It’s a nice day for a green wedding

Published 5:20 am Monday, June 14, 2010

Something old. Something borrowed. Something new and something … green?

OK, some things never change. Those on their way down the aisle or over to the courthouse will always be toting that traditional little something blue.

But that hasn’t stopped a new trend from pulsating through the bridal industry. From sending recycled invitations to holding earth-friendly receptions, more and more couples are showing they’re eco-savvy when they tie the knot.

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A variety of local wedding vendors can help the betrothed throw earth-friendly wedding celebrations right here in Austin — without sacrificing style or breaking the bank.


One way to shrink a wedding’s ecological footprint is to choose stationary modestly.

Leah DeVries of Austin-based iDesigns by Leah, said there are a variety of ways to “green up” save-the-dates, invitations and thank you notes.

“One simple way is to ask for post-consumer recycled paper, or even lower-weight cardstock,” she said.

Though printing invites on recycled paper can be more expensive, there are other eco-tips that can save money.

This can be as simple as sending out less paper; typically, there’s a lot of information to convey to guests, meaning multiple sheets of paper are mailed out.

DeVries suggests minimizing paper use by printing more information on fewer sheets — or, even better, including only the most necessary information on the invite and directing guests to a wedding Web site for more details.

One piece of paper that is easy to skip is the response card envelope, DeVries said.

She suggests nixing the reply card and envelope and including instead an RSVP postcard for guests to fill out and mail back

For those who want to go totally green, DeVries offers 100 percent biodegradable invitations. They are printed on seed paper that guests can later toss outside — wherever they want to see wildflowers bloom.

For more information on iDesigns by Leah, go to


In 2006, Americans generated 11.8 million tons of textile waste, or about 10 pounds for every man, woman and child, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And 60 percent of items that are donated to thrift shops end up being shipped overseas, bringing with them cultural and economic ramifications, according to the EPA.

But brides don’t have to walk down the aisle in a repurposed twill potato sack in order to be eco-chic; there are several ways to find a dream dress without contributing to textile pollution.

Manager of Belles and Beaus Hilary Knight said that one fun, sentimental and earth-friendly choice is to wear a relative’s gown.

“We can usually update a grandmother’s dress from say the 1950s, or a mother’s dress from the 1980s, to suit someone in their 20s,” she said.

Depending on the condition and style of the gown, Belles and Beaus can add modern embellishments like belts or sashes, change sleeve styles and the length and fit, she said.

Another option is to purchase a dress off the rack, instead of ordering one that then has to be made, she said.

Or, brides can fight more than just textile waste by donating to or buying from Brides Against Breast Cancer, a nationwide tour of new and used gowns.

Brides Against Breast Cancer gives new life to dresses and proceeds benefit the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, which grants wishes for metastatic breast cancer patients.

For the gents, an earth- and wallet-friendly option is to rent, instead of buy, suits or tuxedos, Knight said.

For more information about Brides Against Breast Cancer and tour dates and locations, go to


When it comes to catering a wedding, sticking to the green theme can become expensive quickly.

Hy-Vee catering manager Willie Stephenson said that serving guests organic food can increase food costs by an average of 10 percent.

But, he said, there are ways to keep prices down.

“A lot of our clients want to be green, but they don’t have to go all out. We can provide organic produce, or just certain dishes,” he said.

There is also a difference between pricing of certified and non-certified organic products, he said. And a menu can be created with either type of product, depending on the client’s needs.

Couples can also cut waste by renting reusable dishes, silverware, napkins and linens. Of course, later washing these can also create waste, Stephenson said.

“But, if they want it to be totally eco-friendly, it can be,” he added.

Hy-Vee can create a 100 percent organic menu and even wash the rental items with natural detergents, if a client would like.

“We haven’t had a demand for this at that level,” Stephenson said. “But we could do it, and I think eventually these things will be more affordable… maybe as the demand grows.”

He added, “We are seeing it more and more, slowly. People want to be healthier, for them, their guests and the environment.