With green rings…

November 10, 2009

Okay, so our rings weren’t actually green.  But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t incorporate a green ring into your ceremony!  I’ve mentioned Etsy (the wonderful online craft fair) before, and I’ll probably mention the site several more times in the near future, but I can’t recommend it enough.  And it’s where we found our recycled gold, handmade in upstate NY wedding bands.  They’re similar to Jason’s parents’ (Jason’s mom actually made those herself; another option).  And the set was only a little more expensive than the single ring I bought Jason for our engagement (which wasn’t eco-friendly in any way, being from Zale’s and back when I was a kind of oblivious grad student, but we’ll keep it in the family and make sure it lasts a long time)!

Without further ado:

Jason & Amy's wedding rings

From Natalie Franke Photography: http://www.nataliefrankephotography.com

And here’s the Etsy listing.  We loved working with Elizabeth of esdesigns; even though everything was through e-mail, it felt so personal.  And we did have to have both our rings resized after we originally got them (our fault for guessing in the first place), which she did and then got them back to us in a matter of days.  I love the way it looks on my hand.  It doesn’t match my platinum engagement ring, but now I wear that on my right hand, so whichever hand I look at, I get to think of my wedding and the amazing man I married.

There’s an awful lot of great information about eco-friendly jewelry available on the internet, so I’m going to let you google all that yourself.  I also talked a little bit about them in an earlier post on the engagement ring post above, so check that out if you need a place to get started!  And let me know what you end up doing.  🙂

(this is also the first post with one of our awesome photographer’s gorgeous pictures.  There’ll be lots more!  You can see a few of us on her blog post “Amy & Jason’s Wedding,” but you should check out her whole website: http://www.nataliefrankephotography.com!)

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Well, we had plastic cups at our rehearsal dinner.  Eco-fail.

But when dinner is served in a gorgeous outdoor setting at the family home of a really good friend (where some of our guests actually camped) and when dinner itself is homemade pizza and a green salad with the best dressing ever, everyone wins.  And it maybe makes you think that this, your family and friends in one place under the stars eating unbelievable food and drinking beer, is why the whole planet really is worth saving.

Because of Mark’s, his family’s, and Jason’s parents’ generosity we were able to have everyone who made it in Saturday (wedding was on Sunday) come to the rehearsal dinner, which was absolutely wonderful.  You know that whole part about weddings where you don’t really get to talk to your guests?  Well, that doesn’t have to be true at your rehearsal dinner.  It wasn’t at ours, anyway.  Mark offered us a pizza party as his wedding present, and we opted to take it the night before the wedding, when the most people would be in town.  Mark’s parents allowed their house, kitchen, and yard to be taken up by a bunch of happily buzzed friends and family from around the country whom they had no prior connection with.  Jason’s parents paid for the ingredients and the all important beer, and Jason’s mom baked enough cookies for everyone to have ample dessert.

So the more ‘green’ parts of the dinner were the number of people fed without using a whole lot of resources (and no pizza went to waste! and other scraps were composted by Mark’s parents), the use of local ingredients, and the atmosphere provided by nature.  Obviously not everyone has a Mark around (we’re pretty special), but a home-cooked, simple meal does wonders for the soul (if you do decide to do a restaurant, which we would have done if it weren’t for Mark as we were far from home, keep those local ingredients in mind and limit red meat dishes).  We honored (or embarrassed) our wedding party in front of a much larger audience, and our parents were able to do the same to us.  It’s a night we wouldn’t trade for anything.

Except the part where I lost my keys for an hour, then found them in a frisbee in the trunk, and was late to my bachelorette party.  That part I’d like to fix.  (We did carpool!  Which meant that 4 girls were stuck with me…meanwhile, the boys had a night around the campfire and laughed at us.)

Rehearsal Dinner in front of Mark's Bread Oven

Friends and family and Mark & Sarah & Friend? hard at work

My friend Leonore took this one:

Mark Making Pizza

Mark & Sarah & Friend and the delicious pizza ingredients

And this one’s just for laughs (this is the man I married), courtesy of our friend Andy:

Jason

I don't think he actually fell. He's a balanced guy...

Invitation to a Recycling

October 27, 2009

I’m not going to dwell, but I apologize for already not sticking to my Thursday schedule.  I’ll do my best this week.

But I realized I promised in a post awhile ago to write about our invitations.  We kept things pretty simple; we wanted the invites to be fairly cheap, made of recycled paper with as high a post-consumer percentage as possible, and without all the many inserts called for by tradition and paper companies.

First, my dream invites: Earthly Affair Fresh.  I actually love all of the Earthly Affair creations, and their commitment to making the entire process (from production to shipping) as eco-friendly as possible.  Beautiful and thoughtful!  And founder Jennifer Stambolsky runs my absolute favorite wedding blog, full of gorgeous pictures and ideas and products that are often useful no matter where you are in life .  Unfortunately, while they are by no means expensive in the world of wedding invitations, they were outside our budget for the number we needed to buy.  But I’m definitely keeping them in the back of my mind!

What we decided to go with: Invitations by Dawn Delicate Beauty.  These invitations are made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and fit the budget and our color scheme.  And we could order exactly what we wanted: invitations, envelopes, RSVP cards, response envelopes, and thank yous, sent in recycled packaging in a well-packed box.  We got exactly what we wanted as far as requirements go (a girl can still dream of soy-based ink and carbon-offset shipping!).  I also did an online coupon search (can’t stress how often you save quite a bit of money doing this!), making it even cheaper.

So I suggest, as you attempt to find the invitations were meant for you, to just keep your eyes out.  Almost all of the large invitation sellers we looked at had some recycled paper options.  Consumer demand is a powerful thing!  And you can always do a little homework, looking at reviews (you’d probably do that any way) and “about” pages to make sure everything, as in company policies and philosophies, matches with what you want.  And if it doesn’t, keep looking!   There’s an awful lot of options out there.

And you’ve probably already heard the advice that’s in every green wedding planner book/blog/whatever to keep the paper to an absolute minimum; don’t bother with all the inserts.  Use e-mail and websites (and phone calls to grandparents) to send out directions, no need to print those.  We also let people know that RSVPing by e-mail or phone was completely acceptable (just be sure to recycle the cards!), in a tiny effort to reduce stamp waste (both stamps and the paper backing) and transportation.

Bonus link: my friend Alison’s save the dates, which were absolutely stunning (so much so that I just spent 45 minutes trying to find them again because IT’S WORTH IT).

p.s. today’s post title (perhaps obviously) comes from Nabokov’s “Invitation to a Beheading.”  Which I read right before my wedding.  Whoo, happy thoughts?  I never did find an appropriate wedding reading in Nabokov’s work…

I heard yesterday through the Twitter grapevine that today is Blog Action Day 2009.  And that the theme this year is Climate Change.  Basically, it’s a day where bloggers can all join together their posts in order to instigate change.  So I thought it’d be a good day to get back into this blog.

So, it’s official, I’m now Ms. Amy Donahue.  I.e., Mrs. Schuelahue!  Yep, Sept. 6th, came and went, and it was perfect.  So now this blog is still going to be about our green wedding, but on what we actually did, not what we were just thinking about doing.  And we’ll see what happens when I run out of stuff. I’m going to try to stick to a regular schedule; weekly on Thursdays seems like a good way to go.  Perhaps there’ll be a bonus Tuesday occasionally or something.  I’ll announce new posts on my Twitter (hashtag #ecoweddingblog, for those who care), you can use an RSS reader, or you can just check back every so often.

Today’s post is going to incorporate all three R’s (um, reduce, reuse, recycle, just in case you forgot), and it’s going to start with a little story.

Once upon a time there were two people who both loved good beer.  They drank a fairly good amount of it.  And they always recycled their bottles.  But what to do with the caps?  They kept them (for the most part; friends & roommates occasionally didn’t realize…), thinking maybe they’d use them in a good game of caps or something.  Then they got engaged.  And started planning their wedding.  Looking at all the websites and books, they kept seeing silly, kitschy wedding favors that everyone would probably just throw away eventually, contributing in whatever small way (but think cradle to grave here; there’s a lot of petroleum and transportation involved in even the little plastic doo-dads) to climate change.  They wanted to reduce their impact, and buy as little new stuff (also thrifty!) as possible.  So they looked around.  And stumbled upon that giant jar of bottle caps.  Hmmm…There had to be some way to reuse them!

Bottlecap Magnets (although not ours; we havent uploaded the picture yet...)

Bottlecap Magnets (although not ours; we haven't uploaded the picture yet...) Attribution (Creative Commons license): http://www.flickr.com/photos/jopoe/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

And everyone loved them (and wanted more than the 2 each person originally got!).  Moral of the story?  1. Climate change is a big picture thing; talk to your legislators and your energy companies.  But while you’re at it, drink some (local, organic, sustainable, wind/solar energy produced) beer.  The little things just might add up, and just might be useful.  (Seriously, those kitschy favors?  just think twice, that’s all I’m asking).

We did do one other little “gift” for our guests, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one.  Now go out and read some Blog Action Day posts!

Step 1: Decide you want to compost your wedding scraps.

Step 2: Also decide to use compostable serviceware (plates, utensils, etc.).  This is only a benefit if you decide to actually compost; throwing compostable stuff into the garbage is basically as bad as throwing away the regular stuff; it releases methane (one of the top greenhouse gases) in landfills and is no good to anyone.  There are many cool options; I haven’t decided what we’re going to use yet.  Anyone have any suggestions?  Right now I’m looking at Worldcentric (made of bagasse, or leftover sugarcane fibers), BiodegradableStore.com (various materials), Branch (mostly bagasse), etc.  More or less comparison shopping.  I also love Verterra, but it’s a little out of our budget.

Step 3: Search Google for your location and composting; i.e. “chestertown maryland composting.”

Step 4: Find results for the Warrington Foundation or similar composting organization.  Use contact info to e-mail wedding situation.

Step 5: They e-mail back and let me know that they work with agricultural compost, and can’t do regular food scraps.  But they suggest  contacting the local college, Washington College.

Step 6: Procrastinate, and maybe do other important things like order invitations (next post!).

Step 7: Caterer e-mails me with list of supplies he’ll need…oh, and by the way, his parents (living in Chestertown), would be happy to compost the non-meat scraps and serveware!

Step 8: Celebrate and write blog entry!

So I kind of lucked out.  But seriously, don’t give up if composting is something you want to do!  Contact local schools and state departments, or if you happen to live in an awesome city like Seattle that has composting programs, take advantage of it!  But first, ask your caterer if he/she has any advice.  🙂

p.s. I’m also hoarding yogurt containers (the big ones) and the like that I’ll provide to my guests in case they want to take leftovers home.  No need to buy specialized carry-out containers!  (They’ll be washed, I promise.)

Okay, so that’s a compound word.  Whatever, it still only counts as one.

But pictures!  Who doesn’t want a way to bring back all the wonderful memories?  I personally take pictures of EVERYTHING, including food.  So while Jason and I briefly considered skipping the wedding photographer to save some money, we realized that we did really want a professional to help us capture the day.

And we completely lucked out.

I suppose I’m saying that a little preemptively, because we haven’t spoken with Natalie Franke face to face, or had her actually photograph us yet, but go check out her website, her blog, and her flickr pictures, and you’ll see why we’re excited.  And that doesn’t get into our wonderful e-mail exchanges where Natalie completely understood why we needed to cut costs by skipping the engagement session, and her enthusiasm for and support of our green wedding.  And not only is she talented and professional and wonderfully nice and responsive, but she’s a local college student.  We found out about her from one of her professors, who happens to be a friend of ours from Grinnell College (Grinnell connections have helped both of us so much).  And there’s something to be said for supporting local artists: I think it strengthens communities, you know exactly where your money is going, you get beautiful artifacts with a story not only of content, but of creation, and you get to work with someone who has an investment in you and your setting.  That all translates maybe not explicitly into a lower carbon footprint, but at least a sense of pride and awareness of the world that I think is the first step to realizing something needs to be done.

But back to wedding photography.  Here’s what we’re doing to try to take the saying “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” to the next level:

  1. Hire a local photograher.  Did I mention how awesome Natalie is?  But if you’re not lucky enough to be in the Baltimore area, it might be possible to find someone (even highly likely, although I still think we win) from an art school.  Here’s an idea: go check out your favorite coffee house/art gallery (there’s at least one of those in every city, right?) and ask who the photographer is.  Talk to your friends who got married in the area and see if they have suggestions.  Talk to your friends who are professors who may know of a student.  Talk to your friends who are photographers.  Word of mouth is great!
  2. DON’T USE DISPOSABLE CAMERAS ON THE TABLES.  Unless you’re absolutely set on it.  But disposable is the absolute other end of reusable, which is what eco-weddings should strive for.  There’s a ton of packaging for each camera, the development chemicals aren’t a good thing, and all the transportation associated with them isn’t great, either.  Other cons: you have to pay for the development of the pictures, many of which are bad or blurry or offensive and are thrown out anyway (more waste!), and more often than not, people just walk away with them and you never see the results anyway.  From what I could find on the intertubes in a brief search, disposables can be somewhat efficiently recycled (but a lot of those articles seemed to come from the industry), so if you do decide to use them (don’t!), make sure your guests know the rules and do your best to really get what you want from them.
  3. DO promote digital camera use!  Obviously, digital cameras aren’t zero impact either (make sure to recycle them properly at the end of their lives!), but one camera that can be used again and again, with rechargable batteries and a format that doesn’t require harsh chemicals to bring into view seems like a definite step in the right direction.  Jason and I are planning on setting up a Flickr pool, like this one: the Mason wedding, where both we and our guests can share our snapshots with the world (sorry, world!).  No need to print!  We’ll request DVDs of pictures through our registry (stay tuned, that post is coming up), too, for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a flickr account, and we’ll add them to the group ourselves.
  4. Okay, I’m going to end with Natalie again.  Because she’s great.  And she’s giving us a data DVD of the high-resolution images to do what we like with.  We want an album, and we’ll do that somehow (looking for well-managed forest/recycled paper, keeping it small), but this way we don’t get tons of printed proofs and things that would probably end up in a box somewhere and while treasured, maybe not worth green or lack thereof (bad pun, i’m sorry).  There will be an online galley.  These options are often available from photographers; just ask!

As always, I guess the message here is to just spend a moment or two thinking about how your decision about wedding photography will impact the environment and your community.  In the end, you may just end up with someone amazing (final shoutout to Natalie), and hopefully lots of wonderful memories you can look at again and again.

At 891 words, this entry is worth just a little less than a picture, so I’ll share one of my not-so-great ones:

Original 1928 platinum setting next to the gold band + 1928 diamond

Original 1928 platinum setting next to the gold band + 1928 diamond

The Wedding Dress

June 20, 2008

So far, my planning and preparation for this wedding has followed this series of events:

1.) Proposed and got engaged (1.5 years ago).
2.) Jason decided we should set a date (10 months ago)
3.) Decided to work on having a green wedding (9 months ago)
4.) Mom bought me a wedding dress (5 months ago)

And then I started the blog. But getting the wedding dress before anything else was finalized? We don’t really have an exact date, just an “idea,” we only just decided on a state for the wedding and still have to figure out an actual location, and there’s got to be some other stuff that traditionally comes first.  But really, what wedding is actually traditional? We all do things mostly our own ways, and besides, there are no rules, only guidelines, right?

Back to the dress. This is sadly one of the areas where my eco leanings where misplaced in favor of my thrifty leanings and my Mom’s offer to buy it for me. The deal breaker? It was $70. JCrew had it on uber-sale, I’m assuming because they were getting rid of their “Tall” stock. But Tall is exactly what I need, at 6′. So I let her buy it.  And it’s beautiful and simple. But my guilt over not at least attempting to find some kind of eco-friendly option led me to at least do some research. And it was a learning experience:

  1. Although it’s definitely up for debate, the material my dress is made of (pure silk) could be considered “green.” Silk is a renewable resource, and it’s biodegradable.  There are a few problems involved with it, though (according to Treehugger, http://www.treehugger.com), including the fact that the process requires killing the silk worms inside the cocoons, that there are really no local US sources (think transportation emissions), there are some chemical processes involved, and oftentimes it’s produced in countries that have little regulation/monitoring as far as working conditions and wages go. 
  2. Related to that last point, I decided to learn a little more about JCrew. So I turned to a resource I knew existed, but hadn’t yet utilized: Co-op America’s Responsible Shopper. The entry for JCrew can be found at http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/company.cfm?id=244.  What they revealed confirmed my suspicions: JCrew is not one of the most socially-responsible or environmentally-friendly companies out there.  They’re perhaps not the worst, but they’ve been associated with sourcing from factories with sweatshop-like conditions, and from sourcing from companies that illegally dump their waste.

So, there are a couple of research tools for you, as you’re looking up information on everything from materials to clothing stores.  I’d also like to share with you a couple of the other ideas I had for wedding dresses, because options are always good (and my tall dress is no longer available).

  1. Buy a dress that benefits a charity.  MakingMemories.org resells donated dresses at stops all over the country.  Their sales benefit the Breast Cancer Association, and you’ll be reusing.  And if you do decide to get a new dress (like me!), consider donating it to the cause afterwards.
  2. Check out this newsletter from the I Do Foundation; they list several options (including MakingMemories): http://www.idofoundation.org/about/May2004.html.  It’s a little dated, but still useful!
  3. Use your mother’s (or any woman’s in your family) wedding dress.  My mom still has hers, and I did consider altering it and wearing it.  It’s beautiful.  But I already got the family engagement ring, and I decided to let my younger sisters have the opportunity to wear her dress (my grandmother handmade it).  My youngest sister probably wouldn’t even have to have it altered.
  4. Just get the dress that makes you happy, no matter where it’s from or what price you can afford.  From thrift stores to boutiques, there are lots of options!

While I’m trying my best to have a green wedding every step of the way, there is plenty I could do better.  I’m just doing what I can, and sharing what I learn.  I think this is a good place to reiterate that any decision you make, at any point in your wedding, life, party, whatever, to try to do something more environmentally and/or socially responsible, is truly commendable.  No one should expect you (and hopefully me!) to be perfect, and while there are people out there who would grumble and judge, ignore them.  This is getting cheesy, but I hope what I’m saying makes sense.   

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, my wedding dress (the standard version)!  Jason, no peeking.  And imagine it with a gold sash, which I’m going to create somehow (organic cotton?  maybe I can get Andrea from GaiaConceptions to help me out…):

jcrew sophia dress in white
jcrew sophia dress in white