Having an eco-friendly wedding

In these earth-friendly days, people are coming up with greener ways to live every passing second. If you’re planning an eco-conscious wedding and working with a small budget, kiss those custom-woven hemp tablecloths goodbye and hit that brainstorming button.

Instead of aiming for greenest party of the year, simply be conscious of where you put your money and keep the environment in mind when planning each aspect. One of the easiest ways to show your eco-friendly spirit is to nix the traditional practice of wrapping the wedding presents.

If you find it easy to let go of tradition, enforce a strict “No Paper” rule on the entire celebration. Some of your guests may be shocked at your decision, but this is one trend that is catching on. Some stores, such as Macy’s, now offer the option to make your registry paper-free by refusing to wrap any gifts purchased for the happy couple.

Announce it on your invitation so no one misses the message, and if you’re serious about losing the wrapping paper, don’t forget to enforce the rule for any showers and pre-wedding parties, as well.

Wedding presents are, more often than not, opened by the couple behind the scenes, away from the glitz and glamor of the reception itself. With each gift meticulously wrapped and set aside, it’s rare that guests get to experience the best part of the transaction—the couple’s reaction.

A table full of unwrapped presents breaks that barrier, inviting a guest to steal the bride away so they can drool over the futuristic fajita-maker together. During such a big day, some friends won’t get to spend as much time with the bride or groom as they might like. Displaying the wedding gifts out in the open presents another opportunity for guests to share a special moment with the happy couple.

Though you may want to help conserve trees by cutting paper out of the picture, the image of a table piled high with naked gifts might not fit into the dream wedding scenario you’ve built up in your head. Put a DIY spin on your celebration and encourage your guests to bring “home-wrapped gifts.” Intertwine a vintage aspect into your theme by suggesting newspaper and magazine pages as the perfect wrapping components.

For those guests who have gone paperless, suggest that they spend a bit more time sorting their recycling to keep your green theme alive. (Do this with plenty of time to plan before the wedding.) Take-out menus, grocery store fliers, and even flimsier cardboard (such as Jell-O or oatmeal boxes) do exactly what wrapping paper does: block the recipient from the surprise inside. The bright colors from the unorthodox wrapping may pop out from your wedding colors, but since it’s your day, all eyes will be on you anyway!

If the only Jell-O you’d like at your wedding reception is on the dessert table, request that your guests turn any cardboard wrappings inside out. Not only does this hide unwanted brand names and graphics from the celebration, but it also creates a blank canvas for guests to enthusiastically display their well wishes.

It’s up to you, of course, if you allow guests to wrap gifts in paper they already have. Just remember that the main point of leaning green is to stop your guests from buying new materials to decorate your gift, when they will ultimately be torn off and thrown out. Gift bags also make a welcome alternative to wrapping paper. If you request neutral gift bags, you can reuse them again and again for future celebrations.

Unwrapping presents is one of the greatest joys out there, so it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to forgo the formality. “Home-wrapped gifts” can be a bit fancier than newspaper wrapping, if you encourage your guests to get creative with it.

Anyone with a needle and thread in the house probably also has a basket full of fabric odds and ends that, depending on the size of the gift and your friend’s dedication to your request, might make the perfect presentation for their gift to you. Tissue paper is also a common household item, as retail stores frequently wrap their purchases in it; any eco-minded individual surely has a stockpile (and possibly enough to share with other guests who don’t).

With an open mind and a peek into the recycling bin (or even the unused hall closet), your guests will be amazed at their newfound gift-wrapping options. Kermit was wrong when he said, “It’s not easy being green!”