Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Green Bride Guide

I need to take a quick recap break (it will be so fast you will barely know it happened!) to do a little product review I promised to write up this week. Now you're getting ready to click out of this window aren't you? Don't you hate when bloggers sell out and start bowing down to the wedding industry for cash or freebies?

Yeah, I acknowledge that happens, but I hope it isn't happening to me. I've received several emails now asking me to write about certain things, or accept free things, or giveaway things and I haven't done it up until now because I didn't believe in any of the offers. Once this little blog started growing I decided that I wouldn't write any kind of review or host any kind of givewawy unless I really believed in what I was writing about. Or unless I felt like the product sponsor would be okay with me being completely honest about their product (and who wants a blogger ripping their product to shreds?)

So I had to choose carefully, and I think I chose well. If you are a potential bride, especially a potential bride who wants to make eco-friendly choices, by all means keep reading! Otherwise, you probably want to leave now and go catch up on my posts at That Wife.

The Green Bride Guide, by Kate L. Harrison

The one sentence review: If you are in any way interested in creating a sustainable, eco-chic wedding, and you are looking for a well-written reference filled with resources and ideas for every budget, buy The Green Bride Guide.

I focused on the design elements of the book first.

I'm always happy to see when products follow through 100% on their claims. How could this be a bride about sustainable weddings if it wasn't a sustainable product? Good for Kate for choosing to go with a publisher that prints on recycled paper.

I love these little gray boxes throughout the book that highlight little tips and tricks that might blend into the text otherwise. Did you know a size 12 dress from 1940 is a size 8 today?

Within each section are the $, $$, and $$$ categories. If I were planning my own wedding using this book I would first make a list of the ways I would like to "go green". Then I would prioritize where I wanted to spend my money. I would be able to execute using the different spending categories.

For example, if organic flowers were a huge priority but organic cake was not, according to Kate I could buy a small variety of organic cakes from a bakery (instead of doing a layered cake) and buy a pre-made "Charity Bouquet" from a website like, with the proceeds from the organic flowers going to a charity like Women for Women.

At the back of the book are some handy little worksheets to use when researching vendors. One of the most difficult parts of wedding planning can be coming up with questions to ask vendors, and these worksheets are both comprehensive and easy to understand.

The Good: Kate, the author, knows what she is talking about. She graduated from the Yale School of Forestry, has a J.D. in Environmental Law, and had her own Green Wedding in 2006. In flipping through the book she definitely found ways to incorporate green elements for every budget, and I even came across a few sustainable ideas I hadn't thought of, even through all of my blogging and obsessive wedding planning.

The problem I have with many green wedding sources, is they want to turn the entire affair into an organic, natural event. I always picture a hemp dress, with wildflowers, vegan cake, in the forest. Not every bride wants to have an event like that. Kate's ideas are workable, and best of all, I don't feel like she is judging me if I want to ship in Peonies from South America (note, I actually DON'T support shipping in flowers to create a certain wedding look, it's always seemed rather silly and wasteful to me, but if you were that type of bride Kate probably wouldn't judge you.)

The Not As Good: No pictures. I'm a picture person, so photos of some of the ideas she brings up would have been ideal. In lieu of photos she refers the reader to her website using footnotes, with specific instructions on where the photo in question can be found.

Now that you have read through all of that, it's time for the payoff. Since my wedding is over, I'm not going to be getting much use out of this book. I'd like to pass it off to one of you lovely brides, but you are going to have to work to get it.

To have this lovely resource delivered right to your door, you will need to comment below and list three ways you are incorporating sustainable practices into your own wedding.

Here are three things I did to make my wedding a little more "green".

1. I picked up my flowers the day before the wedding from Pike's Place Market. I went with in-season, fresh flowers that didn't even have to be delivered anywhere since I carried them back to the hotel myself!

2. I used "recycled goods" like these old suitcases throughout the wedding. By going with a slight "vintage" theme, I was able to re-use lots of items instead of purchasing brand new things. Some of my bridesmaids able to use dresses they already owned, and we didn't rent tuxes, we just asked the groomsmen to wear black suits they already had in their closet.

3. My dad is an organic farmer, so organic food is really important to him. Boka, the in-house restaurant at Hotel 1000 is 100% organic, and although the catering department isn't at 100%, they assured me that they are somewhere around 80-90%. My dad came to the hotel 2 days before the wedding and dropped off boxes of organic onions, cippolinis, shallots, and potatoes, which were used extensively throughout the reception. They even created a soup made out of my dad's organic onions just for our event!

Comment below by Friday and tell me three (or more!) things you plan on doing to help turn yourself into a Green Bride! I'll announce the winner on Saturday.


Autumn Witt Boyd to be said...

1) Attempting to purchase v. few non-reusable items of decor-- we're borrowing lots of silver and crystal pieces from our moms to hold flowers, renting a few things, I've bought a few things I'll use in our home afterwards, I'm sharing paper lanterns with another bride and will attempt to sell those afterwards.

2) Since all of our events during the weekend are in one spot (a state park), all of our guests and wedding party be virtually car-free once we arrive.

3) Bridesmaids, groomsmen, and even the groom are wearing their own navy dress or suit. Two bridesmaids, the groom and a groomsman or two already owned one!

4) Our flowers will come from a local wholesaler (we'll pick them up and take them to the park with us), and will be exclusively in-season.

Single Girl said...

I am mostly Jealous your dad is an Organic farmer. I have a weird fascination with living on a farm or ranch.

Also I love onions!

Carlene Cruz said...

How cool to use the veggies your Dad grew! Thats super sweet! :D

Rachel said...

We are attempting to have an eco-friendly wedding as far as possible.

1. Aside from the bridesmaids dresses which were bought on sale, all the rest of the clothing for the bridal party has been purchased from charity shops or e-bay.

2. We are buying all the crockery second hand from charity shops and e-bay and then it can be gifted to female members of the family afterwards. Ditto napkins and tablecloths. Buying from charity shops means that the charity benefits as well as us.

3. Local produce: our caterer lives in the next village to our reception venue and the pig for the hogroast comes from a local farm.

4. Eco-friendly marquee: the shape and design of the marquee is designed to be more environmentally friendly than a traditional one. Also, by using a local supplier we are cutting down on carbon miles.

5. A wedding website in lieu of lots of pieces of paper sent in the post. Yes, we are sending paper invitations but these are very small (for a traditional invitation) and are restricted to one piece of card per invite plus envelope.

That's all I can think of right now. Hope this gives an insight! x

Christy said...

1. borrowing (buying if we have to) silk flowers - they'll decorate our house for years to come, and they won't have to be flown in!

2. instead of going with packages that have extras that we don't want (elaborate photo albums or photobooths, too much cake, etc.) we worked with our vendors to get exactly the amount that we wanted and needed (a photo CD)

3. we'll be donating our food leftovers to a local food pantry/shelter so that it doesn't go to waste.

4. our decorations are coming from friends and family

C said...

1. We are going to attempt to borrow items that my family has already used for their weddings. Like my veil will be from my mother and our caketopper will be from my granparents

2. We plan on having our flowers donated after we are finished using them that night.

3. Like other people who have commented - our bridesmaids and groomsmen will be wearing clothing that they already own

4. We want to purchase our glasses instead of renting them and then donate the extras (we plan on keeping some) to chairty.

Anonymous said...

1. Arranging carpools for our friends/family, and having all activities (including accommodation) in one location, so people don't have to travel once they arrive.

2. Using fake flowers.

3. Using email invitations/communication for as much as possible.

4. Catering ourselves, and using as much local/organic stuff as possible.

AmyJean said...

1. Groomsmen to wear black suits.
2. Use recycled paper invitations and other wedding related stationary.
3. donating flowers/food etc to local groups that take them so they don't get thrown out! :)

i do! nyc said...

How fun!

1) Remembering to turn ALL of our lights and air conditioners off when we leave for the church and reception. It will be the middle of July.

2) I live two blocks from the church. Will probably only rent one limo to pick up the groom, take him to the church, and have it come to pick me up. OR I will walk. I really want to bike or rollerblade but people think I am crazy.

3) In lieu of favors, we'll be making a donation to charity. Charity TBD but I work with the Humane Society of the US on the PR & pop-culture side of one of their major campaigns so I am considering a donation to them.

Krista said...

We're trying to be eco-friendly in our wedding, and in our lives! Re-usable items (the site owns their own candle holders we can use for the night), reducing waste (no favours people will just throw out), and recycling (everything we can!) will be our goals. I haven't decided about bm and gm clothing, but some above posters have had some great ideas to have them wear clothing they already own OR will actually wear again (not pretend to wear again!).
To that end in our lives, we have recently switched to bringing our own bags to the grocery store. No more plastic bags for us! We still forget sometimes, but not often. We grocery shop every week, so we might forget the bags once every six weeks.

the big c said...

We will be doing several things in an effort to be both "green" and "thrifty"
1)The guys will all be wearing grey suits they all already own.

2)we're having all our festivities in various areas of our B&B where everyone is staying. So no travel once they arrive.

3)our ceremony is in a garden so no need for extra floral decoration, we've doing all the Bouquets from flowers growing in my grandmother's garden (with any filler picked up at the local farmer's market). This is also sentimental since my grandmother's health will probably not allow her to attend.

4)we're borrowing centerpiece items from a friend who married last year and picking up a few others antique glass pieces from thrift stores and yard sales. These will be gifts to my aunts who are helping decorate afterwards (they all collect milk glass).

Courtney said...

I've JUST begun my planning, but so far... using more sustainable resources, fresh bamboo in vases as part of the centerpiece, recycled paper invitations made with soy ink, potted plants we can reuse in our own garden, etc...

I love your vintage ideas with the suitcases for decorations. My fiance and I are both military brats who have traveled the world our whole lives. It would be such a fun way to express a very connecting piece of our lives.

I've also always loved the idea of black dresses for the BM's. What good is wearing a dress once? A black dress is cute, flattering and COMPLETELY re-usable!

Jenna said...

I'm posting this comment for Brandy because she was unable to log in and post it herself! Brandy, these are some really fantastic ideas.

1) Using flowers from my own garden, which also happens to be organic. My flower garden is maintained using companion planting methods and about 75% of my flowers are native plants to my area.

2) I'm not going to be using anything that cannot be recycled, composted or reused. I hate plastic with a passion and hate waste even more.

3) Using recycled paper for all invites, sort of a no brainer really.

4) Staying within walking distance of the wedding venue.

5) Using a caterer who uses organic local produce.

6) Favors will either be jam made by the grooms mother from berries grown by his sister and organic seeds for plants that attract honey bees. A whole section of my own garden is planted with flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

melissa said...

Don't care if I am too late for the giveaway. Just wanted to share some of our eco-friendly ideas. I have been blogging about some of the ways we are making our wedding greener over on my blog all this week.

The biggest thing we are trying to do is consume less! We are trying to reuse and recycle as many of the decor items we can. Also we are cutting down on fresh flowers, using the venues centerpieces, and no paper plates/plastic forks, and going with a vegetarian option for dinner.