Where are you going to get married? It’s a simple question, but this decision alone can determine the feel of the rest of your wedding. Maybe you’re a traditional couple, and a chapel would be best suited to your needs. Maybe you’re an earthy duo, and a garden or park would be better. Heck, maybe you’re a couple of daredevils, and you’d like to say your vows while skydiving. Whatever your style, where you get married can say a lot about you and your significant other.
Because you’re reading my eco-friendly wedding series, I’m assuming that you want your wedding venue to say more than just, “Here we are.” You probably want your venue to be a place that reflects your care and concern for the environment, but you want it to be beautiful at the same time. Basically, you want it all, and who doesn’t? This blog will help you figure out how to get there.
Green Wedding Venues
Challenge: Finding the perfect wedding venue can be a big challenge. It has to be the right size, it has to be within your price range, it has to be available on your date and it has to fit your specifications in any other number of ways. Add to that the fact that you want your venue to be eco-friendly, and you may be in for hours of venue research.
Solution: There are a number of ways to go about finding your perfect eco-haven. The first and more traditional route requires a bit of work on your part, but it’s definitely doable.
If you want to get married in a chapel or wedding hall, you’re not alone. Many couples choose these venues because they are easier to control. The weather isn’t a factor (barring a tornado or monsoon), which is a huge draw, and bug and allergy concerns greatly decrease indoors. There are plenty of reasons for wanting an indoor event, but remember this: It may be difficult to make your indoor event as eco-friendly as an outdoor event because of all the controls necessary to keep your wedding free of humidity, heat and cold. Indoor lighting can be an energy-sucker as well.
If your heart is set on an indoor wedding, research will be your friend. Try writing a list of questions, and begin calling venues. You can ask them what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprint and how they participate in environmental wellness. Only you will know how high the bar is set. If a venue replies that it's equipped with recycling bins, and that’s good enough for you, great. If you need to hear the words “total carbon offset,” you’ll probably have to keep looking.
It may pay off to begin your search with green travel websites such as rezhub.com. These can point you in the direction of green hotels, which could provide great wedding locations.
If you don’t mind moving your wedding into a more natural setting, you’re at a huge advantage already. The outdoors provide light and built-in décor. Here are some fun outdoor wedding venue ideas:
- Your backyard (or the backyard of a friend). Sometimes I still wish that I had gotten married in my childhood backyard. Saying “I do” next to the swingset you played on as a child could be both romantic and sentimental.
- A public garden. Let the natural foliage be your decoration.
- A farm. You could get married on the farm and have your reception in the barn (or the other way around). Google the phrase “farm wedding” and be inspired by the results.
- An orchard or vineyard. If you work with a local owner of one of these locations, you can often bypass the rules and regulations of more strict venues.
- A public park. Many parks have regulations about the types of events allowed, so be sure to get in touch with authorities and discuss your options. Often, you can reserve an entire park or a section of one for a day.
- A beach. You’ll probably want to avoid stilettos if you get married in the sand, but a barefoot wedding can be both natural and beautiful.
The benefits of having an outdoor wedding are numerous, but you should also be prepared for potential roadblocks. Prior to your wedding day, it's a good idea to come up with a backup plan in case of poor weather. For instance, if you’re getting married in your backyard, prepare to move into your house if a downpour strikes. If you’re getting married in a park, consider renting a tent for the day. Soaked wedding guests in their Sunday best have a tendency to get crabby, so at the very least, you could provide spare umbrellas — if they’re cute, they could second as your wedding favors!
You’re well on your way to planning an eco-friendly wedding. Check out the previous blogs in this series:
-Green Engagement Rings and Green Wedding Rings
-Eco-friendly Wedding Invitations and Paper Products
Lindsey Siegele is the Senior Web Editor at Ogden Publications, the parent company of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on Google+.
Photo by iStockPhoto/fatihhoca