Virginia is for Lovers

Melina Ann Vissat and Brian Christopher Hannon were married on October 11, 2008 in Haymarket, Virginia. They both live and work in the Washington D.C. area. Brian is a financial analyst with a government contractor, and Melina is a marketing writer with a strategic management consulting firm. They met on Match.com, "which proves that normal people use internet dating!"

Location Melina and Brian were married at The Regency at Dominion Valley country club. "We chose the place because it had a beautiful outdoor patio. We considered doing the wedding in downtown DC, but we couldn't find a place that had a sufficient outdoor area and a rain contingency plan. The Regency had both - a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the golf course with fountains and a stone bridge, as well as enough room inside in case poor weather drove us indoors."

The Decision to Go Green Melina has always been an eco-advocate, so going green was an easy choice. "I am involved in my company's sustainability service offering, and in my free time I am a freelance writer who writes for publications in the natural sector, such as the Nutrition Business Journal. We decided to go as green as possible with the wedding, since weddings are typically such wasteful affairs. We just felt guilty!"

Flowers and DIY Embellishments Melina made almost everything for the wedding herself. When it came to the flowers, she "made the men's boutonnieres out of small wooden flowers, fake berries, curly willow, ribbon and feathers. They were more like small pieces of art than traditional boutonnieres!" For the ceremony they used "fake flowers in mason jars for the aisle decor and covered an arch with vines and curly willow that our florist pulled from the woods near her farm."

Her bridesmaids carried red, orange and peach roses and mums accented with berries.

Although they used real flowers for the centerpieces they were rentals! Their florist, Barbara Von Elm from Growing Wild Floral Design in Delaplane VA, does everything she can to keep costs down. To start, "she doesn't have a physical shop, which keeps her overhead down, and she does a lot of rentals because they are less expensive." Barbara created this centerpiece with roses, tiger lilies, mums, dahlias, curly willow, and ferns. "It was a lovely, relaxed mess of flowers! After the wedding, the centerpieces were whisked away and reused by the florist for other displays."

Reusing and Recycling For gifts and non-floral decor items, Melina also reused and recycled. "I made the bridesmaids' jewelry out of materials that I already had on-hand, such as fake pearls, wire and ribbon. I made pillar candles for the tables, by covering empty metal soup cans with wrapping paper and placing pillar candles on top. I also reused foamcore board from presentation boards I had made for work to build a cupcake tower to house our wedding cupcakes."

Melina even made the cake toppers - "a mini-Melina and a mini-Brian" out of Sculpy Clay.

Giving Something Back Each guest's plate had two pieces of Endangered Species Chocolate. The company donates 10% of its net profits to sales to "help support species, habitat, and humanity."


Home-Style Wedding

Cathy and Nick were married on August 16, 2008 in Baltimore, MD.

How They Met Cathy and Nick both work with the mentally ill. Nick is a clinical social worker and Cathy is a psychologist. The two were set up on a blind date by friends and immediately clicked. "Our shared passion for social justice was one of the first things that drew us together."

The Decision to Go Green Although Cathy and Nick had originally planned a larger wedding, they decided it was more important for them to use their resources to buy their first home together. They also wanted to have a "socially responsible wedding that was consistent with our values and minimized excess and waste." To this end, the couple sent out hand written invitations inviting a small list of guests to celebrate with them at their new home. "Our invitations were handwritten by a good friend. Both the invitations and thank you notes were written on recycled paper and we decided to limit waste by not using RSVP cards."

"Our wedding occurred on the front porch and the celebration was set up as a garden party in the side yard and included 15 of our dear friends and family."

Flowers It was important for Cathy and Nick to have locally grown flowers at their wedding. "Imported flowers expend tremendous resources, require preservatives for their journey, and are often the product of deplorable working conditions. In an effort to minimize our wedding’s impact on the environment, we chose to work with Local Color Flowers, a Baltimore based floral design company that values ecological responsibility and supports local growers." Local Color Flowers used an array of brightly colored summer flowers for Cathy and Nick’s wedding including Zinnias, Gomphrena, Asters and Celosia.

For the reception, the flowers were displayed in mason jars, decorative tin buckets, antique headlights, and glass tumblers. Instead of having favors, the flower arrangements from the ceremony and celebration were sent home with guests at the end of the night.

Creating a Space The couple asked their friends to pitch in with the table decor. They were able borrow everything they needed, including silverware, pitchers, candelabras, place card holders, and folding tables and chairs.

They strung white lights around the table to create an intimate outdoor space.

They used their iPod to play a "funky mix including everything from Brazilian music, traditional Irish music, Tribe Called Quest, Wilco, and Stevie Wonder."

Dessert On their wedding day, a good friend surprised the couple (who had chosen not to have a wedding cake) with a homemade cake made with local ingredients from Trickling Springs Creamery. The cake was adorned with a Mexican good luck charm (a figurine of a skeletal bride & groom) "bringing additional humor to the day."

Going Digital Cathy and Nick’s photographer, Tristan Spinski provided the couple with the digital negatives instead of prints. "We were able to create our own wedding album without printing pictures unnecessarily. Since we chose to have a small, intimate wedding, many of our loved ones were not physically present. It was important to us to be able to easily send family and friends electronic copies of our photos."

All in all, Cathy and Nick felt that "a socially conscious wedding with minimal impact on the environment was the ideal way for us to begin our marriage." As Cathy said, “The day just felt like us.”


Love at the Thursday Club

Shawn McDonald and Roger Grant were married on September 26th at the Thursday Club in San Diego, an organization that benefits a host of worthy causes including the Children's Dental Health Association of San Diego, Urban Corps, St. Paul's Retirement Home Foundation, and Goodwill Industries of San Diego County.

How They Met Shawn worked at Powerhouse Gym in Pacific Beach during college where Roger was a member. Although he had a crush on her, Roger kept it a secret for almost a year because "he didn't want to be 'that guy' at the gym." In 2002 the two finally met at Typhoon Saloon in Pacific Beach, where Shawn first noticed Roger from afar (he was one of the tallest guys in the crowd). She went over for a closer "look" and Roger instantly recognized her. The two hit it off immediately and ended up talking and dancing all night. "We had an absolute blast together, our meeting that night was truly meant to be." Six years later the two still chuckle when thinking about the night they met, "You so often hear 'you'll never meet your future husband or wife at a bar,'... don't be so sure, you just never know!"

Arriving in Style The couple made arrangements for their family and the bridal party to arrive in eco-chic style with Wherever Shuttle, San Diego's first green transportation company. "All of their vehicles run on vegetable oil! Wherever Shuttle was professional, timely, efficient and eco-friendly! We use them often just to go out in San Diego because their affordable, at your door, green service is better than getting a taxi!"

Bridal Style Shawn chose a number of accents for the wedding that were sustainable or could be used again. The rings were placed in a bamboo box Roger bought on eBay for $10.

Shawn wore a chocolate brown pair of shoes by Kate Spade that she "found online for half the retail price. The best part is I can wear them again since they aren't 'bridal white' shoes!!" She made her shoes her "something blue" by adding crystals that she purchased at Micheal's and arranged on the bottom to say "I Do".

For her something old and something borrowed, Shawn placed pictures of the couple's grandfathers in her grandmother's locket and tied it to her bouquet. "We wanted to incorporate their memory into the wedding."

The Ceremony In addition to honoring their loved ones who had passed, the couple did everything they could to "incorporate all of our immediate family in some way into the wedding ceremony as well. If they were not in the bridal party, they were included in the processional, which is traditionally just for parents and grandparents." Roger's dad become an Officiant for the Day in San Diego County so he could marry them!

A Sweet Theme The reception was held at the same venue as the ceremony, so their was no additional travel for their guests. The theme of the reception was 'The Sweetest Love' and their colors "were chocolate brown (the sweet element) and white." Shawn carried the theme throughout the reception using all white flowers (by Bloomers) and deep chocolate linens accented with white. Each table was named to follow the theme: "Sweetest Love", "Sweetest Day", "Sweetest Song", "Sweetest Moment", etc."

DIY Elements Part of being green is conserving resources, including money. "When I started planning my wedding I spoke to many wedding planners in San Diego and was disheartened when they told me with my budget I'd have to be willing to 'go without' a lot of things. They advised me that I should expect to spend $35,000-50,000, which was not possible. So I chose to plan everything by myself. I researched, researched, researched until I found fabulous vendors that fit my budget as well as ways to create the details I wanted without paying someone to make them. All of the wedding details I hand created with the help of a dear friend and my mother, managing to save my family a fortune! It was a lot of work, but it felt really good to know that I was able to add a personal touch to the day as well as save a bundle! Having the guests tell me how much they loved all the details was the biggest compliment and made it all worth it!"

Here are a few of Shawn's DIY touches:

Instead of place cards, she bought blank business cards and printed the name of the table and the guest name on the front and their wedding date on the back. All of the items were accented with chocolate brown ribbon she "found at a fabric store on sale." All left over ribbons she kept to reuse for thank you gifts.

Instead of buying an expensive guest book, Shawn made a memory box where each guest could leave their favorite memory of the bride and groom. The memories were written on blank index cards and left in the box for the couple to read after their honeymoon. "We kept the box with all of our wedding cards in it, so we can open it up at any time and enjoy the memories and cards from our guests ."

To add another 'sweet' touch she found romantic sayings that she printed out at home and put in frames around the reception site. "For all of the items I made, I used a filigree design that I found for free within Microsoft clip art." Many of the decor items, such as the frames and vases, the couple have placed in their home as mementos from their special day.

Shawn used Microsoft Publisher to create this sign for their signature drink the "Sweetest Sparkle" (sweet rose champagne served in a flute rimmed with chocolate flavored sugar - "not your usual bubbly combination but it was delicious and the guests loved it!"). The photograph below was taken while Roger was proposing to Shawn at Ponte Vineyard in Temecula. "He had the manager of the winery take a photo of us... I had no idea he was preparing to get down on one knee and propose!"

For favors, Shawn tied the leftover ribbon around personalized CDs featuring the couple's favorite songs.

A Sweet Ending For dessert, Shawn and Roger bought a cake from a local doughnut shop. "We saved approximately $700 compared to what 'wedding cake bakers' quoted us and everyone raved about how good it was! Thank goodness for the top because that was all we had leftover!"

Catering: Culinary Concepts

Music was provided by: B'Entertained

Photo Credit: La Vida Creations Photography


November Contest!

The Green Bride Guide Online is offering monthly contests!

Only a few people have entered our November contest so far - so the chance to win is high!! The contest is for the first signed copy of The Green Bride Guide.

The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon, where you can search inside the book for a sneak peak.

For more details about the contest click here.


Going Green and Saving Green in Texas

Tara Brown and Michael Selders were married on August 24th in Houston, Texas. The ceremony and reception were both held at The Four Seasons Hotel, to eliminate the driving time of guests and to cut down on carbon emissions.

How They Met As Tara tells it, "We met waiting tables at Macaroni Grill in April of 2001 and started dating in August of 2001. Michael is now a cardiovascular technologist (aka Eco Tech) and works for the Digirad Corporation and I work for the Stewart Title Guaranty Company as a Senior National Closing Coordinator."

Why a Green Wedding "As a child, Mike traveled all over Europe and I visited a lot of National Parks. So, we developed an appreciation for nature early on but never really understand how our actions impacted our environment until we educated ourselves on the issues as adults. Once we started understanding how our daily consumption affected our world, we started making eco-friendly changes to our everyday lives. We currently recycle everything we possibly can and we also donate items that we don’t need anymore instead of tossing them in the dumpster. I was very hesitant to [get married] because I knew how much waste is produced by weddings. I finally decided that if I could eliminate the large amount of waste and add some other eco-friendly initiatives into a wedding, that I would do it. So, I told my husband about my plans and he jumped on board." Michael took Tara's wishes to heart and gave her an engagement ring with a diamond that had belonged to her great grandmother.

Wedding Planner Soon after, Tara and her mom, Jackie, went scouting for eco-friendly event planners. They found Jessica Zapatero at Green Lily Events to coordinate the wedding. Jessica helped them plan a complete eco-friendly affair. "One of the biggest eco-initiatives was the on-site recycling (because Texas does not have laws about recycling at large events and it almost never happens). Jessica got Waste Management and the Four Seasons to work together to recycle the paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum. When Waste Management said they could not recycle the glass because of liability issues, Jessica took care of it herself (she paid for it!) and hired a local individual to pick it up and bring it to the local recycling center. By the day of the wedding, we had implemented over 20 different eco-initiatives and our eco-wedding was a success!"

Invitations Not only did Tara and Michael make green choices, but they saved green too: "A common myth is that eco-weddings cost more, but that is not always the case. Although many eco-friendly products and services do cost more, there are ways to cut costs. For example, instead of purchasing paper invitations, we opted for tree-free and recycled paper invitations from Invitesite. We actually ended up saving about $500 by assembling our eco-friendly invitations ourselves." The coupled saved money by making other smart green choices as well (see the cakes section for example).

Attire For her Tara's gown, Tara chose a floor length gown with a sweeping train made from Raw Silk by Paloma Blanca – a Canadian company that gives a percent of every sale to Dresses That Heal.

The men wore eco-suede kippot from Zara Mart (made from recycled cardboard) and the bridesmaids donned natural make-up from GloMinerals.

Flowers The florist, Plants ‘n Petals, reused part of the decor from the ceremony at the reception. "The tall side pew containers that held the curly willow and floating candles were moved from the ceremony room to the reception. After the wedding, the chiffon fabric from the Chuppah [bridal canopy] was reused as was the riser. Also, a couple of floral displays in the ceremony room were moved into the reception and used as centerpieces."

Many of the flowers were purchased from local Houston farms, and all of the arrangements were donated after the event to the Lexington Place Healthcare Center.

Decor Tara and Michael were able to use a lot items offered by The Four Season, including chair covers. The table linens were provided by Cover Me Satin and "were already in their warehouse so nothing was ordered." After the wedding all of the linens were laundered in energy star appliances. As with the invitations, the seating cards and menus were printed on tree-free paper.

Cake An unexpected saving came when the couple ordered green wedding cakes. "I originally wanted a wedding cake and grooms cake from the best baker in town and her quote ended up being $1500 which was out of my mom’s price range. Our wonderful wedding coordinator, Jessica, introduced us to Monica Martinez of Monica’s Divine Delights. Not only were her cakes absolutely fabulous, but they were more affordable. The quote from Monica for the same cakes with the same designs but organic was $1100! So, we ended up with delicious organic cakes and we saved $400."

Favors Out of town guests were greeted with recycled bags filled with local and organic products, which were put together by Holley Brown of Sweet Couture. "The guest bags also had my Aunt Marcia’s famous Chocolate Chip Cookies and Banana Nut Muffins. Since my Aunt made quite a bit of food for each bag, we also saved money." For favors, each guest was given a packet of seeds in a small plantable pot (the pots actually go into the soil and biodegrade so nothing is wasted). "Seeing our guest’s expressions when they saw their plantable eco favors was great."

Adieu At the end of the day, everyone gathered outside and tossed cones of ecofetti (a kind of biodegradable confetti) to send the newly married couple off.

Tara and Michael got into a horse drawn carriage (an elegant carbon neutral option!) and rode off.

Looking back When asked what her favorite part of her wedding was, Tara replied, "If I had to pick one thing, I would say just having an eco-wedding was my favorite part! Now that the wedding is over, my husband and I are extremely happy with the choices we made. We are proud that our wedding did not have a large negative impact on our environment and we hope to inspire other couples. Overall this experience has been life changing and we are planning on making all our future events eco-friendly." Photography Credit: Michael Ramos, digital photographer