Your wedding is probably one of the biggest parties you’ll ever throw in your life. And because you’re going to have so many guests, that means that you’re going to need a lot of, well, everything. But once the wedding is over, you don’t necessarily want all of those items to wind up in a landfill, either. That’s when thinking about having an eco-friendly wedding can be an option. In fact, by making some small modifications, you can have a beautiful wedding that even Mother Nature would love. We spoke with Kate Harrison, a former environmental attorney turned author who is creating a green movement in the wedding market. Her tips for an eco-friendly wedding just might have you saying, “I do.”
I loved the Green Bride Guide. I wish I had the book when I had gotten married.
Thanks! You can tell it’s written by a lawyer because it marches you through the process! [laughs] It really works as a guidebook for brides. It’s printed on recycled paper with soy inks. And because it took a while for it to be published, I ended up starting a blog to keep it up to date. The blog then took on a life o
f its own. I realized that there was a larger opportunity there than I had thought.
The book is really geared for any brides, not just those who are already eco-friendly.
We want to show brides all the eco-friendly options that are out there. You don’t have to sacrifice style to go green. Once they see it’s a simple substitution, they are more apt to choose it.
How was your own wedding eco-friendly?
We went over the top! [laughs] We wanted to see how green we could go. Almost everything was eco-friendly. From the gown to the cake (which was organic) to having a local honeymoon, we made sure the wedding was green. But we did have a mishap along the way. We spent a lot of time to find green transportation to move guests from the wedding service to the reception. We had rented biodiesel buses but because of a horrible misunderstanding with the transportation company, what actually showed up were these stretch SUV limos! Not only was it the least green form of transportation, but it also had leopard interiors and mirrors on the ceiling!
For a regular bride, what eco-friendly elements could she adapt for her own wedding?
Over 60% of brides want some element of green in their wedding. Recycled paper invitations are the easiest way to get green. What I really try to get brides to focus on are things that really get the needle to move environmentally. Did you know that flowers are one of the most toxic things at a wedding? They are grown overseas in hot houses that are not regulated. They are doused in pesticides and fertilizers, so there are workers’ issues—it’s a pretty bad industry. So I try to get brides to choose flowers grown locally that fit in with the theme of their wedding. It also saves money because it’s expensive to have them flown in.
Food is also another way to be environmentally friendly. If a couple can get food that’s grown locally, it’s better for the environment and it’s also a healthier option.
The generation getting married now is really environmentally aware. They want to do things that help the environment and they are realizing that it’s pretty easy to do. Plus, it’s beautiful. After all, cheap plastic frames don’t enhance your wedding.
Now, how did you go from being an eco-friendly bride to being an eco-friendly mommy?
My husband and I live a pretty environmentally friendly lifestyle. We don’t have toxic products in our house. It’s actually been a pretty seamless segue.
How do you find your balance?
It is a lot to handle but I’m lucky in that my parents live nearby. My son Sterling stays there with them and I can see him often. The rest is just discipline. I used to work 100 hours a week, and now I work from 10-6. If I need to work more, then I do it after Sterling goes to bed. It’s prioritizing what you do. I’ve culled my hours but my productivity is still the same. It’s simply getting enough hands to get everything done.