Weddings Weddings Weddings

Donate, recycle and reuse for a greener wedding

Sometimes a wedding can be a testament to excess. In order to make an impression and please every guest, couples often go above and beyond with regard to food, favors, flowers, and much more at their weddings. At the end of the night, couples might be left with a good deal of food and other items that go to waste. That is, unless you donate the excess to someone who can use it.

Leftover wedding food, flowers and wardrobes can be donated and make a difference in other people's lives. By asking a few questions and doing a little legwork, you can turn items that would be discarded into something that goes on to help another person.

Food: Food is one area of the wedding that's often prepared in abundance, particularly for buffet-style weddings. In order to keep chafing dishes filled and inviting, catering halls or restaurants may prepare much more food than is necessary. At the end of the night there's plenty of leftovers. Some caterers have already contracted with food recovery groups to take leftover food and bring it to the needy. You can ask your caterer if they do so. If not, do an online search for a food recovery organization and find out how you can donate the remainders of your wedding feast.

Clothing: Bridesmaid dresses and formal wear is seldom worn again, unless you are a person who has mastered the art of turning pink taffeta into a new ensemble. However, you may be able to donate a dress or suit to a consignment store or thrift shop, where it can be purchased and worn by someone who may not be able to afford an off-the-rack item. You can also consider donating it to an organization that provides clothing to the underprivileged. Some people offer wedding clothing for sale at deep discounts through newspaper classifieds or online, where it can also live on in someone else's closet.

Floral arrangements: Wedding centerpieces can last for several days before they wilt. While friends and family members may take some home, several centerpieces will likely be left at the end of the night. Think about bringing them to a hospital, hospice center or nursing home. The flowers can help brighten the day of others who are in somber settings. If you cannot find a place that will take them, consider dropping one or two of them off at the home of an elderly relative who might be confined to his or her home.

Favors: Provided your favors have not been engraved with a date or names, you may be able to return extras to the store. There's also the possibility of making them available to a couple who is planning their wedding and is looking to cut costs wherever possible. Or, take the favors home and send one out to any person who gives you a gift or a card but wasn't able to make it to the wedding.

Weddings do not have to be wasteful. If you put your mind to it, you can find ways to reuse items featured on your big day.