Green Activities

Like many weddings these days, our wedding took place over the course of a long weekend.  To entertain our guests we asked  family members to lead activities with no (or little) environmental impact.  My cousin planned a yoga class and my future sister-in-law put on a puppet show.  Our guests could also choose to partake in a guided hike, rowing, and a hay ride. It was a great way for them to meet each other, and for us to relax and visit with friends before the big day. 


Rug Runner Aisle Style

My husband and I wanted to have an aisle runner, both for the aesthetics of it and because our wedding was outside and we did not want anyone's heels getting stuck in the grass.  Instead of using a disposable aisle runner we borrowed this beautiful hall runner from my parents' house for the occasion.  It was sturdy, colorful and free. 

A sustainable autumnal menu

Even before Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals became popular, many authors, scientists and policy makers wrote about the perils of factory farming and the importance of eating locally grown organic food.  For our reception, my husband and I worked with the caterer to come up with a seasonal menu, which included locally grown organic salad greens, mushroom soup, roasted root vegetables, and tender grass-fed beef.  The food was amazing - fresh and delicious - and we and our guests were delighted.  Pictures courtesy of my friend Eli's Blog Dinner Last Night


Local, Seasonal and Organic Flowers

Our wedding was in October in New York and it was important to us to only use local, season, and organic flowers.  We were able to supply our florist with most of the material from ours, my parents', our friends', and our neighbors' gardens.  The rest we bought from a local organic farm.  My bouquet (pictured left and going clockwise from the bottom) consisted of tree hydrangea (yellow green with pink tips), large dahlias (pink), mop-head hydrangea (blue), rose-flowered begonia (creamy white), flowering sage (deep blue-violet), and pink roses.  I love the full lush look.  A bouquet like this would normally cost about $200, which is another reason why going local makes sense - importing is expensive!
Comment: If you cannot find local flowers- consider a charity bouquet from Organic Bouquets. Click here to see 45 Charity Bouquets at Organic Bouquet!

Canadian Diamond Engagement Ring + Recycled Gold Wedding Bands

When my husband bought me my engagement ring, he avoided buying a conflict diamond by choosing a certified Canadian diamond ring similar to this 1 ct. Canadian Excellent Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring. For his engagement ring, I chose a ring from Wood-Rings.com made from Satine Rubane (which is not endangered). For every ring they sell Wood Rings plants a tree in the United States with American Forests. After reading an article about Dirty Gold we decided it was important for our wedding bands to be made from recycled metal. We found beautiful rings at Greenkarat made from recycled gold. It is worth noting that Greenkarat also provides a jewelry recycling program (where you can send in old jewelry for store credit).

Comment 4.24.2008 - I just discovered that you can buy loose Canadian Diamonds from Blue Nile. Blue Nile, Inc.

Vintage Pearls + Natural Makeup

Instead of buying new jewelry, I sent an e-mail to out to the women in our families asking if I could borrow pearls for our wedding day.  My husband's parents lent me this beautiful necklace that belonged to his grandmother, and my parents gave me pearl earrings and a bracelet to match.  It was nice to wear jewelry from both side of the family and was much more meaningful than purchasing something new.  Although it is hard to see in this black and white picture, I also used all organic and natural makeup. I have added several good books on the toxicity of traditional makeup to the reading room and have compiled some of my favorite natural cosmetics in the look book. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Watercolor Invitations

Instead of having a printer make plates (which are not recyclable and are often cleaned with toxic chemicals), my husband and I decided to print our invitations at home.  He modified a cartouche from a 1659 map of New England with Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and printed it out on recycled watercolor paper for me to paint.  We then scanned the image back in and printed out the rest of the invitations on post-consumer waste parchment paper (which we rolled up and tied with scrap leather cord). 


Carbon Offset Favors

In lieu of favors, my husband and I decided to offset the carbon from our guests travel emissions.  We chose to support a number of different initiative including CO2Balance and  Terrapass.  To let our guests know we printed a note inside the (recycled paper) seating cards.

Antique Key Seating Chart

For our seating chart my husband repurposed a length of old picket fence and hung vintage keys from small while nails along each slat. I painted the table numbers along the top and the guests' names next to the keys.  Instead of searching for the traditional name card, each guest had to locate the silhouette that corresponded to their key at their designated table - a small game to kick the evening off and break the ice. Although we were not there to see our plan unfold (we were waiting in the flanks to make our big entrance), everyone found their seat - or someone's seat at least!

Marsh Grass and Fountain Centerpiece

For our reception, which took place in a restaurant with huge windows overlooking the river, my husband designed and built self contained fountains, which we filled with rocks from around our house.  We then used red beans in flared glasses to hold dried grasses.  In the glow of the candle light it felt like you were sitting in the marsh below (in a good way). 

Natural Ribbons and Fern Cake Embellishments

To decorate our organic wedding cake, we gave the baker four kinds of natural ribbon and dried fern fronds from our garden.  He used these natural embellishments to create this colorful (and tasty) design.  Photo courtesy of Mohammed Ismail.

Small Increment Paper Stamps

One way to create an exotic and colorful envelope is to use small increment stamps.  You can find "mint" paper stamps in lots on eBay - often for less than their retail value.  Most will still have their sticky backing and can be adhered with a wet sponge.  For stamps that have lost their stickiness use a simple glue stick to paste them down.  In addition to saving money, using vintage paper stamps is better for the environment, because they are printed on a renewable resource (unlike plastic stamps, which are petroleum-based and have a disposable plastic backing). 

Once-worn Designer Shoes

A great way to be green and ultra-fashionable is to buy a smashing pair of once-worn designer shoes and resell them after your wedding (which means in most cases your net cost is just the shipping fee).   For my wedding I bought these gorgeous Vera Wang shoes on eBay.  For safety on a slippery dance floor, you can sandpaper the bottom of your shoes or add a pair of foot petal shoe stoppers.  I also bought a pair of Kiwi Smiling Feet ball cushions (which I cannot recommend more highly).  Although they are not as environmentally sound as, let's say, buying a pair of shoes that fit, they are better than buying two pairs of shoes, or breaking in a new pair to the point of no return  - where no dignified bride would buy them from you and they fall out of the recycling chain. My mother used the heel liners and was equally pleased.  

Schedule of Events Board

An easy and environmentally friendly way to greet guests and keep them up-to-date about the schedule of events, activities, meeting places and rain plans is to use a chalk board. It allows you to quickly and easily make changes over the course of the day or weekend.

Recycle Your Train

If you do not want to wear a train or would like to shorten the train on your dress - save the fabric and turn it into something else you can use for your wedding. I had the bulk of my train made into a fashionable shawl - which was perfect for a crisp fall day. The rest my husband's great aunt made into a break-the-glass pillow for us.

Attire for Tots

Because children grow so quickly is does not make sense to have them buy new outfits for a wedding.  For our wedding, my husband and I sent around the following e-mail: 

Dear parents of small and adorable flower-children, ushers, ring bearers and "junior attendants,"
This is the week Barry and I are finishing up the invitations and in the spirit of checking things off the list, I thought I would write with a wardrobe update for the tots + tweens.  We would like the little boys to wear black suits or tuxedos and the little girls to wear autumn colored dresses.  In the spirit of a green wedding, we encourage you to borrow , rent, or buy used if you can.  (This reduces impact and cost in one fell swoop.)  For girls, I have found some adorable dresses in eBay in autumn colors: burgundy, cranberry, dark gold, etc. from $2-$20.  It may be nippy - so it is probably best to pick something in a velvet or satin or to add a shawl or jacket.  For boys, they have mini-suites and mini-tuxedos for $15-$25, including a black vest + black tie/bow tie. 
If you need more clarification or help finding something please let me know.  I can't wait to see all the cuties - I know they will steal the show.
Love to you all, 

A Color Pallet

Instead of having the members of your bridal party all wear the same dress, or even the same color, give them a color pallet and let them choose something they can wear again.  For our wedding, my husband and I made the color pallet to the left out of scraps of fabric and recycled magazines and sent a digital picture to everyone in the party.  As you can see below the result was beautiful!