5 Socially Responsible Wedding Fails

Save the Dates - Never Sent
Save the Dates – Never Sent

As you might have gathered from my first Post, 5 Ideas for a Socially Responsible Wedding (Part 1), I started the wedding planning processing thinking I was pretty awesome.  No waste.  No greenhouse flowers.  No cars!!  Of course, as I enter with excitement into the last 40 days of wedding planning, a whole lot of my green aspirations are losing out to stress and an impending deadlines.

Fail #1: Wasted Save the Dates

As some of you might have heard, wedding planning is stressful.  I thought I would be fine because I’m obsessed with planning things, and Pinterest is a thing, and I’m awesome with Excel.  Turns out, there’s a lot more to weddings than picking the perfect font for your Save the Date cards and drooling over wedding gowns.

I won’t bore you with the details, but my fiance and I put the breaks on planning for about six weeks to relax and enjoy our summer.  Unfortunately, all 200 of those lovely save the dates (printed on recycled paper!!) got caught in the cross fire and will never see the inside of a post office.  I’m hoping to find an craft project that will turn them into a shabby-chic interior design accent piece.

Any ideas?


Fail #2: Bridesmaids dresses from China

Made in China *sniff*
Made in China *sniff*

Remember how I was going to do infinity dresses handmade in the USA?  So cute!  So green!  So thoughtful! Well, I ordered about 40 swatches of material from 7 different vendors.  1 of the vendors never sent the swatches.  One set was so small as to be laughable.  One set was perfect, but the color I liked wasn’t available in the weight and material that I wanted (and there wasn’t enough in her inventory in the color I liked to clothe my whole wedding party anyway).  One set just looked like knitted plastic.  Plus, wedding season is in full swing, so most of the seamstresses on Etsy are totally overloaded and I was already past the 8 week recommended lead time to get them shipped in on time for my poor bridesmaids to find a flattering way to knot the things so that they stay put all evening.  Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

So I went to Lord & Taylor instead.  I didn’t want to burden my bridesmaids with an expensive dress, so the final selection clocked in at about $140 and, yes, it was made in China.  I’m sorry!  I tried!  I take comfort in the fact that most of bridesmaids really like it and that I will most likely be stealing my sister’s dress after the wedding and wearing it myself.  (Shhhh – don’t tell!)

Fail #3:  Register with a Socially Responsible Retailer

6.5" x 3" Deep.  I just don't know what you put in a wooden bowl that size.
6.5″ x 3″ Deep. I just don’t know what you put in a wooden bowl that size.

I was very excited to discover a couple weeks back that one of my favorite online fair trade retailers, Ten Thousand Villages, has a gift registry.  How lovely!! I thought I could register for domestic basics like dinner ware and cook ware on Ten Thousand Villages and then register for appliances on Target or BB&B.  Turns out, there is not a single item on the Ten Thousand Villages site that is a fit for my kitchen.  Want a mug or set of cloth napkins or coasters?  There tons of options.  Want a salad bowl? Nothing.  Ironically, there were at least 8 different salad tongs available to purchase.

Dear Fair Trade Websites,

Why, why, why do you only sell completely impractical items?  For example, you sell a wooden bowl that is only 6 inches wide and 3 inches deep and a bamboo bowl 17 inches wide that is suitable “for dry foods only.”  I don’t have enough dry foods to fill a bowl like that!! Don’t they have lacquer in Nepal?  Why do you think that an infinite variety of coffee mugs (of which I ALREADY own dozens) is more appealing to a consumer than high ball glasses.  And why are the only water glasses you do sell 2 1/2″ deep and 5″ high?  What, exactly, are people supposed to drink out of that?  For that matter, who still drinks out of goblets?? It hasn’t been the middle ages for a few centuries.  Yes, your hand made pitchers are lovely, but I need something that will hold enough liquid for 8 people, not 2.



Fail #4: Avoiding unnecessary wedding registry items

I’m fairly sure we registered for both unnecessary items pictured above. Bow Tie not included.

Although I have an expansive apartment, it is stuffed to the brim with “things.”  So I thought I would have nothing to register for.  Halfway through Bed, Bath, & Beyond, however, I discovered my lovely future husband had an opinion or two of his own on my current set up.  The hand-me-down vacuum cleaner I got from my grandmother that was manufactured in the ’40s – not powerful enough!  The mini ironing board that fit (cleverly, I thought) on my kitchen table – too small!  My washing-machine-safe place mats – too annoying to clean!  So, our registry (which I thought would be empty) is now stuffed to the brim with 90+ items and I do not know WHERE the stuff I already own will go.  Is anyone in the market for cloth place mats, a mini ironing board, or a vacuum cleaner with questionable suction?

Fail #5: Rescuing the unwanted, reusable, discarded decorations from my friends’ weddings

*Actual Centerpiece has been Altered to Protect the Innocent*
*Actual Centerpiece has been Altered to Protect the Innocent*

One of my closest friends from college had the most thoroughly planned wedding I’d ever seen in my life.  There was a logo.  There were giant gift bags hand delivered to the house we were staying.  There was a rehearsal dinner to which everyone was invited AND an after party.  Did I mention the logo?  Did I mention it matched the antique mirrors in the venue she ultimately selected?  Did I mention the logo was etched into the centerpieces at each table?  Anyway – the only thing she didn’t plan for was clean up.  That meant that 15 perfectly lovely, fish-bowl shaped vases got thrown out.  Just thrown out!!  And who knows what else got swept away in the rush to clear the venue.

Then, just two months later, I participated in another wedding – a friend of mine from NYC.  The lead singer of the band (yes, there was a band!) was supposed to announce that guests could take the centerpieces home (in an effort to avoid waste).  He was more interested in singing than making formal announcements (I can’t really blame him – the music was excellent), so the vases and the flowers got thrown out again!

This is in no way casting judgement on either bride – weddings are crazy and some things just happen and of course they would have rather had a different solution. I’m just sad I didn’t think ahead and bring a giant box with me!!

What about you?  What aspirations for socially responsible wedding planning (or planning for any big event) have fallen short?  What wedding ideas in general have fallen to the wayside because of practical considerations?



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