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My Big Fat Eco-wedding

I recently downloaded the Real Simple (ha!) 16-month wedding checklist, in advance of my own upcoming nuptials, and was duly appalled, not only by the fact that, six months out, I'm apparently supposed to be booking portable toilets and composing a day-of timeline (isn't that something you do, like, the day of?), but also by the general excess, financial and otherwise, of the whole thing. It gives me heart palpitations just to think of it: all those dresses (mine, the bridesmaids', the mother of the bride's) having to be specially ordered for a single wearing, all the suits that will need to be dry-cleaned, all those invitations made just to be tossed, all those plane tickets and car rentals and miles and miles of gasoline, etc. etc. etc. We're trying to keep it really simple (as opposed to Real Simple), but there are lots of forces ganged up against us.

Enter the eco-wedding. This has always seemed to me like just another status-anxiety issue. (Did you get on the New York Times wedding page? Are your pigs-in-a-blanket grass-fed?) Nowadays, though, the eco-wedding is becoming its own niche industry, from luxe Caribbean eco-friendly honeymoons to funny-looking wedding gowns made from hemp. This is certainly not a bad development, but it does make the eco-ethics of your wedding feel like just another thing to fret about, like whether you'll trip walking down the aisle or whether someone will give an embarrassing toast. And the vaunted hipness of cutting back just points out how truly mad the normal situation is: So now you get frugality bragging rights for saving 40 percent on a $3,100 dress? It all seems like a new permutation of the old bad thing.

Then again, I am all for minimalism, and most of the eco-friendly wedding sites and books out there at least claim to be all about minimizing consumption, stress, bad vibes, and whatnot. I just wish they weren't doing it slap next to lists of sponsored eco-friendly vendors and ads for biodegradable cake-toppers (yeah, I made that one up). To get a truly pared-down wedding, it seems, maybe it's better skip the whole "eco-friendly" gambit and just rely on your own common sense.

--Britt Peterson