Greening up your wedding is not just an idea for Earth Day, it's important for the planet. Considering most marriages are the starting point for creating a new family, whatever you do today will impact your future children’s lives tomorrow.
Whether you’re making one eco-gesture or a hundred, every little bit counts. Here are some great eco friendly wedding ideas to help make your big day as green as it is glorious.
The InvitationsSeeded Paper
For any eco-wedding, recycled paper invites is a must, but there’s one type of recycled paper that really has a greener edge: seeded papers! These contain tiny flower or herb seeds that sprout when buried in the earth. Designed in a variety of colours, sizes, fonts and styles by companies like Botanical Paperworks, paper doesn’t really get more planet-friendly than this.
And while of course sending an e-invitation to guests isn’t the most romantic of gestures, it is growing in popularity.
Sending out electronic invites is so convenient, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it–guests could RSVP online with a simple click. The invitation can also be customized to show pictures of the couple.
These little delights left on the tables are what guests will take home with them to remind them of your big day.
An original idea would be a succulent for each guest to take home - they make beautiful and colorful table decor! An example can be found here http://thesucculentsource.com/collections/wedding-favor-all
Another example - why not give guests a heart-shaped seeded card they can hang on a branch to feed the local birds? And guests will always remember your wedding if they plant a tree in their garden to commemorate your big day, so you could offer them small cedar or pine sapling. Another option - to take seeds packets home like the ones here at http://www.americanmeadows.com/seed-packet-personalization
And small individual pots of plantable herbs or small flowers can be enjoyed by guests year round.
This is the easy bit–there are endless options for creating a wonderful centrepieces, from using locally grown flowers in pitchers to long branches of evergreens. Guests can find their seats by searching for their names printed on seeded paper (like the above invitations), or even written on smooth, locally sourced pebbles.Try to avoid table cloths, as these need washing, and that uses energy. Instead, keep it bare with polished wood, or for an added decorative touch, use strips of eco-friendly burlap or hemp to show guests where their table is.
Of course you can have an eco-friendly wedding cake but never think that you have to compromise on style or quality just because you want to take care of the environment. There are a few tips you can follow to make sure that you get the exact cake that you want for your big day. The first tip is to go for organic ingredients. Even if you’re having your cake made for you by a bakery you can specify that you want them to use organic. Don’t be afraid to ask if they offer an organic option, many do, they just don’t advertise it. You could also consider a vegan cake without worrying about compromising the taste.
The next step is to make sure that you have chosen a local bakery that will use locally-sourced ingredients. This means that neither the ingredients nor the bakery will be creating a huge carbon footprint by bringing items halfway across the country or even from other parts of the world.
For your cake decoration you can opt for candied flowers – organic of course! – or fresh flowers. Consider edible herbs and other leaves as part of your decoration or go really offbeat and decorate it with costume jewelry that can be used again. If you do want to have flowers as a decoration then you can consider growing your own so that you know they have not added to the carbon output of your area.
For ingredients that are not grown locally you can opt for Fairtrade instead. Not all areas have farms that grow things like bananas, nuts and cocoa beans so when you need thinks like chocolate you can purchase Fairtrade so that you know that they have been grown ethically and that those working there are working in good conditions and receiving fair pay.
Don’t forget that you need to add an eco-friendly wedding cake topper too. Reusing a topper that a friend (or relative) had is one option or you can have one made from sugar. Remember that in many cases cake toppers are only used once and are often forgotten about afterwards. You can make your topper sustainable and very personal to you if you give it a little thought.
What are you going to put your cake on? You will need to have some sort of cake stand and it is a good idea to find one that has been made from recycled materials. You could also opt for a vintage cake stand or one that you know will be used again.
To make sure that you are not making a huge impact on the environment, you can also take care to have a wedding cake that is not too large. Consider the number of guests that are going to be at the wedding and the extra pieces you might want to send to those who can’t make it on the day and plan for that amount only. Three tiers may look great but you could be left with a lot of cake that isn’t needed!
Last but not least, the nature inspired wedding venue...
Nothing screams Earth Day like a beautiful outdoor wedding, but it doesn't have to be Earth Day to enjoy all the nature around you. Here in Virginia Beach, an obvious venue would be the beach itself, complete with beautiful sunsets and rolling waves. But that's certainly not the only option - no matter where you live, there are certain to be gardens, parks, mountains, lakes, forests or even caves. Imagine a beautifully lit forest under a canopy of trees? Or a beautiful sunny garden surrounded by rows of flowers? Even an old rustic barn could be a unique and beautiful wedding venue...have the wedding outside while overlooking picturesque mountains, then use the barn as your reception area. And have you ever thought of a cave wedding? Most people don't, but imagine the low lighting, candles everywhere, glowing stalactites and the silhouettes of the people who love you the most. Or perhaps you have a winery nearby - rolling vineyards with a panoramic view over a serene lake...stunning!
No matter what venue you choose, and the options are limitless, make it special, make your own, but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers...and enjoy your day to the fullest.
Is a small wedding right for you?
Not convinced that a small wedding is right for you? Or if you’re out to sell others on the idea, here is a list of reasons that prove that small is beautiful!
1. You will celebrate one of the most important days of your life with the people who matter most to you. Most couples agree that this is one of the best things about having a small wedding.
2. You will feel more relaxed. Being surrounded by friends and family instead of a bunch of acquaintances will make you feel more more at home with your guests. Your wedding will feel more like a celebration with close-knit friends and family, than a production.
3. You will save money. You can save anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars by having an intimate wedding, which means you don’t have to go over budget. For many couples, this is the primary reason for scaling back the guest list.
4. You can splurge on what's important. Some couples choose a small guest list so they can pull out all the stops and have a truly lavish wedding. When you’ve got fewer guests, you can splurge on the things that really matter. For some that might be a five course sit down meal. For others it may mean hiring a band for the night, or even an expensive designer dress.
5. You can get creative with your venue. A smaller guest list means more creative venue options like bed and breakfasts, museums, art galleries and restaurants.
6. You can customize. Using a humanist celebrant in itself is a definite way to ensure a unique wedding, but also having a small wedding gives you the opportunity to get your creative juices flowing and make your unique wedding a reflection of the two of you.
7. You get to spend more time with your guests. Having a large wedding can make some couples and their guests feel like they are fulfilling a social obligation instead of attending a celebration. Small weddings aren’t like that. When the guest list is small, the bride and groom can spend time with each of their guests, making them feel welcome and more at ease. Also, when the guest list is small, guests will have a better opportunity to mingle with others. In fact, there’s a good chance that many of your guests will know one another.
8. DIY projects are more manageable. It’s a lot easier pulling off DIY projects with a guest list under 75, than a big scale production.
9. Your wedding will leave an impression. Because your wedding won’t be typical – the kind your guests have been to over and over again – your wedding is more likely to be remembered.
10. You can work with a shorter time-line. With fewer people and details to fulfill, you’ll have the option to cut down your time-line. Want to be married by this time three months from now? A small guest list makes this possible.
11. You will spare feelings. With a small wedding, you have an easy out to tell people who aren’t invited. If you’re having a large gathering, it gets a little harder to tell them why they didn’t make the cut.
12. You can have an amazing honeymoon. It’s inevitable during the planning process to, at some point, want to speed up to the honeymoon. Have the getaway you pictured in your mind with more money available to spend and less worry on your brow while you enjoy the time away.
13. Spending time with your spouse on your Big Day. Stop. Relax. Soak it in. It’s not something many couples get to do on their wedding day because of stress, obligatory conversations and details they have to manage and take care off. Take a moment to enjoy each other on your wedding day, because that’s what it’s all about, right?
14. Your photographer will love you. Most photographers LOVE shooting intimate weddings. Photographers can focus on getting great shots, instead of herding guests into group photos.
15. It’s much easier to be eco-friendly. There is an exceptional amount of waste that is involved with weddings. With less people, you’ll have less paper to send out (saving you from writer’s cramp in the thank-you note arena as well), less food, less trinket favors and less waste all around.
16. You can cut loose. With your close friends and family in a comfortable setting, you’ll feel free to dance, play music you actually like and celebrate like you just got married.
17. It’s a wedding, not a reunion. There’s no need to pay $100 per head for dinner to rekindle old friendships. It may seem like a good idea when you’re planning, but when you’re sharing your first kiss as a married couple and Suzy-in-Everyone’s-Business stares at you with that I’m-totally-Instagramming-this smile, you’ll wish you had chosen closer friends and family to share your day.
Questions to ask your Wedding Celebrant/Officiant
Once you have a venue booked and your wedding date is “cast in stone” it’s time to begin the search for the perfect celebrant.
Where to start? A Google search will reveal a veritable plethora of celebrants all offering roughly the same service. But be assured, they are not all the same, there are those who are truly excellent and exceptional, and others who are mediocre and adequate or dire and dreadful. What’s more, price alone will not help your choice.
You want the perfect celebrant for you, one that will understand exactly what you want, will provide ideas and guidance, someone who you feel completely comfortable with and confident that they understand that your wedding ceremony is the central event of your whole wedding day and the event you have invited your nearest and dearest to witness.
How do you choose a celebrant?
Google is a good place to start, a tour of a celebrant’s website will give you an impression of who they are and what they do.
Consider phoning your short list of candidates asking some basic questions:
Your first meeting is similar to a job interview so being prepared with some questions will help you choose the right person for the “job” of celebrant on your wedding day. Personality:Not a question as such but you will get a good feel for whether you can work with this person at this first meeting and connecting with their personality will be important.
How many weddings do you do per year? How much experience do you have?
There are a lot of celebrants with varying degrees of experience and training. It's better to pay a bit more for experience and professionalism than have your ceremony spoiled by a celebrant who just doesn’t know what he or she is doing.
How much do you charge?
Price is important as you are on a budget but the old adage of you get what you pay for carries some weight here. A great celebrant will be worth their fee and more as they know how to conduct a wedding ceremony and how to create a memorable ceremony and more importantly, how to look after you on the day.
Do you charge a deposit and, if so, how much?
How will we work together?
Does the celebrant provide resources, how many meetings will there be bfore your date?
Do you recommend a rehearsal?
No rehearsal at your venue? I recommend you walk away and look for another celebrant! A run through the logistics of your ceremony at your venue is vital to ensure a stress free wedding ceremony.
How many ceremonies do you conduct on a day?
Some celebrants try and make the most of the wedding season by officiating at multiple ceremonies on the same day. This may work out OK, but be aware if a ceremony runs late earlier in the day, your celebrant may not be as prompt as you would like! On that same note, having your own ceremony run in a timely fashion is courteous to not only your wedding guests, but also to the other professionals involved in your wedding.
What is included in your fee?
Make sure you have a full understanding of what your celebrant will and will not do for you.
Are there any additional fees?
Some officiants charge for travel outside their immediate area. Some charge an additional fee for a rehearsal. Make sure you clarify if the fee quoted is all inclusive or if some of the services you assume would be included are in fact an additional charge.
Have you had any training?Celebrant/Officiant training available is excellent and those who have completed training have a very clear understanding of the obligations of the role and how to best translate your wishes for your wedding ceremony into a memorable ceremony. Likewise, the Humanist Celebrant Association membership brings with it adherence to professional standards and regular training opportunities.
Will you dress to my dress code and colour scheme? Where do you stand during the ceremony?
Does the celebrant stand in between you and your partner for the whole ceremony? Will they move out of the way for the kiss so they’re not in that photo?
You will have other questions which come up during your meeting, a celebrant should answer your questions openly and honestly both during this first meeting and at any time during your working relationship.
The exchange of vows is undoubtedly the most important part of the ceremony and often the most meaningful and moving. It's important to think carefully about the promises you want to make to each other on your wedding day, so that the words are sincere and heartfelt. This is often the part of the ceremony that couples worry most about - What should we say to one another? How nervous will I be? Will I get a fit of the giggles? Will I get all emotional? Will I get through them?
Please don't worry - I'm here to help. And the following tips might be useful:
Whatever worries and concerns you have about your vows, discuss them with your Celebrant and you'll find that they will give you all sorts of advice and help.
So you’ve just got engaged and you’re chomping at the bit to start planning your wedding. But, you have no idea what you need to do, or what order you need to do it. Here are a few tips that will hopefully make the process a bit easier for you!
When it comes to planning your wedding first thing is first – pick a date! This can be the hardest thing to achieve but it’s the first step in putting your big day together. Once you’ve got the date, then you need to start booking the following vendors all at once:
4.Hair and make-up
These are the top 5 vendors involved in a wedding so you need to get onto them straight away. We all book up months, if not years in advance. Some celebrants are already booking into 2017 so make sure you give yourself enough time to secure the people you really want.
The most common thing I hear from couples is “We didn’t realise we had to book so far in advance.” They then get stressed they can’t find people available for their date. So remember, if you snooze you lose!
After organising those top 5, the rest will fall into place. But, you still need to make sure you allocate yourself enough time for planning and budgeting. Other things to consider are:
1.Invitations/save the dates
5.Cake and cake toppers
7.Transport for bridal party
Of course, you don’t have to have a wedding where all of these vendors are involved, but there is a lot to coordinate so it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible.
You don’t want to miss out on having the people you really want involved in your special day so there’s no time to lose. Get onto organising things straight away and avoid disappointment! And feel free to let me know if you're needing a good celebrant!
You might be looking for a ceremony that is plain and simple, so the idea of including symbolic gestures may not be for you and that's fine. You don't need to consider any of these ideas (and humanist ceremony certainly don't need 'padding' in any way!), but if you're interested read on....
As with most aspects of the ceremony, you can include almost anything as long as it's non-religious and fits with the Humanist ethos. The most common symbolic gestures are probably hand fasting and candle lighting, But there are lost of other things you might want to consider:
There's a nice bit of symbolism in releasing balloons - about the two of you starting your journey together and about everyone's hopes and wishes for you as they each release a balloon. This looks lovely on photo of course but there are a couple of practical things you need to bear in mind! First of all, check that you have the necessary permission because of the possible hazard for low flying aircraft. And also think carefully about the ecological implications too, particularly the possible harm to wildlife. It is possible to buy biodegradable balloons made from natural latex nowadays but apparently these still take quite a long time to break down and are potentially dangerous if accidentally ingested. This is definitely something to consider carefully before you make a decision.
Planting a Tree
What more symbolism do you need in a marriage ceremony than the idea of starting new life, nurturing and growing stronger? If the two of you have an affinity with the natural world (whether you're passionate gardeners or not), this might be a nice idea to include in your ceremony, especially if it's being held in your own garden.
Releasing Sky Lanterns
The releasing of sky lanterns, as used in many Asian festivals, can represent the floating away of your troubles, to be replaced by good fortune and luck. Not to mention a beautiful way to end an evening wedding celebration. Of course, the same implications with regard to the environment apply here, but there are several types of eco friendly sky lanterns available.
Basically the world is your oyster as far as symbolic gestures go! So if you're interested in any of these ideas or you think of something original, talk to your celebrant about it. We humanists are generally an open minded lot and as long as what you're considering is ethical and non religious, you'll probably find that the celebrant is happy to include it.
How is a humanist ceremony different? Great question! Well, the first thing to say is that they are humanist of course! Humanist weddings are inclusive and because they concentrate on the things we all have in common - they tend to appeal to everyone, regardless of their individual beliefs. Humanism is a non-religious but ethical life stance about respecting and caring for one another and the world in which we live (good without god if you like!). People who haven't attended a humanist ceremony before don't always 'get it' beforehand - but I can almost guarantee that they will 'get it' afterwards. Even people with strong religious beliefs have often remarked afterwards on how much they enjoyed the ceremony. I should stress that there is NEVER anything anti-religious in our ceremonies - they are non-religious, but always in the context of humanist principles and values about consideration and respect for others. And by the way, in the interests of equality, I tend not to use the following expressions in my ceremonies:
"Man and wife" (why not "woman and husband?"!)
"Who gives this woman?" (why not "who gives this man?"!)
"You may kiss the bride" (why not "you may kiss the groom?"!)
These days, whatever form of marriage you choose (civil, religious or humanist), you can make your ceremony personal and humanist ceremonies are certainly that! Basically, as a Marriage Celebrant, my job is to tailor-make each ceremony for each couple and that makes your day very special and my job an absolute joy! You can choose your own music, vows, readings and symbolic gestures (and I can help you to do so of course!). I also like to tell your 'story' too, to talk about your journey as a couple so far.... It not only adds a very personal element to the ceremony, but quite often some fun and laughter too!
A Humanist Celebrant plays a role similar to that of a traditional clergy person with one difference: humanist ceremonies express our positive, non-theistic philosophy of humanism instead of traditional faith. Humanist Celebrants conduct humanist, and nonreligious ceremonies, commitment and same-sex unions, memorials, baby namings, and other life cycle ceremonies.