A California Vineyard Wedding

Joann and Chris were married in Napa, California in September 2007.

Both are designers (he is an industrial designer and she is a graphic designer) and they met at a branding consultancy in Oakland. Joann describers her husband as "a down to earth layback kind of guy from Australia" and herself as "a more intense punctual city girl from Hong Kong."

Joann had lived in California for over 15 years and wanted to have either a beach or a vineyard wedding. "After [researching] and of course checking with our budget, we decided to have our wedding at a private vineyard in Napa."

"When we found this vineyard, we felt in love with it. It was rustic and private. It was kind of like an empty canvas to an artist...it only needed few more touches to make it come alive."

"I always wanted to plan my own wedding, so we did not hire a wedding planner, and we were eager to do as much as possible ourselves."

A few of the eco-friendly designs they incorporated were:

1. Invitations, programs and menus designed by the couple and printed on 80% recycle paper.

2. Place card holders made from recycled wine corks -"we cut a slit in the middle, and used a pin to stabilize the back."

3. The groomsmen's boutonnieres were made by Joann's mom. "We decided to used old checker clothes and cut leaf shape as the backing. They matched what the groomsmen were wearing (checker vans)."

4. To match the surrounding, Joann worked with Laura Auyeung, from Poppy's Petalworks to create amazing displays with seasonal autumn flowers & foliage, including dahlias, Safari West protea, Pin Cushion protea, hanging amaranthus, china berries, Coffee Bean hypericum berries, and Milva roses.

For the tables Laura used twig balls accented with orange and burgundy dahlia & china berries. As Joann described, "We used old grapevines (they are easy to find and eco-friendly as they are unwanted items from vineyards). We utilized them as our wreaths and centerpieces for our tables (and that saved me from over using flowers - and $ too, because the grapevine balls created quite an unique look [by themselves])."

The couple also had a sign-in wishing tree Laura made from fresh manzanita branches accented with orange Tiger dahlia. It was finished with a small nest with two feathered birds (signifying the new home the couple was building together). Guests wrote their blessings on custom designed cards and hung them on the branches.

5. To create a difference between the indoor and outdoor spaces, Joann and Chris used different colored rice paper lanterns. "I purposely changed the lantern colors from red/orange to silver where the dance area was, so that it would help shift the focus. For the lanterns inside the barn, I didnt have to hang too many, and the trick was to buy different sizes of the same color ( in this case 12" and 24"), and [stagger them to create a] greater space."

6. Instead of an American wedding cake they had a French Wedding cake. "The cake was a traditional French wedding cake - Croquembouche. I always wanted this type of cake for my wedding since many many years ago. Because I like the dramatic and delicious golden color, and that became a wow factor for our wedding. And the shape of each cream puff matched my lanterns! Creative International from San Francisco did a great job. It was truly delicious. [The pieces were] served on martini glasses with hot chocolate fudge and mint leaves on top." Because of its construction, it was easy for guests to take home the left overs - so nothing was wasted!

Joann and Chris have set a new bar for vineyard-chic - what a beautiful event!

Photograph Provided by Apertura Photo and Poppy's Petalworks.


Picture This

Chris Chappell and Erin Daly were married on June 21, 2008 in Washington State. Instead of buying disposable cameras for their weddings they used CameraRenter - a new service that rents digital cameras across the country. "Our experience working with Jonathan [at CameraRenter] was great. We enjoyed using the digital cameras, seems like everyone at the wedding did too. The photos we've seen came out really nice."

Like a netflix for cameras, the cameras arrive in the mail, you give them to your guests to use at your wedding and then mail them back in. CameraRenter uploads all of the pictures for you onto a Personalized Memory Sharing Website.

In addition to being an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable cameras, CameraRenter has added benefits including...

1. You get pictures the photographer couldn't get.

2. You get to see the wedding from your guests' point of view...

...including the way it looked to the kids! (BTW - Erin suggests designating one kids camera to ensure most of the pictures are high quality).

3. Instead of being limited to just a few pictures per roll - your guests can take hundreds.

4. You don't have to bug guests for their pictures because all of the pictures from all of the cameras go to the same website.

5. Nothing is disposable, no bad pictures are printed = nothing is wasted!

What a cool, eco-friendly way to capture your big day!

I was so impressed with this service that I asked the owner Jonathan Bailor about offering a discount to Green Bride Guide readers - and he said yes! So -to receive a FREE archive CD enter the following code at check out: 0.00_81thegreenbrideguide


A Midwest/Belgian Wedding

Katrien Michiels and Mark Singer were married on June 8th at Promontory Point, a public park in Chicago IL. The two, both financial consultants (SAP), met through a mutual friend who invited them on a ski trip in March of 2006. "We quickly hit it off and were engaged almost two years later." When it came time to plan their wedding, Katrien and Mark decided to make it as simple and as eco-friendly as possible. "We both have a love for the outdoors and try to think green as much as we can. We wanted our wedding to reflect that, and tried to balance simplicity [and] eco-friendliness, while keeping cost in mind."

Invitations To announce their wedding, they used seal-and-send invitations. The invitations were printed on one sheet of recycled paper which folded into a square for mailing. "We loved our invitations! We did not want to use the amount of paper usually involved in a wedding invitation and thought these were a cute way to get around the inner envelopes and tissue paper. The people at Valley printing in ND were a pleasure to work with! The invitations were then shipped to our home, with seals, and we folded them, added address labels, and sealed them ourselves."

For their programs they bought seed paper (plantable paper embedded with seeds), and printed them out at home.

Transportation Their guests were shuttled to and from the wedding on public transportation. "We had everyone dropped off and picked up and brought from and to the hotel downtown using the Chicago Trolley - which was probably my favorite part :)"

Flowers For their centerpieces, Katrien and Mark used sprays of dried lavender in glass candle holders.

Cake Instead of getting an expensive "wedding cake" Mark baked their cake himself. "For desert my husband baked 4 duncan hines cakes and frosted them (my brothers helped) with simple white frosting." To supplement, "We had an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen for the head table, which is the one we cut." For toppers they used playmobile people.

Belgian Touches Katrien is Belgian (her family moved to the States when she was 13) and she wanted her wedding to reflect her ancestry. To this end they had the following:

- Belgian Beer - "Our beer selection was therefore superior. We offered Hoegaarden and Stella - as well as Miller Lite for the faint of heart. Our guests loved it, the caterer was dry by 10:00PM."

- Favors Our favors were little belgian chocolates we served with coffee after dinner.

- Dessert In addition to the cake, Katrien's mom and aunt had baked belgian waffles, which were served with the coffee.

Entertainment To balance out the Belgian touches, Katrien and Mark included some good old fashion western entertainment. "We set up two games of cornhole (a yard game where you throw beanbags filled with corn at a board) out on the front patio for people who wanted to hang out back there instead of down by the lake or inside for dancing."

Katrien and Mark prove that you can have a fun and beautiful eco-friendly wedding without breaking the bank!


Honoring Family Ties

Marika and Saxton incorporated elements from both sides of the family at every turn - which made their wedding more meaningful and more beautiful.

Something Old Marika had three something olds at her wedding - her engagement ring, a 1920's vintage piece, her late mother's wedding ring (which was pinned to the underskirts of her dress), and the ring pillow, which she had "made out of a handkercheif that belonged to Saxton's grandmother who had just passed away." She also wore Saxton's family's lace before the ceremony. She was the 32nd bride in their family to wear it!

Something New + Something Borrowed Marika's something new was this striking purple shawl that matched her bridal party. "My wedding stole/shawl was hand knit by my sister-in-law as my wedding gift. It's absolutely gorgeous!" For her "borrowed" item, she wore drop earrings that belonged to Saxton's cousin.

Charity Registry Creating a charity registry is a wonderful way to raise awareness about and money for causes that are important to you. To honor Marika's father who passed away in 1998, Marika and Saxton selected a charity that is particularly dear to Marika's heart - ZazAngels. " ZazAngles is a foundation that my father, Michael Zaslow, started in 1996, to raise awareness about ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). After my father died, my mother worked tirelessly to keep the foundation going before her death in 2006. ZazAngles is part of the Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association."

If you want to learn more about ALS, Marika's mother Susan wrote a powerful book about her husband's struggle entitled Not That Man Anymore: (A Message From Michael).

It includes his journal entries along with Susan, Marika's and other friend and family members memories of the experience.

If you would like to donate to ZazAngles in Marika and Saxton's honor click here.


Paper Pleasures

In addition to being a generous spirit, Marika is a talented printmaker. So "after months of looking at 'run of the mill' invitations," Marika and Saxton decided to do something unique and create an invitation featuring one of her pieces. "Our invitations were a labor of love! We designed the invitations and other elements around my print. They were printed by Mr. Boddington's Studio and I would recommend them to anyone and everyone!"

They carried the visual theme over to their favors, which were hand wrapped books. "We [gave] out books for our favors instead of something else disposable (something plastic, glass etc). We figured that people would be more likey to keep/use the wedding favors if they were books. We chose 21 of our favorite authors and named each table after that author. We then gave everyone at that table a book by that author." To make their gifts even greener, thy tucked in a double-duty card, "We wrapped the books ourselves and used the menu card as the place card, elimenating one more piece of paper."

And speaking of books and paper, Marika and Saxton set up a gift registry with the I Do Foundation so that whenever someone purchased a gift 10% was donated Trees for Life, a non-profit that "helps people make connections to tap the latent resources in their own community. This may mean seeking knowledge on farming practices from a nearby university, organizing fruit-tree grafting workshops, or setting up training for teachers or librarians." As explained on the Trees for Life website, " When people set an example by following the process themselves, others come to them to learn...They become a model that others will follow." This statement certainly applies to Marika and Saxton who offer inspiration to us all.


Local Attraction

Marika Hufford-Zaslow and Saxton Pope were married on May 24, 2008.

Marika has a master's in Social Work from NYU and is currently starting her 2nd master's degree in Child Life, working with terminally ill children and their families. Child Life specialists "provide play therapy for children in long-term care in clinincs and hospitals and guide them through medical procedures." Saxton manages a restaurant in the West Village in NYC but is planning to go back to school and get his master's in English (he wants to teach high school students). The pair met in 2002 when they were both Resident Advisors (RAs) at Sarah Lawrence College. As Marika tells it, "We became fast friends and we've been together ever since!"

When it came time to get married, it was important to Marika and Saxton to include as many local elements as possible.

First, they chose a beautiful NY location that was easily accessible by public transportation. The couple was married at the Wainwright House - a historic mansion and non-sectarian holistic learning center in Rye, NY. "We chose the Wainwright House because we wanted some place out of Manhattan but some place close enough that our guests could get to it easily. We also really wanted to have water at our location and Wainwright fit all of those criteria. It's right on the Long Island Sound across from protected marshland. It's a gorgeous location."

Second, the couple had Gary Stone at Cornerstone Caterers create a decadent meal featuring Connecticut and New Jersey produce. The fresh fruit and berries came from a local New York farm.

Finally, Marika and Saxton hired Grand Design Flowers, who used organic blooms from their on site garden (which includes flowers, fruit trees, herbs and organic vegetables) to create dramatic spring arrangements.

They used peonies from the gardens along with fragrant sweet peas (started from seed in the early winter) to make fragrant bouquets for Marika and her bridesmaids. The table flowers included peonies, lavender lisianthus, green hydrangea blossoms and phlox in recycled glass compotes.

They also created lush floral wreaths with blooms that are easy to dry and preserve so Marika and Saxton could take them home. What a beautiful and sustainable way to remember the day!


Handmade Huppah+

I promised yesterday that I would share the two most unique things Paula and Harlan did for their wedding and here the are.

First, Paula chose to wear a purple dress - elegant enough that she looked like a summer bride and simple enough that she can wear it again!

Her dress was custom made by “Gentleman Jim,” the first African-American tailor ever hired by Macy’s. He now owns a small tailor shop in Atlanta. To read more about his story click here.

Second, Paul and Harlan were married under the family huppah.

The huppah was made by her cousin Bill Gordon and after each family wedding, the names of the new bride and groom are added to one of the poles.

The huppah cover was sewn by the groom's mother, in Paula and Harlan's favorite colors (purple and orange, respectively)...

and the effect was breathtaking.

Paula and Harlan now use the huppah cover as a quilt on their guest room bed, which is perfect because in judaism the huppah symbolizes the married couple's new home. What an amazing way to celebrate heritage and family unity!

If you are not lucky enough to have a seamstress in your family, and want to buy a handmade huppah cover you can use in your home click here to see a selection of huppah covers made by Israeli artists. Photographs care of Rebecca D'Angelo.