How to make your wedding greenly ever after

By Jennifer Kiilerich
Nashville, TN (August 7, 2008)- The wedding of your dreams can be eco-friendly, too. If you’re planning a wedding, you’re already adrift in an ocean of details. Stressed-out brides and grooms have enough to worry about between seating charts, color schemes and do-not-play lists for the DJ. And now you they’re supposed to make it all eco-friendly, too? Who has the time?

Kami Bruner of the Tennessee Environmental Council understands. “Weddings are often a chaos of waste, simply because there are an overwhelming number of choices to be made, and we fall into a routine of ‘the way it’s always done,’ ” she says.
But these days, going green is easier than ever for Nashville couples. After consulting the experts, here’s a list of suggestions that are simple enough for even the busiest brides to integrate into their big day. Try them all, or pick just one or two that make the most sense.
MOVE ON OUT: As a rule, outdoor weddings are more eco-friendly than that big ballroom you’ve been eyeing. Plus, beautiful natural surroundings means less work – and precious wedding budget money – devoted to decorating.
SIZE MATTERS: A smaller-scale wedding means a smaller carbon footprint, as fewer guests will be traveling and consuming resources. “Consider setting up a ride-share site for the wedding, so people who do have to travel are able to find others coming from their area,” Bruner suggests. Try Planning an intimate, eco-friendly affair is a lot less stressful than orchestrating a jumbo wedding, and it provides the perfect explanation as to why you simply can’t invite your fiancé’s irritating boss.
IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING: To save on heating and cooling, whether indoors or out, choose a time of year with mild weather. Conserve even more energy by starting the festivities during daylight hours and using candles after dark. Bruner recommends soy and beeswax candles as being most in keeping with an earth-kind theme. Besides, who needs fluorescent lights when candles offer so much more ambience?
GO ACOUSTIC: Recorded or amplified music can be a big drain on electricity, so consider at least going acoustic for the ceremony. Nashville is packed with guitarists, piano players and the like who would be happy to assist.
RECYCLE: This one may sound obvious, but it takes a bit of effort to make sure all those wine and beer bottles don’t end up in the landfill. “Metro Public Works provides a glass-recycling container for free for events,” says Claudia Schenk, also with the Tennessee Environmental Council. Even better, Public Works will drop off and pick up the container – just reserve ahead by calling 862-8750. Be sure to remind caterers and bartenders to actually use the recycling bin.
WASTE NOT: Ask caterers to use common-source containers for extras like salt and butter, instead of individual servings that waste wrappers. Look for people who buy produce locally and put excess food to good use. Often, shelters for women and children and groups like Food Not Bombs are happy to come pick up the aftermath, so there’s no excuse for tossing those extra crab cakes in the dumpster. See our accompanying list of eco-friendly caterers and restaurants.
GROW LOCAL: Seek out florists who use pesticide-free flowers. For extra points, use locally grown flowers whenever possible. Shawn Renegar, owner of The East Garden and one of Nashville’s most environmentally conscious florists, uses recycled vases and asks his suppliers to ship with recycled packaging rather than styrofoam. Call Renegar at 226-6670 or encourage your own florist to take similar steps. Also see our accompanying information about local nurseries and farms.
GIVE IT AWAY: We would never ask newlyweds to request donations to environmental groups in lieu of all the new swag they have coming, but such donations are a fantastic substitute for party favors. Instead of a monogrammed candle that will likely be thrown away, make a donation in guests’ names to a worthy organization such as the World Wildlife Fund or a local park that holds special meaning to you.
PRESERVE TREES: Invitations can look just as fabulous on recycled paper, so ask your favorite stationery shop to print on FSC- (Forest Stewardship Council) certified or recycled papers using vegetable inks. Or visit to get in on the latest trend in green events: plantable invitations. Invitees can plant these pretty, handmade cards in their garden and watch wildflowers sprout. Brides will also find a great selection of chic eco-invitations at
SAVE MORE THAN THE DATE: I must admit that I mailed “save the date” postcards to all my friends and family before my wedding, and I have no doubt that they landed in the garbage. Given a second chance, I might have considered using one of the cute designs on to send an e-mail note. Graphics-savvy gals (or those with designer friends) can design and personalize your own “save the date” e-mails.
TRAVEL LIGHT: Aim for a honeymoon that leaves a light carbon footprint behind. “Places like Costa Rica thrive on eco-tourism, and more places are jumping on the bandwagon,” Bruner says. For more travel ideas, visit
Related Resources:
Tennessean- How to make your wedding greenly ever after
Tennessee Environmental Council
Tennessee Green