"Green weddings: Highly personalized"
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Eco-friendly is chic, not cheap
By Karen Maserjian Shan, Poughkeepsie Journal
As a youngster, Sabrina Hermosilla was environmentally aware. During college she started a green party at her school. And for her wedding in 2009, she and her husband, Scott Askew, incorporated environmentally sound practices. “It was very important for us both that we start our new life together with a positive impact for the world — or at least not a huge(ly) negative one,” said Hermosilla, who grew up in Poughkeepsie but lives on New York City ’s Roosevelt Island .
Danielle DeFreest, owner of Every Little Detail Wedding and Event Planning in Red Hook, said about one in five brides she works with wants a green wedding, with most coming to this area from New York City . “They’re looking for farm-to-table caterers; reusable stuff,” DeFreest said.
For instance, she said, one couple reconstructed a construction-grade wood palette into a seating chart for their wedding reception. Another duo wrote their seating chart on old barn window that was suspended for their guests to consult. Some people avoid printing individual menus by writing them on a chalkboard for all to see. “Mostly what I do is a barn wedding in an outdoor venue,” DeFreest said. “They all play into that rustic vibe; rustic chic. That’s the new phrase right now.”
Along with that, favors lean toward the natural as well, including things such as potted plants, bamboo and seed packets, while wedding flowers have gone wild. “They go out and pick their own wildflowers,” DeFreest said. “There are a couple of venues that have wildflower patches so the bride and groom or wedding party can pick their own.”
Wedding invitations made of recycled materials or from the paper used for brown paper bags also is a trend. So are emailed invitations. “We use it as part of the theme for the wedding,” DeFreest said. “A lot of them just call it a green wedding.”
Wedding photography also has gone green. DeFreest said the use of proof books with prints of every photograph taken during the wedding and reception have gone by the wayside in favor of digital albums that can be shared on social media.
As for the wedding attire, some brides go green by purchasing thrift-store or vintage finds that are refitted into their perfect wedding gown.
Christen Wagner, spokesperson for Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck, said the restaurant is known for its focus on local foods and frequently caters full meals for green weddings, with most taking place in local barns. “I think people right now are a lot more conscious of what they’re eating,” said Wagner, including the availability of food grown in the Hudson Valley through farmer’s markets.
Hugh Piney, catering director of Terrapin Catering, said the desire for wholesome catering at weddings and other events is in keeping with an overall green sensibility. “What’s changing is not only the idea of using recycled (products), it’s sourcing things locally,” he said, which has a significant impact on carbon footprints; that is, greenhouse gases left by people, businesses and other entities.
Piney sources food from local farmers and vendors, seeking those with sustainable farming practices. He also encourages wedding couples to engage local florists for seasonal, home grown arrangements and to work with local wineries. “So many people are reducing their carbon footprint, not reducing their enjoyment,” Piney said.
Stephanie Padovani, owner of Book More Brides, a wedding business consultant company, and The DJ Solution, both based in Poughkeepsie , said green weddings are a niche market. “I think that for most couples, they wouldn’t necessarily say that they are planning a green wedding, but want to incorporate (environmentally friendly) elements,” she said.
Padovani was involved in her first green wedding several years ago with a bride and groom that were highly active in environmental practices. “(The bride) recommended the very best way to be green with a wedding was do things that were a little uncommon,” Padovani said.
For example, consider potted centerpieces that can be replanted after the celebration, as well as the aforementioned flower or vegetable seeds as favors. Go with locally grown flowers to avoid the environmental effect of having them shipped from distant suppliers and browse the Web to connect with brides willing to part with their gowns and other wedding items.
The idea, Padovani said, is for a wedding to have minimal impact on the environment by conserving, repurposing and reusing.
Wedding planner and coordinator, Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, said half the weddings she’s involved with are green, but they’re expensive. Old barns rented for receptions, for example, can cost $7,000 to $15,000, in some cases without tables and chairs. There’s also the cost of catering, music and photographs.
Yet green weddings tend to be highly personalized. “It’s a do-it-yourself wedding,” Stark said. “It becomes a very personal thing.”
In addition to catering that features locally grown foods and the use of local flowers, couples look for natural venues such as barns, farms and wineries that have reduced electric and decoration requirements. Also, sites situated near public transportation lessen the environmentally damaging effects of travel.
“Invitations either are made with recycled paper or paper with flower seeds,” said Stark, with guests instructed to plant the invitation afterwards. Other stationary, such as menus and seating place cards, are omitted through the use of posted notices. As well, some couples forego favors, dedicating money that would have been spent on them to a favorite charity or nonprofit.
A green approach can even extend to the wedding officiant. Stark has seven officiants on staff that meet with couples through the Internet, thereby avoiding travel and its negative impact on the environment. “We do everything online,” said Stark, including meeting, arranging, coordinating and finalizing the service, some in face-to-face, online discussions.
Hermosilla and Askew looked to magazines, the Internet and other weddings for ideas for their reception at the West Park Winery in West Park . “Also, we have a lot of daily practices that are green (reusing packing materials) and we just applied the same principles to our wedding planning,” Hermosilla said.
Her diamond engagement ring was handed down from her grandmother, and the wedding’s save-the-date notices were made from glass coasters mailed in reused packaging and recycled envelopes. The wedding invitation, reply and thank-you notes came from a green printer with carbon-neutral operations and soy-based inks.
Some of the food served at the reception was organic; the flowers were local and in-season, plus corks from empty wine bottles were used in the table centerpieces and for the name cards. A donated ream of carbon-neutral paper was used for name cards and table numbers. Beeswax candles were used for lighting. Afterwards, Hermosilla passed her wedding gown to a friend who then donated it elsewhere. The couple honeymooned in a carbon-neutral inn, off the grid in Cabo , Mexico .
“We loved everything,” Hermosilla said. “There are always issues and I think the menu and flowers weren’t as green as we wanted, but (the) best we could do.”
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