Get married in style – green style! And we are not talking here about green outfits but about making your wedding an eco-friendly one. Green weddings are not all the rage just yet, but insha Allah they are becoming more and more popular. It’s not only a more responsible option, but can also work out to be cheaper than the traditional model. Green weddings often prove to be more unique and memorable events. So, to start with…
Set the date
In some countries there are wedding seasons – the time of year when the weather is optimal for partying – it’s neither too hot nor too cold. It’s good to plan your wedding in mild weather so you won’t have to bother with heating or cooling the party venue. Not only would this seriously reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding, but you might even be able to make it an outdoor ceremony.
Choose the venue
For the ultimate green wedding, set the stage outside. Can you imagine a more beautiful setting for a party than a vividly green garden, an orchard in bloom or the seaside? You might organise the party in the garden or on the grounds belonging to family or friends or, in some places, you might be able to book an outdoor venue and have a tent-like screens set around to keep it private. If you decide to make it a daytime party, you could even do without the electric lighting. Natural sunlight and wedding confetti of cherry blossom carried by the gentle breeze – what could be more romantic (and more green) than that? And if you fear the rain may spoil your plans, you could think about setting up tents or pavilions.
Another important factor to consider in choosing the place is its proximity to you and the guests. It might be best to opt for a wedding to take place in your ancestral village or in the town where most of the family live. Not only would it make it easier for the guests to get there, but the fewer miles they have to travel the lower the carbon footprint of your wedding.
Invite the guests
Some may argue that sending electronic invitations may be more environmentally friendly, but the traditional printed invitation cards have their undisputable charm. To make it more green go for cards made of recycled paper – there is a beautiful selection available on Etsy. Choose a green theme to set the mood and let the guests know what to expect and how to prepare. Let your invitations be an inspiration: find a suitable quote from the Qur’an or take a ‘green’ hadith as your motto.
So the invitations are sorted, but who to invite? In Islam, marriage is a community event, and celebrating it with many people will bring more barakah to your marriage insha Allah. Family members will travel from near and far and, to make their journey more comfortable, accessible and green, you could rent a coach to bring them to the venue and back. This practice is popular in many Middle Eastern countries and is sure to reduce your carbon footprint.
You could even go as far as making your walimah an open ceremony taking place on the mosque grounds with everyone invited! Use the occasion to spread the eco-consciousness, unite the community and earn extra barakah through all the du’as from the guests. And you don’t have to spend a fortune: ecology and economy go hand in hand.
So what’s on the menu?
It has to be halal, of course, and it would be good to have it organic, but then finding catering that is organic AND halal might be an issue and it could actually raise the costs. Organic is certainly good, but if we were to order special foods and have them delivered from miles away, then it wouldn’t be that green anymore. And the other thing about catering is that they use lots of packaging which then ends up as lots of rubbish. So if possible, opt for foods prepared nearby and preferably delivered in pots and reusable boxes rather than aluminium trays. You can buy good halal ingredients from local farms and shops and ask some cooks from your community to prepare delicious home-made dishes. Set the menu considering what’s available locally and what’s currently in season and keep it simple. Consider the amount of food you need – don’t allow anything to be wasted. If you make it an open ceremony, that’s unlikely to happen, otherwise make sure to distribute leftover food around the family or to the poor. And last but not least, avoid disposable plates, cutlery and plastic cups or if there is no other option try to find paper ones and make sure they end up in the recycling bin. Besides, ‘real’ plates are so much more elegant.
The dress and make-up
Marriage is a once-in-a-lifetime event, insha Allah, and wedding dresses are also very likely to be worn only once in a lifetime. But isn’t this a waste? Vintage is the new (green) posh, so search your mother’s, your grandmothers’ and your aunts’ wardrobes and maybe you will find the perfect dress, possibly needing just minor alterations. You can also look online to find some pre-loved outfits. And if you really feel that you need a new dress, try to find one from a green, fair-trade designer. You could choose something simple, yet elegant; something that you could wear later on when attending other weddings as a guest. And if you make your big entrance in that very special dress, make sure to store it securely for your daughter’s wedding insha Allah or give it to a Muslim sister in need. You can find a selection of modest white dresses from Tamara’s Islamic Wedding Dresses (all fair-trade) on www.tamaras.eu.
When it comes to make-up there are lots of organic and eco-friendly cosmetics available, so just make sure you read the labels before buying. Henna patterns painted on bride’s hands, which are traditional in many countries, are also green and natural, so are a good choice.
Think carefully whether you really need new toasters, teapots and cutlery sets. Wedding gifts tend to be a hit-and-miss affair and, for that reason, couples often prepare a gift wish list or write on their invitations ‘no boxed gifts please’, which hints at giving money. The ultimate green gifts would be gifts that do something good for the environment and the gifts that keep on giving. So ask your guests to donate their monetary gifts to a charity of your choice fighting for a better future and cleaner planet. Instead of a small boost to your wallet, have a big boost of barakah and be sure that your guests will be inspired by your generosity, insha Allah.
Couples in some parts of Indonesia are legally required to plant a tree before they are even allowed to get married. Isn’t this a beautifully green practice? And so romantic. Instead of looking at yellowing pictures of the wedding, they can come and see the tree growing stronger each year like their love, bi idhnillah. Mark the beginning of your new life together with a good green deed: plant a tree, start a garden or have a well dug. Not only will this make beautiful memories, but the sadaqa jariya (continual charity) will be a lasting source of blessing for your family, insha Allah.
Most people hope their wedding day will be the most beautiful day of their lives. But I believe that the wedding day is just the beginning of a beautiful life together, insha Allah. Making your wedding green and eco-friendly could set the tone for the years to come and remind you not only of your responsibilities for each other expected by Allah (SWT), but also for the world that was given to you as a place of dwelling and source of sustenance.
Klaudia Khan is a freelance writer who had her wedding twice: once in Poland for her Polish family and once in Pakistan, where her husband’s family lives. She’s been married happily for five years now, Alhamdulillah, and has two lovely daughters.