This Season’s Outdoor Wedding Essentials: The Green Way
Summer is in full swing, the perfect season for the perfect outdoor wedding. Whether it is going to be a huge extravaganza or just a simple backyard ceremony (hint: barns are amazing, low cost places to hold an elegant, yet rustic wedding!), there are certain items that make an outdoor wedding that much greener… when the weather permits. Here are some essentials for a low-cost, eco-friendly summer wedding:
- Blankets and Pillows: Lay out some blankets (these could even be a favor!) and pillows on the floor. I know, I know, how can you ask your gussied up guests to sit on the floor? Weddings can sometimes be so formal that the guests are worried about how they look more than the bride and groom. Let your guests let their hair down, take off their shoes, and lounge in the awesome-ness of your love!
- Mason Jar Cups… With Names?: After having worked in the wedding catering industry for 7+ years, I have come to have a special awareness of the vast amounts of water wasted in a catered event. How often at these parties will you take a sip of your cup of water, walk away to talk to someone, and when you return your cup has vanished? Water is wasted to ensure a tidy room. Instead, give your guests their very own cup with their very own name on it! This will prevent caterers from being able to waste, and also remove the need to rent glasses for the event (GREAT money-saver!)
- Lanterns: Now, I know most of you are probably thinking that I am going to speak about the Chinese Paper Lanterns… and you would be surprisingly mistaken! Paper Lanterns are a single use item that uses paper, and when burned release carbon dioxide and methane into the environment as well as can potentially start forest fires if used in an arid climate. Lanterns are an extremely beautiful decoration that can be reused in your new home. While they may be a bit more cost effective in the short term, if you are planning on purchasing lighting for your new home anyway why not first use it at the ceremony (two birds, one payment)?
- Teas, Lemonade, Flavored Water: Do. Not. Pay. For. These. Drinks. The unbelievable amounts I have seen people pay for a Non-Alcoholic Beverage Package from a caterer is astonishing. One box of tea bags will cost about $3-$8 depending on the quality, and will usually have about 12-20 tea bags in it. For an average of $5 you can make 2-3 gallons of iced tea. For that same $5 you can buy a small bag of brown sugar (or Stevia) and about 20 lemons. Five dollars can buy you a ton of mint, cucumber, and lemon for some flavored water.Photo By Suzanne Schroeter
- Hay Bale Benches: Chair rentals are extremely expensive, as well as extremely heavy, and the carbon footprint of transporting those chairs to and from your outdoor venue is quite high when factoring in transportation. Hay bales are amazing. Not only are they fireproof, but they are great mediums for starting seeds, great for natural building, perfect to use as mulch, and are completely biodegradable. Take two to three hay bales, lay a wooden slab over the top, add some pillows if desired, and bam! instant ceremony seating for your guests.
- Cloth Parasols: Another potential favor with multiple functions. Originally used by royalty as protection from the sun (pale skin was regarded as an important factor in female beauty) in ancient times, today parasols can be used to protect our skin from the summer sun without the need for sunscreen. If this isn’t enough to convince you, just imagine a field full of loved ones strolling under beautifully decorated parasols (potentially decorated just for them) is quite the elegant sight, not to mention great for future outings!
- Seeds as Favors: OK, you were right- there was no way I could go this entire post without bringing seeds into the mix… then again, is there a better symbol for renewal, growth, and the beauty of life? Seeds are a great way to save money on expensive favors, but also give your guests a lasting memory of the memories made and the love shared. They are also a wonderful way to offset the carbon footprint of the evening, and can potentially feed people or pollinators in years to come.
Many of you who live on the coast may be thinking that these ideas won’t necessarily transfer over to a beach setting. These suggestions are specifically designed for an outdoor ceremony not on the beach, as the beach comes with its own unique set of low-cost, low-key, all natural decor (watch out for next weeks Beach Wedding Essentials: The Green Way!)