In Lieu of Favors

When Karen Delarios and Brett Delarios got married in April at the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo, CA, they decided to give money to three charities in their guests' honor in lieu of favors. They chose The Ocean Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Karen got the idea when she and Brett attended the wedding of a friend of theirs. "I had a friend who's mother died of lung cancer and rather than give favors at his wedding, he donated to non-smoking lung cancer research in honor of his mother, and it really touched me. For years I've been donating to various animal charities - mostly at the holidays - and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to send a little more money their way, while at the same time perhaps inspiring our guests to think along the same lines, and to hopefully make them aware of these worthy causes. My husband is a "fish" at heart :) and loves the sea, which is why we chose the Ocean Conservancy. I personally have a passion for animals and preserving the environment and the habitats of so many animals in decline, but also have a passion for helping domestic animals that are so in need of our help - hence the Nature Conservancy and the ASPCA."

To let their guests know about their decision, they put a small note on each table.


Flower Power

Anikka and Mel were married on May 4th at the Prado, a historic building in San Diego. "Since we had guests traveling as far as Europe and the Philippines, we wanted it to be very San Diego (historically), totally us and of course a great party. We chose the Prado because of its great award winning food, service and it was in the beautiful Balboa Park." By choosing a historic location with a grand ball room, they were able to use lighting to create ambiance and did not need a lot of extra decorations.

Anikka's background is in fashion so it was important to her that everything be "high design." To that end she had a good friend of hers, Charmae Salazar, who runs BellzandWhistlez, create a one-of-kind invitations for her with hand drawn flowers.

Anikka and Mel used the flower motif throughout their wedding and forwent a cake topper in favor of this unique deisgn.

For flowers, they worked with Organic Elements to design 22 "minimal water usage" centerpieces that incorporated veriflora certified flowers.

Finally, for favors, Anikka and Mel created a candy station and gave each guest a reusable jar to fill and take home. Photographs from Bellzandwhistlez and Trailbook photography .


One Bride's Brilliance

Fred and Kristin Bowen were married April 24, 1999 on Amelia Island, FL. While planning her wedding, Kristin became enamored with reception table décor and decided to create unique seating cards for the occasion. She hired a local craftswoman who specialized in custom kitchen tile to help produce these elegant reusable place cards.

"The place cards served both the need to lead guests to their seats, but also to uniquely accessorize the reception tables and serve as party favors as the end of the evening." In fact, her guests were so impressed with her design that they started ordering sets for themselves, and soon her idea blossomed into PlaceTile Designs - a company that now offers a wide variety of reusable ceramic items, from wine stoppers to menu cards.

She still makes place cards too!

To see more of Kristin's place card designs click here and type "erasable" in the search box. For her menu card click here and type "erasable" in the search box.

Are you planing a unique project for your wedding? The first person to e-mail me with details and pictures gets a free gift!


Honor Thy Ancestors

Another thing Rachel Solov and Eric Ward did that I really like was to create a display table with pictures of the couples in their families. As you can see in the picture above the display looks great with a hodgepodge of different frames, so you can collect frames from your house, borrow frames from friends and family members or buy pre-owned or antique frames from a local consignment shop to create a sustainable and sentimental presentation.


Celtic Design

Krista and Sam have chosen their wedding rings and each ring embodies a different way of being green.

Sam's ring supports local artisans and non-profits. Sam is Scottish and wanted a traditional two-tone Celtic open knot wedding ring. So Krista and Sam went to the Fairfield County Irish Festival in CT, where they found a ring crafted by Celtic Revival - a small family owned business that donates a percentage of the profits to Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International.

Krista's engagement ring is reset family heirloom Sam designed Krista's engagement ring using a diamond that belonged to his grandmother. As a sweet side note, the diamond actually came from a pair of diamond stud earrings that Sam's sister had inherited. To thank his sister for letting him use the stone, he had the second earring turned into a pendant for her.

Krista's wedding band is vintage Sam and Krista bought her vintage wedding band on a trip to California from Old & New Estates in San Francisco. They chose an art deco design with nine channel set diamonds and hand carving. As Krista wrote "ultimately my goal is to reduce, reuse and recycle - in that order. I definitely wanted a wedding band so reduce wasn't an option here but by purchasing a vintage band I could reuse instead of buying a new piece" And to keep these treasures safe on their big day? Instead of using a ring pillow, Krista and Sam decided to use this reusable celtic design hand-carved wood box.


A New Antique

After the film Blood Diamond made her cry (an understandable response to a well acted movie that portrays a disturbing truth about the diamond industry), Rachel Solov and Eric Ward decided to buy an antique stone and have it reset. Using an antique diamond is the most environmentally conscious choice, and as Rachel wrote, "With all of the conflict the diamond trade has caused in Africa, it was important to me to find a stone that could be 'recycled'." So Rachel and Eric went to an "amazing estate jewelry store" in LA -the Hardwear Store - and designed this exquisite ring with the help of the store's owner Arnold (arnold@hardwearjewelry.com).

So if you live in LA and are looking for ring now you know where to go. If you don't live in sunny So. Cal., check out the yellow pages in your town or try an online dealer like the Antique Jewelry Mall.


Lovely Calla Lilies

Rachel Solov and Eric Ward were married on May 25 at Rancho Bernardo Inn in Rancho Bernardo, California. They hired Sharon at Organic Elements to create the ultimate modern white wedding. She used local and veriflora certified flowers to create gorgeous displays. Here are some of the highlights:

- Rachel's Bouquet (pictured above) incorporated mini calla lilies, white cymbidium orchids, grown hyacinth, ivory hydrangea and lily of the valley wrapped in a simple ivory satin ribbon.

- The chuppah (bridal canopy) featured four sleek calla lily lined posts. - The trees were lined with lights, lanterns and pomanders. - For the centerpieces, they used tall glass vases filled with green apples and cut limes to hold sprays of ivory calla lilies. - Finally, Rachel and Eric used calla lilies to top their 4 tier red velvet cake (with cream cheese and chopped pecan frosting and fresh strawberries) - made by Dan Stringfield at Twiggs. As a side note - the pattern on the cake matched the pattern on Rachel's dress - a fun touch. To be even more sustainable, Rachel and Eric asked Sharon to reuse their flowers. For their rehearsal dinner, they had white daisies in clear plastic pots with white polka dots. The pots had been used for centerpieces at a previous fundraiser Rachel's mother worked on. Sharon was able to incorporate the flowers into the wedding decor the next day to maximize their use. Similarly, the buffet pieces were transfered during strike for reuse at the buffet the next morning and the apples were donated to local families. And speaking of donations, Rachel and Eric made donations to CASA LA, which is Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, in lieu of favors. They also registered through the Wedding Channel and elected to have a portion of the proceeds from their gift registry donated to a family violence prevention organization.

Photographs care of Mindy Sonshine


To Change or Not to Change (Your Name) - That is the Question

I do not think the question about whether you should change your name is necessarily a environmental one - but if you are considering it I recently discovered a green solution and feel compelled to share. Click here to be connected to my post on the subject in the reading room.

Puppy Love

According to an American Kennel Club survey, 18% of all dog owners (and 27% of dog owners under 30) report that they either have or would include their dog in their wedding ceremony. Sadly, our dog Reuben was home with sore paw the weekend of our wedding but Lisa and Andy were able to have their dogs Oskar (a rottweiler/German shepard mix) and Finnegan (a greyhound/doberman mix) on site for their big day. I absolutely love the picture they sent in (above).

If you are thinking about including your pup(s) in your wedding be sure to do your homework and to weigh the pros and cons. How does your dog do with crowds and loud noises? What will you do if he or she suddenly (and uncharacteristically) freaks out? Or jumps on your dress? Make sure you have someone designated as the dog sitter and a solid plan to keep fido (and your guests) happy, safe and comfortable.

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of having your dogs in the ceremony, but want to include them in the festivities, you can always take some "family photos" afterwards or take your dog on your honeymoon.

Comment: If you are a pet lover and want to buy natural products for your pet, I recommend the only natural pet store. ~R Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Kate's Reply: Thanks for the tip! I have also include links to many different eco-friendly pet products in the look book.


The Adventures of Miss and Mr. Olive

Krista, who works for CancerCare - a non-profit that provides support and education for people living with cancer, and her fiancé Sam are planning a green wedding in Northern California (one of my favorite places on earth) next October. Like Lisa and Andy, featured last week, Krista and Sam also chose 100% PCW paper invitations from the Invitesite.com.

You can see step by step photos of her invitation assembly on her blog "A Green Wedding Adventure: Eco-Friendly in Disguise," where she writes using the whimsical moniker "Miss Olive" - inspired by the groves of olive trees where she is getting married and the "very Greek neighborhood" she lives in in New York. On her site, Krista explains why she chose the "Angelica"design above:

"What makes these invites eco-friendly? 1. All paper (invite, envelopes, RSVP, info card, thank you cards) made entirely from tree free paper and 100% post consumer recycled paper. 2. Purchased from small, California based store. 3. RSVP postcard [pictured below] saves paper (and money) from the standard RSVP set of an envelope/reply card. 4. One double-sided insert with basic information and our wedding website. We did not include extras such as a map, reception card, etc. since all of that information is on our website." She even offers the financial run down for complete disclosure (grand total $271.75 including thank you notes/envelopes and additional cardstock - not bad at all!). I look forward to watching Miss Olive's (or should I say the soon-to-be Mrs. Olive's) wedding planning adventures unfold. Bookmark her website and check back for updates on her inspiring eco-friendly affair.


Sugar Plum Fairy Cake

Instead of using a cake topper, Lisa and Andy asked pastry chef Leslie Heinsohn-Balassone of Calico in Rhinebeck, NY to use fruit to decorate their cake. She created this scrumptious looking masterpiece (chocolate with chocolate ganache frosting and white chocolate cream filling) with a chestnut leaf motif. To decorate it, Leslie used seasonal fruit from the region, coated in a sugar glaze. Lisa reported the result was as "devine"as it looked.


American Chestnut Favors

In addition to their mutual love of water, chestnut trees have special significance for Lisa and Andy.

For Lisa, the chestnuts reminder her of her grandmother: "My grandmother died in 2005. We were really close, and it was a difficult time for me. While I was home for the funeral - and going through her things - my father discovered that she had kept a chestnut in each of her coat pockets, pocketbooks, and dresser drawers. He gave one to me for safekeeping. Upon my return to New York, I returned to work and as I opened the door, two chestnuts lay before my feet. I knew then that my grandmother would always be watching over me. I carry them with me to this day in my handbag."

Andy also has a family connection to Chestnut trees: "American Chestnut trees, as you probably know, were once ubiquitous in the American landscape. They were one of the dominant species in the eastern forests from Maine to the deep south. Sometime just after 1900 the blight came to the U.S. from Asia, where Asian chestnuts had long developed resistance to the disease, and it soon wiped out virtually all the American Chestnuts east of the Mississippi. By 1940 the species was all but extinct. In my twenties, when I was building houses in the Woodstock area and tramping around the Catskill mountain, I often saw the saplings growing out of hundred-year-old stumps. They never survived beyond a few years before succumbing to the blight. So when I found not one but two mature, large American Chestnuts right under my nose on the property [I had recently inherited from my great uncle], I believed that I had been given an extraordinary gift.

To celebrate this shared connection, Andy and Lisa decided to include chestnut trees in their wedding in several ways. First, they included chestnut imagery on the invitations. They were hoping to have their wedding under the grand chestnut pictured above, but had to move the ceremony site due to rain. However, Andy's daughter Paloma still read Pablo Neruda's poem, "Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground" during the ceremony, and Andy told their friends and family about what the Chestut symbolized to them:

"The chestnut is a survivor, representing the attributes of persistence, consistency, and determination against adversity. I told our friends that the old tree shared a sense of the quixotic with those of us who fight for a better world, whether it be the environment, hunger, abuse, human rights. It showed that if you send your roots deep and allow yourself to be nourished by your sense of place, you can stand long after the others have fallen. Ancient societies such as the American Indians and the Druids are some of our ancestral cultures that revered natural objects such as extraordinary trees and rocks, believing that important spirits inhabit them. Pre-Christian societies (now called pagan, a convenient pejorative) all over Europe were animists, and as we struggle to maintain and grow an environmental ethic in the 21st century U.S., it is important to remember that thousands of years ago people all over the world were comfortable with their place in nature."

Lisa and Andy also gave their guests chestnut sapling as favors. "Our guests' favors were chestnut seedlings from the Empire Chestnut Company. Each tree included a brochure from the American Chestnut Foundation. Lisa said, "we thought it would be nice to help foster future generations of chestnut trees and to decrease global warming impacts through active tree planting." Andy added, "By handing out chestnut seedlings to our guests, we were sharing our love of the tree and its symbolic values. They are now in the ground from New York City to Wisconsin." For more companies offering tree and seed favors click here. For basic planting instructions you can print out at home click here.


Cell Phone Recycling

With the announcement of the release of the new iPhone yesterday I figured now was a good time to share a site that helps you find cell phone recycling centers in your area. click here

Recycled Paper and Used Books

Lisa and Andy used these beautiful scarlet wedding invitations for their wedding from Invitesite.com - made from sugarcane and mulberry fibers. When they had paper leftover, they used the remnants to construct seating cards, which they hung from branches.

The cards directed their guests to their tables, which were named after literary genres:

"Andy and I are avid readers and writers. We share a love of literature and, both writing novels at the time, began our relationship long-distance by sending each other copies of chapters for review and critique. We not only wanted to incorporate elements of who we are as individuals and as a couple into the wedding but also wanted to give our guests favors that would not be discarded the next day."

So they went to The Strand, "a mammoth used bookstore in Manhattan on a cold and rainy spring day with a list of over 100 of our favorite books in hand, hoping to find them all!" They found 70 (not bad!) and ordered the rest online from Powells, a famous used book store in Portland.

The books were divided into themes, which became the names of the tables:

Erin go Bragh (I'm Irish), The Tuscan Sun (Andy's Italian), The Seafarers (our love of water -- and Andy was a former boat builder), The Dramatics (our favorite plays), The Philosopher's Stone (our favorite philosophers), The Nature Within (books about nature, environmentalism, ecology), The Rebels ... (our favorite male writers), ... With a Cause (our favorite female writers), The Drawing Room (our favorite classics), and The Mysterious (our favorite crime/murder mysteries).

The books doubled as favors, as each guest got to choose one book from a selection at their table. Lisa and Andy went out of their way to "arrange [the] table seating according to the interests of [their] guests" - so their guests were treated to good conversation as well.

"People loved the personal touch - and it jumpstarted conversations with guests who otherwise didn't know each other. It is such a fantastic feeling to know that 100 of our favorites are now in the hands of our closest friends and families!"



When Jason and H Alex got engaged, they sent around an e-mail announcement to friends and family. By making the card with Photoshop and e-mailing it, they were able to tell all of their friends and family at once (while saving paper and postage).


Spring Style

When Lisa Rainwater got married last month, she wore a gorgeous douppioni silk dress from the Bridal Garden, a New York store that sells once worn couture gowns and veils to raise money for education. Andy wore a wool suit he bought from Brooks Brothers, "specifically due to the sustainable farming practices used to acquire the sheep's wool."

For the flowers, Lisa and Andy chose beautiful local blooms:

"As you know [flowers] can be an enormous expense - both environmentally and for the budget. We chose flowers that were of the season and purchased from local florists/gardens." Lisa had sweet pea and lamb's ear in her bouquet, and her matron of honor carried lilacs. Their centerpieces were particularly beautiful. "Instead of table centerpieces filled with 'disposable' flowers, we used moss from our Woodstock property, that is able to be 'replanted' and regrown in its original location." Coupled with seasonal peonies the effect was show stopping.

If you like the wooden 'boats' they used from Ikea, you will be glad to know they are planning to resell them. Keep your eyes out at www.recycleyourwedding.com. As for the large urns filled with perennials, they are going "back to in our rock garden, [where they] will be with us for many years to come."

The photographs of Andy and Lisa's wedding were taken by photographer Lori Toole)


UK Utopia

Suzanne Frost, a health librarian, and her fiance Glyn, a freelance graphic designer, are getting married on August 22 in Cornwall, England. (Pictured above with their Springer Spaniel Captain).

Suzanne and Glyn are planning a number of green elements for their wedding. Suzanne writes: "We try to live as ethically as we can, and we've been really interested in trying to make our wedding as green as feasiblily possible (and it's surprisingly hard to do!) We are holding the wedding ceremony, reception and evening disco all in the Seiner's Arm, so we can cut our emissions by not travelling. Most of our guests are staying in the hotel itself, and the rest are camping just a five minute walk away. We've organised car sharing for guests for the initial journey down to Cornwall and back. Our wedding flowers are daisies, and we are giving daisy seeds to out guests as favours. As a honeymoon, we are staying in the UK and will be camping and surfing around the coast of Devon, Cornwall and South Wales."

In addition to the above, Suzanne and Glyn registered with the UK company Our Green Wedding List. "I found this company by accident, but they are fab! You can easily register and once you've registered, you can browse their gift selection and add the gifts you fancy onto your wedding list." The company offers a collection of recycled, craft/artisan, organic, energy efficient, fair trade and Made in the UK gifts and waits until one month after the sate of the wedding to deliver them (to save shipping cost and packing material).

What a great tip for all of the eco-friendly couples living in the UK. For American couples - you can register for art and experiences or charitable donations and traditional gifts that give a percent to charity. You can also register with individual companies that carry a wide array of eco-friendly products.


Riverkeeper Romance

Lisa Rainwater and Andy Mele were married May 10th in Woodstock, NY. On Sunday, May 25th, their wedding was featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section. Lisa Rainwater is the policy director for Riverkeeper and Andy Mele was the executive director of Clearwater.

As you can imagine, these two environmentalists did a lot of "green" things for their wedding, which I will be writing about in the coming weeks, but let's start at the beginning - with the ring.

Because she knew about the incredible pollution associated with gold mining, Lisa told Andy she wanted a ring made out of recycled gold. He was having a hard time finding the perfect ring and then (and I am taking this directly from the Times article, because it is such a great story):

"During one trip to Florida, [Andy] had to help his mother remove a ring from her swollen finger. He took her to a jeweler, who had a tool for the job, and while he stood at the counter, he said, 'there in the case, right beneath my mother’s hand,' was an engagement ring that matched the ring he had been fruitlessly hunting for for months. It had 'subtle interlapping wave forms, unmistakedly a water motif,' he said. And it was made of recycled gold. He bought it and gave it to her that night." What a wonderful story for their aquarian romance!

To find links to eco-friendly jewelers click here.