Brides and grooms find ways to fit Earth-friendly practices into nuptials
White may still be the most popular color for wedding gowns but when it comes to planning a wedding, many brides are thinking green. Environmentally friendly weddings have become increasingly common as couples search for ways to marry their love of each other with their love of the planet.
'(In the past) people were faced with spending many thousands of dollars on events that went against how they lived and shopped every day,' Michelle Kozin writes in her book 'Organic Weddings: Balancing Ecology, Style and Tradition.' 'Many did not steer their significant wedding budgets toward more thoughtful purchases because the alternatives were inaccessible.'
The increased demand from couples who wanted green options for their weddings led industry professionals to take note.
Getting married? Read on for suggestions on planning the perfect green wedding.
Send recycled invitations
Save-the-date cards and invitations are the first glimpse into the upcoming wedding for guests. Set the stage for a green wedding by choosing recycled paper for items ranging from wedding announcements to thank-you notes.
'A lot of people think that using recycled paper products means the quality is lower,' says Ron Rich, co-owner of Oblation Papers and Press. 'That is not true anymore; there are a lot of very high-quality recycled papers on the market.'
Oblation specializes in wedding invitations and makes all of its own paper from remnants from the garment industry. The result is paper that is soft, lightly textured and beautiful.
Rich says it is more expensive to use high-quality recycled papers, with the average cost ranging from $4 to $8 per invitation. The payoff, he says, is worth it.
'We are a locally owned store with a great green product,' he says. 'We make beautiful wedding invitations that are environmentally friendly.'
There are other options for further limiting the impact on the planet, such as using soy- or vegetable-based inks and asking guests to RSVP via e-mail or phone.
Select locally grown flowers
Flowers are often a focal point of a wedding celebration. From the bouquet the bride carries down the aisle to the centerpieces on the tables at the reception, beautiful buds provide visual interest and help to create a theme.
Selecting flowers that are grown locally without pesticides or chemical fertilizers is the most environmentally friendly option: It also ensures you are getting the freshest flowers.
'If you buy flowers from a wholesaler, they may be shipped from South America, New Zealand or Canada and you never know how long they've been in transit,' says Janis Steinfeld, the owner of August Gardens in Hillsboro. 'Plus, if they're shipped in refrigerated boxes there's a lot of wear and tear.'
Steinfeld does purchase some of her flowers from wholesalers, but she supports local farmers whenever possible.
'The flowers grown locally are fresher, the price is better and I can go out and cut what I need on any given day,' she says.
Steinfeld says she carries roses, tulips, zinnias, stocks, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, phlox, lilacs and numerous other varieties that were grown on local farms.
Choose organic wine
Choosing organic wines does not mean sacrificing taste: Cooper Mountain Vineyards, the first winery in the Northwest to produce organically grown and biodynamic wines, sells award-winning pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay.
'The demand for organically grown wines is booming,' says Barbara Gross, marketing director for Cooper Mountain Vineyards. 'There are so many great pioneers in Oregon for locally grown and sustainable products that the concept has become mainstream.'
Cooper Mountain sells its wines through local retailers, but caterers also purchase a significant percentage of the organic wines - something Gross attributes to an increased demand from the wedding market.
The wines, which range from $10 to $30 per bottle, are comparable to other quality wines. Gross also points out that Cooper Mountain produces sulfite-free wine as well as vegan wine (some types of wine are clarified using egg proteins).
Reserve a green venue
Selecting the right venue is one of the most time-consuming - not to mention expensive - aspects of planning a wedding. In addition to a location that is beautiful and functional, couples also are looking for reception sites that share their ideas about sustainability.
Getting married in a natural location like a national park or a local garden is one option. The other option is choosing a hotel or golf club that incorporates green practices into its business model.
'There is a real sense of excitement among our guests that we are making the environment one of our top priorities,' says Michael Luehrs, director of operations for the DoubleTree-Lloyd Center. 'We host between 30 and 50 weddings per year and our coordinators tell us that it influences the decision of where to hold an event.'
The DoubleTree-Lloyd Center has achieved Green Seal certification in recognition of its comprehensive recycling program, efforts to reduce energy consumption and use of green cleaning supplies. It also is the first hotel in Portland to implement a food composting program that has resulted in a monthly reduction of food waste equaling 14 tons.
The bride and groom and their guests also can have an impact on the environment while they are staying at the DoubleTree Lloyd Center by using in-room recycling receptacles and participating in the towel reuse program.
Serve eco-friendly foods
There are numerous eco-friendly options when it comes to planning the menu for a wedding reception: Adding organic foods and locally grown ingredients or offering vegetarian and vegan menu options all are popular choices for couples planning green weddings.
'We have also implemented a policy to use local foods whenever possible; currently 65 percent of the foods we purchase are produced within 300 miles of the hotel,' notes Steve Faulstick, general manager of the DoubleTree-Lloyd Center. 'Our chefs do a great job of creating specialty menu items that focus on local and seasonal ingredients.'
Marilyn DeVault, owner of Piece of Cake, began offering vegan and vegetarian dishes like sun-dried tomato ravioli, bean salad with poppy seed dressing and tofu olive walnut mousse 10 years ago because her catering customers demanded more eco-friendly choices.
'We make everything from scratch using fresh ingredients,' she says. 'We also offer other choices like fruited water in pitchers instead of bottled water and cloth napkins instead of paper.'
DeVault opened Piece of Cake almost three decades ago and has become famous for her vegan wedding cakes.
'We have had a lot of customers tell us that vegan cakes weren't an option when they got married so they didn't even eat a piece of their wedding cake,' she says. 'We wanted to change that.'
The cakes, which are available in several different flavors, are made from recipes DeVault created. In addition to vegan cakes, DeVault also offers gluten-free cakes, sugar-free cakes and cakes that are both vegan and gluten-free.
'The cakes look just like regular wedding cakes with several tiers and decorative icing,' DeVault says. 'A lot of customers tell us that our vegan cakes taste better than any other cake they have tasted, vegan or not. That is a huge compliment.'
There are a number of local resources aimed at helping couples plan eco-friendly weddings.
Here are just a few:
Piece of Cake
8306 S.E. 17th Ave.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards
9480 S.W. Grabhorn Road
Doubletree Lloyd Center
1000 N.E. Multnomah St.
Oblation Papers and Press
516 N.W. 12th Ave.