(ANN/The Korea Herald)
Lee Sun-woo and Kim Hyo-jin wanted their wedding day to be a special celebration that reflects their personalities and lifestyle.
They found a great way to make the day unique and meaningful at an expo that showcased eco-friendly products such as a wedding dress in natural fabric, wedding invitation cards made from recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink.
“Inspired by those items, we decided to try a green wedding,” said Lee, the eco-conscious groom who has been with a recycled instrument band for years. “We wanted to practice what we believe in through our wedding.”
The couple searched the Internet and found Lee Kyoung-jae, a former fashion designer, who started a social enterprise Sewing for the Soil, which makes eco-friendly wedding gowns.
An eco-friendly wedding was a rare concept in 2008 when Lee started the company. But as more people pay attention to the environment, it has become a growing trend. Recently, celebrity couple Yoo Ji-tae and Kim Hyo-jin drew attention with their wedding invitation cards made with recycled paper.
“About 90 couples have done eco-friendly weddings so far. And we conduct a wedding once a week nowadays,” said Kim Su-jin at Sewing for the Soil, adding that the trend is also due to growing complaints by young people about overpriced, big weddings. The company has now been transformed into a full-service wedding planning business.
A green wedding begins with wedding gowns in eco-friendly fabrics made from nettle, corn starch and traditional Korean mulberry paper.
“Few white wedding dresses are made with natural silk. Many of them are actually made with synthetic fibers. But they cause pollution when making the fabric white using toxic chemicals. When the wedding gowns are discarded, they will never decompose,“ said Kim.
Wedding gowns in natural materials do not require chemical processing and can also be reformed to be worn as a dress after the wedding. Brides can wear it as a full-length gown on their big day with the lower tier attached to a mini dress, when the attached tier is zipped off, a shorter version is created that can later be worn as a regular dress.
“It will also reduce wedding gown costs a lot and carbon footprints as well,” said Kim.
An individual generates 12 tons of carbon dioxide a year, but a single wedding produces 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide from food waste, traffic jams and the honeymoon, according to a figure by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2010, Kim said.
On the other hand, a true eco-friendly wedding does not produce any waste.
At a green wedding, flowers are not discarded at the end of the event. Brides can carry their bouquets with intact roots that can be planted after the wedding as a reminder of the special day.
Flower pots are used to decorate wedding venues and are also used as table centerpieces, which are later distributed to guests as thank-you gifts.
“It’s the part which guests love the most. They say they come to the wedding to celebrate the couple, but they receive something back at the end,” said Kim.
Organic catering is also favored by more and more people as it has less artificial flavors. Caterers allow guests to take home leftovers, meaning there is no food waste.
The green weddings can be part of the fair trade movement as well.
Some brides choose fair trade diamond rings as an alternative to “blood diamonds,” or have their old rings and those passed down from their mothers and grandmothers melted down and refashioned.
The green wedding continues with a fair trade honeymoon.
“Fair trade honeymoon packages are more beneficial to the local people and respect nature and animals. But it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Your honeymoon can be the best time of your life while helping local people earn a sustainable income and preserve nature,” Kim said.