Something borrowed… Something simple… Something beautiful.

Weddings are a big investment. These events offer a great opportunity for us to approach the whole process differently and consider what is truly important. 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
“Green wedding”
“going green“

How can these be reflected in the wedding?

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. I believe with simply asking ourselves the questions about needs of the wedding and the impact to the planet, will aid in determining much of what is decided upon when it comes to decorations and items used for the wedding. Considering the environment when making purchasing decisions shows that you are thoughtful and conscientious when the personal touches are considerate of the environment.

The Menu: 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, obtaining the quantities that a vendor needs is most likely not possible from a small local producer and the vendor will need to go to a larger supplier.

Pastured chicken is 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 lbs. of tenderloin on hand nor will they have 350 lamb chops or 150 chicken breasts because they sell either the whole, half, or quarter of the animal. As a caterer, I have to look to the industry that has the meats raised and slaughtered humanely and read the labels very carefully. Just because my sales rep tells me that this is a good product does 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 is good source for seafood guides. Be sure to use the guide for your region.

Most fish that are farmed-raised are 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. Shellfish is the exception to this and there are some good fish practices that are sustainable, but, you do need to ask.

Shellfish are sustainable, but lobster tails are not. They are illegal in Massachusetts.

Wild salmon and halibut are nice choices, but for us on the East Coast, it is being flown 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.

Using local foods means that you can’t always get what you want, but you will get the freshest and it will taste better. You have to be willing to be flexible when it comes to your menu. Two years ago, I had heirloom tomatoes on the menu for a September wedding and there wasn’t a local tomato to be found in September. Now the farmers are feeding them to their pigs because 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 is raised humanely, you are eating a healthier diet and preserving the environment.

Beverage choice introduces an area for some 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 costs 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! I say make a real statement and skip the sodas all together! (okay, tonic water for those that will be grumpy if they cannot have their gin and tonic) Again, keep it simple, read the label, and if you don’t recognize the ingredient, don’t bother. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup. There are so many great small breweries and wineries these days. Support them. Look for hard cider and mead.  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.

Recycle! Compost!

The amount of garbage a wedding can generate can be daunting. Think about the boxes and containers that goods are delivered in. Wedding presents that are shipped to you come in boxes. All of 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 unnecessary things. 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 trash is burned, in which case the chemicals are released into our atmosphere and returned to our plants and soils.


Visit the farmer’s market and talk to the growers. Ask around and find out if there is a local grower who 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.  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 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.

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. Consider bridesmaids with 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.

Other ideas for table arrangements:

  • Pots of herbs
  • Bowls of fruits – grapes and figs are popular (if they are grown in your area)
  • In the Fall – small pumpkins both white and orange
  • Boxes of beach shells and stones in clear glass or arrange in a shallow box. I am not referring to the bags of shells that are store bought! The items I am referring to can be returned to the beach after the party.

Many families find making the arrangements to be a way to focus and bond the days before the event. This can be a way to reconnect or it could turn into a nightmare if you are stressed and rushed to get it done, so choose your projects carefully.

Something Old, Borrowed, Blue

Incorporating something from family traditions is important. The past always holds memories that should be expanded upon, shared, and celebrated.

Last year, one family wanted to use all of their antique napkins and it looked very charming on the tables. I think the bride’s mother spent days ironing the napkins. Then they had to be collected and she had to wash them all herself, but it was a lovely personal touch to the wedding. Another bride’s mother made all of the table runners.


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 a DJ are the best way to go for music. To fly a band in from any distance, cost more, uses more fossil fuels and there is always the possibility that the plane is delayed.

Paper Invitations

Let’s see – make your own and print them on handmade papers. Online RSVPs are becoming more and more acceptable. Menu cards should be for the table not for every person. For assigned seating use natural things such as stones, clothespins or 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.


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