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Weddings go green

Matrimonial vows of commitment extend to planet Earth.

(Page 2 of 3)

Not everyone is running out to rent portable solar panels to power a DJ booth for the reception. Of the 2.5 million weddings that take place each year, just a small fraction could be considered green, Ms. Navarro says.

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That interest may be picking up, however, according to a 2009 David’s Bridal Internet survey. It found that 45 percent of some 500 engaged or recently married women had considered some aspect of the environment in their wedding planning decisions.

Although hard figures are difficult to find, evidence of the growth of green weddings can also be seen in the availability of green wedding planners, caterers who serve only organic food, and carbon-
neutral DJs and photographers.

But with the popularity of green weddings comes a word of caution: Not everything is as green as it may seem. “Greenwashing is happening,” says Ms. Beczner, who warns that some companies are calling their products green without any substantiation. She cautions couples to research carefully.

Since launching her business in 2006, Beczner has planned 20 green weddings. She was already seeing the growth of green weddings when Michelle Kozin wrote “Organic Weddings” in 2002. Soon afterward, sustainable jewelry companies such as greenKarat emerged as conflicts over the mining of diamonds became a mainstream issue. Other green companies followed. Everything from “Martha Stewart Living” to green wedding websites such as wedvert began focusing on ecofriendly nuptials.

Navarro says green weddings began gaining even more traction after former Vice President Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” brought home the dangers of climate change. “People are trying to do their part,” she says.

“By now it’s more of an extension of what people are already doing in their lives. People planning green weddings are people who recycle at home, buy food from farmers’ markets, drive a hybrid. It’s a mind-set Americans are adopting more and more.”

Brown-Selders’s awakening came in Oregon in 2004 when someone yelled at her for throwing a bottle into the trash. She was surprised: That’s what everyone did in her Houston condo complex.

But the memory of the incident stuck. So when 200 guests gathered at her wedding this past August, they were greeted with floral centerpieces featuring local flowers, an organic wedding cake, and programs on handmade lotka paper from Nepal.

Behind the scenes, the hotel recycled aluminum, paper, and cardboard. And after the wedding, the couple exited the hotel in a cloud of biodegradable, water-soluble ecofetti and set off on a carbon-free carriage ride.

The Tueys didn’t intend to have a green wedding. But the location they chose – an 1880s campsite powered by propane and hydroelectricity – meant that resources were limited and that no trash could be left behind. “When you go camping, you carry as little as possible,” Ms. Zaki Tuey says. “When you leave, you try to erase [any] sign of yourselves. And in a way, that kind of carried over” into the wedding.

For the Damms, green was the plan from the outset. Almost everything at the their wedding was handmade or used. In January 2008, the couple exchanged vintage rings they bought at thrift stores. Hers cost $50 and her husband’s was $150. The couple was married in a courtyard adorned with tin cans filled with wildflowers from a local garden.