When a high-profile couple like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes get divorced, it's hard not to think about the outlandish resources that went into their wedding. Tom and Katie had their $2 million celebration in a grand castle in Bracciano, Italy, surrounded by their closest celebrity friends who flew from near and far to be a part of the spectacle. But where did all of their conspicuous consumption get them? As the Kardashians have showed us, over-the-top weddings often lead to over-the-top divorces.
This is not to say that expensive weddings consistently result in failed marriages -- the cost of a wedding itself is not the issue. The problem comes when a couple is focused on creating a spectacle instead of using their wedding to express the values behind their marriage.
Here are three reasons why I believe it is more important than ever for celebrities to plan socially and environmentally conscious weddings.
1) Influencing the Industry
American weddings are a $70-billion-a-year industry and even the most thoughtful couples can find themselves on the "wedding conveyor belt". Having a green wedding means thinking about who you are, what your values are, and what kind of wedding you would want if the industry were not constantly telling you what you should want.
Celebrities are particularly vulnerable to social pressure, and their weddings are often planned by their PR teams, with a focus on image and press instead of the celebrity's personal style or preferences. In this environment it is no wonder that Jessica Simpson is thinking about eloping, or that Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan surprised their guests with a backyard wedding masked as a graduation party.
Planning a green wedding means stepping back and thinking about the future of the planet while planning your big day. When a celebrity couple decides to go green they send a message to both their fans and the wedding industry that the health of people and the environment matters, and nothing is worth sacrificing a sustainable future for. Especially with so many glamorous green options available, it has never been easier to have a lavish eco-friendly event.
2) Supporting Green Business
The wedding industry has spent a lot of time and money convincing brides to buy an endless list of cheaply made disposable items for their weddings. These products include sweatshop-made bleached white dresses, disposable aisle runners, chemically treated imported flowers, toxic makeup and skin-care products, mined gem-based jewelry, individual packets of rice, and all manner of disposable flourishes and trinkets. With almost 2.5 million weddings a year in this country alone, the impact on the environment from our weddings is substantial. Celebrities have the power and the resources to change the status quo.
Weddings offer an amazing opportunity to make a difference, and when it comes to celebrities, they have an even larger platform available to them to disseminate the message about sustainable alternatives. In addition to saving energy, conserving resources, and decreasing pollution, imagine what a boost $70 billion-a-year could give to sustainable businesses. If we are going to combat the environmental problems of this century, we need to change the way businesses operate. Celebrities can help create demand for eco-friendly products and services with their choices. By spending their wedding dollars on green alternatives, celebrities can send a signal to companies that it is time to change their ways!
3) Educating Others
One of the most amazing things about a wedding is that it is the only time in your life when pretty much everyone you love is in the same room at the same time. They come from near and far to celebrate you -- both the people you are and the union you and your fiancé are creating. In other words, a wedding provides an opportunity to show your guests how beautiful eco-friendly choices can be in a non-preachy environment.
For celebrities, this power is exponential! In addition to their guests, celebrities command the attention of millions of fans. By infusing their weddings with a sense of respect for the environment, they have the opportunity to inspire their guests and fans alike and transform their wedding into an event that will be remembered forever.