Go on tour for a low carbon wedding

Wedding Tour

Depending on your guest list, going on tour can drop you carbon bill by 70%

If you’ve called the office recently, you may have noticed our CEO seems a little distracted. The recent Times article and the effect of Cupid’s arrow may have something to do with it. You see, Tom is trying to figure out a way to get his girlfriend to agree to marry him and also to reduce carbon emissions from the wedding. And they say romance is dead.

Weddings have a dark side (and, no, I’m not referring to marriage). With friends and family in San Francisco, DC, and London, Tom’s nuptials will be the cause of a lot of carbon emissions, mostly from airline flights. One possible solution is for Tom and his intended to bring the party to the guests by going on tour like the Stones.

I dug into the math (Excel) a bit to see whether this idea has any legs.

I looked at two scenarios, one in which just the bride and groom fly around, and another more lavish scenario with a traveling wedding party of ten. In both scenarios, the wedding is split across three locations: San Francisco, DC, and London.

The results are startling. A roving wedding can save 70-95% of the carbon emissions over its stationary counterpart. That’s savings of up to 200,000 lbs of CO2, or the same as keeping 10 Hummers off the road for a year.

There are some other benefits as well. By splitting the party up, the bride and groom can spend much more time with each guest. Fewer invitees will be prevented from attending by expensive plane tickets or difficult travel arrangements. Fewer hotel rooms will also mean reduced emissions and lower costs. The need for smaller venues allows greater flexibility. And so forth.

The rub is that this arrangement shifts a lot of cost from wedding guests to the the bride and groom. Throwing three parties is much more expensive than throwing one. Overall, guests save a ton of money in the form of reduced airfare, but those savings don’t do the bride and groom any good unless they pass the hat, which most will be reluctant to do.

So perhaps this is an idea whose time has not yet come. Just to experiment, consider the question below. If you were invited to a wedding, how far would you go to lower carbon emissions?

Of course, for weddings that are already planned, you can use a TerraPass to balance out the carbon you and your guests will create.

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  1. Orion - February 14, 2007

    Maybe this could start a new tradition, that’s why we do what we do, right? One of the hardest things for people to change is that all these people in different locations actually want to see each other too (maybe), not just the bride and groom. When I get married, I know that my side of the family alone live in about twenty US states, and I’m in England. Weddings are the vehicle for actually seeing everybody. I guess they’ll just all have to buy a Terrapass! What do the excel sheets look like if the bride and groom buy a terra-pass for everyone flying?

  2. Ruby K - February 14, 2007

    Almost… not quite there yet. I’m with Orion, we’re going to ask folks gently to offset their flights/drives and we may offset the rest.

  3. MarkS - February 14, 2007

    There are sensible approaches to climate change, and there are radical ones – this is definitely pushing into the latter. The easy solution is to ask people to offset their carbon footprint when they book their tickets. It is preferable to doing it for them, because people can see how cheap / easy it is, and would hopefully start doing it themselves.
    A word of advice for Tom – any illusions you may have about actively participating in the wedding planning should be abandoned right now. It’s her day, which means “Do you like it? Then I like it too” is your best friend in this situation

  4. Jen - February 14, 2007

    I had friends who did this. They got married at city hall when San Francisco was doing same-sex marriages. When they tried to figure out how to do the reception, it just ended being easier for them to travel so they had wedding parties in New York, Chicago, and LA. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of people came. Many more than would have just come to LA or San Francisco.
    It’s definitely a different way of doing it, but I think it can be just as fun, if not more so.

  5. Keith - February 19, 2007

    The Clean Air Community Trust in Asheville, North Carolina has a climate neutral event calculator. The calculator allows you to use the zip codes from each individual and the destination zip code to determine the many CFLs you need to purchase (and install) to offset the carbon from the wedding. http://www.airtrust.org/programs.htm

  6. Sierra - April 25, 2007

    I am an Eco-Friendly Floral Stylist. I recently saw that you had event Terra Passes (small event up to 125 guests $50 or near that). Now, I can’t find where that is available. I am trying to put a package together for brides to encourage them to go GREEN! Can anyone help a sister out?

  7. Adam Stein - April 25, 2007

    Hey Sierra,
    Not sure what you’re thinking of, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t us. But check back soon.
    – Adam