Monday, January 31, 2011

Going Green - Responsibility Has Never Been So Stylish

"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment" was once famously said by Anthropologist Margaret Mead.

With the rise and awareness of global warming and post-consumer waste, and the effects they have on our planet, it's our responsibility to make better decisions on how we treat our environment. For most couples, planning a wedding is a fabulous way to start. 

Unfortunately, every year, millions of weddings are planned utilizing billions of items that are used once and sent to landfills, not to mention the carbon footprint a wedding can leave from out-of-town guests' travel, non-local floral and catering food orders, and other wedding related products. It's clearly evident that weddings truly impact the environment and our planet as a whole.

Couples don't have to change their entire wedding theme to "green, eco-chic" but they can make better decisions in the planning process that will definitely make a big impact in the long run. Couples just need to be aware and know they have more green alternative to many of the items that are used on their big day.

By following some basic tips below, a wedding couple can minimize their event's environmental impact tremendously, while still having the amazing day of their dreams.

Use Recycled or Tree-Free Paper Materials
Finding fabulous invitation suites made from recyclable paper and other materials is simple these days, in fact, pretty much most stationary boutiques offer lots of options using 100% recycled, partially recycled or completely tree-free papers. One of my favorite uber trendy stationers, HelloLucky, has made 'going green' a policy by keeping to a strict standard of only printing on 100% cotton, hemp or recycled paper. Another one of my favorite stationers, Minted, also has a huge selection of eco-friendly sets as well.

Don't forget, eco-friendly paper products can be used for not only for invitations, 'save-the-dates' and thank you cards, but for escort cards, name placement cards, table numbers, signs, custom labels and tags, and favor boxes too. Do your research or ask your wedding planner to help locate these great materials.

Check out Hello!Lucky's gorgeous letterpress collection here.
Check out Minted's eco-friendly collections here.

Create an Efficient Wedding Website
Wedding websites are quickly emerging as THE central portal of information regarding a couple's wedding.  These days a good wedding website not only supplies guests with detailed logistical information about their affair, but have platforms with great tools implemented into their functionality which enable couples to manage a lot of the their communication - such as RSVP tracking, guest food preferences, directions, gift registries, hotel accommodations room  block info, attire suggestions, as well as the basics, place, date and time.  

Since everything is done digitally and online, websites are an incredibly green resource and a money saver. Couples now have the options of  doing away with those paper inserts for each one of those actions listed above, that, a) cost extra money, b)  recycled or not, is a complete and total waste of paper, and c) tack on more weight to each invite costing more money in postage. Honestly, I find it obnoxious to receive a "folder" type invitation with ten small pieces of paper all listing different tid-bits of information. Not only is it passé, most guests lose most of that info between the months of receiving it and the week of your wedding. I find it so much more sophisticated and modern to receive a simple yet elegant invite, with an RSVP card and a liner, and clear direction to visit a well made wedding website.

Furthermore, guests love wedding websites because they get a peek of what is to come which gets them excited for the big day. With that said, make sure you put the time and effort into the customization of your site with music, special photos and a theme that matches your event. There even is password protection in event of wedding crashers or the occasion "crazy ex".

There are a ton of them out there, but I like the following two free ones:

Go Vintage
Fashion is cyclical and designs can be timeless, so why not wear vintage?

Vintage wedding gowns by designers Oscar de la Renta or Chanel are still in a league of their own, though, wearing vintage doesn't mean it has to be "designer" vintage. Modernizing your grandmother's wedding gown or donning a beautiful tea length number you found in a trendy vintage shop is just as beautiful. As long as you feel beautiful in it, it doesn't matter how much you bought it for. Your wedding gown plays such a big part of the wedding's theme and tone, so have fun with all the special details that could be found in the beading, the lace or the sash. Also, don't forget to make it your own by adding some color, a florette or changing the straps. All you need is creativity and a good seamstress.

Find great vintage wedding gowns from

In my opinion, having vintage jewelry is not an option, it's a privilege. Good vintage or estate jewelry tells a story and carries a certain energy with it that contemporary jewelry, well, just doesn't. Estate jewelry is in every sense of the word "timeless", plus it's a total investment. Pieces that are passed down from generations or purchased from a fine estate jewelry store continue to hold their value and are one-of-a-kind pieces that you will never see another person wearing. One of my bride's has an incredible diamond and sapphire engagement ring from the 1930's which floors me, and everyone else every time I see her.

Check out amazing vintage jewelry and timepieces from the best estate retailer on the West Coast,  Fourtane  Jewelers

These days bridesmaids have alternatives to purchasing an expensive dress that they'll probably only wear once. If men can rent their suites and tuxes, why can't a bridesmaid rent her dress? Okay, I know this sounds strange, but I have recently discovered a new website called Rent-the-Runway, where women can rent designer gowns for a week - I'm talking about designers like Monique, Carolina, Missoni, D&G and many, many others. They have them in all formalities, lengths, colors and sizes. In fact, when they ship you the dress, they send you two sizes - your true size and one size larger to ensure your fit is correct. I honestly haven't tried it, but it's a good option to have if you have a small wedding party and want them to look top notch. If nothing else, how much fun would it be to feel like a million bucks for a night in a designer number that most of us couldn't afford to buy in a lifetime?

Check it yourself at

Select an Eco-Friendly Team of Vendors & Menu
Hiring eco-conscious vendors makes all the difference in offsetting your wedding's carbon footprint on the planet. Before hiring them, ask them where they source their products and make sure they purchase from local and organic farmers. This is especially true for your florist and caterer ensuring they aren't ordering food from across the country or placing orders with flower vendors in Ecuador, which obviously must travel by plane to get to your event emitting lots of Co2.

Be conscious about what you order and do some research, don't just take your vendors' word for it. If you want all local, seasonal and organic products to be used at your event, make sure you ask for products that you know are available in your area. For example, if you are getting married in the fall, trying looking up what flowers grow locally in the area during that season and select accordingly. If you select peonies for a fall wedding, a floral variety only available locally in spring, you are asking for a product to be flown in from South America - definitely not an eco-friendly decision. The same rules apply for menu selection. If you want fish, be conscience about which one you select. For instance, Chilean Sea Bass is delicious and available, however it's one of the top rated fish products to avoid on the Seafood Watch List due to being over-fished. Selecting an endangered fish to serve at your wedding is definitely not eco-friendly or morally correct either.

Find out what seafood is the best to serve in your area by visiting Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch List. 

Beef is also a popular choice on dinner menus. If you decided to add it, make sure to ask your caterer to source grass-fed, organic beef. Why grass-fed? Ruminants, like cows and sheep, have evolved to eat grass, not grain (and certainly not reprocessed animal by-products that many cheap cow farms feed their cattle to keep them fat). Yes, I know that grass-fed, organic beef may be more expensive, but why not serve a smaller, leaner and more delicious piece with a few other local, seasonal vegetable sides? Believe me, your guests won't miss it. Remember, menu planning is about a flavor and balance, not about the large piece of protein.

If you want more information on organic, grass-fed beef, go here.

A good caterer has knowledge about sustainability and locally grown products in their area, like one of my favorite catering companies, Paradise Catering in Carmel Valley, Ca. This husband and wife team actually live on three acres of land and grow most of the heirloom produce themselves which they serve at their clients' receptions. They really try to embody serving the freshest ingredients, literally from "garden to table".

There are many caterers, florists and weddings venues that are dedicated to minimizing the impact their services play on our planet, be sure to hire one or be prepared to thoroughly participate in the ordering and selection process.

Be Creative with Eco-friendly Guest Favors 
How many times have you been to a wedding and the favor is some cheesy heart topped wine cork? Not the most creative or eco-friendly decision by the bride and groom. You and I both know, most are left on the reception tables at the end of the night, thrown in the trash and then eventually into a some massive landfill in our environment.

Guests love to take away sweet treats to eat later on in the evening after the event. Try packaging up cookies, mini-cakes, petit-fours, cookies or candies in small boxes made of recycled paper with a ribbon and a custom label. You would be surprised that these little boxed goodies only run a few dollars each to produce. Plus, they are completely customized since we all know that weddings are all about the small details. It's much better to give your guests something that ends up in their stomach than in a landfill.

I love the premium chocolate combinations created by Michelle Crochet from Droga Confections in San Francisco. See her delectable creations here.  

Mini-cupcakes from a specialty bakery are always guest favorites at the end of an evening. I source these treats from  Pastries & Petals in Carmel, Ca. They can make them in all flavors and sizes, plus they outfit them in custom boxes - a total "one stop shop". Check out P&P here.

Go even greener by giving your guests small beautiful bundles of different kinds of seeds or a sprouting tree to take home and plant. For example, you could give away seeds from the flowers you used in your arrangements or the vegetables that were served on your menu. That way you can feel like you are giving back to the planet in what you used. It's kind of karmic in many ways. Try placing them in pretty custom recycled paper envelopes or organza sashes with custom  "thank you" tags and attach a fresh sprig of rosemary, thyme or lavender.

Looking to source seeds or seedlings, try visiting your local nursery for pricing or you can find them in bulk online at

Selecting eco-friendly favors for guests is not rocket science, it just takes some common sense, a little research and some creativity. It's your wedding, make it totally personal and distinctive.

In the end, whether couples decide to implement one or all suggestions above, every little bit counts and does make a difference. No matter how big or small of a green initiative you decide to embark on in regards to your big day, just be conscious, be grateful and be eco-chic!

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