Something borrowed… Something simple… Something beuatiful
It is an interesting time to be planning a wedding. Weddings are a big investment and so, it is an time to be especially aware of costs. But that said, I think it is a great opportunity for us to approach the whole process differently. You can have a beautiful event, that can save money and help the planet! We can start with our core values, by looking at what is really important to you, your future spouse, and your family and friends.
Every engaged couple wants their wedding day to be a special celebration that reflects who they are and what they care about. Having a wedding that is sensitive to the environment is a great educational opportunity for everyone involved.
The news is filled with these buzz words that say: Earth Sensitive:
“going green “
“give a hoot, don’t pollute”
“decrease your carbon footprint”
The three Rs of sustainability: reuse, reduce and recycle
All theses terms seem to be more about trends rather than real concerns. I recall the first time I heard a reference to such a few years ago when I got a call from someone who wanted to interview me because she was writing an article about “eco—chic weddings” and heard that I did then. I replied (probably in a snide way) by saying : “that I care about the environment and reflect it in my business, does that make me “eco-chic” ?
I like to think that the decisions I make will have a lower impact on the planet, and that my business is doing all that it can to not contribute to the degradation of the environment
Trends, what does that mean, what’s in? what’s not? I know that we all want some uniqueness to our catered event, but we also don’t want to be too far out there. I have been catering wedding for 20+ years and I can honestly say trends come and go and I have followed along or not, but the one constant I can say is: that the more personal touches that come from the future spouses, and their families the more memorable the event and most likely the most low impact on our environment because it is usually something borrowed
Considering the environment when making purchasing decisions shows that you are thoughtful and conscientious and most personal touches are considerate of the environment.
There are loads of decisions to make along the way when it comes to planning an event. I will start with food because that is what I am most familiar with. I will touch on other areas especially those that I tend to be involved with and or are aware of what some couples have chosen when planning their event.
It’s pretty basic stuff really!
Support the local growers, support the local economy and keep it simple.
By supporting the local growers, the ingredients are guaranteed fresh and the menus will reflect the seasons. Ask your caterer where the food comes from. If they can’t tell you, it isn’t local and most likely it is from the feedlots and/ or commercially grown, which is NOT sensitive to our environment.
Protein can be a bit complicated because there is so much misinformation about organic and free range and bulk quantities are not always easily available. Also getting the quantities that a vendor needs is most likely not available from a small local producer and will need to go to a larger supplier
Organic chicken is probably your best option in the chicken department. Free range doesn’t necessarily mean humane or that they animal wasn’t raised on corn and antibiotics. It only means that at some point the chicken was cage free, but most likely the chicken never saw daylight. Is this humane?
There are sources for local meat, but is hard to get for a large event because farmers will not have 40# of tenderloin on hand nor will they have 350 lamb chops or 150 chicken breast because they sell either the whole, half, quarter of the animal. As a caterer, I have to look to the industry that has the meats that are raised slaughtered humanely and read the labels very carefully. Just because my sales rep tells me that this is a good product doe s not mean that it meets my standards.
There are several sources one can turn to for what is sustainable and what is not. Monterey Bay Aquarium /www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx is good source for seafood guides. Be sure to use the guide of your region.
Most fish that is farmed raised is not healthy for the environment or for our bodies.
Fishing practices worldwide are damaging our oceans—depleting fish populations, destroying habitats and polluting the water.
Wild salmon is a nice choice, but for us on the East Coast, it is being flow all the way from the West Coast and stocks in several of the states have been closed to commercial fishing because they are being depleted. Always avoid farmed Atlantic salmon. These fish have been found to have particularly high levels of PCBs, and the farms where they are raised tend to have pollution problems and pose a threat to wild salmon and other wild fish.
Shellfish is sustainable lobster tails are not. They are illegal in Massachusetts.
Using local foods means that you can’t always get want you.
But you will get the freshest and it will taste better. You will have to be willing to flexible when it comes to your menu. Two years ago, I have heirloom tomatoes on the menu for a September wedding and there wasn’t a local tomato to be found in September. Now, normally the farmers are feeding them to their pigs cause they have too many. So, you have to be willing to change up the menu. I get around this with the generic term “local vegetables” or “local greens” on the menu. We try not to identify them specifically.
Organic produce is healthier because organic production conserves our natural resources, and you’ll certainly end up with fewer pesticides in your body. By purchasing meat that are raised humanely, you are eating a healthier diet and preserving the environment.
So if you are asking yourself why organic?:
Organic is a highly defined system of agriculture and food production that emphasizes the building of healthy ecosystems, especially soil health, by avoiding manufactured chemicals known to be detrimental to humans and other living things and relying instead on natural processes such as composting and systems such as inter-cropping that harness the strength of biodiversity to increase productivity and decrease pests and disease. Biodynamic takes organic to the next level by planting with the stars and using nature to keep the soils in balance and in preserving soils for generations
Beverages is an area to give thought and attention. Let’s start with bottled water. About the only positive thing I can say about it is that it is convenient. Plastic bottles are not good for the environment and water cost money. Save the bottle, save the pennies, save the planet, drink tap water.
There are all kinds of great interesting “good for you drinks” out there. Or better yet, ask you caterer to make a delicious tea or pomegranate soda with pomegranates and sparkling water… Or go all out and Serve Kombucha!
Again, keep it simple read the label, if you don’t recognize the ingredient, don’t bother. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup.
What about wine and beer?
Available easily on line are long lists of organic beverages of all kinds – wine, beer, champagne, fresh pressed juice and fruit punch, healthy (healthier) sodas and organic coffee and tea. Most of our venues supply filtered water. Exotic tonics and elixirs are interesting objects for lively discussions – the herbal elixir “Jun” produced by an alchemist in North Carolina is the best alternative to champagne. Support small wineries and smaller companies.
Recycle! Compost! The amount a of garbage a wedding can generate from the amount of boxes and containers that goods come in. Wedding presents that are shipped to you come in boxes, All the “things” that go on the tables, come in boxes and are generally wrapped several times in plastic that can only be thrown away.
Consider what you purchase and then consider how it is packaged.
There are so many unnecessaries. Do the guests really need flip flops? Let’s see they come from China, will most likely end up in a landfill within a year if not sooner and take 500 years to break down in the landfill, unless it is burned, then the chemicals are released into our atmosphere and returned to our plants and soils. All for flip flops- consider how much you need.
Visit the farmer’s market and talk to he growers. Ask around and find out if there si a local grower that arranges flowers for weddings. Unless you are planning to do the flowers yourself, make sure it is someone who knows how to arrange flowers for weddings. You want them to hold up throughout the wedding and I have seen people who wanted to save money, go to the farmer’s market and plunk the flowers in a vase for the wedding and expect them to look the good. They really need a bit more care and attention and some of the growers will know how to do this, but not all, so ask.
Other ideas for table arrangements:
Pots of herbs, bowls of fruits – grapes and figs are popular
In the fall- small pumpkins both white and orange
Boxes of beach scenes in clear glass or arrange in a shallow box.
Many families find making the arrangements to be a focus the days before the event. This can a way to reconnect or it could turn into a nightmare if you’re a re stressed and rushed to get it done, so choose your projects carefully.
A benefit to selecting local flowers is the growers who arrange flowers for weddings will encourage you to come to their gardens and select the flowers you want a week prior and this can be a memorable experience. If you are not stressed out and don’t have last minute details to attend to . Have bridesmaids carry matching purses or a single flower. Decorate with branches, dried grasses, grains, greens, berries, or live plants (potted or dried arrangements can double as favors)
Let everyone take home the flowers or arrange for them to go to an elder care home or rest home.
Something Old, Borrowed ……
Incorporating something from families traditions is important.
The past holds memories that should be expanded and celebrated.
Last year, one family wanted to use all their antique napkins and it looked very charming on the tables. I think the brides mother spend days ironing the napkins and then they had to be collected and she had to wash them all herself, but it was a lovely personal touch. Another bride’s mother made all the table runners.
Rent real glassware, dishware, and linens instead of using disposables.
Use biodegradable utensils and dishes made out of cornstarch, potatoes, wheat, or sugar cane–if your venue can compost them. Bamboo plates are very nice and can be reused. If they are just getting thrown in the landfill, then it doesn’t really matter if you use paper or “biodegradable” as long as you don’t use platic.
Petroleum based, toxic paraffin candles seem to be the norm in candles. Every time you light them, you’re basically breathing in burning petroleum. Yuck! Soy and beeswax candles are readily available, so make the switch.
Local Bands or DJ are the best way to go. To fly a band in from any distance, cost more, uses more fossil fuels and there adds to the possibility that the plane is delayed.
Let’s see, make your own and print then on handmade papers. On-line rsvps are becoming more and more acceptable. Menu cards are for the table not for every person. Assigned seating: use natural things, stones, clothespins, shells
Let your bridesmaids and flower girls choose their own dresses that they will wear again after the wedding. Designate a certain color (give them each a fabric or paint swatch as a guide.)
Honor traditions, celebrate what is important and take the time to spend with family and friends. Consider your purchases carefully, Incorporate less stuff and make more time for what is really important.