Choose an eco-friendly wedding venue
When planning a wedding, one of the first and weightiest decisions a couple has to make is where to hold the ceremony and the reception. Looking for a site that operates with the same degree of concern for the earth that you do may make the process more difficult but is an important step in planning a green wedding.
How to find an eco-friendly wedding venue
- Choose a venue that's close to a majority of your guests. Fuel-intensive travel by out-of-towners represents the biggest strain that weddings put on the planet.
- Hold the ceremony and reception at the same place to cut down, again, on the effects of transportation. If you choose two spots, provide transportation for your guests, or set up carpools.
- Don't invite everybody and his uncle. It sounds harsh but it's true that the larger your guest list, the more miles traveled, the more food and drink consumed, and the bigger venue you'll need. It's a tough call; only you know the balance you want to achieve.
- Think beyond traditional wedding venues. Look into unique locales such as a nonprofit spaces, organic farms, botanical gardens, museums, art galleries, or historic buildings, that may offer additional green activities for you and your guests.
- Consider an outdoor setting such as a park, beach, lakeside, or mountaintop to take advantage of natural beauty that requires minimal or no embellishments by you.
- If you want to hold your ceremony and/or reception at a hotel, look into green hotels, which offer a variety of eco-friendly options such as low-flow showerheads, soap and shampoo dispensers (in lieu of miniature bottles), and donation of leftover food to local shelters. Choosing a green hotel may have a large impact because aside from the wedding and/or reception being held there, a number of your guests may stay there as well.
- If you choose a country club with a golf course you may want to select one that's an Audubon International Certified golf course. That means the golf course has met certain standards (gold, silver, bronze, or certified categories) for protecting water quality, conserving natural resources, and providing wildlife habitats.
- Hire a green wedding planner. A small but growing number of wedding planners specialize in green weddings such as Vibrant Events in San Francisco and Angel & Company Wedding Planners in Boise. Check eWeddingsPlanner.com which lists wedding planners in various locations nationwide. From there you may be able to find planners that orchestrate eco-friendly weddings.
- Forgo a far-away destination wedding that involves lots of travel and its accompanying pollution. Save the exotic getaway for the honeymoon, when only the two of you need to get there.
Find it! Eco-friendly wedding venues
The range of venues available for green weddings is only limited by your imagination (and your wallet). To find green hotels in your area, see the Green Hotels Association website. For a comprehensive listing of museums nationwide go to the USA Museums Database. To look at National Parks in any state visit the National Park Service.
Various settings are available for weddings and other events in the revamped New Jersey aquarium including the Currents Ballroom which has three movie screen-sized windows into Shark Realm.
Want to party amongst lions, tigers, and bears? Say "I do" under a giant dinosaur? This acclaimed (not to mention, massive) institution on Manhattan's Upper West Side has at least a dozen sites appropriate for events such as weddings.
Although not green per say, this grand, historic (it was once dubbed "the Waldorf of the West") hotel lets lovebirds celebrate their commitment amidst some of Mother Nature's finest work: the mighty Columbia River. Say "I do" in the hotel's romantic manicured gardens or above a 208 foot waterfall.
This awe-inspiring setting of raw, natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors has various sites where couples can exchange vows including Grandeur Point, Cape Royal Amphitheater, and Shoshone Point.
Honey Hollow is a historic watershed boasting more than 120 acres of woodlands, meadows, ponds, wetlands, and forests. The main building, called the Barn, is a rustic stone structure that functions as both environmental education center and event venue.
Situated right on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the unique architecture and extensive views along with the 16,500 creatures swimming, crawling, and hopping around make this a singular place to hold a wedding or other special soirée.
This chic resort set on 22 acres in Napa Valley features furnishings and flooring made from reclaimed natural products and locally grown produce from small organic farms used in the resort's cuisine.
Overlooking Mendocino Bay, the Inn recycles religiously and composts food waste. Its award-winning restaurant, Ravens' Restaurant, creates dishes using locally harvested products and much of the produce is grown on the Inn's organic farm.
A popular spot for weddings, the Heard is home to a nearly 300 acre wildlife sanctuary as well as indoor educational exhibits about North Texas ecosystems, snakes, and more. Weddings take place in the outdoor native plant garden or several indoor locations.
Accessible only by boat, this private island off the coast of Georgia is ideal for intimate, small-scale weddings: it accommodates no more than 30 guests. There are 10,000 preserved acres and 7 miles of pristine beaches with naturalist-led excursions.
Be whisked away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and into the lush tranquility and Victorian splendor of the Palm House at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (all 52 acres of it). An excellent locale for a green fairy tale wedding.
Straddling Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone is America's first national park. Weddings often take place in the Old Faithful area, Lake Butte Overlook, or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
This world-famous park encompasses nearly 1,200 square miles of wilderness that includes ancient giant sequoias. The Yosemite Chapel is available for weddings as well as a number of sites such as Bridalveil Falls, Soda Springs, and Cathedral Bench Picnic Area.
Choosing an eco-friendly venue helps you go green because…
- You'll keep waste out of landfills if the venue recycles, reuses, and composts.
- Fewer carbon dioxide emissions will be produced if guests don't have to travel far to get to the big event.
- Less pesticides will be used if organic food is served and organic flowers are used in bouquets and as decorations.
Approximately 2.3 million couples will get married each year in the US. Averaging more than $25,000 a pop, weddings produce about $70 billion per year in revenue. The "American Wedding Study 2006," produced by The Conde Nast Bridal Group, estimates that over the last 15 years, there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of destination weddings, and the number of weddings per year has increased by 200,000 since 2000.
Almost 380 million guests attend these weddings each year, making transportation one of the highest areas of environmental impact. The average wedding has about 50 out-of-town guests, and 90 percent of couples will fly off on a honeymoon following the ceremony. The emissions a wedding produces multiply if you import food or flowers. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 70 percent of all flowers sold in the US are imported from Colombia or Ecuador, where they are grown using pesticides. Because of the use of pesticides, non-organic flowers can't be composted, and only 4 percent of the US cut-flower market is comprised of organic flowers.