Brides go for something old, new, borrowed and ... green

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The Independent Online

An increasing number of couples are becoming concerned about the damage their wedding will do the environment. More and more are opting for "green" weddings that keep down carbon emissions, save on food miles and promote sustainability.

Ruth Culver has set up Green Weddings to help couples ensure the footprint they leave on the environment on their big day is kept to a minimum.

She said: "The response has been huge since I set it up this month. My clients tend to be slightly older rather than in their early 20s, and range from people who don't want to spend a huge amount to couples who really want to push the boat out and have a massive day but keep the environmental costs down."

The Climate Care group says the average wedding emits 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide. When set against the 12 tons emitted by the average person during a year, it means getting married can cost the environment as much as the father of the bride.

Ms Culver offers personal consultations, a "green audit" of the planned event and, if needed, eco-friendly management of the day.

"It is about everything, from whether the hotel you use is good on recycling and water management to whether the wine you serve is organic and the food seasonal," she said.

"Green used to be associated with everything being slightly frugal, but if you want you can spend a fortune on a beautiful dress made from ethical fabrics, and the best local food."

The mainstream wedding industry has been slow to catch on to the idea of eco-friendly nuptials, according to Ms Culver, who says she often has to tell venue managers how to improve their green ratings before she can consider them for clients.

Joanne Mackin set up Wholly Jo's last year for brides who want to ensure their gowns are ecologically sound. She uses organic fabrics and "peace silk", made from silkworms that live out their life cycle rather than being boiled alive.

The popularity of ethical wedding gift lists from charities such as Oxfam has also soared in the past year, according to You and Your Wedding magazine.

Tessa Taylor, a writer for the journal, said: "Part of the reason is lots of couples live together before they get married and are already set up in terms of towels and household things. They would rather give something back instead."

Climate Care provides gifts that can offset carbon dioxide emissions, while Oxfam's website, www. oxfamunwrapped. com) offers presents such as saplings and water which can be bought for African villages in lieu of the traditional toaster.

Nicola Baird, of Friends of the Earth and co-author of Save Cash and Save the Planet, said: "The biggest problem is often the honeymoon. People want to go somewhere exotic but the flights are going to really ratchet up the emissions."

Some couples are getting involved in Climate Care's "carbon offsetting" project, where they fly abroad for honeymoons but work on panda conservation in China to ease their guilt.

How to have an eco-wedding

* Keep the wedding and reception close together and lay on transport.

* Buy a vintage gown, rather than (non-biodegradable) polyester or (cruel) silk

* Use local caterers, organic products and seasonal vegetables.

* Save on paper by e-mailing guests with the details.

* Sign up to Oxfam's wedding list. Guests can buy trees, books, goats and water supplies for Africa.

* Don't exchange gold rings, buy antiques or rings with synthetic diamonds.

* Buy organic wine, English if possible, and avoid screw caps.

* Give each guest some seeds to plant at home.

* Honeymoon in Britain or book an eco-holiday, like working on panda conservation in China or at a Sri Lankan orphanage.

* Use seasonal flowers from local growers or potted plants.

Pippa Gueterboch and Henry Muss: 'I want a goat as a wedding gift'

Pippa, an urban designer, and Henry, an energy consultant, will be married on 5 August. They want to use local wine and seasonal produce and keep carbon emissions down as much as possible.

Pippa said: "We have tried to stay as far away as possible from the wedding industry and everything in the wedding magazines. They really annoy me because they don't have anything alternative or green - we have had to do most of the work ourselves.''

The bride's dress is being made from two vintage gowns by a company that specialises in eco-friendly designs, as is the bridegroom's outfit and the maid of honour's dress. The ceremony and reception will be in a country house in Devon and the couple hope to use local wine and seasonal produce.

Locally grown daisies and ivy picked from the venue's garden will be used as table decorations rather than hothouse flowers. The wedding list is from Oxfam and guests will arrive by train.

Pippa said: "I like the idea of being given a goat as a wedding present that can benefit someone somewhere else.''

They scrapped their idea of a holiday in Sri Lanka because of the carbon emissions and will go to the Scilly Isles instead.