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Going Green and Saving Green with your Eco-Friendly Wedding 

Beyond Paychecks is pleased to host guest blogger Andrea Nocito. In the years since graduating Providence, where I first met Andrea, she earned a BA from St. Mary’s and a Master of Science in environmental management from the University of San Francisco. She spent four years at CirclePoint, a California-based environmental planning company before returning to San Antonio. She was named a 2011 Forty under Forty Rising Star by the San Antonio Business Journal and currently works as manager for the Energy Savings Solutions program at UTSA. In her spare time, Andrea founded EcoStrategies, a sustainability planning and implementation firm. True to her ideals, Andrea's recent wedding was planned eco-friendly and she shares some tips here.--Laura Carter

What do you think of when you hear about a friend or colleague is planning a wedding? I’m sure a happy thought comes to mind. I know I’m thinking, or rather singing, “Money, money, money, must be funny in a rich man’s world!” by Abba.

As a recent bride, I thought about the discarded leftovers a one-day event encourages. Naturally, the costs of a wedding did come to mind, but what made my stomach turn more was the shear amount of one-time use I’d get out of every centerpiece, each flower arrangement and THE dress. Oh, the dress. $1300 for a gorgeous masterpiece that I’d only get to wear for eight hours. Oh, it just pains me.


Yes, money, perhaps an elaborate amount of money, will be spent. Much like any large event, an enormous amount of time is spent planning the effort to just dispose of it all after a few hours of pomp and circumstance. I tinkered with running off to Vegas for a simple ceremony and a great party thinking the discarded material from a one-day event might be reduced that way. Well, the drama that ensued from just proposing the idea upset our parents, aunts and uncles we hadn’t seen in 15 years, friends, friends of friends. You get the point.

So, to incorporate some part of me in what I knew would become someone else’s wedding (read between the lines here), I planned an environmentally-friendly wedding, limiting waste detail-by-detail. Here are just a few ways I did it.

PETA friendly accents

Always an area of contention, your colors will irritate a bridesmaid, make your mother cry-out in rage, and cause more drama about a color scheme than any logic would allow you to justify. To many people’s dismay (alright, I’ll admit it: I may have picked one of these colors to irritate a few folks. Come on! It’s the only power I had), I chose a soft gold and Kelly (or what I learned later in San Antonio is called emerald green, jade, and every name other than Kelly) green as our color pattern.

To exemplify these gorgeous colors in one palette and to bring a little Sex in the City to my wedding (again, I need a bit of humor here) we used peacock feathers as subtle accents throughout the bouquets, corsages, and candelabras. You are asking, how is that eco-friendly? After all, while feathers may be all-natural, use of animal parts doesn’t quite say, ‘we love mother Earth,’ right? Indulge me for a moment before you call PETA. I did my homework shopping for PETA – approved feathers.

At first, I thought to get synthetic feathers, but then realized that promoted a large amount of energy use when considering transportation miles, chemicals used to dye the feathers and create the plastic structures to hold the feathers in place, and likely an ungodly amount of water as so many manufacturing processes do to cool machines as they compress, process and move items through an assembly line.

With synthetic out, I had to go for the real thing, but was very sensitive to not harming the majestic animals for my one day. I found a company that sustainability “harvests” the feathers after the birds have molted during the warm weather season. The quills are then collected, cleaned of debris, and sold. I even found nature preserves that allow free range of peacocks (and likely, other animals) supporting their habitat and protecting them from poachers. These preserves collect and then sell the feathers to generate income for the preserve. Eco-fabulous, no?

Eco Invitations

We selected an acid-free paper that was not bleached with chlorine to make it white (nice because we wanted gold paper in keeping with our color scheme). The paper was made from 50% recycled content, is recyclable for everyone’s recycle bins, and was manufactured in a building using 100% renewable energy power. That’s right, oh yea, we were super green, oh yea!


We folded each sheet of acid – free paper into a booklet to contain a return card printed on recycled card stock. We also placed one 3-inch card detailing attire and gift instructions. These cards were made from generic invitations, also on recycled content paper. We took the ready-made invites, cut them in half and printed on them. Thus, we made better use of the paper and saved money not buying as many invitations. Score!

Finally, we mailed these invitations in envelopes my super friend and helper had on hand from a previous round of hand-made invitations she created for a separate occasion. Therefore, we prevented buying additional envelopes, cutting down trees, adding to climate change, water pollution and chemical use. Whoop!

Now, we could have made this process more green had we been able to find some sort of eco-ribbon, say hemp, or brads made of some sort of recycled content. But, hey, we did pretty darn good if you ask this eco-chic chick!

Follow  Andrea @eco_strategies and Facebook




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