What's your wedding getaway plan? Will you drive off in a car that's covered in "Just Married" scribbles, trailing a string of rattling cans? Be careful you don't leave your guests choking on gasoline fumes. With all the details that need to be perfect for your wedding day, it's easy to forget what's coming out of your exhaust pipe. If you want to make sure your wedding is perfect, however, greening your transportation is one detail that's best remembered.
From hiring stretch limousines to arranging taxis and airport shuttles for visiting guests, weddings can create a lot of traffic. Traffic means vehicle emissions, and what couple really wants their wedding day contributing to air pollution and smog? Using eco-friendly transportation ensures that your wedding remains as pristine as your newly-celebrated love.
Look for Companies That Reduce Pollution
Many shuttle bus, taxi, and limousine companies are taking a more eco-friendly approach these days, and it's a nice feeling to know that your money is going toward building a sustainable future for the planet. On the other hand, however, beware of companies that use "greenwashing" in their advertisements. These companies are trying to hop on the eco-friendly bandwagon without actually making improvements to their product. Before you hire a transportation company with "green," "natural," or any similar term in their name, be sure to ask them exactly what they're doing to help the environment, and don't hire them unless you're satisfied with the answer.
Some features to look for are whether the company offers electric or hybrid electric vehicles in its fleet. You may also want to look for vehicles that use biodiesel instead of conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. Instead of having to be produced from fossil fuels, biodiesel comes from vegetable oils. Better yet, look for companies whose vehicles run on straight WVO (waste vegetable oil). This fuel comes right from the frying oil that local restaurants throw away, and it works in a diesel engine just like diesel fuel. WVO is the most eco-friendly option, since it's recycling a product that would be thrown away otherwise.
Look for Companies That Give Back to the Community
In addition to improving their vehicle fleet, transportation companies can also become more eco-friendly by donating a portion of their profits to efforts that improve the environment in various ways. Look for companies who support the development of community parks, wetlands and rainforest conservation, and research into even more effective means of eco-friendly transportation.
Some companies also purchase "carbon offsets," or contributions toward ecological conservation projects. These can be used to help developing countries utilize their resources more sustainably, to work on domestic renewable energy projects, or to further other causes that will reduce carbon emissions worldwide. While carbon offsets are a little controversial, since donating money doesn't automatically absolve a company from needing to act responsibly, it does ensure that some of the money you're spending on your wedding transportation supports a good cause.
Romantic Alternatives to Cars
Eco-friendly vehicles are catching on around the world. Every year, more cities pick up this growing trend. If you don’t live in a city where environmentally-sustainable vehicles are an option, you can still make sustainable transportation choices on your wedding day.
What could be more romantic than departing your wedding on a bicycle built for two? This old-fashioned vehicle is not only eco-friendly and fun, but provides a great photo-op, too. Just be sure your wedding down doesn't get caught in the spokes!
If you're holding your wedding reception near a lake, you can make a Hollywood-perfect departure in a pedal boat or even a romantic rowboat–don't forget to bring your sun parasol! Many cities have pedal boat rentals that are shaped like swans or that come in other picturesque shapes. You may even want to hire a gondola so the rower can serenade you and your new spouse as you depart for your new life together. (You'll probably want a vehicle waiting on the other side of the water to take you to your eventual destination, but as long as it's also an eco-friendly option, you can't go wrong.)
Beach weddings provide many romantic and eco-friendly options, such as departing with your sweetheart in a sailboat. Plus, if there are high cliffs nearby, research whether there is a local hang gliding club in your area. You don’t need to know how to hang glide yourself; an expert can take you in a glider built for two.
Want to feel like you're starring in your own romance novel? Get swept off your feet after your wedding reception by riding away on the back of a gorgeous white horse (or horses). If you're not the equestrian type, you can still enjoy the fairytale perfection of this option by riding away in a rented horse-drawn carriage. Many businesses will happily rent you horses in your choice of color, with carriage drivers in your choice of uniform.
Don't have easy access to horses in your area? (Or maybe you don’t want to worry about working with live animals–they can be a handful, after all.) You can achieve the same effect with a quaint bicycle rickshaw. Not only do rented rickshaws come in multiple styles and colors, but they'll be pulled by a person who's getting a great workout.
Want to make a bold statement? Ride to and from your wedding on a motorcycle. Motorcycles get much better gas mileage than traditional vehicles, and the fact that they look impressive doesn't hurt. Just picture the look on your grandmother's face when you roar up on a flower-decorated Harley. Note that this approach does require a valid motorcycle license, but depending on your state, you can complete a safety course (usually around 15 hours long) to be eligible for one.
Having a winter wedding? If the bride's gown isn't the only thing making yours a white wedding, you can strap on some skis and depart your reception in Alpine style. If you're new to skiing, be sure to get your practice in as early as possible–it wouldn’t do to sprain an ankle right as you start your honeymoon!
As the world becomes more eco-conscious, more and more options are becoming available. This is great news for couples looking to make their wedding a little greener. Instead of hopping into the first Hummer limo you see, weigh your getaway options and remember that you don’t have to sacrifice style for sensibility.