Politically Correct and Environmentally Friendly Wedding

By: Jill Renee

In the world of engagements and wedding planning, green is the new white. From conflict-free wedding jewelry, to an environmentally-conscientious reception, with an eco-friendly honeymoon to round out the nuptials, couples are throwing out the era of Bridezilla and ushering in the age of green weddings. And it all starts with that oh-so-special wedding jewelry.

Choosing a diamond engagement ring and wedding bands are incredibly personal decisions that are also becoming ethical decisions. Socially aware couples now want to ensure that their wedding jewelry selections are not linked to human rights abuses or have not negatively impacted the environment.

Conflict-free Diamonds
Until recent years, newly engaged couples were blissfully unaware that an untold number of corrupt organizations in African countries were illegally mining diamonds that are directly linked to human rights abuses.

The good news is that more than 40 nations worldwide, including the United States, now voluntarily participate in the Kimberly Process, a system that imposes stringent requirements on imports to certify that diamonds are free from conflict. 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds is now accounted for through the Kimberly Process.

Reputable engagement and wedding jewelry retailers readily confirm the origin of any stone. Online retailers are particularly sensitive to consumer concerns regarding the genesis of their diamonds. Leading online retailers, such as Danforth Diamond, My Solitaire, and Brilliant Earth actively educate consumers by providing helpful information on their websites to ensure that accurate information is easily accessible.

Green Gold?
For those who truly want guilt-free glitter, there are a number of retailers who offer recycled gold for wedding bands and the like. Concerned about a lackluster green ring? Worry not. Recycled gold, which is melted and re-refined, is the same quality as newly-mined gold.

NoDirtyGold.org publishes an ever-growing and impressive list of retailers who support the responsible production of gold.

Vintage jewelry is also enjoying a resurgence in popularity as brides and grooms opt to purchase estate jewelry or wear wedding rings that have been passed down from a family member.

Eco-friendly weddings aren't just for the granola crunching crowd nowadays - and conflict-free diamond engagement rings and recycled gold wedding jewelry are just the beginning. As green weddings become more mainstream, the options and price ranges are increasingly abundant.

Earth-friendly Invitations
Wedding invitations printed with soy- or vegetable-based inks on recycled paper are a mainstay for green couples. If that's not green enough for you, perhaps paperless invitations are the way to go; simply extend electronic invitations for guests who can be contacted via email. Emailed RSVPs offer an added bonus: guests are more likely to respond promptly, allowing you to accurately plan your headcount.

Location, Location, Location
A central wedding location that requires minimal travel for most guests will save on carbon emissions. Booking a venue that can host the wedding ceremony and reception will further reduce carbon emissions. Art galleries, botanical gardens, eco-friendly restaurants, hotels and parks are all excellent choices.

Here Comes the Bride
Something old, something new, something borrowed... something green? You betcha. Green brides can choose lovely, previously-worn gowns from vintage stores or gown consignment and rental shops. Brides can also turn to their family tree for a wonderfully sentimental heirloom gown. A number of designers have also embraced the eco-friendly trend and offer extravagant gowns made of hemp silk.

Wedding Favors as Decorations
Organic, locally grown flowers for bouquets and centerpieces offer a fresh, seasonal touch. Flower arrangements used at the wedding can perform double duty by being moved to the reception. Potted plants also make lovely arrangements and can be transplanted outdoors after the wedding or can serve as gifts that guests can take home.

The Gift that Keeps Giving
Portovert Magazine, the nation's first and only online publication devoted exclusively to environmentally and socially responsible weddings, and NativeEnergy offer a carbon emissions calculator that can be used to evaluate wedding-related carbon sources, including travel, guest lodging and power used at the wedding venues, which can help in the planning of a carbon-neutral wedding. You can find it here: http://www.nativeenergy.com/Splash/Portovert/portovert_wedding_calc.html.

Couples can also offset the carbon emissions produced as a result of their nuptials by making contributions to an eco organization of their choice or requesting that guests do the same in lieu of a wedding gift.

Paying it Forward
Eco-friendly tours, green hotel resorts, simple outdoor adventures, volunteer work for a preservation project - green honeymoons run the gamut and cater to a variety of preferences and budgets. From relaxing and luxuriant to active and outdoorsy, newlyweds can take their dream green vacation that celebrates the beginning of their new life together and the future of our planet.

And to think that it all began with a diamond engagement ring. Green weddings provide couples the opportunity to make a lifelong commitment to each other and to their world. Every wedding anniversary, from the 'small' ones to the milestones years is an opportunity to renew that commitment for now and for years to come.

Perhaps a future generation will honor that same commitment by choosing to wear your 'heirloom' wedding jewelry.

Jewelry
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