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.

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

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!

Waste Not, Want Not: Chic Wedding Doggie Bags

chic take home bags for leftover food at your wedding reception

from I Do Foundation: chic take home bags for leftover food at your wedding reception

Wedding receptions often result in a lot of waste: at the end of the night, garbage cans are heaped high with flowers, signage and food.

Many eco-friendly wedding planners recommend donating your leftover goods to homeless shelters or retirement homes. Unfortunately, regulations in many states prohibit the donation of food items—so what can you do with all that leftover food?

What about letting your guests take home your leftovers? Wedding fare is usually delicious. Try providing chic take-home doggie bags for your guests: this is a great way to reduce food waste and treat your guests for an extra day or two.

Check out a few of the great ideas we found online:

Wedge-shaped Pie Box take-home kits

When we found these adorable “doggie bag” alternatives on Etsy, we were thrilled. Can you imagine what a beautiful display you could make with these?

Compostable Take-Out Boxes

Buy fully-compostable take-out boxes and decorate them with fancy ribbon to match your wedding colors. Close with a chic sticker.

Stamp your own kraft bags

Use regular kraft paper lunch bags, and stamp or write on them. You can also print custom stickers featuring your wedding monogram or theme.For more ideas, see our Wedding Reception Pinterest Board.