Other Ways We Made Our Wedding Eco-Friendly

At the same time I was fine tuning my bridal style, I was also focusing on how to green the decor and gifts (that we both gave and received). By carrying elements throughout each part of the wedding, we were able to put together unique decorations that truly enhanced the inherent beauty of our venue, the Caldwell House.

Decor

I've written before about using Eco Flower for bouquets and boutonnieres, and today I'm switching over to how I used them in our reception decorations. From the beginning, I wanted to use spray painted wine bottles as vases, and over the course of a year, I worked on painting about 60 of them in two shades of teal, champagne gold, and white. (Yes, I may have matched the bridesmaids' dresses to the teal spray paint, but it's fine when it's my favorite color!)

The wine bottles were either my own or donated by friends, and a few were salvaged from my in-laws' after the flood. They were safe, just muddy, so they got extra special sanitizing before the paint job. It's time consuming to scrape wine labels off, but it was worth it in the end. The color arrangements turned out how I envisioned, and each vase held 2-3 eco flowers that were either natural white or light aqua.


As we decorated, we ended up reusing baby's breath from the rehearsal dinner by adding them to each wine bottle arrangement. And I added pictures of us by hanging them from jute string and tiny clothespins.


Thanks to my husband's family, we reused a lot of rehearsal dinner decorations in the reception and dining areas, giving them longer life and keeping the white, gold and natural themes going.


I saved a few loose eco flowers for the wedding cake, and our unique cake topper comes from Etsy. I love how my cake truly tied in a lot of our wedding's eco-friendly elements, and the groom's cake paid tribute to our love of Acadiana. (Sky's the Limit Cakes did both cakes and Midnight Moon Vintage Event Rental provided the tree trunk cake stand and vintage lace doilies. Visit my feature post on Midnight Moon!)


And finally, for our guestbook, we opted for something we could use as a piece of art, rather than a formal book we would never look at again. I went back to Etsy, and found a shop that makes string art on large wood slabs. We provided metallic Sharpies for guests to sign with, and it's on my to-do list to run a clear protective coat over the whole thing to keep those signatures from fading over time.

 
The piece has been hanging in our living room since the day after the wedding, and I still smile every time I look at it. We definitely made the right choice on our guestbook alternative.

Registry

It's inevitable that your wedding registry and ensuing receipt of gifts will use a lot of wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags, which can't be traditionally recycled. But, if you request that guests leave your gifts unwrapped, you can eliminate a LOT of that single-use waste!

We decided to hold a couples shower/engagement party a few weeks before our wedding, so the focus was more on visiting with our family and friends and not on the gifts themselves. So, when we got home with our new items and went through everything, it felt just as exciting as if they were wrapped! I absolutely loved not having a huge pile of wrapping paper to throw away, gift bags to store, or tissue paper to fold up and store (of COURSE I save and reuse all tissue paper!)

When we received gifts in the mail, we broke down and recycled all cardboard boxes, and I saved any packaging material (especially bubble wrap, air packs and brown kraft paper) to use for packing all of the spray painted wine bottles for transport. Oh, how nice it was to have the materials on hand for that!

We kept our registry fairly small, as we already own a lot of the items we need every day, and we didn't want to replace things just to have a larger registry. And a lot of the items we wanted will help us be even greener at home.

  • Our new coffee maker came with a reusable gold mesh filter, so we haven't had to use a paper filter in almost two months now.
  • Our toaster oven will help save energy, because I won't have to turn on the oven for small jobs like toasting tortillas or reheating fried foods.
  • We got a silicone baking sheet liner so I don't have to use disposable parchment paper.
  • And our new sheets are made of Tencel, a fiber made from cellulose, found in wood pulp. Created by Austrian textile company Lenzing, Tencel is the branded version of a similar fiber, lyocell. Tencel fabric is extremely soft and breathes well, making it a great fabric for bedding. In addition, the fiber requires less land and water during production than cotton. (Business Insider) We love these sheets.
  • While not on our registry, I love that one of our friends got us a solar powered lantern as part of a patio entertaining gift basket.

Wedding Party Gifts

I spent a lot of time brainstorming what to get my bridesmaids for their gifts, wanting something that reflected my eco-friendly values. And about three weeks before the wedding, I realized Alex and Ani bracelets would be a beautiful choice. All Alex and Ani bracelets are made in the United States, and they use sustainable materials derived from eco-conscious processes.

As I browsed the site, I fell in love with the Charity by Design section, where I found a bracelet to match each of my bridesmaids' personalities. The Simplify bracelet for my minimalist friend Michelle supports the Life Is Good Kids Foundation, the Bicycle bracelet for my bike and yoga buddy Hailey supports the Pan-Mass Challenge, and the Living Water bracelet for my doctor friend Jody supports Living Water International. Sweet gifts that also give back and do good...I am all about it!

And in a sign of fate, there was a sale going on the day I ordered that allowed me to get a free bracelet, so I picked out the gorgeous Love bracelet to commemorate my wedding.


When it came to gifts for our mothers, I turned to Melancon, the Abbeville jeweler where we purchased our rings, to see what they had in store. I gravitated toward a display of bell charms, which I learned are made by a company in Austin, Texas. The Bell Collection is a small, family-owned business who makes bell charms for all occasions and sentiments. These turned out to be a sweet, personal memento, and I loved supporting two small businesses in the process.

In addition, my husband (without realizing he was doing something eco-friendly, probably) bought reusable Yeti ramblers for his groomsmen, and had them engraved with each guy's last name. All the guys loved their gifts, and the ramblers promote reusable over single-use!


Hopefully, this will give you some ideas or inspire you to make your own wedding or event a bit more eco-friendly. There are so many ways you can approach it, from shopping small, to reusing and DIYing, to working toward zero-waste!

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