Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A 'Proof' That Invitations Can Look Lovely, Benefit Environment

Today I received the first proof of my wedding invitations from Earthly Affairs. To put it plainly, I'm beyond elated with it. Simple yet elegant, the invitations depicting a pair of bright blue birds will aptly reflect the appreciation Dan and I have for our beloved avifauna.

More than that, the invitations reflect our commitment to the environment, as all invitation collections on this website are created "with 100% recycled paper, earth-friendly printing methods, an eco equipped studio, and carbon free shipping." If that seems like an environmental step above many other invitation vendors, Earthly Affairs makes a giant leap for greenkind in its all-around company ethics:
  • Offsetting co2 emissions resulting from shipments and business through
  • Donating a portion of profits to environmental projects.
  • From paper to ink cartridges and even to their studio furniture, Earthly Affairs recycles or reuses everything they can.
  • Implementing energy saving practices, such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, turning off all equipment and lights when not in use, saving paper by utilizing electronic documents, and purchasing energy-star rated electronics.
  • Composting and/or recycling leftover paper scraps.
  • Reusing shipping supplies or materials.
The idea for this company's eco-friendly premise originated when the founder, Jennifer Stambolsky, was planning her own wedding and noticed a void in invitations that were both stylish and green, according to the Earthly Affairs website. I'm so thankful she took the initiative to design enchanting invitations that are earth-friendly through-and-through.

If you're an eco-bride and don't see something that piques your fancy on Earthly Affairs' site, a number of other companies offer invitations made from recycled paper. Here's a sampling of my favorites:
  • (notice the cute nest invites!)
  • (these can be embedded with seeds and planted in guests' gardens)
  • (all sorts of chic designs)
  • (fun, modern motifs)
If you fall in love with a design that can't be printed on recycled paper, you can minimize your environmental impact in other ways. For one, you can post your directions and accommodations for guests on a wedding website - check out mine for ideas. This way, you won't have to print separate sheets for hotel information, maps, directions, etc. for guests who may not necessarily need them. You can also avoid "extras" like a thin sheet of blank tissue paper over the text or a purposeless extra envelope that is sometimes enclosed within invites (it had purpose in the Victorian era). Remember: whatever you spare in invitation features, you gain in spare money.

Nowadays you can even send save-the-dates via email - a Google search will yield prospects like (in conjunction with a Knot wedding website) or even video save-the-date inspiration. The sky's the limit with how creative and eco-friendly you desire to be - I hope you'll aim high!

Note: Image courtesy of Earthly Affairs.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Catering to my Every Green Need

There's nothing quite like eating fresh produce from your garden. Having helped my parents tend their mostly organic garden while growing up, I can truly appreciate picking and eating pea pods in one action, unearthing potatoes with a hoe, and gathering blackberries from a tangle of bushes in our ditch.

As expected, eating produce from sources NOT laden with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers - a.k.a. organic - is healthier for you and the earth. So, too, is organic meat preferred among greenies because the animals have not been pumped with growth hormones or antibiotics. With this in mind, Dan and I earnestly desired organic wedding fare, but our first choice - an entirely organic caterer - fell through. We then discovered a caterer,
Lee Johns , that held major promise in its openness to "current food trends. We quickly discovered that they were eager to make our menu largely green. Here's a list of the ways our food will be seasonal, local, and organic, as much as possible:
  • One of our three main entrees is vegetarian (with seasonal May veggies like beets and asparagus from local Wisconsin farms).
  • Our other entrees (chicken, Alaskan salmon) are considered some of the greener meat choices, even if ours aren't organic.
  • All entrees will utilize seasonal vegetables.
  • Salad will contain local artisanal lettuces and seasonal strawberries.

Other elements from our caterer will be green as well. Since I will have graduated from Harding by then, we will certainly have a selection of local beers and wines. Here's how our bar setup will be gentle on the environment:

  • fair trade wines and local microbrews (not difficult in a city with a "Milwaukee Brewers" baseball team)
  • recycled white cocktail napkins
  • wooden, not plastic, cocktail picks
  • no bottled water - a large jug of water will be brought to minimize plastic-bottle waste

Bottom line, Lee Johns has stressed that everything Dan and I have be eco-minded whenever feasible. This is bolded on the proposed menu:

"Client requests a green wedding; as much food as possible should be local and/or organic. Recycling is a must."

Additionally, leftover food from my wedding will not be tossed; Lee Johns employees will enjoy whatever is left.

Curiously, I just checked Lee Johns Web site, which contains a NEW statement that was not there when Dan and I first hired them:

"Wedding planners, Event Coordinators, Clients and Venues are seeking out businesses such as ours that encourage:

  • Green environmentally friendly events
  • Organic and sustainable foods, locally grown at family farms
  • Seasonal Wisconsin products purchased through local artisans
  • C.S.A. ( Community Supported Agriculture )
  • Fair Trade Business

Did Dan and I help Lee Johns realize that there is indeed a market for green menus? I'll have to ask when we have our December tasting. I'm already salivating about it.

Here are some photos of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center that will be transformed into my wedding venue. Virtually any type of building - church, museum, library, barn, etc. - can work if you do a little investigating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eco-Location: Placing a Green Venue on your Radar

It’s no wonder people hire wedding planners. Prepping for an event in which the entire day seemingly revolves around you and your love — and the satisfaction of family and friends — is daunting. Every detail must be pristine. As such, putting your best foot forward, first, may be your best planning strategy even sans a planner.

In the case of Dan and me, the most important decision we made for ourselves and the environment was choosing our venue. A lot hinged on our decision: how far our guests would travel, how the ceremony would transition to the reception, and how the place’s vibe would affect everyone.

Of our three potential locations — Arkansas (our location), New York (Dan’s family’s location) or Wisconsin (my family’s location) — Dan and I chose Wisconsin because that’s where the bulk of our guests reside. Opting for a location close to my enormous extended family meant that the least possible carbon emissions would be produced via traveling.

More than that, we wanted a venue that reflected our love for the environment in its very essence. After some research, we discovered the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, our LEED-certified dream location (pictured above), and jumped at the prospect. Our May 2010 wedding will be held entirely at the Center, which will cut back on travel (and emissions) that would otherwise transpire if the ceremony and reception were held at separate locations. Best of all, the Center boasts “green building practices, such as natural ventilation, passive solar heating and cooling, daylighting, use of recycled and recyclable materials, reliance on renewable energy sources, and a host of environmental impact strategies,” as seen on the website. Dan and I couldn’t be more pleased.

If going the extreme ├╝ber-green route isn’t for you, at least consider having the wedding where most guests can easily attend. Hands down, travel emissions have a much greater impact on the environment than the wedding venue. ~S