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Organic Weddings Tracy Fernandez Rysavy


Make your wedding, anniversary party, or commitment ceremony organic and green – for a personal celebration you and your guests won’t ever forget.


New York is a city known for lavish parties and people who embrace the latest material trends. But when Baly Lau and Craig Cooley decided to get married there last year, they made their wedding a simple affair, incorpo- rating as many socially and environ- mentally responible touches as they could.


“We wanted a celebration that was meaningful to us, instead of just tra- ditoinal,” says Baly, a Green America member. “Going green and keeping as many purchases local as possible meant a lot to us.”


So Baly and Craig held a small wed- ding in a friend’s garden – where they’d planted flowers and greenery the year before in preparation for their nuptials. They chose wedding attire they could wear again for other occa- sions, and decorated with soy can- dles, potted bamboo, and lights they’d bought secondhand. They decided to forego an engagement ring because of social and environmental problems with the diamond industry, and they bought all of the reception food and drinks from locally owned stores.


Baly and Craig ended up with a celebration that saved them money and was socially and environmentally respon- sible. They also look back on a wedding that was elegant, special, and deeply personal.


“It wasn’t a sacrifice to green our wedding. I feel we gained more,”


says Baly. “Our wedding reflect- ed our values, our personalities, and our relationship to our com- munity. Most of our friends said it was the best wedding they had ever been to.”


If you or someone you know is about to plan a wedding, anniversary cel- ebration, or commitment ceremony, consider adding in some green touches. Not only will you save money and resources, but you’ll be able to personalize your celebration by bringing in your values.


Go Simple


The first step to planning a green celebration can often be choosing what not to buy, says Michelle Kozin, author of Organic Weddings: Balanc- ing Ecology, Style, and Tradition (New Society Publishers, 2003*.)


“The wedding industry is notorious for promoting excess,” says Kozin. “Your dream wedding can become a reality without overspending and overcon- sumption.”


Tradition dictates you need party favors, rice to throw at the happy cou- ple, and virgin-pulp paper invitations that come with three envelopes and a sheet of tissue paper, for example. But ask yourself, could you do without these or other things, or replace them with pared-down and green alternatives?


Simplifying your celebration isn’t just a money-saving step – it can help you make sure that everything involved in your wedding is personal and meaningful.


The Ring’s the Thing


Whether your celebration is a wedding, a commitment, or an anniversary, you may want to exchange rings, whose circular shape symbolizes eternal love. But there are social and environmen- tal problems connected to diamonds, gold, and platinum – the most com- mon materials used for such rings. For example, gemstone and metal miners often work in cramped and unsafe conditions, and mining itself can dam- age local ecosystems and watersheds. Also, children often labor in diamond mines around the world, and some countries use diamond sales to fuel armed conflicts.


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