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It’s A Nice Day For A Green Wedding

Words by Jennifer Stein

Aimee Monihan founded Tropical Occasions in Costa Rica in 1999 as the country’s first professional wedding planning and design firm. She helped develop and pioneer the destination wedding market to where it is today – one of the world’s top destinations for weddings and honeymoons. Her initial love for the land has transformed her business into one focused on sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Destination weddings can often create large carbon footprints due to the amount of travel required by guests, so Destination I Do has asked Aimee to share some easy and clever ways to help decrease your wedding’s impact on Mother Earth.

Reuse & Repurpose

Get creative by having décor items do double duty. “For example, consider reusing lanterns and flower arrangements from your ceremony to decorate your reception tables,” says Aimee. Tropical Occasions has gotten creative in the past by designing a stunning ceremony backdrop using locally sourced, recycled bottles. Then, post-ceremony, they placed the same bottles down the center of the reception tables as additional décor. Reusing and repurposing your décor is not only eco-friendly, but budget-friendly too.

Stay Green

When booking room blocks for your guests or deciding on your event’s venue, take into account the properties’ sustainability practices. “We work with some amazing properties in Costa Rica that are 100% sustainable – from solar to hydro-powered, saltwater pools and organic restaurants,” explains Aimee. “We love planning with them as we know they care as much as we do and will work with us to collaborate with our clients on how to be more green. Visit cayugaonline.com for some great sustainable properties.”

Source Locally

If you can’t go without flowers for your ceremony or reception, consider sourcing them locally and opt for flora that grows naturally and in abundance. For one wedding, Tropical Occasions incorporated décor details found in the Costa Rican jungle nearby. “The ceremony was a simple walkway of fallen coconuts, palm fronds used as fans and chair décor, and tall fallen bamboo poles decorated with floating hemp fabric,” explains Aimee. “It was beautiful, modern, produced a zero-cost florist bill and, above all, was incredibly eco-conscious.”

You can also make the most of your destination’s resources by hiring a chef or caterer who specializes in sustainable food practice (i.e. an emphasis on organic, locally-grown items). When designing your wedding menu, support local farms and food suppliers by celebrating regional flavors. Try not to use anything that needs to be imported.

Give Back

Perhaps the most straightforward way to offset your wedding’s carbon footprint is to make a cash donation on behalf of you and your guests. This could also serve as your favors. Some options include carbonfund.org and terrapass.com. If you want to be more hands-on, consider doing something for the community where you marry. “One of our past clients had all their guests bring school supplies and they went to a local impoverished school to gift the items to students,” recalls Aimee. “Another option is, in lieu of gifts, donate to a local eco-cause.”

Save the Trees

“Instead of using paper, consider a PDF that is compatible with a smart phone or combine both invite and welcome info with a great app like Appy Couple,” suggests Aimee. Also, get creative when it comes to signage: write on reusable chalkboards, mirrors or driftwood from the local beach. A more hands-on approach would be hosting a tree-planting celebration with your guests. You can make it a fun and symbolic way of giving back.

In most cases, couples have strong ties to their chosen wedding destination. So, why not take some or all of these small steps toward helping preserve the land you love? Aimee explained it best when she said, “You do not have to be wasteful or extravagant to have an amazing event.”

For more information on Aimee Monihan and Tropical Occasions, visit tropicaloccasions.com.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Katherine Stinnett (1st), Kevin Weinstein (2nd), Chloe Murdoch (3rd), Elizabeth Loyd (4th) and Matt Agan (5th). 

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2016 issue. You can order a copy here.

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