Isaac Harrell photo
Use green ink as you begin writing your wedding to-do lists — a reminder to consider sprinkling your event with local, eco-friendly elements. In the past few years, green approaches have shaped everything from big business to everyday living, and they've been influencing the wedding industry, too. Eco-chic weddings can be achieved by modifying basic choices such as the caterer and the favors, notes Shafonne Myers, founder and president of Making Your Event Special, a wedding-and-event-consulting business based in Richmond. "You don't have to transform your whole wedding … you just have to add little touches," she says. "Whether it's eco-friendly plates or wedding bands or using locally grown flowers or organic foods, every little bit helps." These ideas will get you started on achieving your own green bridal style. For more inspiration, flip open Eco-Chic Weddings by Emily Elizabeth Anderson (available at Barnes & Noble).
Green flowers may seem like a given, but using locally grown or organic flowers ensures that arrangements will be fresher and last longer than wholesalers' (which often are treated with more chemicals). Locally grown or organic blooms "generally are more beautiful, and you can get an heirloom quality, almost," says Kristi Knight, a partner at Richmond-based Flower Girls, a full-service florist that uses locally grown flowers year-round. Knight and Joie Patterson, Flower Girls founder, created this centerpiece, incorporating variegated lavender, purple basil, rosemary and hyssop with other blooms from Patterson's garden and adding in VeriFlora-Certified (sustainably grown) Vendella roses and hypericum berries. Patterson reminds brides that they can create floral decorations for the reception (such as potted plants for centerpieces) that double as favors. Keep in mind that if you do go green with flowers, you won't be able to get certain ones if they're out of season. For more information about Flower Girls, call 440-0681 or visit flowergirlsinc.com.
With This Ring
Chicago artisan Gustav Reyes founded Simply Wood Rings in 2005; the company takes a piece of salvaged wood (such as a favorite baseball bat) and crafts it into a jeweled band. "It's a lot about using materials that are already there and not exploiting natural resources," says Sarah Erwin, the company's production manger. Reyes often asks clients to ship him salvaged wood and even adds salvaged stones to create one-of-a-kind rings. Reyes crafted this set of rings from solid ailanthus wood with jade inlays.
If you're more traditional and want a metal band, Carytown's Jay Sharpe offers metal-salvaging options, accepting old jewelry pieces that he melts and forms into wedding bands or engagement rings. Sharpe also creates custom pieces from scraps of gold, such as this 10-karat-gold wedding band. For more information, contact Simply Wood Rings at (773) 938-1892 or simplywoodrings.com, or Jay Sharpe at 353-4733 or jaysharpe.com.
You Are Cordially Invited
Eco-friendly invitations are an obvious way to respect the environment, but chic, green products don't stop at recyclable paper. By Invitation Only (364-8474, gobyinvitationonly.com) offers Blooming Invitations by Cast Paper Art; this delicate product is constructed from a recycled cotton base with 12 varieties of wildflower seeds and fresh flowers pressed together. Your guests can plant this part of the invitation and enjoy perennial wildflower blooms each year. Notecards are available, too — perfect for thank-yous.
For a more traditional look, Gentry O'Neill, owner of Paper on the Avenue (288-5120, paperontheavenue.com), suggests Crane & Co.'s line of invitations printed on tree-free cotton. O'Neill also turns brides to Page Stationery, an Oilville company that also prints its invitations on 100 percent cotton. Paper on the Avenue stocks both stationery lines.
Icing on the Cake
To ensure that your cake is fully organic, Kara Buntin, owner of A Cake to Remember (754-2084, acaketoremember.com), tells brides to ask bakeries if their cakes are made from scratch, or if a boxed mix is used as a base, with extra ingredients added in later (this is surprisingly common). Buntin bakes cakes such as this one with organic-only ingredients. This creation features an Italian meringue butter icing (consisting of organic eggs, butter and sugar) embellished with organic white-chocolate snowflakes. Organic cakes, Buntin explains, contain none of the pesticides, preservatives or dyes of their less-organic counterparts—so you and your groom can enjoy a delicious and (slightly) more nutritious sweet treat at your reception.
Potted herbs, such as this rosemary plant from Sneed's Nursery (320-7798, sneedsnursery.com), give guests a tangible way to remember your special day and make their homes eco-friendly. Based in Midlothian, Sneed's provides favor consultations and suggests potting herbs (lavender and thyme are popular) or paperwhite bulbs — these indoor plants bloom fragrantly all winter. For a simpler token, consider hyacinth or paperwhite bulbs adorned with ribbon to match your color scheme, or a soy-wax-blend candle (soybeans are a renewable resource).
Another option: By Invitation Only carries Cast Paper Art's Blooming Favors, ornaments shaped as hearts, flowers and other forms. Recipients can decorate with or plant this gift as they would the Blooming Invitations.
Something Old, Made New
Donning your mother's wedding gown may be a no-no in the minds of trendsetting brides, but Charla Bjostad, owner of Pleiades Bridal and Design Studio (340-2966, pleiadesvintagebridal.com), says that starting with a used dress is not only a green practice but also the surest way to get the chic look you were going for: "Sleeves can be removed, necklines can be lowered … There are lot of [dresses] out there that are just dying to be given a second chance."
If a family dress isn't available, check out vintage clothing and consignment s hops such as Carytown's Bygones; Halcyon Vintage Clothing on Robinson Street; and Planning with Excellence (427-7507, planningwithexcellence.org) in Mechanicsville, owned by Regina Hare. Using a vintage gown is extremely economical, Hare says. "Our gowns usually run half to less than what the original price was," she notes, adding, "The vintage gowns and used gowns are very good quality. You would not even know they had been used."
The key, Bjostad says, is to look for a dress design or fit that is 75 percent of what you like, keeping in mind that the other parts can be tailored to your style. If you strike out, Bjostad has another green option — creating a personalized dress from scratch, but with vintage pieces.
To add eco-friendly touches, Bjostad suggests re-using vintage lace to create a one-of-a-kind headpiece, such as the one she wore in her 1972 wedding. The headpiece was fashioned for Bjostad out of an Irish lace collar that her great-grandmother had made Bjostad during her childhood, the lace dating back to the turn of the century.