Free downloads for your socially-conscious and eco-friendly wedding

image source: flickr

image source: flickr

At I Do Foundation, we love helping couples plan their socially-conscious and eco-friendly weddings. We know you have a lot on your plate when planning your celebration. We want to make it easier to plan your wedding and remaining aware of the social and environmental effects of each choice. To help you, we’ve compiled two free guides for making conscious wedding decisions.

Conscious Planning Checklist

Our Conscious Planning Checklist is an indispensable resource for planning your entire wedding, start to finish. We take you through the process step-by-step, helping you to make the most out of every opportunity to help the world with your wedding.

Download our Conscious Wedding Planning checklist >>

Questions for Your Wedding Vendors

Our Vendor Questions guide will help you use your buying power to support local or sustainable vendors. Use this guide to ask the right questions of your vendors, ensuring you make an educated and conscious decision with everyone you hire.

Download our Vendor Questions guide >>

We hope you find these guides helpful while planning your special day. And don’t forget to visit I Do Foundation to set up a charity registry – it’s the best way to give back and share your love with the world!

How to Donate Flowers from your Wedding

Can I donate the flowers from my wedding ceremony and reception?

My friend Amanda had a beautiful wedding. As a close friend, I offered to help her by checking the tables for items left behind at the end of the night. As one of the last to leave, I saw the “tear down” of the event space.

Most everything was packaged up and sent back with the rental company or the wedding planner…but the gorgeous flower arrangements I knew she’d spent hours slaving over? Amanda had asked her guests to take the centerpieces home, but unfortunately, very few did. At the end of the night, most of them were unceremoniously crammed into trash bags and carted off to the dumpster.

When it comes to leftover wedding flowers, just about any option is better than that. If you’re charitably minded, you don’t just want a “better” option – you want the best option. Here are I Do Foundation’s best tips for donating your wedding flowers:

ceremony flowersWhere to donate your flowers
Local hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab, foster care, and hospice centers are all places in need of cheer. Don’t know how to find the closest one? A Google search for “hospice center” (nursing home, foster care center, etc.) and your zip code will give you names and locations of local places.

Call ahead
Some hospitals can’t take flower donations due to allergy-related restrictions.  Call ahead to verify that your chosen hospital or center can accept the donation and receive it the day after your event.

Ask for help
Staying late at your own wedding or having a long list of responsibilities the next day can really kill your post-Big-Day buzz. Ask friends, family members, or members of the bridal party to handle the donation process – or, at the very least, have them pick up the arrangements at the end of the night and load them into a car for you. If you have a wedding planner or day of coordinator, he or she may be willing to handle this for you.

Donating your floral arrangements is another wonderful way to spread your love and happiness to others—just imagine the smiles they’ll create!

PS – Interested in donating other items from your wedding? Check out our previous posts about donating your wedding gown and donating leftover food. Another fun idea? Take leftover cake to your local firemen.

Five tips for your socially-conscious and eco-friendly honeymoon

Five tips for your socially-conscious and eco-friendly honeymoon

Travel, especially international travel, can have big social and environmental effects – both positive and negative. When planning your honeymoon, consider the impact of your plans, and make an effort to bolster the local economies and respect the environment of the places you visit.

Check out these five tips for an eco-friendly and socially responsible honeymoon:

Stay close to home

Reduce your carbon emissions by being a tourist close to home –an idea that’s easy on your pocketbook, too. Visit a local National Forest, or support a small business by staying in a local bed-and-breakfast.

Choose an eco-friendly resort or hotel

Gaiam has a great list of eco-friendly resorts. If you’re looking for chi-chi international travel, one of these might be right up your alley. Traveling in the US? Kimpton makes a great effort to be eco-friendly (and you can bring your pet!).

Avoid cruises

Cruises are devastating to the marine environment – instead, choose a tropical location and stay there. Consider Florida or Hawaii – both popular destinations have made efforts to “green” their resorts and hotels.

Take an eco-friendly road trip

Rent a hybrid vehicle and get to know the United States, up close and personal: take a road trip. Support small businesses around the country, and gain a new appreciation for your home country.

Take a volunteer honeymoon

A volunteer honeymoon is a great way to bond after your wedding by giving back, together. Make a lasting difference in the world by volunteering, either inside the United States or internationally.

We hope that you find these tips helpful. Congratulations, and enjoy your trip!

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Flower Seed Awareness Ribbons – Great for Charity Favors!

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If you’re looking for a cute way to let guests know you’ve made a donation to charity for your wedding favors, check out these colored awareness ribbons! They’re really cute, and —get this—they’re made from flower seed paper. Anywhere your guests plant the ribbon, wildflowers will grow. They’re available in nearly 40 standard colors…one for nearly every cause you can think of.

What a great way to give back, both to the world and your guests.
Red awareness ribbon plantable paper favor

Groom & Groomsman Socks That Give Back

Groomsmen in wild socks — it’s a hilarious trend we love (and makes for great photos!).

Another cute idea? Give socks to your groom on the day of your wedding, to prevent “cold feet.”

If you’re thinking about giving your groom or groomsmen the gift of socks, check out these fantastic charitable socks from Charles Mark & Sons.

For every pair of socks purchased, the company — which has partnered with the nonprofit Joy of Sox — donates a new pair of socks to the homeless.

Shop now (we love the stripes and the dots!), or donate now to Joy of Sox.

Charles Mark & Sons socks

Unique Wedding Rings from Brent & Jess

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My friend Cyndi and her partner have the most unique (and personal!) rings I’ve ever seen. In fact, Cyndi’s “fingerprint” ring is so eye-catching that it is one of the first things I noticed about her.

Their rings came from Brent & Jess, a company that specializes in putting very realistic fingerprints on the outside (or inside) of rings.

Using a one-of-a-kind fingerprint impression kit, Brent & Jess capture the ridges and valleys specific to each finger—the real texture, unlike an ink print. The ring is then cast using the “lost wax casting process,” resulting in an actual impression of your finger.

If you’re looking for something a little different in your wedding rings, check out some of the styles (and sets) from Brent & Jess:

scatterbrush6mm45353 narrow milgrain235 gold narrow ring927

Eco-Friendly Invitations from Bella Figura

I discovered the work of Bella Figura while planning my wedding in 2007, and quickly fell in love. They offer a mix of modern and classic letterpress styles, and every item they print is green. What’s not to love?

Check out some of my favorite styles below, see their offerings on their website, or learn more about their eco-friendly practices (here’s a teaser: in addition to green printing practices, they’re also wind-powered and subsidize both bus passes & CSA boxes for employees. In short, they rock!).

ImageImageImageImage

The wedding is over…what will you do with your dress?

What to do with your wedding dress after the wedding

While I was planning my wedding, I participated in a local online message board on The Knot. I made friends with women who were getting married at the same time I was, so we went through the entire experience—from engagement to marriage—together.

After our weddings, there was one question we all asked: What are you doing with your wedding gown?

wedding gown

Many of my fellow newlyweds paid to have their gowns cleaned and boxed, not knowing whether they’d be saving it for their daughters or just keeping it in the closet indefinitely. Some tried (usually unsuccessfully) to resell their dresses.

A couple of the more crafty women repurposed their gowns. One dyed her knee-length dress pink, hoping to wear it for another occasion. Another made pillows for her couch, and another created a quilt.

Then there were the brides like me: After the wedding, I hung my dress in the closet and left it there. For years. Over time, I pushed it further and further into the recesses of the closet, until one day I asked myself, “What the heck am I going to do with this dress?” It was beautiful, but I obviously wasn’t planning to wear it again.

After thinking through my options, I decided to donate it. My charity of choice was Brides for a Cause, which benefits Wish Upon a Wedding. I simply put my gown—garment bag and all—in a box, shipped it to Brides for a Cause, and received a donation receipt in my mailbox two weeks later. I contacted the organization after about a month or so, and was told that a very happy bride had purchased my dress. I was thrilled.

Brides for a Cause isn’t the only nonprofit organization that accepts wedding gowns. One of the most well known is Brides Against Breast Cancer, which contributes the proceeds from each sale to programs for cancer patients and their families. Another option is Brides Across America, which donates wedding gowns to military brides.

Donating my wedding gown was easy and made me feel great—it’s another excellent way to give back to charity with your wedding. I highly recommend it! Your gift may just make another bride’s day.

Plantable Paper Wedding Invitations: the work of Botanical Paperworks

When I was planning my wedding, I came across Botanical Paperworks and fell in love with the idea of flower seed paper. Since then, they’ve come up with a fun line of wedding invitations in addition to their memorial cards (which we got for my grandmother) and plantable confetti. Here are a few of my favorite plantable wedding invitations (click each invitation for more information)!

Leaf plantable wedding invitation

Plantable tropical wedding invitations

Doing DIY? They can do that too!

Volunteer Honeymoons: An Opportunity to Make a Difference Together

Travel, especially international travel, has a big impact on our environment. Instead of simply taking a vacation for your honeymoon, why not take this opportunity to make a lasting difference in our world?

Below you will find a list of national and international opportunities to take a volunteer honeymoon vacation. Contact each charity for details:

NATIONAL

Charity Guide
Browse by category for opportunities to volunteer and make a difference during your vacation.

Habitat for Humanity
They welcome everyone who can help as they build simple, decent, affordable, houses in partnership with those in need of adequate shelter. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 100,000 houses in more than 80 countries, including some 30,000 houses across the United States.

Lean on Me
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in New Orleans, and have any kind of construction/contractor skills, they can definitely use your help!

Sierra Club
Sierra Club founder John Muir was convinced that the best way to persuade people to fight to save valuable wild areas was to take them into the wilderness and let them experience for themselves the beauty that needs defending. As a result of this conviction, in 1901 the Sierra Club Outing progam began.

Sousson Foundation
For over 14 years, the Sousson Foundation has organized hundreds of volunteers to help bridge the gap where government resources are unable to meet the growing need for preservation and rehabilitation of fragile wilderness ecosystems within our National Parks.

Student Conservation Association
This is America’s largest and oldest provider of national and community conservation service opportunities, outdoor education and career training for youth. SCA volunteers and interns annually perform more than one million hours of conservation service in national parks, forests, refuges, and urban areas in all 50 states.

Volunteer America
VolunteerAmerica connects individuals, families and groups with volunteer opportunities and volunteer vacations on public lands all across America. Offered by a variety of organizations, volunteer vacations range from trail building and restoring meadows to archeological digs and whale counting.


INTERNATIONAL

Cactus Volunteers Abroad
Cactus Volunteers Abroad has teamed up with i-to-i to produce a range of award-winning volunteer projects. These volunteer projects provide unique travel and work experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you’re young or old, just graduating or on a work break, volunteering could be your perfect opportunity to get out there and do something different.

CARE Corps Abroad
CARE Corps Abroad, in conjunction with partner, Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS), provides a unique volunteer travel opportunity for just about anyone interested in educational travel or working abroad.

Cross Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions is a nonprofit organization that sends volunteers abroad to provide humanitarian assistance with their Volunteer Work Programs in China, Ghana, India, Peru, and Russia.

Cultural Restoration Tourism Project
CRTP works with local communities to restore culturally important structures, and promoting responsible tourism through volunteer vacations.

EarthWatch Expeditions
Earthwatch Institute is the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected organization directly involving the public in scientific field research. This year, Earthwatch will support more than 130 expeditions in 45 countries, and will send some 4,000 members of the public into the field to work side-by-side with leading scientists. These teams of volunteers will collect data under the scientists’ direction and work as full-fledged expedition members, sharing the costs of the research among them.

Explorations in Travel
If you’re looking to spend an extended amount of time in an area, working on a foreign language, developing or using skills that will help in future employment, or who just want a new, challenging experience, their volunteer placement provides an invaluable opportunity.

Globe Aware
Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization, currently offers volunteer vacations in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. These short-term adventures in service focus on cultural-awareness and sustainability, and are often compared to a mini peace corps experience.

Global Citizens
Global Citizens Network seeks to create a network of people who are committed to the shared values of peace, justice, tolerance, cross-cultural understanding and global cooperation, to the preservation of indigenous cultures, traditions and ecologies, and to the enhancement of the quality of life around the world. They have many opportunities around the country and the world where you can help and learn.

Global Volunteers
At the request of local leaders and indigenous host organizations, Global Volunteers sends teams of volunteers to live and work with local people on human and economic development projects identified by the community as important to its long-term development.

Heritage Conservation Network
Join Heritage Conservation Network and take their mission around the world. Hands-on building conservation workshops bring participants together with local residents working to save their cultural heritage.

Oceanic Society Expeditions
The Expeditions programs offer opportunities to enjoy and learn about wildlife and natural habitats or to assist scientists with field research.

PeaceWork
Peacework arranges international volunteer service projects around the world for colleges, universities, and service organizations. Volunteers help meet the critical needs of marginalized communities in developing areas by working with host organizations on existing self-development projects.

Volunteers for Peace
Services include providing consultation and a placement service for workcamp hosts and volunteers, linking people with programs. Programs foster international education, voluntary service, and friendship. In the last 20 years, they have exchanged over 20,000 volunteers in international workcamps world-wide.

Volunteers Visions
Volunteer Visions offers project placements throughout the world if you seek adventure, cultural immersion, and have the desire to make a difference.

WLS International
Volunteer in China and Vietnam. WLS International has volunteer work opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and in Beijing, China.

For more comprehensive resources about Volunteer Vacations:
Free Vacations & Bargain Adventures in the USA
Volunteer Vacations
Ideas for Volunteering Wisely from JustGive