Gala at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

When Abby Levine and her husband Matt Golden got married in Washington D.C. last year their "wedding was green in a few, simple ways." Instead of ordering a full wedding wardrobe for their invitations, they chose to forgo the extra paper. "We decided to save paper and not order the inner envelopes with the invitations, even though they came with it for free. We just didn't want to waste the extra paper for something that didn't seem necessary." They also chose locations for the guests to stay, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding that were "all transit accessible" and they "encouraged guests to take the train or walk." (Taking public transportation is a green transportation option that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding). One of the coolest parts of their wedding was the location. Abby and Matt held the event at National Museum of Women in the Arts. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, having their wedding in the museum provided decoration and entertainment for their guests. Because of the grandeur of the setting "we were able to limit the number of flowers we bought...[the] beautiful museum required very little decorations of any kind." What a gorgeous event - and fabulous entrance!


Family Ties

Planning a wedding can be surprising isolating and it is easy to feel like you have to plan for and provide everything yourselves. No so! In fact, incorporating family items into your wardrobe and ceremony decor can provide an additional layer of meaning to your event while saving you time and money. For example, my husband and I used two kiddush cups - the same one my parents used for their wedding in 1974 and one his father used at his bar mitzvah. We covered the alter in a tablecloth Barry's grandmother hand stitched when she was a child and used the hall rug from my parents house as a runner. I wore Barry's grandmothers pearls and we used a break the glass pillow made by his great aunt. It was wonderful to be surround by familiar objects and reminded of all of the connections on both sides of the family that we were bringing together.


Helping Hands - The Benefits of Having Friends Pitch In

When Justin and his wife Autumn got married last year at Camp Becket, they asked all of their guests to pitch in and help out: "Like many people, we made sure our wedding was definitely a group effort. I think we had 50 different volunteer job descriptions and we asked everyone to take a job--but we did it so everyone took only one job, and no one (almost) had to work all weekend. We left it up to our family and friends to just work together to make stuff happen in the end - we left decisions up to them, etc. We were so lucky--they were incredible!"

Autumn's mother and sister made a broom out of biodegradable straw and ribbons that Justin and Autumn jumped over to complete the ceremony (an African-American wedding tradition dating back to slavery). On the day of the wedding friends and family members constructed the chuppah out of wood and vines from the camp forest... and placed seasonal flowers in reusable fish bowls.

For the music, Justin's brother Marc put together a choir of friends and family, "We just asked for volunteers at brunch before the wedding, and he worked with them for an hour. 50 or so of our friends and relatives actually sang during the ceremony--a beautiful gospel song called 'let your light shine' and it was really incredible. (helps if you have friends and relatives who can sing)." Autumn's family, talented New Orleans jazz and folk musicians David and Roselyn and Arlee Leonard also sang at the wedding.

Instead of getting a cake, Justin and Autumn asked each guest to bring a pie for a potluck pie-off. "It was INSANELY good. way better than a cake would have been -- and something for everyone."

The benefits of having everyone help? "Not only did it free us up to focus on the moment, but everyone afterwards talked about how meaningful it was to have been part of making it happen. I think everyone felt like they owned a piece of this beautiful event. There were no spectators, only participants."


Clever Containers - The Blumebox Wedding

When Wade Flanagan and his wife Whitney, the owners of Blumebox, got married in Palm Desert, California last year they used their clever recycled and reusable Blumebox containers throughout the event: "We transported and stored the bridal bouquets in our taller blumeboxes - each one personalized for the bride and bridesmaids." This allowed the flowers to "double as table arrangements at the reception" and guests were encouraged to take them home, which meant the "florist didn't have to come back to the reception venue the next day to collect the vases." At the end of the evening "their were a few centerpieces left over and the staff were basically drawing straws for them, since they could be taken away and the vases didn't have to be returned." [Blumeboxes can be recycled]

Wade and Whitney used blumebuds as place card holders, which doubled as favors that guests were able to take home. What an elegant, clever and sustainable design!


A Wonderful Walk

When Claudine Pepin and her husband Rollie Wesen were married in New Haven a few years ago, they had the ceremony in a chapel near the Yale campus and the reception at the Union League Cafe down the street so the wedding party was able to walk between the two events. C.M. Glover, a photographer for the New York Times who also took the picture of us for the article "How Green Was My Wedding" shot their wedding. In addition to being eco-friendly, walking to or from your wedding is great for pictures! Claudine and Rollie look timelessly elegant.

P.S. Claudine now runs a cooking school in Denver Colorado called A Cooks Kitchen that looks fantastic.


The Maine Event

When Keith Bisson and Beth Owen Bisson got married in Maine they tried to support the local community. Their wedding was held in the orchard of Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm. On the alter they placed three oil lamps made by a local potter: one for Keith's parents, one for Beth's parents, and one for Keith and Beth's new home. For the cake, Keith's friends (who own Wild Oats Bakery in Brunswick) made a white cake with lemon curd and raspberry filling adorned with fresh flowers. Beth's mom and sister grew some of the flowers used in the ceremony, and Keith and Beth supplemented what the needed with organic flowers from Whole Foods. Beth and her family designed and assembled all of the floral arrangements including the women's bouquets and the men's boutonnières.

As with our wedding, Keith and Beth allowed their bridesmaids to wear any dress they liked and the men wore suits they already owned. Beth tied the dresses together by giving her maids scarves in complimentary hues. The soft spring colors looked wonderful!


Handmade Wreaths and Homegrown Flowers

Heather Pancake Fincher + her husband Matthew used recycled elements and flowers from her mother's garden throughout the ceremony. Her mother made wreaths by hand to hang on the church and arranged wildflowers and garden flowers to decorate the church and walkway. "An event planner friend of my mother's let us re-use decorations she already had (tulle, bows, etc.). She also makes elegant and gorgeous banners by hand, and she made one with the same wildflower theme as our invitations.

My husband made holders for vases out of logs he had at home, and they each held three vases which were filled with wildflowers cut from behind my parents house and arranged by my mother and mother-in-law. Wildflowers and flowers from my mom's garden were placed in buckets borrowed from a friend along the posts up to the church. I also wore white roses from my mother's garden in my hair, and our bouquets were wildflowers and from the garden. For our reception, our guests threw flower petals from flowers in my mother's garden in addition to blowing bubbles."

Her family's hard work did not go to waste - as we can see, the results were lovely!


A Family Affair

When Heather Pancake Fincher married her husband Matthew, they incorporated many natural and local elements into their day: Heather wore a beautiful silk gown designed and sewn by hand by a local dressmaker. They also used local food: At the rehearsal dinner (or the "pre-ception" party - as she calls it) "the meat was locally catered, and the rest of the sides and desserts were handmade delicacies by my family and neighbors." During the week of the wedding, Heather's family cooked many of the meals, and served party leftovers after the wedding. "Many organic foods were served, in addition to veggies from the garden in my parents' back yard. My aunt made our wedding cake from scratch and decorated it with flowers." Heather tried to keep all of the events close together: "Our ceremony and reception were within walking distance, so no one had to drive between locations. The wedding party stayed at the Green River Bridge House bed and breakfast and in a neighbor's home that served as a bed and breakfast next door, so guests were able to car pool and often walk to meet one another for the few days people were there. The Green River Bridge House is next to a river, waterfall and covered bridge, just down a slight hill from the little white church with a steeple [where we had our wedding]. It was Perfect!" Heather has taken her passion for green weddings to the next level. In 2007 she founded her own eco-chic invitation company Our Happy Wedding Day and I have added one of her designs to the interactive look book invitation page.


Help Plant 1 Billion Trees

Several couples have mentioned carbon offsetting as a way they reduced the environmental footprint of their wedding. The Nature Conservancy has just launched a new ambitious tree-planting campaign I thought you might be interested in. I was so excited that, to help offset the emissions generated from hosting this website, I donated 25 trees to the Nature Conservancy's program.


Skip the Bouquet Toss!

Because most bouquets are quite heavy, a new (and upsetting) trend is for brides to use a disposable plastic bouquet for the "toss." Instead of partaking in this ritual my sister gave me the much nicer (more romanic, less humiliating, and more environmentally sound) idea to invite all of the married couples up onto the dance floor. Over the course of the dance we asked the couples who had been married less than five years, ten years, etc. to sit down. We finally got down to the two couples who had been married longest - Barry's grandparents Milton and Rae Goldberg (left) and my Great Aunt Maxine and Uncle Josh (right). It was very exciting. In the end, Barry's grandparents ended up taking home the prize (my bouquet). They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this year! I told my husband that now I won't settle for anything less.


Vegan Chocolate Cake

The Friday night before our wedding, my husband and I welcomed our out-of-town guests with a dessert reception. In order to save money, and to ensure everything was as green (local and organic) as possible, we baked the desserts ourselves. (For tips on how to do this efficiently click here). Although neither of us is vegan, my husband baked a vegan chocolate cake which was the hit of the party. Here is the recipe, as well as a link to the book it came from, for those who are so inclined.