THE GREEN PARTY: Infuse your Engagement Party and Rehearsal Dinner with Elegant, Eco-friendly Details

Karen Bussen, Celebrity Wedding Planner & Author
THE GREEN PARTY: Infuse your Engagement Party and Rehearsal Dinner with Elegant, Eco-friendly Details
Perhaps you’ve already given some thought to adding a few “green” touches to your Big Day. Maybe you’ve considered using local, seasonal flowers to support farmers and cut down on fuel and shipping needs, for example. Congratulations! Every choice you make can have a positive effect on protecting our planet, a goal we all share.
But with every wedding comes a number of “Satellite Celebrations” – those smaller parties, like your engagement party, shower and rehearsal dinner, to name a few. If you’re an Earth-friendly bride, you can look for ways to entertain with “less waste and more taste” all the way to your “I do’s”! Here are some of my favorite tips:

Green your invitations. While I am a firm believer in printed invitations for the wedding celebration itself, it is totally acceptable (and very environmentally aware) to use an electronic invitation service to let guests know about the smaller celebrations. I like for its fun and customizable designs, and it’s a piece of cake to track replies, which makes every bride’s life easier. If you prefer to print a card, consider choosing an eco-friendly option, like this one from

Throw a 100-mile party. The same concept I mentioned above about local flowers? Apply it to every part of your engagement party or rehearsal dinner. Try to feature food, drinks and other elements that are produced within 100 miles of the celebration. If you’re hosting the event at home, plan your menu around what’s in your local greenmarket. At a restaurant or country club, ask the chef to come up with delicious options that celebrate what is best where you are.

Me shopping for flowers at a farmer’s market

Design edible décor. Instead of typical flower arrangements, arrange baskets or bowls of nibble-friendly food on your tables: think small items that are easy to eat, like hunks of parmesan cheese, a selection of olives, nuts, fresh grapes or figs and crunchy breadsticks. Your tables will look abundant and feast-like, your guests will have fun sampling different flavors and nothing will go to waste at the end of the party because your guests will eat the décor! Nestle in votive candles (soy, of course!), add a clever mushroom place card holder for each guest and you’re good to go green!

Recycle your style. Paint old wine bottles and turn them into candle centerpieces. Gather those old vases everyone has around from a long-ago floral delivery and turn them into lanterns.
Mix recycled items and new elements for a super-chic style combination that also happens to be ever-so environmentally friendly. Think about ways to reuse any new décor you purchase for your wedding parties. If you’re hosting a rustic celebration, for example, check out these fabulous chalkboard signs—you can use them again and again on buffets, gift tables, or bars at all your casual get-togethers.

Don’t forget to share your good fortune. There’s just nothing as green as embracing the Three R’s. Reuse, Recycle, Renew. After each party, find ways to donate your leftovers to help others. Food can sometimes be difficult to donate because of legal restrictions, but check with your caterer to see if they are affiliated with a food bank or community kitchen. Décor (vases, candles, paper, and streamers, for example) may be able to be donated to a local school or arts foundation. Here in New York, my company gives leftover décor and supplies to Materials for the Arts , a huge warehouse where schools and arts organizations can go “shopping” for props and elements for projects and productions. Check out what organizations are working in your area.


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