How to make your wedding more eco-friendly

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While it might once have been difficult to make weddings environmentally friendly affairs, today’s couples have many eco-friendly options at their disposal. From hotels that use solar power to reception halls that rely on locally sourced foods, there are plenty of ways to turn weddings into entertaining and eco-friendly affairs.

* Reduce reliance on stationery. Couples hoping to be more eco-conscious can cut back on the amount of paper they at their weddings and throughout the planning process.

Invitations can be printed on recycled stock, and couples can avoid using the envelope within an envelope that is often used when mailing wedding invitations. Furthermore, reduce what you place inside the invitation, including direction cards.

Have guests visit a Web site to learn about hotel accommodations and respond to the wedding invite.

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* Choose earth-friendly fabrics. When selecting gowns and other attire, lean toward natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, hemp, or linen, each of which are eco-friendly fabrics.

* Pick flowers that are in-season. Much like produce, certain flowers are grown out of season with the use of pesticides and herbicides. Imported flowers have high carbon footprints due to the distance they have to travel.

Cut down on how far flowers have to travel and the use of potentially harmful chemicals by buying locally grown, in-season flowers.

* Encourage guests to carpool to the wedding. You may want to make a flashy entrance at the ceremony, but you can curb emissions by having as many people travel together as possible. Ditch the sedan or limousine and rent a party bus that can fit many of your guests.

* Rethink wedding favors. Instead of trinkets that are produced overseas and likely to end up in the trash, opt for edible favors, seeds or plants or even donations to charitable organizations.

* Cut down on waste. Do you really need four courses at the reception and a complete dessert display? Food that goes uneaten will likely end up in the garbage.

If you cannot arrange to have food delivered to a soup kitchen or another charitable group, scale back on how much is served. Chances are guests will not even miss the extra food.

* Recycle your gold or silver. Wedding bands symbolize are customary at wedding ceremonies. Rather than buying new rings, transform old jewelry into rings by having the metal melted down and formed.

* Style your hair naturally. Although many hair products have reduced or eliminated their use of CFCs, which can enter the atmosphere and damage the ozone layer, harmful chemicals are still used in many products.

Brides can skip the elaborate up-do that requires a lot of hair spray for a more natural, free-flowing look.

* Rent or borrow whenever possible. Rented items are reused over and over, while items couples buy specifically for their weddings are liable to be used once and then discarded. Opt for rentals when possible.

* Light beeswax candles. Candles are an eco-friendly way to provide romantic lighting at the wedding. Opt for non-toxic beeswax candles rather than paraffin candles.

When couples put their minds to it, they can find many ways to have an eco-friendly wedding without compromising on style and fun. 

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