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).
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