Did your Valentine pop the question this year? If you’re searching for ways to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding AND have an unforgettable event, look no further than your National Park.
The average wedding creates 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. Based on an estimated 2.3 million weddings a year, that’s more than 1 billion pounds of trash and as many emissions in one day as 4 – 5 people would produce in an entire year. Considering today’s wedding trends, it’s more important than ever that engaged couples consider the potential ecological impact of their big day.
So, after you’ve sourced your conflict-free rings and have tried on the perfect sustainable wedding gown, it’s time to select a venue. Hosting your wedding at a Conservancy-operated venue means that your dollars will help support the Conservancy’s mission – and efforts like trails maintenance, volunteer projects, and outdoor education in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Conservancy’s venues, Happy Days Lodge and Hines Hill Campus, offer the perfect setting to help your guests connect to nature, while also reflecting your earth-conscious personalities. Read on for our tips on how to incorporate more green alternatives into your wedding plans:
Looking for an alternative bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding party activity, or engagement celebration? Gather your group and volunteer in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Whether you join a drop-in event or participate in a day of service, volunteering as a group is a fantastic way to bond while making an impact in your park AND making your special day more memorable.
Synthetic petals, balloons, and confetti enter our waterways, disrupt wildlife and break down into microplastics. Instead, have your flower girl carry a glowing lantern, custom sign, or small bouquet. While thought of as an eco-friendly alternative to rice for a send-off, birdseed can contain non-native and invasive seeds which can germinate and wreak havoc on an eco-system. For some truly green send-off options, have your guests blow bubbles using all-natural soap, or create confetti out of gathered fallen leaves.
Choose a caterer which practices ethical food sourcing or uses locally-grown and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Go plastic-free by renting glassware and tableware, or provide plates, cups, and silverware made from compostable materials, such as bamboo or corn. Finally, choose a hotel which shuttles guests to and from the venue, or include a message in your invitation encouraging guests to carpool to the event.
The Conservancy partners with Full Cycle Organics to ensure all organic waste – including food, florals, and paper – from weddings and events at our venues is composted. Last year, our wedding couples helped to divert more than two tons of solid organic waste away from landfills.
To reduce carbon emissions and travel time for your guests, select lodging as close as possible to your venue. The Conservancy operates the Stanford House, an overnight facility in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is a perfect way to extend your National Park wedding experience for up to 30 guests. Or, for your most adventurous guests, backcountry camping is available Memorial Day through October. Reserve all five campsites and the Stanford House for an overnight experience your guests will not soon forget. For a perfect final touch, arrange to have a catered brunch the next day before taking a group hike to Brandywine Falls.
If you are an earth-conscious couple committed to minimizing the environmental footprint of your wedding, Conservancy event staff can guide you in putting together a plan which can help you accomplish all the above, and more. For more information on how to have a wedding in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, visit our weddings page.