use theirs often, but just how eco-friendly is that custom-printed beer cozy? Wedding favors are a way of thanking guests for sharing in your special day, but many popular items are made from less-than-eco-friendly materials.

  To green your wedding, consider favors that are useful and organic, such as baking or spice mixes. You can find a plethora of these great-tasting, green-minded options from purveyors like Simply Organic (www.simplyorganic.com), or you can make your own. Dress up favors with decorative netting and ribbons, and you have a unique favor that's good for guests and the environment, too.

Greener invitations

  The invitation often is the first impression guests have of your wedding. While every bride wants invitations that will wow guests, keep in mind the cost — both monetary and environmental — of all that paper. Many eco-minded brides are switching to invitations made with recycled paper or, better yet, electronic invitations.

  No raw materials are used to create e-vites, and what's more, you can find online services that not only help you create an e-vite, but send it and monitor responses — all online. Using such a service can help you keep better track of RSVPs.

  There is the option of sending invitations printed on recycled paper with flower seeds embedded in the paper. Your guests can plant the invitation in their garden and remember your special occasion every time they see the beautiful flowers growing. Visit www.greenfieldpaper.com to learn more.

The little things that mean a lot

  Some other steps that may seem small — like choosing locally grown, in-season flowers rather than out-of-season ones that must be imported — can make a big difference. Whether you opt to replace cut flower bouquets and centerpieces with artificial ones that can be reused, or choose acoustic music that requires no electricity to keep guests dancing, it's possible to find green options for almost every aspect of your wedding.

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