Getting married is big business in America. The wedding industry accounts for an estimated $70 billion to $125 billion chunk of our economy, most of which is spent on things destined to be used once and discarded. The dress, the invitations, the party favors, gift-wrap and alas, sometimes the gifts themselves are one-use-only commodities. The less visible aspects can be wasteful, too: consider how much gasoline it can take to get guests to the wedding—especially a "destination wedding‚" to which every single person must travel from somewhere else. Lately though, more and more couples are uncomfortable with the disposable nature of a typical wedding. A growing trend of couples looking for alternatives to waste, toxicity and consumption has created a real demand for more information about how to make a wedding greener. Three new green wedding guides handily meet the demand with invaluable insights, ideas, vendor suggestions and resources.

The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget, by Kate L. Harrison makes it clear that going green does not have to mean going broke. The author is an expert in environmental law and policy and knows the ins and outs of greening-up any and all components of a wedding. Whether the bride's limit of eco-consciousness is a vintage gown and paperless invitations or, at the other end of the spectrum, an entire event with a zero carbon footprint, this manual can help. Each topic (such as Engagement, Location, Invitations, Attire, Flowers, Reception, Gifts and Honeymoon) is divided into type and price, which makes it easy to know at a glance what will or will not be realistic. Budget need never be sacrificed to inject a lot or a little green, nor does style, creativity, comfort or fun. A handy addition is the set of worksheets at the back of the book: these can simplify the interview process when trying to decide between caterers, venues, florists and jewelers—especially with vendors who do not advertise themselves as being green.

The Everything Green Wedding Book: Plan an Elegant, Affordable, Earth-Friendly Wedding is by Wenona Napolitano, a self-described tree-hugging wedding planner. The book starts with "top ten reasons to choose a green wedding,‚" and it would be a rare bride or groom who doesn't relate to at least one of the compelling motivations. Any level of ethical and environmental awareness can make a real difference. How? Keep in mind these four watchwords when planning: organic, sustainable, renewable and fair trade. From rings to registries, bouquets to buffets, all elements can be considered according to at least one of these four criteria. Luckily, Napolitano has already done the work, which makes it a comparatively simple task to locate choices, set priorities and meet goals. A nice touch is the extra set of chapters devoted to green life after the honeymoon.

Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration is Pulitzer Prize-winner Mireya Navarro's expanded follow-up to her wildly popular New York Times article on earth-friendly weddings. This how-to guide is lovely enough to be a coffee table book, with luscious photos alongside nitty-gritty components of green planning. She offers examples of how real couples make real choices within an almost limitless range of decisions and details. Thought-provoking sections include flower alternatives, locally provided foods, charitable gift registries, ecotourism and guest travel options. Particularly striking are ideas about how to offset the total CO2 emissions incurred by transportation and hotel use. Whatever the level of commitment, however, the author advises planners to keep a sense of balance about the overall picture: compromises are bound to be necessary at some level, but every effort is worthwhile. Overall, this serious and stylish guide is inspiring and practical, and it proves beyond any doubt that green can be gorgeous.

Each of these three books shows readers that going green is not an all-or-nothing enterprise. With the generous information here, couples can individualize each aspect and component of wedding planning to suit any taste, budget and environmental concern. Two people really can make a difference.

At a recent wedding, Joanna Brichetto rescued her friend's organic, vegan lemon cake from disaster.


comments powered by Disqus