The idea of sustainability is one we greet with open arms — except perhaps on the one day that some have planned since they were children. When a wedding comes along, it’s a common misconception that making sustainability a priority leads to “all hemp and granola and burlap,” as event planner Merryl Brown puts it.
In fact, with so many components necessary to put on such an event, adding sustainable elements to your wedding is simpler — and more glamorous — than one may think.
“A really good way to do a green event is to source only local materials,” says Brown, who rents, reuses or recycles many elements of her weddings (merrylbrownevents.com). Compostable plates, bamboo containers, rented china, borrowed lanterns and locally sourced fruits and vegetables also often pop up in her soirées.
Rani Hoover, another local wedding and event planner, has used “vintage furniture rental and architectural structures, family crystal and china as serveware” and even “equestrian elements from the couple’s home” to add not only an environmentally friendly component, but also a much deeper connection to the provisions of the big day (ranihoover.com).
Using familial items can up your event’s green index, whether your family is known for its barbecue or its graphic design skills. Hoover recently worked on a wedding with a huge family food tie-in.
“The wedding was for a local Santa Ynez Valley couple who own a family villa and a winery. We butchered family meats, harvested vegetables, gave jars of olives from the family olive orchard as favors, harvested wheat for the bread, served local Morro Bay oysters and more.”
Farm-to-table caterers are also an easy way to bring the “live local” movement into an event, and several caterers in town boast locally sourced produce and meats in their company ethos. For example, Brown loves using Full of Life Flatbread for her events (fulloflifefoods.com).
Another way to use locally grown produce in your wedding is with flowers: succulents make beautiful (and lasting) centerpieces and wildflowers bring a rustic feel. Tracey Morris of ella + louie (ellaandlouie.com) has crafted bouquets of lettuces, radishes and other locally sourced vegetables and fruits. “And, yes, they were eaten by the bride and groom as well as their guests!” says Morris.
The White Peacock helps you be green in a white dress by bringing new life to gently used wedding gowns. High-end consigned dresses in exceptional condition (and often one-of-a-kind) are handpicked by owner Elaine Falstrom, with dresses that normally cost $25,000 being sold for $5,000 (thewhitepeacockbridal.com).
Oftentimes, an event’s sustainability is dependent on those details that rarely cross a bride’s (or groom’s) mind. Waste management, an integral yet oft-forgotten component of larger events, can exponentially increase the sustainability of a wedding. Brown works with Green Project Consultants for events in venues that lack waste management programs, which allows for high diversion rates (greenprojectconsultants.com).
She even goes as far as to give her events flowers and products new life elsewhere.
“Even if somebody’s going to use something that’s not necessarily a green product, at least you can look at how we can extend the life of [it].” Brown often donates products from her events to Art From Scrap, and Morris suggests plantable centerpieces such as kale or herbs.
Keeping a green mindset for the big day connects you to your local businesses and surrounding locale, ultimately creating a more meaningful (and often more beautiful) experience. It’ll be the happiest day of your life, and the environment will be happy for your matrimony, too.
—Taylor Micaela Davis
Zero Waste Party Kit
Environmental party-planning is a breeze with Green Project Consultants’ Zero Waste Party Kit, which takes care of your clean up in the most sustainable way possible. Provided in each kit are compostable cups, plates, forks, spoons, knives and napkins, as well as a compostable bag-lined box for stress-free clean up. Because all of the dining utensils are compostable, all you need to do is throw everything (yes, everything) into the box at the end of your event, provided you aren’t introducing outside materials such as glass, metal or plastic into the mix. Once you’re done, Green Project Consultants will pick up your box, and you’re free to enjoy the relaxing aftermath of your party. Your food scraps and compostable utensils will soon be on their way to becoming soil amendment.
To order a Zero Waste Party Kit, visit greenprojectconsultants.com/zewe-party-kit.html.
—Taylor Micaela Davis
Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.