COMMENTARY: The Big, Green Day

Author Kate L. Harrison on Saying "I Do" to More Sustainable Weddings

This green bride holds a glass flower bouquet that now beautifies her kitchen.©

Is your idea of the perfect wedding saying your vows in the backyard with no one but garden statues as guests, or throwing yourselves a party to express your devotion in the presence of a few or few hundred kin and comrades? However you decide to say, "I do," green-themed wedding-planning books and websites abound to help you do so in sustainable style. E talked with Kate L. Harrison, author of The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget (Sourcebooks) and founder of, about how to get started planning your big (or modest), green day.

E Magazine: As someone who planned her own eco-conscious nuptials, what are some of the resources you utilized?

Kate L. Harrison: One of the reasons I wrote The Green Bride Guide book was because I could not find the type of comprehensive, by-price, resource I was searching for when we were planning our wedding 2006/2007. Although there are a lot of wonderful green wedding ideas, products and services out there, everything is still pretty piecemeal. I have pulled a lot of the information into the book and am now building out the website to be as comprehensive as possible. We are launching a local directory this summer, and are expanding the shop every day.

That said, to answer your question, my husband and I bought the three green wedding books that existed at the time: Eco-chic Weddings by Emily Anderson, Green Weddings that Don’t Cost the Earth by Carol Reed-Jones and Organic Weddings by Michelle Kozin. (Recent additions to this category are the comprehensive The Everything Green Wedding Book by Wenona Napolitano and the beautifully produced hardcover Green Wedding by Mireya Navarro).

I also spent a lot of time Googling specific products and browsing blogs and green-themed sites, like Style Me Pretty, WeddingBee, DIY wedding boards and Portovert. I found Coop America (now Green America) and Local Harvest very helpful resources for tracking down green terms and companies. These days there are dozens more—Greenopia, The Green Hotel Association, Planet Green"s "How to Go Green: Weddings" guide, Eco Wedding, Ethical Weddings, etc. I am also a big fan of eBay and for everything from vintage or "once worn" wedding wear to handcrafted jewelry, invitations and favors.

A vegan wedding cake with local flowers.©

E: Did you go paperless in any of your plans — i.e., e-vites or a personal website?

KLH: My husband and I sent an electronic save-the-date and had a wedding website that housed all of the travel and lodging info. We used Survey Monkey for RSVPs. We sent out a boxed invitation, but made them ourselves out of salvaged, recycled and edible elements. You can see some of the other green things we did in storyboard format here:

And I just received a YouTube announcement video—things really are changing!

E: We"d love to know what feedback you’re getting from visitors to your site. (E especially likes the "eco strategy" section, with searchable categories including Alternative Energy, Compostable, Ethically Sourced, Vegan and Vintage.) What planning tools do they most appreciate, and what specific green steps are they taking?

KLH: Statistically, the most popular items for couples to green are the flowers, which are cheaper and fresher when bought locally, and the invitation/stationary, which is easy to do without sacrificing style. I am not sure what the most popular tool is, but carbon offsetting is another easy thing couples can do to decrease the impact of their event:

My husband and I offset the travel for our guests in lieu of favors, and I encourage other couples to do the same. It makes a big difference, and also helps raise awareness about the ways we contribute to global warming in our daily lives.

JESSICA RAE PATTON is a contributing editor at E.