An Earth-Friendly Reception

An Earth-Friendly Reception

The key to an eco- and style-conscious wedding is to keep it simple. By reusing materials and accents, you can save money and save resources at the same time. Work with what’s nearby and in season and you can feel good about your efforts.

When choosing your site, choose something with significance and that will benefit from your event, like an art gallery or a museum. Find out how the site plans to use your fee – towards upkeep or new programs. If you’re looking for an outdoor event try a botanical garden or the grounds of a historical home in your area. You will probably even be able to find one that is run by a non-profit organization.

So many decorations! By decorating your ceremony site with items you can use at the reception – like arrangements that decorate the program area and then dress up your guest book table – you can save money and a lot of waste. When your magical evening is over see if there are any pieces you can donate to a hospital or the local nursing home.

One of the most sustainable materials on earth is bamboo, and it makes a very modern-looking option for decorating. It can grow up to two feet a day, so it takes only three to seven years to mature, unlike trees! Use tall stalks of curly bamboo for centerpieces and lucky mini-bamboo stalks make a great wedding favour.

Okay, so there might not be a hybrid limousine available yet, but there are a lot of other options out there. Some great ideas are tandem bicycles, a canoe (if your ceremony is near the water) or something classic like a horse-and-buggy carriage.

Want something energy efficient and romantic? Candles! Look for soy candles as they’re made from a renewable resource and are cleaner. They burn longer than regular candles and spills are really easy to clean up – just use soap and hot water. They are available in every size, shape, colour and scent you can imagine. Enjoy!

Alternative Flowers

A symbol of the natural world, wedding flowers are a great place to make some eco-friendly choices. Investigate the origins of flowers and think about the pesticides that might have been used. Were they grown in an environmentally way? Cut flowers result in a lot of waste. Talk to your florist about conserving – maybe sharing your blooms with another party.

Flowers that are pesticide free show off a flower’s natural beauty. Some flowers, like roses, are so genetically engineered that they need to be sprayed with an artificial scent. Organic roses smell exactly how they should. And if you can’t find a florist in your area with organic blooms, there are a lot of options on the internet.

Potted plants, flowers or even small trees can make wonderful centerpieces, which can be transplanted later on. Use potted trees strung with lights to enhance your dance floor, or use a flowering bush (like hibiscus) to hang escort cards from.

Try going a little trendy. Have your bridesmaids carried beautiful fans for a Spanish feel, or silk purses with jewelled blooms. You can also look into silk flowers. They are sometimes more expensive, but the arrangement will last forever and it makes a great keepsake for your girls.

Your goal: support local nurseries by looking for locally grown, seasonal blooms. Talk to your florist to figure out what flowers fall into this category so you know what you can choose from. Using herbs, greenery and berries, you can do a lot of fill in.

Green Weddings – Your Menu

Do you find the world of organic food confusing but long for the health benefits it provides?  Officially the term “organic” refers to food that is grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics and is not genetically modified. Brides and grooms are looking beyond the basic chicken or filet for their menus.

While there are a lot of caterers that are specializing in organic foods, pretty much any caterer can be organic. So, choose one you love, and then discuss replacing ingredients. When you buy organic, you are ensuring that everyone, including the workers who harvested your food, are not exposed to pesticides. And there are options for organic desserts, like ice cream.


Free-range, organically raised meat isn’t just delicious, it’s better all around for everyone from the farmers, the animals and you. Organic meat and poultry has less exposure to genetically modified food because the animals eat organic feed. If you’re going to have seafood, stay away from fish that are commercially raised or high in mercury. A really great option is a white fish, like tilapia, or wild salmon, which is generally named for the area it comes from. Just plain –œsalmon– is most likely farmed.


Organic produce grows slower so the flavour is magnified and more intense, and levels of Vitamin C are higher.  Organic salads cannot be washed with water that has chlorine, so be careful. When targeting organic produce look for carrots, lettuce, apples and strawberries as pesticides and fungicides are at higher levels.

Don’t forget your drinks!

You can think local with your booze as well. If you’re big wine fans, your local and organic wineries are a great option and a fabulous way to personalize your meal. Look to vineyards in your area or try to find a shop that specializes in home-grown goods.

What about your wedding cake?

Here’s another place you can ask about substituting organic ingredients. While choosing organic ingredients will increase the cost of your cake, a lot of people agree the taste will be a lot better. Or you can look for a baker who specializes in organic cakes and there are some that can produce a vegan cake, if that’s your thing.

More Advice

Local, local, local! For as much of your reception food as possible, look for local and seasonal eats. They’re fresh and readily available (translation: delicious and cheap), especially for your salads, where you definitely want to go with what’s in season.

At the end of the night, don’t let all those extras go into the trash. Work with your caterer to send the leftovers to a food rescue group. These organizations can pick up the fresh and untouched food and then deliver it to local food shelters and families in need. What better way to end your night!

Extra Eco Tips

  • find a vintage or used gown, then dress it up with accessories
  • choose a dress made from organic cotton, silk or hemp – these materials are much more eco-friendly than a lot of other materials
  • rent your wedding gown
  • sell your wedding gown after the wedding (either through eBay or a local consignment store)
  • rent the men’s formalwear
  • create a wedding website to keep your guests up-to-date on all the happenings with your wedding
  • use fewer programs, menus, etc – print one per couple or table, instead of one per person
  • encourage your guests to use gift bags that can be re-used
  • let your guests know you are having a –˜green’ wedding and how they can do their part