"Save a tree" isn't just a cute slogan -- between global warming and habitat destruction, it's imperative. Minimizing the amount of virgin paper used in your wedding stationery can have a huge impact. While there unfortunately aren't extensive options for eco-friendly printing -- between the inks, toners, and solvents, a lot of chemicals are involved -- there are fabulous (yet responsible) choices when it comes to paper.
Opt for Recycled Paper
You can't completely dismiss the wedding invitation. So instead, use paper that has a high-recycled content or is made from an alternative fiber, such as hemp or bamboo. "There are beautiful recycled papers," Seo says. And buying recycled does make a difference. According to Ariel Dekovic, coauthor of 365 Ways to Save the Earth, "Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of 380 gallons of oil, and keeps almost 60 pounds of pollutants out of the atmosphere." Go to WomanCraft.net: These 100 percent recycled invitations are handmade by women working to overcome homelessness and other hardships. Or try JamPaper.com for a wedding-worthy array of recycled papers.
Typically, there's a lot of information to convey to your guests. Instead of enclosing multiple cards in your invite, combine the essential info into one card. Or, even better, print up a website card that directs guests to your personal, paper-free domain.
Minimize the Mailings
Use online invites for the surrounding events: the bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and the postwedding brunch. If you need to update your guests about the wedding happenings, toss the paper newsletter for an email version.
Skip the Extras
Instead of placing a menu at every setting, have one or two for the table. If you're having wedding programs, eliminate unnecessary pages (like that monogrammed layer of vellum). Or print up one per couple -- you definitely don't need extra programs.
Seat Guests with (Paperless) Style
Two escort card ideas we love: Paint or stamp guests' names on stones, or tie a ribbon to the stem of a flower (using ribbon left over from the programs, of course) with the guest's name and table number on it. Or, forgo individual escort cards for a poster that lists table information. Take it up a notch with white-glove service: have guests ask the waiters (armed with printouts of the table assignments) for the info.
Splurge on Calligraphy
Have as many items hand-calligraphed as your budget allows. Not only is calligraphy gorgeous and elegant, it's totally eco-friendly. Envelopes and escort cards are pretty standard, but you can calligraph menus, table names and numbers, and even the invitation itself.
Investigate Printing Alternatives
Most large printers still use traditional printing methods, but there's no harm in asking if yours would be willing to try soy- or vegetable-based inks. Make sure to find out about custom projects that are eco-friendly (think program covers) at GreenerPrinter.com.