The average wedding in the United States today costs $28,732 -- a major investment for Americans
anxious to say, "I do."
When laying out that kind of green, a growing number of couples are now choosing to use their nuptials to make a commitment
not only to one another, but to the environment as well, with eco-friendly weddings. A green wedding can make a difference
to the Earth, as well as your wallet.
"Many people want to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle, and their wedding is just an extension of
that," says Anne Chertoff, iVillage weddings editor. "You have people turning in their SUVs for hybrid cars and
others looking to shop from locally grown farmers. It's the way the world is going."
Does embracing the environment mean you have to give up on your long-held dreams of a picturesque
fairytale wedding? No, says Chertoff. "You can have a very stylish, very trendy and affordable wedding and still
let it be green and eco-friendly."
However, be warned: "Some eco-friendly elements are expensive," admits Chertoff. "So you really need
to weigh the costs and figure out what you can afford to do." A "green wedding" means different things to different
people, but here are six ways to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into the big day without breaking
|A growing number of couples use their nuptials to make a commitment not only to each other but to the environment as well.
|6 steps to a greener wedding
Average costs vary widely across the country, according
-- from low averages, such as $17,529 in towns like Lake Providence,
La., (and 96 percent there spend less than that) to $56,534 in the
famous 90210 ZIP code area of Beverly Hills, Calif.
1. Buy a vintage dress. One of the most expensive items for
a wedding can be a wedding dress. According to The Wedding Report Inc., the average cost for wedding attire is $2,710.
You can cut that price by checking vintage stores to find a gown that was gently worn before rather than having a dress
made or buying one new that will only be used once. When you're done, continue the cycle by selling it back to a vintage
store so someone else can use it later.
2. Use recyclable paper products. The invitation is the first
thing guests will see and it sets the tone for the wedding.
"You can easily find beautiful handmade invitations or
invitations made from recycled paper," says Chertoff.
Guest books and thank-you cards made with recycled
paper can also be purchased. "It's becoming very common for people
to use a reply postcard instead of having the extra envelope in
the invitation," says Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese, president of Twisted
Limb Paperworks LLC, a company that makes eco-friendly stationery.
Couples can also save paper by setting up a wedding Web site that
has directions and hotel phone numbers rather than sending that
information by mail. While using these tactics saves trees, it also
saves money since couples don't have to spend as much on postage.
Couples can also get their guests in on the green movement by giving
away plantable invitations.
"Handmade paper can have flower seeds in it so guests can plant the invitation and as it disintegrates back into the earth,
flowers grow out of the invitation," Woodhouse-Keese says.