ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDINGS



This page exists to help you with ideas that will guide your wedding to be more environmentally friendly. At every step of the wedding planning process you are faced with important decisions – from the style of your wedding gown to the stationery for your invitations, from the delicious food on your menu to the decorations that will flavor your celebration. The products and services you decide to use are all carefully chosen – to reflect your style, imagination, creativity and individuality. In this page we have included some suggestions to help your celebration to be more sustainable. We have also included links to more information about environmental issues related to certain decisions, and also links to local vendors and artisans who operate their businesses with environmental and social responsibility.

We hope that after perusing this page you will find that being ecologically and ethically responsible when choreographing the details for your wedding can be stylish, elegant, sexy, and cost effective. Even more, you and your partner can feel great knowing that the foundation of your relationship together has been built upon conservation and thoughtful action to help sustain our collective home – earth. Plus, you’ll be helping to spread much needed knowledge to your friends and family. On your wedding day, you can vow your love for each other and the planet.


There are many different understandings for the term Sustainability, especially when applied to human-earth relationships. Generally "sustainability" is described as the ability for humans to meet the needs of our present day populations without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same and without compromising the ability of all life forms on the planet to fulfill their own dignified life expression; further, sustainable activity will seek to promote the diversity, integrity, and stability of the biological community while also preserving the natural resources and life support systems that enable life on the planet earth.

Intro
Size Does Matter
Think Globally, Act Locally
Food For Thought
  - Veggie and Vegan
  - Organic
Venue
Save a Tree - Invitations, Menus, Programs
Flowers and Plants
Vintage
Wedding Attire
Cosmetics
Jewelry and Rings
Gifts and Favors
Carbon Offsets for Travel
Additional Sources and Information

Intro

At His And Her Photography, it is our mission to provide artistic and creative photography for our clients while engaging in ecologically and socially responsible business practices.

How do we do this?

First, we believe that being ecologically and socially responsible is a lifestyle choice, not simply a business practice. In our personal and professional lives, we seek to minimize our impact upon our environments by engaging in what professor Carl Abbott refers to as "conspicuous under consumption." We reuse as much as possible and seek to reduce our consumption of purchasable goods where ever possible. For goods and services we do purchase - we seek to use local and small businesses as often as we can. In addition, we seek for our homes and our place of business to be places of both production and consumption. For example, at our old studio location in SE Portland, we had a large vegetable garden where we grew some of our own food.

Through PGE, we invest in renewable energy projects and power our studio with clean wind energy. We have also set a goal to become a paperless organization. While we haven't arrived there yet, the paper we do use is post consumer recycled paper. We also, at every turn, aim to re-use and recycle as much of our working materials as possible.

We work in the digital age. This means - for most of our events, we no longer shoot with film, which reduces our dependence on toxic chemicals and reduces our use of other basic natural and synthetic resources. One example is our digital proof albums.  We create online portfolios for our clients (and their families and friends) to view their photographic stories - heavily reducing our use of water, paper, ink, and the myriad of resources drawn upon for transportation and delivery. Further, we power our camera equipment with re-chargeable NiMH batteries.

We offer generous discounts for photography services to non-profit organizations whose missions are rooted in promoting environmental sustainability and other social justice issues. We also aim to build lasting relationships with other local businesses and clients who are ethically and ecologically responsible in their actions and operations.

Simple decisions when planning your wedding celebration can save you money and help promote a healthier and happier planet.

Here are some really helpful tips (and links) to help make your wedding more sustainable.

Size Does Matter

Throughout the planning process for your wedding, remember that size does matter - especially when the environment is concerned. The difference between 100 and 200 guests is staggering. For most occasions, the smaller number of guests at your wedding, the more environmentally sustainable your wedding will be. Why? You'll be lowering your impact at every opportunity by reducing the amount of resources used and the amount of waste generated. In addition to helping our environment, less people means less stress for you and a more intimate celebration with family and friends.

Think Globally, act Locally

Buy everything that you can - your dress, invitations, food, flowers ... from locally owned businesses (this would exclude chain stores). Why? You'll be supporting and strengthening our local economy. You'll also be lowering the overall environmental impact of your wedding - especially if the materials used are produced locally.

What's the benefit for you?  What's the benefit for our environment?

Read more about the benefits of buying local goods.
Read more info here. Read even more info here.

Find everything from local farmers to local florists at the amazing website, localharvest.org. If you operate a business using sustainable practices... consider listing on their site.

Organic Wedding Planning and Consulting - Ecotrust Events and Meetings.

Food For Thought

Choose a caterer that uses organic ingredients from local sources.

Go Veggie... or better yet - Go Vegan

Why are vegetarian and vegan options more eco-friendly?
Read More about it here at the United Nations site.

Or check out this detailed report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN.

Choose Organic

Compliment the locally grown food at your wedding with an Organic flare. Seek out catering companies or restaurants that cook using organic ingredients. It's healthier for you, your guests, and the environment... on so many levels.

Why Organic?

Local Food Catering and Vendors (Including Cakes!):

The Blossoming Lotus Café - Portland
Artemis Foods - Portland
Phresh: Organic Catering - Portand
Black Sheep Bakery - Portland

Venue

Consider choosing a venue or location that is already interested in or dedicated to green causes: like parks, museums, non-profit organizations, or retreat centers. Choose a venue that recycles. If they don't... ask the owners/management to set up separate bins for recycling any glass or plastic.

When choosing the table settings, flatware, and all... try to eliminate disposable     
products and by doing so reducing the amount of waste generated by your celebration. 

Local Venues:

The Ecotrust Building - NW Portland
Portland Parks
Mt. Hood Organic Farms and Garden Cottages
World Forestry Center

Save A Tree (or two)

Instead of sending out paper invitations... create a webpage, send electronic invitations and join the paperless revolution. This way, your guests will be able to print from the web page only the information they need. Create a blog. This will save both paper and transportation fuel.

For paper invitations, programs and menus ... think about simplifying. Use a single postcard sized piece of paper - as opposed to a six page invitation. Instead of one program per guest, try one per couple or large group. Look for non-chlorine bleached, post-consumer-use recycled paper. The closer to 100% recycled, the better. Most printing companies carry paper with recycled content.

Local Printing:

Pinball Publishing
Natural Press
Oblation Papers & Press

Flowers and Plants

Consider using potted plants (instead of flowers in a vase) as decoration. This way, they can be used and enjoyed even after the wedding!
    
If flowers are for you... talk to your florist about what is in season, locally grown, and organic (no pesticide use). Try to avoid using out-of-season flowers that need to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get to you and usually carry on them a toxic cocktail of pesticide residue.

Of course, here in Portland it'll be difficult to find locally grown flowers throughout the year. For fall weddings - consider using a colorful arrangement of autumn leaves.

Local Florists:

Lavish - Organic Flora
Françoise Weeks

Edible Flower
    
Not So Local:

Organic Bouquet

Go Vintage

Look to thrift stores, craigslist.org, or eBay for props, décor, and even attire.   
Re-using goods is usually more environmentally friendly than buying something new!  
Now, that's hip.

Wedding Attire

Consider this question: other than your wedding day, will you ever wear your dress again?

If you answered "no" - you might want to consider a few of these environmentally (and cost) friendly alternatives:

Local Vendor:

Olivia Luca

Cosmetics

For organic, natural, and eco-friendly cosmetics try Blush Beauty Bar.

Jewelry and Rings

The type of bling you buy can have a serious impact on the world aroundyou. The mining practices for precious metals is very destructive - destroying communities and demolishing ecosystems by releasing toxins such as cyanide and mercury into the environment. Further, the trade of such metals and diamonds involves the exploitation of people and is directly connected with violence in many places around the world.

Read more on rings and jewelry at grist.org and greenlivingtips.com.
         
If gold or silver are your flavor... you could use "green gold" by having vintage gold rings resized, remade... or by purchasing 'antique' rings.

With Diamonds... hmm. Avoid conflict diamonds (aka. blood diamonds). Read more      in this amazing report by MSNBC about the diamond trade.

Local Jewelry:
Gilt Vintage and Artisan Jewelry - 503.226.0629

Gifts and Favors

Consider setting up a green wedding gift registry. Or you could ask for no gifts to be purchased, but donations made to your favorite charities, non-profit organiziations, or environmental groups.

For wedding favors, consider making those earth friendly too. They could be carbon offsets towards their travel, a donation on the guest's behalf, a tree planted in their name or a gift basket of green products.

Carbon Off-Sets for Travel

What is a Carbon Off-set?

Are Carbon Off-sets effective? This is a very active debate. We encourage anyone interested in pursuing carbon offsets to thoroughly research the company or organization offering the offset. Read more in this New York Times Article.

Also, for a very detailed report by Clean Air - Cool Planet detailing the carbon neutral industry and comparing the effectiveness of different organizations who offer carbon offsetting services, download this pdf: Consumer's Guide To Carbon Offsets.

Certainly, not traveling long distances is the most effective way to minimize your carbon footprint. However - we realize, with family and friends living in different corners of the country and world, long distance travel is sometimes needed.

Essentially, carbon offsets work like this: 

  1. You add up the total carbon footprint of your wedding (travel, goods, services, etc...)
  2. You minimize your carbon footprint by following any number of the other tips suggested on this page
  3. The remaining carbon footprint you have can be off-set by making a donation to a number of organizations that will invest your money in operations that work to reduce atmospheric levels of Greenhouse Causing Gasses and to prevent future emissions through renewable energy sources, planting trees, and other innovative techniques.  The end result is that your wedding is said to be closer to carbon neutral.

Check out a few organizations that help to offset the miles traveled by your guests:

Carbon Counter - Portland, OR
Terra Pass
Native Energy
Atmosfair

Remember... reducing your own usage is the most effective way to lower your footprint. What cannot be reduced or eliminated... this is where offsets come into play.

Additional Sources and Information

Portovert Magazine
Ethical Weddings
Local Harvest
The Wedding Report
Clean Air - Cool Planet

Green Wedding Tips, Michael Bloch, April 15, 2007

Nice Day for a Green Wedding: How to Marry Your Sweetheart and Love The Planet, Suzanne Gerber, May 8 2003

The Bride Wore Green, Liz Savage, Sept. 18, 2006

“With This Ethical Ring I Thee Wed”, The New York Times, Kirk Johnson, April 6, 2006

“Green Weddings”, The Washington Post, Jura Koncius, June 21, 2007

“Buying Carbon-Neutral”, The New York Times, Andrew Revkin, April 29,2007

Preferred vendor listed in the Portland, OR Photographers section of Decido.com.