A favored wedding

July 2, 2008

One of the major environmentally unfriendly aspects of weddings is the amount of waste it produces.  If you think about it, there’s a whole lot of often traditionally one-time use stuff that’s involved, from the dress to the flowers (more on that later), to those sometimes kitschy favors you often see.  I actually haven’t been to a wedding with those kind of things, but you know what I’m talking about, right?  Maybe it’s a funny little container made of pink plastic that holds chocolate.  You eat the chocolate, and eventually that container ends up in the trash.  Maybe it’s just some random object with the names and date on it; very nice, but really, who has the space on their shelves for the collection of wedding objects from lots of friends and family?  🙂  Then think of that object multiplied times 100+, and then again by all the weddings that have them (there are 2.3 million weddings a year in the United States)!

One way to avoid all that waste is to not have favors at all.  Not only is there no impact in terms of manufacturing, shipping, and garbage, but it’s one less thing you need to plan for and worry about (and spend money on)! 

But, if you do want to provide some kind of token for your guests, as a way of expressing gratitude or for whatever other reason, there are some great options.

  1. Give a small donation per guest (or a lump sum) to a favorite charity.  Or pick a few charities!  It’s up to you; it’s your day.  Let your guests know about the donation on the place cards (printed on recycled paper), in the invitations, or in the program.  It’s a great way to honor your guests by giving back.
  2. Get crafty!  I’m sure lots of you can make really cool (and useful!) little things, from knitting cell phone cases, to making your own drinking glasses (just get one of these gadgets!).  I don’t want to reveal exactly what we’re doing, but I’ll drop the hint that we’re going to be making magnets out of something that’s easy to get a hold of.  Want to try?  Just buy some non-toxic, eco-friendly glue, some little magnets (or those easy to use adhesive magnetic squares, although that adhesive might not be so great for the environment), and stick the magnets to whatever you think your guests might enjoy!  I might stay away from putting just names and dates; make the object something quirky and fun to put on the fridge, and then use calligraphy to write your initials somewhere discrete so your guests never forget.  🙂
  3. Go with edible.  Just make sure to use the most eco-friendly and minimal packaging you can get away with.  Cute plastic boxes are fine, but un-bleached, recyclable boxes are even better.  Something local is always a great idea, too.  In Washington or New York, for instance, setting out beautiful local apples at your guests’ places with your grandmother’s recipe for apple crisp printed on recycled index cards would be lovely!  Candy “bars” are another favorite; give your guests a few options, and you’ll avoid any guilt over possible allergies or dislikes.  Just provide your guests with containers (collect, clean and resuse baby food or other small glass jars, or use brown paper bags or envelopes- recycled, of course!).
  4. Go with living.  Flower seeds (or small potted plants, as long as your guests won’t have to transport them far), are another great idea.  Print the place card info on Flower Seed Paper (there’s lots of favor ideas here, actually), and put it on small pot, and you’ve given your guests all they really need to grow some beautiful flowers!
  5. If you want to spend a bit more, go ahead and get useful things for your guests.  My friend Leonore, who got married just this past weekend (congrats!!), had pretty espresso cups with saucers (every one was different).  You could also consider giving out reuseable tote bags: tie them up with a pretty ribbon, or even get them printed (here’s a place you could put the name and date)!