Brides go green



There’s the recycled paper invitations, the second-hand wedding gown and the caterer a organic, of course.

Then there’s the all-natural bomboniere, the gift registry at the eco-friendly homewares store and the tree-planting ceremony to offset carbon emissions created by travelling guests.

This is the checklist for an eco-friendly wedding with growing numbers of Queensland couples opting to tie the knot with green, organic celebrations.

“We hand-made our invitations with recycled paper and leaves and wrapped them with twine,” says Brisbane newlywed Nicole Warren. “We had the ceremony and reception at the same place to cut down on travel demands, so guests didn’t have to use cars to get from one venue to the other.

“I wore a cocktail dress made from silk so it was a natural fibre and I made sure it was something that I’d wear again.

“Instead of giving bomboniere, we put a note at each person’s place at the table saying we’d donated a couple of dollars per person – there were 119 people at the wedding – to the Australian Bush Heritage Fund.”

It wasn’t easy to find everything they wanted but Nicole and new husband Andrew did a lot of research on the internet about eco-weddings, ordering books online to get ideas for green options practised by couples in other parts of the world.

And there’s much to be found out there.

In England, for example, one couple asked all their guests to chip in for a big wedding present – a $2500 horsehair mattress – instead of buying them individual gifts. Another couple stayed at home for their honeymoon to avoid creating carbon emissions by taking a toxic long-haul flight to some romantic destination.

In the United States, there’s a growing market for recycled rings since movies such as Blood Diamond have highlighted the illegal mining of diamonds in Africa. The diamonds are often sold in exchange for weapons which fuel civil wars.

When it comes to buying a band that’s environmentally friendly, it’s all about whether the diamond has been “ethically” sourced and, if you can’t be sure, companies like greenKarat are more than happy to offer alternatives.

“We oppose diamond mining, with the unconscionable human and ecological sacrifice it extracts,” says the American firm on its website. “Our mission is to provide an ecologically and socially responsible jewellery alternative to those who seek change.”

Nicole says her wedding wasn’t all eco-friendly but she and Andrew were determined to make as many green decisions as they could manage, right down to her hair care for the big day.

She had her locks cut and coloured with natural, organic products and – apart from her mascara and eye-liner (because she knew she’d cry) – Nicole wore all natural make-up on her wedding day last month.

According to Tracey Bailey, owner of Biome Home eco-friendly lifestyle store in Brisbane’s inner-city Paddington, Nicole and Andrew are part of a growing band of couples wanting to make eco-friendly choices.

“People are looking for everything from stationery that’s made from recycled paper for their invitations to organic food at the reception,” Bailey says.

“Palm leaf plates are popular for receptions because they are disposable – and you can put them on your garden for mulch after you’ve used them, rather than simply throwing them away.”

Likewise, organic caterer Liesl Doery, who co-owns Nourish Collective in Gaythorne on Brisbane’s northside, reports a definite increase in interest from couples over the past six months for organic foods at weddings.

“We’re catering for a wedding next month where the bride is a vegetarian,” Doery says.

“She’s using a couple of different caterers – we’re doing some Moroccan curries and daals and salads and someone else is doing organic meat dishes and seafood.”

Bailey says wedding guests are also joining the eco-friendly fray, seeking out greener gifts than they would have bought traditionally.

“We have a gift registry service so couples nominate things they’d like.
Organic cotton bed linen and organic cotton towel sets are really popular,” she says.

“The candela lights are also good gifts – they’re rechargeable little lanterns.

“People who are really eco-minded tend to go for utilitarian things like books, reusable drinking bottles and cleaning products.

Tips for planning a green wedding

  • Start by thinking carefully about how the environment will be affected by every purchasing decision you make – consider what the product is made of, who made it and where it was made.
  • Think about arriving by a hybrid car.
  • Use locally grown food, flowers and decorations to save large amounts of fuel being used for transportation.
  • Send out invitations by email.
  • Consider a second-hand wedding gown or a dress made of natural fibres.
  • Use plates made from palm leaf that can be turned into mulch. They’ll also save water and power because they don’t need to be washed up.