How to have a car-free wedding

cargo bike wedding car-free wedding
(c) Bryan Rupp
light rail wedding trimet MAX
(c) Evrim Icoz

Couples want to be environmentally conscious and use sustainable methods and services for their weddings. A get-together of so many people can create a great deal of carbon load and waste, and consequently, most of our clients want to reduce and offset this burden. We see a lot of couples choosing sustainably farmed foods, vegan and vegetarian menus, and using flowers and decor that are locally sourced and not creating undue waste, so why not take the next logical step and reduce fossil fuel dependency?

Conferences, conventions, and meetings have been stressing the importance of public transit and reducing the number or cars at an event for many years, but it’s taken a while to catch on for social events. Thankfully in Portland, with transit and bike culture always at the forefront, we’re seeing more and more weddings go car-free.

Ever-growing in popularity is the idea to reduce reliance on the automobile and single-occupancy vehicles for the wedding. Single-occupancy vehicle driving is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and is one of the most dangerous modes of travel with over 30,000 fatalities annually in the US. In addition, there are a multitude of additional benefits to avoiding SOVs, including creating community and camaraderie as guests travel together and truly experience the destination. It makes sense for eco-friendly couples to see how much they can cut car use at their wedding.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Hold your wedding in a central location served by public transport. For example, the World Forestry Center in Washington Park is served by Portland’s TriMet MAX light rail. An easy trip from downtown, you can have hotel rooms in downtown Portland, and tell your guests to make sure to be on the MAX by a specified time so they don’t miss out on the ceremony.
  2. Incorporate cycling and human-powered transport in the wedding.
  3. Offer group transport to your guests, and encourage carpooling if driving is unavoidable.
  4. Simplify the event site and itinerary to keep all of the weekend’s events – lodging, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception – within walking or transit distance.
  5. Consider accessibility and mobility-challenged guests when making these choices. The idea is to reduce dependence on single-occupancy vehicles in order to free up resources for those who truly need them.

By incorporating sustainable, car-lite and car-free approaches in such a major life milestone event as a wedding, couples can create an educational, enjoyable, eye-opening experience that perhaps their guests would not have had otherwise.

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