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

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.

Celebrate Green: Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding

Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding from I Do Foundation

Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding

  1.  Let it Shine – Make informed jewelry decisions by considering their source. Choose a jeweler that uses recycled materials and ask questions that help you feel good about your purchase.
  2.  Be Fashionably Green – Get a unique look with a tailored, vintage wedding dress; use organic fabrics; and choose a bridesmaids dress that they can (actually) wear again.
  3. Location, Location, Location – Select a venue rich in décor. Botanical gardens are lush with foliage and museums have objects d’art. You’ll support a non-profit and save on decorations.
  4. Gifts that Give Back – Raise money for causes you care about by requesting donations to charity as your wedding gifts. Start a charity registry with I Do so guests can conveniently give.
  5.  Eat, Drink, and Be Savvy – When selecting your meal, narrow down the options and insist on an organic caterer, local food choices, and organic wines.
  6. Flower Power – Think organic, seasonal, and potted. Use a local florist and ask your wedding party to help make DIY centerpieces and bouquets that are environmentally friendly.
  7. Do the World a Favor – Thank your guests and share your values with wedding favors that support a meaningful cause, making a difference through charity.
  8. Green your Footprint – Use one of many easy-to-use online tools to calculate your wedding’s carbon footprint, and then offset your emissions.
  9. Eco-Invite – Create your own Wedding Page. Save on printing costs by putting your save the date and RSVPs online, and include maps, lodging suggestions, and even your proposal story! If you do send invites, choose recycled or tree-free paper.
  10. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse – If it can’t be recycled, reduced, or reused . . . Rent! Ask if your vendors have a recycling policy. Plan ahead and find a shelter or retirement home for leftover food or flowers. Creatively use recycled materials throughout your ceremony and reception.

We have started to receive gifts, cash and donations for our wedding. How do I properly thank guests?

How to write nice thank you notes for your wedding gifts

Although it can be an overwhelming task, there is no job more important than that of showing guests your appreciation with a thoughtful thank you note.

Organizing your thank you notes

Keeping track of what notes you’ve written can be difficult, and you don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks. Keeping organized is key! We are big fans of Google Drive, which allows you to create a spreadsheet or word processing document and share it with others. Create a spreadsheet to update with the name of the gift-giver, a short description of the gift, the date you received it, and the date you sent the thank you note. Update this spreadsheet every time you receive a gift (and share it with your partner).

Keeping track of money raised through a charity registry

Use your donation report (part of your charity registry) to track the donations you have received. You can also use the amount of money raised to aid you in writing your notes: “We are thrilled to have raised $XX for our charity so far. We are hoping to make a big impact through our wedding!”

Electronic thank you notes

Looking to go “green”? While a thank you e-mail is too casual, check out Paperless Post’s thank you note option—these classy e-cards are delivered with a beautiful animation of an envelope opening. Paperless Post has truly found a way to make online mail more formal.

Writing your thank you notes

Need help writing your thank you notes? There are many websites online that help with sample wording, but we prefer something personal and to-the-point for traditional gifts:

  1. “We were so excited to receive your gift the other day.”
  2. Name the gift, and say why you liked it: “The bamboo bowl is beautiful, and we love how it looks on our dining table.”
  3. Say how you’ve used it: “We used it for salad just last night!”
  4. Thank them: “Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift—it is so ‘us’.”
  5. Tell them you look forward to seeing them on your wedding day, or say how much you enjoyed seeing them if the day has already passed.

Did you receive a cash gift? Try this:

  1. “We were so excited to receive your gift the other day.”
  2. Say how you have used it or plan to use it: “We are saving for a downpayment on our first home, and your generous gift has gotten us even closer to our goal!”
  3. Thank them: “Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift—it means a lot to us.”
  4. Tell them you look forward to seeing them on your wedding day, or say how much you enjoyed seeing them if the day has already passed.

donation though your charity registry? Here’s what we would suggest:

  1. “We were so excited to receive your gift the other day.”
  2. Tell them why you decided to support your charity: “We decided to support the American Cancer Society in honor of John’s dad, who passed away last year from lymphoma.”
  3. Tell them how their donation will help: “The American Cancer Society works to find a cure, and your donation helps!”
  4. Tell them how much you have raised: “So far, we have raised $X.”
  5. Thank them: “Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift—it means a lot to us.”
  6. Tell them you look forward to seeing them on your wedding day, or say how much you enjoyed seeing them if the day has already passed.

However you write them, and however you send them—just make sure to do it, and promptly. Did you drop the ball on some of your thank you notes? If a lot of time has passed, write them anyway. You know what they say: better late than never.

How do I ask for donations instead of regular gifts?

How do I politely inform my guests that I would prefer donations instead of gifts?

Many couples have their fill of silverware and china, and would rather give to charity than open a traditional gift registry. As with anything non-traditional, though, asking for donations instead of gifts may be confusing for some guests. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Add a charity registry to your wedding website, in addition to or instead of a traditional registry. Make sure to include the reasons you’re choosing charity.
  2. Explain it to your parents. Once they understand it, they can spread the word to older or less tech-savvy relatives and family friends.
  3. If someone asks you directly, answer with something like, “I’m sure whatever you choose would be wonderful, and we really appreciate your generosity. We are asking guests donate to charity in lieu of traditional gifts.”

Remember that some guests will prefer to give traditional gifts—accept them graciously, and don’t forget to write a thank you note!

I will be reusing my ceremony decorations for the reception. How do I make this happen?

how to re-use your ceremony decorations for the reception

Reusing decorations from your wedding ceremony for your reception is a great way to save resources — both environmental and monetary.

It can, however, be a bit of a logistical nightmare to get your decorations from place to place if you aren’t organized. Which is why, of course, we suggest:

  • You and your partner should not be responsible for setting up the ceremony or reception. Your job is to get married and enjoy the day. Delegate these tasks to a Day of Coordinator or a trusted family member or friend. You may also be able to pay your florist to help, for a small fee.
  • Create a checklist of items that need to be moved, along with their location at the ceremony and their destination at the reception. Make sure this checklist is in the hands of at least two of your helpers. Store back-up copies in an easily accessible place in case the originals are misplaced (if you have a smart phone, try storing it in your email).
  • If you have a lot of items to reuse, delegate specific tasks: two people to pack up items at the ceremony, two people to move them, and two people to set up the reception, for example. Think about having an “understudy” for each function, just in case someone is unable to help you on the day of.
  • Consider whether you will need large vehicles, a dolly, or multiple people to transport the items.
  • Take photos of each decoration that needs to be set up or moved. If possible, take photos of each item as it should be displayed in each location.
  • Create a timeline. At what time do things need to be set up in each location? When should the items be moved? How long do you estimate it will take to do the setup?
  • Make sure that all items are well organized. Provide tupperware bins and anything needed to protect the items during the move from location to location.

Remember, the key to a well-run wedding is organization. Try to anticipate the issues that may arise, and make alternate plans in case they’re necessary.

I have so many DIY projects, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to get it all done! How do I keep myself sane?

how to organize your wedding diy projects

Time management, friend. Get as much done as possible, as far ahead of time as possible, lest you be gluing tiny starfish to your place cards the night before your wedding. Make sure that you aren’t biting off more than you can chew, too: a couple of in-depth, craft-heavy DIY projects are enough for one wedding. You don’t need to have sewn programs made from burlap and twine and hand silk-screened wedding invitations.

Try to estimate how much time each project will take (and how likely you are to get sick of doing it). Projects that will take a long time or frustrate you should be scheduled first—that way, you have plenty of time to complete them (and take breaks as necessary). Some projects, such as place cards, need to be completed closer to the wedding date when your guest list is final—those items will go last on the list.

Other great tips:

  • Make a list of your projects on Google Docs. Include the start date, completion date, estimated time it will take, and list of items you need to purchase for each item. Share this document with anyone who is helping you with your projects.
  • Get Tupperware bins (try freecycle or craigslist!), and label them for projects that are completed, in progress, and upcoming.
  • If you’re getting overwhelmed, don’t order anything for the next project until your current project is completed. This will also benefit you if you think you might throw in the towel on a project: less items to return or repurpose later.

I will be donating food to a homeless shelter and/or flowers to a retirement home after the wedding. How do I make sure this gets done?

how to organize donations of leftover food or decorations after the wedding

This is one of the many logistical issues that must be considered when planning a wedding. You have a great idea, but how do you make sure it actually gets executed? Our suggestion is to ask your Day of Coordinator, or designate a few friends or family members to be responsible for this job.

We suggest more than one person for each job; that way, if someone wants to go home early, the job still gets done. Also, make sure to consider things like the size of a person’s car: if you’re asking them to move large centerpieces for twelve tables, someone with a Smart Car probably isn’t the best choice.