Green Weddings: Create an Earth-Friendly Menu
From all the organic eats at your local grocer, choosing better foods has probably been on your mind anyway. Taking a cue from the Slow Food movement -- which is all about avoiding the homogenization of fast food with unique, diverse tastes and dishes -- brides and grooms are looking beyond the basic chicken or filet.
Make an Organic Menu
Though many are now specializing in organic foods, "any caterer can be organic," says Danny Seo, author of Simply Green Parties. "Choose one you love, then talk about replacing the ingredients." Why? "Buying organic ensures that you, your guests, and the workers who harvested your food won't be exposed to pesticides," adds, Ariel Dekovic, coauthor of 365 Ways to Save the Earth. You can learn more about organic meals and menus at SustainableTable.org. For dessert, consider serving guests scoops of organic ice cream. PJMadison's, for example, offers five flavors of organic gelato.
Find Good Food
Free-range, organically raised beef and chicken aren't just delicious -- choosing meats raised with sustainable farming practices is better for the animals, the environment, and the farmers. If you're serving seafood, avoid fish that are commercially raised or high in mercury. Opt for a white fish like tilapia, or choose wild salmon (it's generally named for the areas they originally came from -- just plain "salmon" is most likely farmed).
For all of your reception eats, choose local and seasonal foods if possible. They're fresh and readily available (read: delicious and cheap!). "Especially for your salad course, go with what's in season," says Seo.
Have Your Cake
And feel good about it too! Again, ask about substituting organic ingredients like sugar, flour, butter, and eggs. Choosing organic ingredients will undoubtedly increase the cost of your cake, but many say the taste will be even more delicious. Or, look for a baker who specializes in organic cakes. Some will even prepare a vegan cake (meaning it doesn't contain any animal products or processed sugars) -- you won't believe there's not butter.
Just as with your food, think local for your drinks. If you're oenophiles, local, organic wines are a great option, and also a fabulous way to personalize your meal. Look to vineyards in your area, or find a shop that specializes in homegrown goods.
Save Your Leftovers
Don't let those extra entrees go into the trash -- instead, work with your caterer to send leftovers to a food rescue group. These organizations pick up fresh, untouched but unwanted food and deliver it to local shelters and families in need.
Locate a food rescue organization near you at SecondHarvest.org.
Try Fair Trade
For after-dinner coffee service, look into getting coffee or espresso brewed with Fair Trade beans (meaning the farmers were paid a fair price and in most cases, the coffee was grown in an ecologically sustainable way).