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...

I promise to…

June 4, 2009

Update for real again soon!  I have exciting things to talk about!  Composting!  Invitations!  Update on bridesmaid dresses!  Our officiant!  The fact that I’m getting married in 3 months!

I do need to figure out the tent situation and put a deposit down…that will come.  🙂

In the meantime, how ’bout a picture from our trip to Hawaii?

Jason standing on the beach in Oahu

Jason standing on the beach in Oahu

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

A site visit

February 15, 2009

Jason came to visit me for Valentine’s Day weekend. It was his first visit out here, and it was fabulous. And we even accomplished something! We went out to the Eastern Shore to finally see the Inn at Mitchell House (our ceremony/reception site) in person. And we’re really happy with our choice.

ceremony site, by the pond

ceremony site, by the pond

I took a few more pictures and uploaded them to my Flickr site: http://flickr.com/photos/ultimatelibrarian/tags/innatmitchellhouse/.  It’s a little brown right now, but imagine what it’ll look like in late summer!  There are plenty of gorgeous pictures on the Inn’s site, too.  But there’s room for some ultimate frisbee, and plenty of room for the ceremony down by the pond and then to have the reception tents up by the house (I didn’t actually take pictures of that space b/c that’s currently where the cars are parked).

Jim and Tracy are really knowledgeable, and we feel like we’re in great hands.  Tracy was ready with lots of recommendations as far as local vendors for tents, officiant, and so on.  And she was completely ready for my questions about composting and recycling.  (They don’t have an official compost on site and just throw non-meat items out in the woods, so I’ll probably work with Mark, our caterer, whose parents might be able to take care of that, and they have lots of recycling barrels.)  It’s also a pro that both the ceremony and the reception will be in the same place, although unfortunately Chestertown really is only accessible by car.  Tracy did give us the information for an adorable trolley service, though, so hopefully we can get the majority of the people from their hotels to the wedding site in large groups (better for more local beer and wine drinking, too!).

Jason’s parents came with us, too, and Jason’s mom especially had some great ideas for decorating.  So stay tuned!

Long Distance Communication

November 17, 2008

For the past 2 months, I’ve kind of been ignoring the whole wedding planning thing.  I’ve just been basking in the realization that I’ll be married in 10 months.  Which I suddenly realized is less than a year.  After being engaged for 3 years, I suddenly realized that running out of time could happen if I don’t start doing something.

Well, I still haven’t done much, but I’ve written down some questions for our venue owners.  It’s a start, right?

My excuse for putting it off is that Jason and I are far apart, and it feels kind of wrong to do stuff without him.  And while I’m guessing he’s too busy anyway with important stuff like grad school applications and Mother 3, I know I wouldn’t like it if he was making decisions without me.  Fortunately, in this day and age, there are lots of different ways a couple with 3,000 miles between them can communicate without using a scrap of paper (love letters don’t count; that’s not wedding planning).  🙂

  1. Skype.  Skype is awesome.  Jason and I videochat pretty much everyday.  You can use it for calling landlines, too, all over the world.  I suppose there isn’t that much eco-friendliness to it, but if you’ve got an iSight mac, you don’t have to buy any extra equipment.  And actually, if all you need is voice anyway, you can use an internet connection and not get a separate phone that you’d need to plug in.  It’s a stretch, I know.  But I did find my webcam (no iSight for me) for $5 on craigslist, saving money and reusing!
  2. Google Docs.  This really is paper saving, and is ridiculously useful as a collaboration tool.  Jason and I are currently working on our (much too long but we love everyone) guest list.  Instead of making lots of paper lists and crossing things out and losing track, we’ve got one place we can both edit (and approve each others’ edits), and where we can eventually organize addresses and RSVP’s and so on.  In the future, I may use it to help us organize/plan our invitation layout and the things we want on our registry.
  3. Our Credo Mobile cell phones.  We were in the middle of a contract with Verizon when we just got fed up with their billing and their customer service.  We contemplated iPhones, but it was going to be really expensive, and we happened to be saving for a, um, wedding.  But I know I feel better with this decision.  Not only did we save money (and they bought out our Verizon contract), but 1% of our charges go to various social and environmental causes, and they’re the only phone company to lobby AGAINST the FISA act.  And they still are.  But I don’t want to sound like a militant evangelicist for Credo (and their parent company, Working Assets) and really play up one choice over any other.  I just think doing a little research into the impacts our choices have and don’t have can make such a huge difference.  Yep, done now!

So, next up, I’ll be calling rental companies about tents and dance floors on my cell, tracking prices on Google Docs, and Skyping with Jason about options all at once…maybe not.

Also, anyone know of a good officiant on the Eastern Shore who would work with us and understand the green philosophy?  Well, ’till next time, but here’s a picture of our caterer/friend Mark and his wonderful bread oven:

making a pizza!

making a pizza!

The Shaw Family

June 19, 2008


Grampa’s on the right

Originally uploaded by my sister Lisa

I apologize for not having blogged the last few days. First I just had the lame excuse of being lazy/busy (yep, I can do both at the same time). But then last Thursday, I got a call from my mom saying that my Grampa had passed away unexpectedly. He had apparently fallen asleep in the chair that my mom and aunt had given him for his 80th birthday just about a week before and never woke up.

I’m really lucky to have known him, and to have had him in my life for so long. But I was kind of devastated when I realized that even though my wedding was going to be much closer to him, he wasn’t going to be able to be there. Which is kind of selfish, but that was my thought.

So, for my post today, my “green” advice is just to cherish those you love, and let them know how you feel (pick up the phone, or maybe send a grow-a-note card). Which is probably kind of obvious to people reading a wedding blog, but I could always use a reminder.