wedding walk

Dreamy destinations, signature cocktails, tasty treats and designer duds create a personalized experience for many blushing brides and giddy grooms.

According to XO Group Inc.’s (creator of the top wedding website annual Real Weddings Study in 2013, couples spent a record high average of nearly $30,000 (excluding the honeymoon) on their wedding; that includes $1,281 for a wedding dress. This financial stress can turn many well-intentioned fiancées into unintentional bridezillas.

If your nuptials aren’t planned on an island oasis and going barefoot isn’t part of your dream day, you can still reduce your carbon footprint. Two truly can become one as you tie an eco-knot while saving a boatload of cash. You can ditch the waste from food, flowers and disposable invites that create pollution through production and consumption of resources, too.

You’re likely already familiar with the three R’s, but join me down the aisle of the five R’s to creating a greener and more cost-effective wedding.

1. Recycle: Invitations that Keep on Giving

Greenfield paper’s wedding collection offers invites printed on Grow-A-Note plantable seed paper; they’re embedded with wildflower seeds throughout the paper to recycle back into the ground. They also offer handmade specialty paper, exclusive Hemp Heritage paper and adorable plantable favor boxes! Bloomin offers seed paper wedding options. Paper Culture plants a tree with every order, and their cards and envelopes are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Also, look for FSC-certified paper and biodegradable inks. Custom paperless e-vites are the most eco-friendly way to go, and can be a great substitute for save-the-date announcements and thank-you cards.

2. Reduce: Lessen Your Footprint with Conflict-Free Diamonds

Looking for a greener rock to tie the knot? Join Leonardo DiCaprio and say sayonara to blood diamonds! Certified conflict-free diamonds are mined and produced under ethical conditions and not used toward war funds. Many jewelers now offer them. For example, Brilliant Earth makes unique styles from recycled metals and responsibly mined diamonds. Just be sure your diamond comes with a certification called the Kimberley Process certificate to validate its legitimacy.

Diamond rings
Image courtesy of Noee

3. Reuse: Dress to Impress, for Less

Most wedding dresses are only worn for a few hours and designer threads can be quite costly. However, you can buy or sell your gown at Pre-owned Wedding Dresses. How do I know? I did it myself! My gorgeous Monique Lhuillier gown was resold and repurposed for a budding bride across the country named Jen.

Wedding dress
Image courtesy of LBY

She got the steal of a lifetime and I had the joy of knowing someone else would feel like princess on her special day (oh, and my bank account thanked me). They carry every price point, including many designer labels. Also, try Bravo Bride, Smart Bride Boutique and Tradesy to buy and sell a plethora of wedding items. Alternatively, you can donate your dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer to assist those impacted by cancer (and earn some pink karma points).

4. Register Responsibly

Got enough household items to fill an entire landfill? Then you may want to look into charitable gift registries. Just Give allows you to create a page for guests to donate through the registry of your choice or make a gift in your name. The I Do Foundation offers charitable invitations, donating 10 percent of each Carlson Craft invitation purchase to a charity.

5. Remember to Give Back

There is a helpful one-stop-shopping resource called the Green Bride Guide, and one of my favorite features is their recycle section, which includes a link to, yours truly, Earth911 to find a recycling center in your area. Additionally, this page features links to other eco-fabulous organizations such as Special E, which picks up reusable items from wedding/events and repurposes them via food banks, homeless shelters, etc. Or, try Feeding America, where you can locate a food bank in your area. Finally, donate your flowers when finished to a local hospital or hospice or shelter. This effort greens it forward, reduces waste and is tax-deductible.

Wedding fun
Image courtesy of lindsey child

Above all else, remember to soak up every minute of this extra-special occasion! Did you implement one of the above steps? We’d love to know. Just leave a comment below and tell us your favorite getting-hitched green tip!

Feature image courtesy of Jason Sussberg

By Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home authority, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."