Over the years, wedding stationery has certainly evolved. Once upon a time, guests would wait and eagerly anticipate an invitation to your wedding. Within the last 10 years, Save the Dates have become wildly popular, a necessity even. Often, invitations aren’t just filled with reception, response and direction cards anymore (and don’t forget the inner envelope and pretty little piece of tissue paper). Now we add accommodation info & itineraries, at times menus and we use boxes as envelopes.
Often, couples have programs at the ceremony. At receptions, place cards & escort cards are just the beginning. There are menus; favor tags, boxes & bags; signage and table numbers. Opting for a charitable donation in lieu of favors? We let our guests know on, you guessed it, more paper. And how about those Thank You notes? Other wedding related parties like rehearsal dinners and showers can add to the list of necessary invites as well.
Sadly, all of it comes with a price. A majority of our paper comes from “virgin forests”, those that have not been logged for 150 years or more. These forests are home to a large number of species who are displaced when these trees are cut down for paper. Loss of habitat is the leading cause of extinction of plants and animals. Tree farms are put up in their place (trees grown specifically for paper) but these come with their own problems. Tree farms destroy biodiversity and also encourage pest epidemics, destroying thousands of trees at a time.
Trees don’t magically become paper. They need to go through a paper mill. Paper mills create dioxins through the processing and these dioxins find their way into our water, the soil and eventually, our food. In the U.S., paper mills consume more than 12,000 square miles of forest each year.
So, what can you do? What are the alternatives? Luckily, there are an increasing number of greener options available for all of your wedding stationery needs and enough to suit almost every couple’s style and preference.
The easiest way to eliminate paper use is by sending save the dates and invitations electronically and creating a wedding website for information like accommodations and itineraries. Companies such as Paperless Post, Glosite and Greenvelope offer very pretty electronic invitations and save the dates that even include an envelope so they open just like an actual mailed invite would. Red stamp is great for Save the Dates and invitations for engagement parties and other wedding events. Mywedding.com and Wedding Window are fantastic for creating a wedding website.
Emailing your invitations not your style? There are, of course, options that involve using recycled and “tree free” papers (agricultural residues – husks and straw left in the fields after harvesting the main crops of sugar cane, barley, rye, etc.) Look for recycled paper that is 100% PCW (post-consumer waste) and/or FSW (Forest Stewardship Counsel) certified. Of course you can use these for all of your wedding stationery like your place cards and menus
Seed paper is another great alternative, but be sure that you know (and share with your guests) which region of the country they can be planted in. If a guest lives outside the plant’s natural range, the seeds should only be planted indoors. Botanical Paperworks has a great selection of eco-friendly invitations, as does the Green Bride Guide and Earthly Affair. There are also wooden invitations and Save the Dates that are be made from fallen trees and are biodegradable. Eco-couture letterpress is awesome too. Companies like Oblation use cotton paper made by hand from the remnants from the garment district.
A few last tips on greening your stationery: Choose a company that prints with soy ink. Try the “less is more” philosophy. Why not replace your escort cards with a seating chart on a chalk board or plasma TV? Still want menus on the table? Place one every other setting instead.
You have so many fantastic, eco-friendly choices that are both beautiful and unique. Keep in mind that even the smallest adjustment, choosing just one green option, makes a difference.
Lisa Marie Blinn is the owner and principal planner of L. Marie Events.