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More Than A Dream January 24, 2017

Destination weddings can make for memorable moments for brides, grooms, and their family and friends. While the celebrations often take place in idyllic locales that make for a gorgeous backdrop to the celebration of the happy couple, setting the perfect ambiance for such a noteworthy occasion without breaking the bank can be tricky.

Destination weddings ask a lot of both the couple and their guests. Couples may need to visit the location of their wedding several times before the big day, and those costs can quickly add up. Guests will also need to budget for flights and lodging to attend a destination wedding. However, there are some ways for couples to rein in the associated costs to ensure that everyone has a good time without having to worry about finances as soon as the big day is over.

Look for Convenient, Affordable Travel. Some resorts may offer great prices on destination wedding packages, but be careful to avoid locations so remote that you and your guests will be forced to pay for expensive flights. With the rising popularity of destination weddings, many resorts now offer competitive packages; however, if keeping travel affordable for guests is a goal, it is important to choose a location that will allow travelers to book a reasonably priced flight rather than choosing the location based on the cost of the wedding package.

Shorten the Guest List. Trimming the guest list is how many couples curtail destination wedding costs. Invite only your closest family members and friends to the wedding and reception and then host a second, less-formal party for your remaining relatives and friends after returning from your honeymoon. Guests will understand, and you will ultimately get the chance to celebrate with all of your loved ones anyway.

Go Simple and Save. Many traditional weddings include all the bells and whistles, like lavish flowers and elaborate gowns. Destination weddings are often expected to be simplified, particularly if the festivities are at an island location. Let nature do the decorating and opt for native wedding attire if it's more affordable than potentially costly gowns and tuxedos.

Resist Peak Tourist Season. Much like there is a peak wedding season throughout North America, many popular travel spots' economies depend heavily on tourism seasons. Avoid that season when choosing a date for your destination wedding and you'll also avoid the higher costs that are associated with the more popular tourist times.

Go Discount Hunting. Popular destination wedding locations may be willing to negotiate prices on all aspects of the wedding, and those discounts may increase as more guests commit to attending. Resorts recognize that weddings will bring guests in need of lodging, food, and entertainment. Couples can use that to their advantage when negotiating prices. Couples may even be able to negotiate with airlines for discounted airfares if they can guarantee a certain number of travelers.

Buy Local. When planning your wedding, embrace the culture of your chosen destination and choose local foods, flowers, and entertainment. Not only will it make your big day more unique and authentic, but it will also save you money and benefit the local economy at the same time.

Don't Forget... Couples hoping to have a destination wedding in another country may want to plan for a longer engagement than those getting married closer to home. The longer timeframe gives guests more time to arrange for travel, and it allows the bride and groom more time to navigate the requirements of getting married in a different country. Paperwork should be expected, and wedding license applications may not be processed as quickly. Be sure to have a firm grasp of the country's application process, including the possibility of having birth certificates and other personal documents translated into the official language of the country. Also, be sure to check on residency requirements of the country that you hope to marry in. Take advantage of a professional wedding planner, if the resort you choose has one on staff. A professional can make it easier for couples to navigate the sometimes complex laws regulating destination weddings, and a wedding planner's services are often included in resort wedding packages. If no such service is included in the hotel package, consider hiring a local wedding planner to make the process go more smoothly.

Destination weddings can be significant undertakings, but if couples are armed with the proper knowledge and preparation, the bride and groom can enjoy the wedding event of a lifetime and create memories that will last forever.

Ben & Andrea's Majestic Rocky Mountain Wedding

When Ben and Andrea Singer of Lancaster decided to plan their dream wedding, they knew that it would involve travel for their family and friends. "Our family is spread out across the country," Andrea explained. "Regardless of what we did, half of our family would have to travel."

The couple began planning a lavish autumn wedding in their local area, but they soon decided it wasn't going to live up to their hopes for the big day. "We realized we needed to refocus and bring things back to what mattered to us," the couple shared. "We were planning a wedding for other people, rather than a wedding that would make us happy."

With their newfound focus, the couple zeroed in on a destination wedding in a location that was special to both of them: the Rocky Mountains. "Andrea spent her childhood vacationing at the YMCA of the Rockies, and as adults, we have shared this place together. When we decided to go with a destination wedding, it was a logical choice for us, given its significance and our great love of the outdoors," Ben said. "It seemed like a wonderful idea to bring our families together in a place with so many fond memories for the two of us, and it gave us an opportunity to share this place with the people we love."

In the week leading up to the wedding, the couple rented a 32-person cabin where their families could spend time and get to know each other. "It was a surprisingly drama-free week that culminated in our wedding," Andrea recalled. "There were certainly a lot of 'what-ifs' leading up to the wedding, but the YMCA of the Rockies did an amazing job of making our wedding work," noted Ben.

The Singers were thrilled with their Rocky Mountain wedding, and they have a few tips for other couples who are interested in saying "I do" in a special, far-away locale. "Destination weddings can be tricky because you may not even see your wedding venue until (the big day)," Andrea noted. "Plan how you want things to go way ahead of time so that there are fewer surprises when you get down to the wire." Ben and Andrea also recommend that couples decide what they are willing to sacrifice, noting that not all of their close friends and family were able to make the big day. "For some, that may be a sacrifice they are not willing to make. Even something as small as trying wedding cakes or catering options will be something you may miss out on," Ben said.

However, for each sacrifice, there is the reward of lifelong memories. "Destination weddings replace some of the sacrifices with memories you simply can't make elsewhere," Andrea pointed out. One glimpse of the Singers' incredible wedding photos with breathtaking mountain views in the background, and there's no doubt that the couple made a great decision.

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Seven Tips For Planning A Great Honeymoon August 1, 2016

A couple's honeymoon is their first real chance to relax and unwind after the hustle and bustle of wedding planning. Couples who want to make sure their first getaway as husband and wife goes off seamlessly might want to consider the following tips.

1. Start saving early. Honeymoons are expensive, so to afford the vacation of their dreams, couples should begin saving for the honeymoon as early as possible. The bride- and groom-to-be may need to be willing to compromise and make sacrifices in other areas to ensure they have enough funds for their dream honeymoon getaway. Couples should not expect cash gifts at their weddings to pay for their trips. If they do, they may be sorely disappointed when the time comes to take off.

2. Read online reviews. Online reviews can paint an accurate picture of a potential honeymoon destination. A couple should look at vacationer-supplied photographs to see how the accommodations match up to the resort's own marketing materials. Surprises such as service fees, dirty rooms or a lack of beach amenities may be disappointing.

3. Plan at least one exciting outing. While on the honeymoon, a couple should be sure to go on at least one adventure. They should try an activity they have never done before, such as snorkeling, traveling a zip line or swimming with stingrays.

4. Pack early. After a long wedding day, the bride and groom likely will not want to spend time packing. They should pack their suitcases and travel essentials in advance of the wedding day so they have more time to sleep in before departing on their trip. Also, couples should remember not to overpack if they want to have room for souvenirs purchased along the way.

5. Enjoy the surroundings. Couples should put down their smartphones or tablets long enough to truly enjoy their surroundings. A honeymoon is an opportunity to relax, and that may not be possible if one is tied to his or her devices. Friends at home can wait for status updates and wedding pictures.

6. Splurge on something expensive. Whether it is an ultra-fancy dinner or an exotic souvenir, couples should indulge.

7. Leave the itinerary open. After scores of wedding appointments and watching the clock, couples have the opportunity to be flexible.

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Destination: Happily Ever After August 1, 2016

Destination weddings continue to be popular among couples tying the knot. In its annual Real Weddings Survey, multiplatform wedding resource The Knot found that 24 percent of the nearly 16,000 brides and grooms who participated in the survey and married in 2014 had destination weddings, the second year in a row that nearly a quarter of all survey respondents acknowledged taking their vows away from home.

Destination weddings often benefit from picturesque landscapes and idyllic backdrops during ceremonies and bridal party photo sessions. But there are some things couples should consider before they decide to tie the knot in a faraway land.

Paperwork

Whether the couple is getting married in their current country of residence or overseas, they must allow time for paperwork to be processed. Wedding license applications may not be processed as quickly on a remote island as they are in a major American city, so one should be sure to get a firm grasp of the application process and its timeline before opting for a destination wedding. In addition, some countries may mandate that personal documents, such as birth certificates, be translated into the official language of the country where couples will be tying the knot, and such translations typically must be conducted by approved translators.

Requirements

Some countries may allow couples to tie the knot the moment they step off the plane, while others have residency requirements that can be as long as several weeks. Those with tight budgets or inflexible work schedules should try to find a country that does not require them to spend several weeks within its borders before they can legally marry in that location.

Wedding Planner

Many couples who choose destination weddings ultimately get married at a resort, and such resorts typically have wedding planners or coordinators who are well versed in local laws and customs governing wedding ceremonies. Such professionals can make it easier for couples to navigate the sometimes-complex laws regulating destination weddings, and their services are often included in resort wedding packages. If no such service is included in the hotel package, couples may consider hiring a local wedding planner to make the process go more smoothly.

Engagement Period

Couples hoping to have a destination wedding should plan to have a longer engagement than those getting married closer to home. The longer engagement period gives guests more time to arrange for travel and couples more time to navigate the requirements of getting married overseas. When sending save-the-date cards to guests, they should include brochures about the area where the wedding will take place so guests can see what the area has to offer.

Buy Local

Many couples choose destination weddings because they are attracted to the local culture in a given place. When planning a destination wedding, one can embrace the culture by choosing local foods, flowers and entertainment. Not only will it make the big day more unique and authentic, but it will also help couples to save money and benefit the local economy at the same time.

Destination weddings are significant undertakings, but couples can ease some of the workload by taking steps to make the planning process go more smoothly.

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When To Visit Honeymoon Hotspots December 1, 2015

A honeymoon provides a welcome retreat for a couple after months upon months of budgeting, planning and ironing out the details of their weddings. On their honeymoons, couples get the chance to escape the pressures of everyday life and simply enjoy being alone with each other in special locations.

Honeymoon vacations can be expensive, and many couples want to ensure they get the best value for their trips. A honeymoon that is overshadowed by inclement weather can make the once-in-a-lifetime trip memorable for all the wrong reasons. While not every hiccup can be avoided, couples can plan their honeymoons for those times of year when specific locales experience their best weather.

· Jamaica: Couples tying the knot in the earlier part of the year may want to honeymoon in Jamaica. With average temperatures in the 80s year-round, Jamaica makes for a great honeymoon destination. January through April see less rain than other times of the year, but couples should keep in mind that June through the end of December is hurricane season.

· Australia: People opting to get married in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere might want to escape the cooler temperatures and shorter days with a honeymoon south of the Equator. Australia and New Zealand are beautiful spots to visit and enjoy summer when those in the Northern Hemisphere are mired in winter.

· France: Paris and other French cities can be enchanting to visit any time of the year, but locals advise that honeymooners visit in September, when the climate is comfortable and tourism is minimal. Spring is another great time to visit France, especially for couples who want to spend plenty of time outdoors.

· Mexico: Areas of Mexico such as Cancún and Cozumel tend to stay warm all year long, but they can be particularly hot in the summer. Brides and grooms who tie the knot in the spring may want to venture there before the summer season is in full swing. Couples might want to avoid vacationing in certain areas in March, as students visiting for spring break may compromise the romantic atmosphere honeymooners seek.

· Hawaii: Spring and summer can be ideal times to visit the islands of Hawaii, as the weather can be beautiful and travel tends to be less expensive during these times of year. Rains increase as autumn sets in, and Hawaii often sees the bulk of its vacationers during the winter, meaning higher costs and bigger crowds.

· Italy: April through June and September through October are some of the best times to visit Italy. Travelers should be aware that especially southern Italy and Sicily can get quite hot during the peak summer months and Venice tends to be misty and damp during the late fall and early spring.

Weather and tourism should be among the factors considered as newlyweds choose where to go on their honeymoon.

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What Kind Of Honeymoon Couple Are You? January 5, 2015

Most couples view their honeymoon as an earned and needed reward after the time-consuming process of planning a wedding. Unless you already have a destination in mind, however, options for honeymoons can seem limitless and even overwhelming at times. Plus, not all couples will enjoy all types of honeymoons. Take the quiz below to help determine what sort of post-ceremony adventure best suits you and your intended.

1. If my future spouse and I were to take a class together, it would be:

A)-ballroom dancing

B)-skydiving lessons

C)-meditation sessions

D)-a foreign language class

E)-horseback riding

2. When we go to the movies together, my intended and I usually see:

A)-a historical drama

B)-an action flick

C)-a comedy

D)-a foreign film or documentary

E)-a sports biopic

3. If my betrothed and I were a shirt, we'd be:

A)-a crisp, white button-down

B)-something in a zebra print

C)-a cozy, warm, worn-in sweatshirt

D)-a sweater vest

E)-a tech shirt made from moisture-wicking fabric

4. To celebrate a special occasion, we:

A)-go to dinner at a classy, elegant restaurant

B)-go to a nightclub or a show

C)-get takeout and a bottle of wine to enjoy on the deck

D)-go to a new museum exhibit or a tour of a historical site

E)-take a hike/bike ride on a scenic trail

5. If we were getting a new pet, my future spouse and I would choose:

A)-a golden retriever

B)-a python

C)-a cat

D)-a parrot

E)-a monkey

6. When the weather is beautiful, we:

A)-spend a long weekend at the shore

B)-try a new activity like whitewater rafting or rock climbing

C)-relax outdoors or by a pool

D)-visit an outdoor garden or take a guided walking tour

E)-go camping

7. If my honey and I were a type of exercise, we'd be:

A)-jogging

B)-spelunking

C)-yoga

D)-We prefer a mental exercise like a crossword puzzle or Sudoku.

E)-kayaking

8. Our favorite holiday is:

A)-Valentine's Day

B)-New Year's Eve

C)-Thanksgiving

D)-Veterans Day

E)-Fourth of July

9. If my partner and I could be described as a science fair project, we would be:

A)-an exercise on the corrosiveness of soda

B)-a bubbling volcano

C)-an inquiry into how text color affects retention

D)-an in-depth analysis on the visoelasticity of specific polymers

E)-a study on stream erosion

10. If my future spouse and I were a mode of transportation, we'd be:

A)-a limo

B)-an ATV

C)-a pickup truck

D)-a Smart Car

E)-a bicycle

11. During our free time, we like to:

A)-run errands

B)-explore a new town or store

C)-have a Netflix marathon

D)-read

E)-volunteer

12. If we were a flavor of ice cream, we would be:

A)-vanilla and chocolate swirl

B)-party cake

C)-chocolate chip cookie dough

D)-frozen Greek yogurt

E)-fruit sorbet

Honeymoon Quiz Answer Key

If you picked mostly A's: You and your future spouse are most likely a Traditional couple. When you think of a honeymoon, classic images of sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets spring to mind. Options to consider include a deluxe stay at a Caribbean resort, a first-class cruise to a tropical paradise, or a leisurely trip throughout the lovely Napa Valley. For those who wish to experience Europe, Italy abounds with romance (think Tuscany or a gondola ride along a Venice canal), and many couples relish all the details of Paris, the City of Love. Stateside travelers can consider the truly classic honeymoon destination of Niagara Falls (though if you want to cross into Canada, remember that a passport is required!) or the increasingly popular fairy-tale atmosphere of Walt Disney World.

Mini-moon option: Plot a course to local waters and schedule a romantic getaway to the New Jersey or Maryland shore.

If you picked mostly B's: Adventure's your game! Adventurous duos revel in excitement, and you want your honeymoon to be full of fun and unforgettable experiences! Courageous souls can map out a honeymoon featuring activities like canyoneering in Costa Rica, scuba-diving in Hawaii, or snowboarding in Killington, Vt., or Jackson Hole, Wyo. Those who itch to venture to distant locales can organize a sightseeing expedition among the glaciers and grizzlies of Alaska or earn stamps in their passports by booking a safari in Zambia in southern Africa. Interested in logging some sunbathing between treks on the savanna? Book a trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar Island to get your fill of both the beach and the wilds.

Mini-moon option: Seeks some thrills at Hersheypark, the Sweetest Place on Earth, or check out extreme sports options like whitewater rafting in the Pocono Mountains region.

If you picked mostly C's: You and your future spouse are a Laid-back twosome who like to stop and smell the roses. The wedding may have been all about sharing your bliss with family and friends, but you want your honeymoon to be a calming reprieve from the hustle and bustle of planning a ceremony. Find your Zen and decompress by visiting a yoga or meditation retreat, which are offered throughout the U.S. and in exotic locations like Costa Rica and India. Want to sail off into the sunset? Charter a private yacht and cruise out in open waters with a discrete staff eager to ensure your honeymoon is both relaxing and memorable. Other escapes include "unplugged" options such as an eco-lodge in the Dominican Republic or off-the-grid resort in the Grenadine Islands. Going tech-, phone-, and television-free may seem daunting, but what better time than a honeymoon to focus solely on each other?

Mini-moon option: Whisk your honey away to a luxurious resort in Cook Forest State Park or another similar haven, where amenities include a picturesque setting, spa offerings, and plenty of privacy.

If you picked mostly D's: Consider yourselves an Educational pair! You and your partner possess keen intellects and take joy in learning new facts and broadening your horizons. Luckily, many beautiful locales feature a wealth of academic attributes as well. Visit the battlegrounds of World War II throughout Europe, discover the ancient sites in Greece, or tour plantations of the American South. Keep in mind that a thirst for knowledge can span all sorts of subjects and skills. If typical academia is not your preference but you find gastronomy fascinating, schedule a foodie road trip and sample famous fare at every stop. The best part of being curious is that researching the perfect honeymoon is a mental exercise right up your alley!

Mini-moon options: All kinds of educational treasures can be found within driving distance. Brainstorm activities like taking a ghost tour in Gettysburg, enjoying a mural sightseeing trip in Philadelphia, or learning about history firsthand in Williamsburg, Va.

If you picked mostly E's: You and your intended are not fans of hanging out on the sidelines. Why sit and watch the world go by when you can hop into the action and take part? Active couples tend to savor honeymoons that involve an equal percentage of exertion and leisure. No guts, no glory, right? You feel at home in the spectacular arena of nature. Take a bike trip along the coast of California or, for a mixture of both natural beauty and extravagance, go glamping. High-class camping destinations are offered everywhere from Montana to Thailand. Additional alternatives for after the wedding include a road trip to various national parks, volunteering on an expedition with Earthwatch Institute, or going horseback riding or hot air ballooning in Albuquerque, N.M.

Mini-moon option: Pack your camping gear and hike a nearby stretch of the Appalachian Trail. There's nothing more romantic than stargazing with the one you love!

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Your Go-To Honeymoon Packing List September 4, 2013

Whether you're taking a road trip to a nearby location or jet-setting to an overseas destination, creating a list of the items you need to bring will make packing easier. Some items to remember:

* Money: You will need some cash even if you're visiting an all-inclusive resort. In addition, take one or two major credit cards. (Only bringing what you need will limit the number of cards you will have to cancel or replace if your wallet goes missing.)

* Clothing: Pack clothing that can be mixed and matched for a number of different looks, as well as at least one dressier option, at least two swimsuits (so you can wear one while the other is drying), and workout clothing and athletic shoes if you plan to visit the resort's fitness center or go for a hike.

* Camera and accessories, including a charger, extra batteries, an extra memory card, etc.

* Cell phone: Check with your mobile carrier to find out if you will incur extra fees when making calls or accessing data at your destination. If so, you may be able to purchase prepaid phone cards or negotiate a temporary international rate.

* An electrical converter to plug in any electronics (if traveling internationally).

* Toiletries and comfort products, such as razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, shaving cream, insect repellent, sunburn soothing cream, aspirin, motion sickness medication, feminine hygiene products, sunscreen, and hair products. These items may be much more expensive to purchase at your destination (or your favorite brands might not be available at all). While the hotel may provide certain toiletries, bringing along travel-sized products will ensure you have everything you need.

* Eyeglasses/contacts: Bring a spare in case your primary pair is lost or damaged. And don't forget sunglasses!

* Zipper-top bags: Various sizes of storage bags can be used to store wet swimsuits or for protecting and sorting different items.

* Fold-up travel bag: Use it to tote items to and from the beach or while sightseeing and also to carry home souvenirs that take up too much space in your luggage.

Other things to consider before your trip:

If you will need to bring along any medications, allow yourself ample time to visit the doctor and ask for a prescription renewal so you won't run out while away. Store medications in their original packaging so that items checked by customs or airline personnel can be easily identified.

If you are traveling by air, familiarize yourself with the rules of the airline well in advance. Contact customer service or visit the airline's website for information on baggage weight limits and restrictions regarding carry-on items.

A new bride planning to take her husband's last name may want to wait until after returning from the honeymoon to officially change her name to avoid any hassle or hold-ups when checking in at the airport or traveling internationally with a married name that does not match the name on her passport.

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"Reel" Romantic Destinations August 30, 2013

Get a start on your happily ever after by taking cues from 10 romantic movies that explore the dynamics of love in beautiful, honeymoon-worthy locales.

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Destination: Marital Bliss August 28, 2013

No two couples are the same, and as a result, no two weddings are ever the same. Weddings can run the gamut when it comes to style, from ultra-formal, black-tie affairs to laid-back ceremonies on the beach.

When a couple decides to have a destination wedding, a walk down the aisle often takes place in a tropical locale. There are a host of factors that determine whether or not a destination wedding will go off without a hitch.

* Budget. Though destination weddings are often more affordable than traditional weddings, couples should still establish a budget. Destination weddings are typically more intimate affairs with far fewer guests. Fewer guests means fewer mouths to feed and less money needed to feed them. However, destination weddings can also come with some hidden costs. For instance, couples might want to cover the costs of flying out their parents or the bridal party. If the wedding is taking place out of the country, that can significantly increase the cost of the wedding. Before making a final decision on a destination, first determine how much can be spent and how that compares to what a wedding in a particular destination is going to cost.

* Attendance. Though a couple should get married in whatever location they prefer, most couples would like their most intimate friends and family members to attend the services. Therefore, a successful destination wedding ensures those people closest to the couple can afford to attend. This means couples will need to provide significant advance notice to friends and families. Save-the-date cards should be sent out earlier than they would be for standard weddings. This gives guests time to budget for the trip and align it with their work schedules. If late notice is given, then attendance will likely fall short of a couple's expectations.

* Help. Couples should know planning a destination wedding will go much more smoothly with the help of a wedding coordinator from the chosen destination and/or a travel agent. A coordinator will know the local vendors and procedures for getting married. Sometimes, this help is even part of a resort's services.

* Laws. Marriage laws vary depending on location, and couples should research the marriage laws of any destination they're considering before setting any plans in stone. Overseas marriage licenses aren't necessarily as easy to obtain for nonresidents and might take a long time to be issued. Know the hurdles before deciding on a destination and setting the plans in motion.

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Honeymoons From Near to Far August 28, 2013

Whether the newlyweds have just a couple days to get away or two weeks, the honeymoon is often a highlight of the wedding experience and a much-needed time to relax and spend time enjoying each other's company after months of planning. Here are some popular honeymoon destinations and their approximate distances for the Central Pennsylvania couple looking to stay nearby or venture off into the world.

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A Honeymoon for Every Month of the Year! August 27, 2013

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Going Green On Your Big Day: August 23, 2013

Couples about to tie the knot can make their weddings even more special by making the festivities eco-friendly.

Environmentally friendly ideals are now permeating all aspects of daily living, and couples who already do their best to reduce, reuse, and recycle may want to employ those same values on their wedding day. The growing interest in eco-conscious weddings not only benefits the planet, but also allows couples to set their weddings apart, as eco-friendly aspects can help create unique memories.

Eco-conscious couples can go green in a number of ways before, during, and after their wedding. The carbon footprint of a wedding can be reduced simply by scaling back and avoiding over-consumption. However, there are also easy ways to include green practices in a wedding without compromising on style or statement. Couples won't have to jeopardize their ideals or tastes to achieve a wedding that is both green and beautiful.

Invitations:

One of the easiest ways for a bride and groom to go green while planning their wedding involves the wedding invitations, as couples have many options for eco-friendly invitations. Though many etiquette experts frown on abandoning paper invitations for digital ones, many couples are doing just that. Those who still prefer paper can go green by having their invitations printed on recycled paper or tree-free paper.

Couples can also reduce their other wedding stationary needs by skipping the extra inserts inside of the invitation, such as directions and registry cards. Instead, couples can direct guests to a personal wedding Web page. Many wedding websites offer couples the chance to create their own personal Web page with information about themselves and the wedding ceremony and reception. Couples can post directions, hotel information, and other details that would otherwise be disseminated with the paper invitations. Collecting all of this information on a Web page reduces paper consumption and makes it easier for a couple's guests to find all the pertinent details regarding the big day.

Wedding Attire and Jewelry:

Another way to reduce a wedding's carbon footprint is to reuse and recycle wedding attire and jewelry. A couple's journey to their wedding day typically begins with the marriage proposal and an engagement ring, and even this time-honored tradition can be done in an eco-friendly way. Couples can go green by purchasing vintage or antique engagement rings and wedding bands. Couples can also shop from jewelers that use recycled stones and metals. For a more personal approach, family heirloom jewelry can be used.

Eco-conscious brides can also embrace history when selecting their wedding attire if the bride's mother, grandmother, or other relative has offered her wedding gown. Reusing a wedding dress that has been re-fitted will save the bride money, in addition to conserving the energy that would be needed to construct an entirely new gown. Furthermore, the sentimental gesture of wearing a gown passed down through the generations will be appreciated by the bride's family members and is one way for her to include them in her wedding. Brides can also reuse veils, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.

Brides who do not have heirloom dresses and accessories to incorporate into their wedding attire can still take an eco-friendly walk down the aisle. In vintage stores, brides can find many styles of dresses and accessories. Additionally, a number of websites match up brides with others looking to swap gently-used items at low or no cost. Brides can also purchase a new gown that is made from sustainable materials. Many top designers now make gowns produced from such materials, leaving brides with a variety of green options.

Beauty:

Brides can also incorporate environmentally friendly products into their wedding day beauty regiment by asking their hairdressers and makeup artists to use all-natural beauty products instead of conventional cosmetics, which may contain toxic chemicals. Brides can also patronize an eco-friendly salon, which are growing in popularity.

Venue:

Eco-friendly wedding options can also extend to the ceremony and reception venues. One of the most affordable and environmentally friendly ways to get married is to simply elope or have a small ceremony. After all, there's no rule that says couples have to invite 300 of their not-so-close friends to the wedding. Opting for more intimate affairs allows couples to save on cost and to help the environment.

For those who do want a larger wedding, keep the event close to home. Couples can wed in a family member's large backyard or in a nearby park to avoid using large, indoor reception halls. Moving the ceremony and party outside can alleviate some environmental impact related to energy usage.

Couples may also look into catering halls that offer packages that include other elements of the wedding, such as flowers, cake, linens, music, and more. These convenient packages may be more affordable and will save the couple the time and gas they would have used driving around to visit different vendors.

Instead of rice, which can be damaging to wildlife, guests may be supplied with bubbles, birdseed, sprinkles, biodegradable confetti, or flower petals to throw at the happy couple after the ceremony.

Flowers:

Flowers add significant aesthetic appeal to a wedding, and couples can make them even more appealing by choosing local flowers that are in season. Local and seasonal flowers do not need to be transported as far as their exotic and out-of-season counterparts.

When shopping for a florist, eco-conscious couples should look for one who specializes in organic flowers, which are never sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides or fungicides. In addition to organic and seasonal flowers, green options include bouquets made of sustainable succulent plants and centerpieces full of organic fruits and wildflowers.

Reception:

Suggestions abound for couples interested in hosting a green reception. Hosting a wedding at or near home gives couples the opportunity to shop around for locally produced, organic foods. Couples may also wish to consider skipping the all-you-can-eat buffet and serving a more traditional meal to reduce the amount of wasted food.

Instead of formal escort cards indicating firm seating arrangements, couples can save paper by allowing guests to choose their own seats from mix-matched options, such as long, communal benches and comfy sofas.

To save money on decorations, couples may decorate with items they already own. Centerpieces and other displays can incorporate the couple's favorite books, photographs, souvenirs, collectibles, and other special items, adding a personal touch to the event's decor. Brides and grooms can also make or purchase banners, garlands, signs, and other decorations that are made from old maps, handkerchiefs, books, and other recycled items.

Another way to make the reception more eco-friendly is to choose a charitable party favor. Instead of giving a party favor that will end up collecting dust on a shelf or sitting in a landfill, couples can give guests organic products or make a donation to a charitable organization in the guests' names.

Transportation:

A major way to reduce the carbon footprint of a wedding is to reduce the transportation-related energy consumption. Carbon emissions can be reduced and fuel can be saved by reducing guests' need to travel far for a wedding and by employing transportation options that can accommodate several people at once, such as a limousine for the wedding party or a party bus to transport guests.

Gifts:

Couples can opt for open registries that enable guests to give everything from eco-friendly housewares to charitable donations or cash for down payments on a home. When giving money, guests do not risk giving the bride and groom something that may be returned or discarded.

Honeymoon:

A couple's dedication to being environmentally friendly can even extend to the selection of a honeymoon destination. Couples can choose from a number of eco-conscious hotels and resorts or elect to honeymoon close to home.

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