Going Green and Saving Green in Texas

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).

Attire For her Tara's gown, Tara chose a floor length gown with a sweeping train made from Raw Silk by Paloma Blanca – a Canadian company that gives a percent of every sale to Dresses That Heal.

The men wore eco-suede kippot from Zara Mart (made from recycled cardboard) and the bridesmaids donned natural make-up from GloMinerals.

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


Daisy Decor

Soo and Glyn Swift were married on August 22nd in the Seiners Arms Hotel in Perranporth, Cornwall, UK. As Soo wrote on TripAdvisor, "The hotel is lucky enough to be perfectly situated practically on Perranporth beach, and was the perfect location for our wedding. The staff was fantastic, extremely friendly and nothing was too much to ask."

To decrease the footprint of their wedding, the couple "decided to hold the ceremony and reception in the same venue, and organised car sharing in order to reduce fuel emissions. Our guests were kept informed via email of arrangements for the day."

Soo and Glyn are a very laid back couple. "On the day of the ceremony, we had beautiful sunshine and both Glyn and I enjoyed a surf in the morning."

Invitations The couple made their own invitations on recycled paper and decreased waste by asking their guests to RSVP via e-mail.

Rings Their rings were simple rose gold bands from an independent jeweler in Devon. "We had them inscribed with our names and the date by a local engraver."

Flowers Soo and Glyn merged the beach theme with white daisies to create a beautiful summer affair. "We decided to have a daisy theme running through the wedding."

They used ivory gerbera daisies from the local florist for all of the arrangements and Soo's bouquet.

"We used flower petals and locally collected shells to decorate the ceremony room, which over looked Perranporth beach."

Accessories Soo wore a daisy applique dress with a matching necklace and flip flops.

For the ceremony, she wore a daisy in her hair and Glyn used a single daily stem for his boutonnière.

Food Their guests enjoyed fresh ocean fare and local meat, "One of the Seiners most outstanding features is it's food, so I'd strongly recommend the Seiners barbeque buffet for anyone who wants a casual, sophisticated wedding.The wedding buffet consisted of barbequed localled caught fish and localled reared meat." After dinner guests enjoyed individual cakes.

Registry Soo and Glyn set up a registry of eco-frendly gifts, which I wrote about in June. Click here to read more!

And if you were wondering what the guests thought of the event - "All of our wedding guests said they had a fantastic time and we honoured to be a part of our day."


Casual Charm

Hillary Rosner and Philip Higgs were married on June 24, 2006.

How They Met HIllary and Phil are both journalists. The couple met in 1997 while working for The Nation magazine. Phil is now a contributing editor for SKI Magazine and Hillary worked on An Inconvenient Truth, The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook, and Go Green, Live Rich.

When it came time to plan their wedding, going green was an easy choice. "I've got an MS in environmental studies and write about environmental issues, and Phil has written about green building and is in fact now building a straw bale studio behind our house in Boulder. So having green elements at our wedding was a no-brainer."

Invitations "My father and his business partner made the invitations, which featured a print from a linoleum block I made when I was around 7. They were printed on recycled paper, of course! And the reply cards were old postcards--each one different--that I bought at a used bookstore."

The Location HIllary and Phil were married at Full Moon Central in Big Indian, New York - in the Catskill Mountains. "We chose our wedding site partly so that most people could stay on site, thereby minimizing the driving once the guests were there. And we also liked that they offered menu options that were largely organic and/or locally grown."

The Ceremony The ceremony was held outside on the grass. "We wrote the ceremony ourselves and were married by my cousin, who's a minister. There was nothing religious in the ceremony, except for the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass."

Attire "I went barefoot at the ceremony, which was in a big grassy meadow, but the shoes I wore later were made by Terra Plana, which uses nontoxic glue and recycled materials in its shoes. My wedding dress wasn't green in any way except that it was just a regular dress--it cost around $250--that happened to be white. I couldn't stomach spending all that money on something I'd wear once."

Rings "Our rings were designed by Jennifer Leitzes, a friend in LA who's a jewelry designer--she also did my engagement ring, which has diamonds taken from old earrings of my mother's and a ring that belonged to a great aunt. And the gold was recycled."

Flowers For the ceremony, the couple used simple bouquets of wildflowers from Full Moon. "I wasn't going to have a bouquet at all, but at the last minute a friend presented me with a bouquet of wildflowers she'd collected on the property while she was out collecting flowers for the flower girls' baskets."

For the reception, Hillary and Phil opted for live plants (which can be used again and do not have to be shipped in from overseas). "We used potted plants instead of cut flowers as centerpieces. My friends went to work transferring the potted plants into painted terracotta pots my father bought. We decorated the tables with fabric we bought, which my cousin spent hours cutting into squares the day before."

Activities "Much of the wedding was DIY. My best friend from high school taught a yoga class on Saturday morning before the ceremony. We did all the music on an ipod (my husband programmed it all) except for a local trio we hired for the cocktail hour. On Friday night we had a big bonfire with s'mores."

Favors "For party favors, a friend of mine from Boulder (who ended up getting sick and missing the wedding!) lovingly made these beautiful soaps, which she individually wrapped in scraps of fabric."

Pictures "My sister and two friends are all photographers, so we put them in charge of taking pictures. One of the friends has a photo booth business, so as a wedding gift she set up the booth at the reception, which was really great.

Registry HIllary and Phil used their charity registry to raise money for The Humane Society, Doctors Without Borders, Trees For Life, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. "My mother insisted we register for some actual, tangible items, even though we didn't need anything. So we registered for a very small number of items, and then did a charity registry and a honeymoon registry. Lots of people used the charity registry, which was cool."

Honeymoon Even their honeymoon was green! "We went to an eco-friendly hotel in Costa Rica and then an eco-resort in Nicaragua (which I wrote about for a green issue that Town & Country did [Etiquette: Planning a Green Wedding, T&C Weddings Spring/Summer 2008]).

"We then traveled to a remote part of the country and went down river by boat, visiting various rainforests and other wildlife-rich areas."

"Nicaragua is an incredible country - I've been back once since then and hope to make it back again soon. There is so much intact rainforest, and they're developing so quickly now that there's a unqiue opportunity to protect it - or lose it forever."

Photo Credit: Drew Fellman