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Green Weddings for Family Fun & Learning

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." - Frank Lloyd Wright Weddings are community celebrations of survival. Survival celebrations are human traditions that foster family and clan. With today’s de-emphasis on marriage, and over-emphasis on glitz, we can easily miss the beauty of the intimate wedding that is a symbol of our commitment to family and generational flow.

But having a 'green' wedding can bring back that intimate communal foundation to your married life. Or even as a second wedding, you can step forward into a more real and heartfelt phase of your life together.

By celebrating what is most important to you and not filling the time with unimportant "stuff", you communicate your inner beauty with those who love and nurture you as a family and community. Actions speak louder than words in community celebrations and your special day speaks volumes about who you are and what you stand for.

Here are some ideas to start you planning, and remembering and sharing:

THE WEDDING INVITATION

Paper is a simple craft that can start your green event off on a recycled foot.

You can easily add paper medallions to your invitations for a homespun touch to a traditional cardstock invitation, or make the entire invitation and envelop set from recycled paper. You can combine recycled office paper, junk mail, and shopping bags for the basic paper and water mixture and then add grass cuttings, wildflowers, seeds, threads, or other symbolic ingredients to the handmade sheets of recycled paper.

Recycled invitations that are processed without chlorine are another option. Encourage guests to recycle their invitations. If you embed seeds in the paper, your guests can plant the invitations and enjoy the flowers that grow from them.

Use a reply postcard (no envelope) and forgo the inner envelopes--you'll save paper and money.

A small simple design or a self-mailer will use less paper -- and less trees! Or use a more renewable resource such as Kenaf or rice paper.

A website can provide the details about your wedding-directions, hotels, other weekend venues and events, to avoid having to print this information out for everyone. (and only print letters with this information for family and friends without Internet access.)

NATURAL AND OUTDOOR WEDDING LOCATIONS

An outdoor wedding at a favorite natural spot can add green beauty and simplify your needs for commercial decorations. Your celebration venue will be available for future visits on anniversaries to remind you why and how you choose to make a life together in your natural world. You can use the choice of location to graciously (and silently) make environmentally responsible choices that speak louder than glitz.

Holding your ceremony and reception at the same location is simple, comfortable and cuts the emissions that result from having your guests drive between the two.

A wide variety of natural locations are possible. Which hold special significance for you and your honey? A park, a backyard, pasture, campgrounds, beach, or a garden?

WEDDING GARMENTS

Vintage dresses and tuxedos from resale clothing stores and family members can promote recycling and reuse concepts -- and bring a nostalgic touch to your extended family. They enrich your own wedding journey with unique insights as you travel back in time in this tangible way.

Organic silk or hemp, recycled fabrics, and new manmade bio-based blends are available for stunning wedding dresses. Check out the newest sustainable fabrics on the market. Recycled fabrics are another choice with patchwork quilting offering a handcrafted feel. I personally think it’s time we redesign the whole concept of the wedding dress – and a green wedding might be just the impetus to make sense out of this runaway industry.

Choose a simple dress and suit that you can wear again. Second marriages and renewal of vows seem to be more practical than first bridal affairs -– but young people can make a strong statement with their choices to be eco-sensitive and sensible -- especially during festive events.

The I DO Foundation

The "I Do Foundation" brings a new twist to wedding celebrations: They help you donate your wedding dress for charity at www.idofoundation.org. The I Do Foundation was created in 2000 by a group of nonprofit leaders dedicated to developing new avenues of support for charitable organizations by linking engaged couples with a host of charitable giving options at the wedding.

FOOD and DISHES

Some caterers provide vegetarian and organic entrees, and simple serve-yourself buffets can provide outdoor convenience and fun, especially when favorite outdoor finger foods are included for children and fun loving adults.

Outdoor wedding and casual rehearsal dinner/weekend events for your guests, can be more eco-friendly by keeping the reduce, reuse and recycle concepts in mind:

Rent real glasses, dishes, and cloth napkins, to avoid using disposables

Biodegradable, compostable dishes and flatware made from cornstarch, sugar cane, or tropical leaves are new inventions that make a huge difference in the solid waste generated by parties.

WEDDING FLOWERS

Flowers from local and/or organic farms consumer less transportation and support your local community with jobs and sustainable farming resources.

Wildflower growers at your local farmers market can supply bouquets & table arrangements.

Potted plants for centerpieces can then be given as gifts or enjoyed in your home. These potted plants are also wonderful take-away mementos for family and friends who aren’t up to attending your special celebration of family and community.

Eco-friendly and Green wedding gift suggestions

  • Personalized art cabinet of memorabilia from the couple's childhoods
  • Locally crafted furniture, rugs, etc.
  • Wrap gifts in reusable materials: giftwrap fabric squares, bath towels, sheets, cookie tins, fabric tote bags, baskets
  • His and Her bicycles (non polluting / great cardiovascular exercise)
  • Picnic basket complete with alternative materials rug
  • Natural, organic, seasonal or local foods cookbook
  • Recipe box filled with your favorite raw, organic, seasonal, local foods recipes
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share membership
  • Directory of local green businesses
  • Gift certificate from a "green" business
  • Kitchen equipment: manual can opener, knife set, juicer, rice cooker, wok, pizza stone
  • Energy saver light bulbs
  • Cloth napkins, table cloth, placemats etc.
  • Alternative material products: recycled, organic, heritage plants, handcrafted, etc.
  • Fabric gift wrapping sheets
  • Organic gardening kit with seeds, tools and a book about companion planting, composting, or native plants
  • Wind chimes or wind sock
  • House plants for a natural air filter
  • Recycle bins
  • Tree free stationery and soy based ink pens
  • Sea shell filled with natural soaps and aromatherapy oils
  • Kit or book about making your own cleaning supplies
  • Membership to a health club or spa
  • Books on how to create a non toxic home
  • Home repair tool box with basic odds and ends: electrical and plumbing aids, duct tape, screwdrivers and screws, nails, etc.
  • Car wash kit: sponge, bucket, water hose, wax, ostrich duster
  • Water purification kit
  • Rain barrels
  • Dishpan for the kitchen
  • Outdoor & indoor clothesline
  • Longlasting, recycled and recyclable "ANYTHING"

WEDDING GIFT ALTERNATIVES

If you are already settled into a home, and do not need kitchenware or furnishings, you may prefer to state on your invitations: "Please no gifts" or "Your presence is your gift to us", or recommend that guests donate to your favorite environmental group in honor of this special occasion. Some groups even carry out a shared eco-project during weekend festivities to contribute to the outdoor location’s health and wellbeing.

If you are establishing a new home, consider registering with an eco-conscious retailer to minimize receiving items from guests who aren't sure what you need, and might not be familiar with your green or eco-conscious preferences.

Gifts for the people participating in your wedding can be non-consumptive options like massage therapy gift certificates, useful gifts like organic gift baskets, handcrafted jewelry or local crafts, fair trade coffee and health food coop gift certificates, or 100% recycled gifts.

RICE THROWING OPTIONS

Throwing birdseed is a good alternative to throwing rice ONLY if you are having a city wedding, or will be tossing birdseed in a landscaped yard. Most birdseed mixes contain non-native plants and throwing these seeds in a natural location such as a nature preserve or state park, can cause damage to the ecosystem.

Alternatives to rice and birdseed are throwing native (local) wildflower seeds or dried petals, ringing handballs, or blowing homemade bubbles using recyclable containers (or funky containers found in an antique store! Waving ribbon streamers can also provide a festive send-off.

WEDDING CEREMONY PROGRAMS

Your order of service can be printed on 100% recycled PCW paper that has been processed without chlorine.

Let your guests know how important the environment is to you, and all the ways you have considered the earth in planning your wedding. Collect programs at the end of the ceremony and recycle them. Another simple idea is to have such a simple service that no program is needed! A sign at the entrance can explain logistics, and the officiant can provide verbal instructions during the ceremony.

WEDDING FAVORS

You can can consider creative ways to raise money for charity through your wedding favors, gift registry, and honeymoon.

Instead of favors, let your guests know in the program that you have donated honorariums for each guest to your favorite environmental organization .

Counteract the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere (contributing to global warming) by your guests traveling by plane or car to your wedding--by giving each guest an 11-watt compact fluorescent bulb as a favor. Each of your guests replacing a 50-watt incandescent bulb with their wedding favor will save 685 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Give a recycled handmade paper bookmark with wildflower seeds--this provides a unique touch which can then be planted for even more enjoyment.

Give a small envelope of wildflower seeds to your guests.

Give tree saplings from the National Arbor Day Foundation at Arbor Day

Be creative with found materials. Make your own placecards by writing on dried leaves, or make your own ceremony programs (or covers) out of handmade paper.

HONEYMOON

Travel agents can book a socially and environmentally sensitive trip, including "certified green hotels" and resorts that recycle and reduce the amount of unnecessary laundering, offer vegetarian menus, and can connect you with holistic and off the beaten path adventures as well as electric/hybrid car rentals.

Travel less. Shorter trips can be very relaxing and a cost and resource-effective way to kick off your married life. With travel being the security hassle it is these days, local eco-tourism options can be more relaxing for the budget and can provide you with a nearby memory-making location that you can visit during future anniversaries for respite and to rekindle your romance. New friends that are met at this location are an added bonus that can build your community together.

YOUR NEW LIFE TOGETHER

Practice making sustainable choices in your daily life together. Important, basic things like organic bedding, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, low-water faucets and shopping at farmers markets can build a healthful homestead and create good habits that you build into your new way of living one sustainable choice at a time.

Invest in socially responsible companies when funding your retirement and financial future. And save responsibly -- save your designated amount BEFORE you calculate the budget you have available for housing, cars, clothes and gourmet groceries.

And for the entrepreneurs in our midst, consider sustainable business opportunities when you look for that little sideline job or hobby-turned-business.

Building a family is first about vision. Then about implementing that vision with joy and productivity. The result is a solid family base that serves as a haven in the midst of our tumultuous world, and your example will shine for all the people who visit your home, and share your interests, joys and communal table.

"Live simply - so others may simply live." Elizabeth Seaton

Southern California resources for green, hip and holistic weddings (and parties)

Little things add up to help you feel you are at the least, trying to give back instead of constantly taking the resources around you for granted. It just takes some time and planning to do it the green way -- and your own special way. "In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." - Ecologist Baba Dioum

Organic Weddings

Organic Weddings is the most comprehensive wedding planning resource for couples striving to live healthy, natural lifestyles with regard for our environment. Couples who make choices every day that are healthy and in balance with the environment should not have to set aside those ideals on their wedding day. Organic Weddings brings resources, products and services to busy, eco-aware brides and grooms, so they can plan beautiful, stylish weddings AND be earth-friendly at the same time.
Organic Weddings

California Recycling Resources

Recycling programs for special events can be coordinated through your local government – city or county. The California Integrated Waste Management website can be of immeasurable help in locating the right folks for the job.
Recycling Resources

Wedding Planners & Coordinators

Some regional Green Wedding vendors suggested by Pink Cloud Events – 310.415.3998 – www.pinkcloudevents.com

Wedding websiteweddingwindow.com, and eweddings.com

Invitationswww.soolip.com

Wedding locations – City run locations usually have recycling in place. Also, non-profit organizations like museums and botanical gardens should be considered.

Bridal registry - greenfeet.com or treepeople.com

Green caterers – Wolfgang Puck, Chef Akasha provide a variety of organic and low-impact food selections.

Floralsdandelionranch.com (uses a biodegradable floral foam)

Giveawaysplantamemory.com

Transportationevolimo.com

Honeymoonsgreatgreentravel.com

If you know of other California resources for green weddings, please let us know!

Green wedding planners provide a wealth of knowledge and resources for locating responsible vendors and services that match your ecological values, style, and budget. Their creativity and experience in achieving a zero waste policy for locations, fair contracts, bridal apparel, decor, catering and many other details can both guide and assist you in planning a memorable ceremony and reception.

The range of services that a planner provides can vary from a la carte options to day-of coordinating, partial planning and full service. Some questions that you may want to ask yourself in deciding how much involvement you will need from a green wedding planner or coordinator are:

1. Do I have enough time to research sustainable event resources, interview vendors, and organize the details of planning a green wedding?

2. Am I confident in my abilities to protect my interests to leave a small footprint in the contract process?

3. Do I have enough support from friends and family to execute the special arrangements I have made on the day of the wedding?

While budget concerns or your low-key lifestyle may have you thinking that a wedding planner is either unattainable of unnecessary, it is important to realize that the job of the green planner is to save you time, money, and stress so that you can focus on enjoying yourself and the company of your guests in a beautiful green environment.

Southern CA Green Wedding Planner:
Pink Cloud Events – 310.415.3998 www.pinkcloudevents.com who provides green event planning and management for business, community and wedding events. (PS: Tell Sarah you learned about her services on this web site!)

Rev. Bruce Danzara - Wedding Minister / Officiant

Visit this Orange County hub of wedding options serving the needs of engaged couples. Bruce is the father of two children and resides in Orange County. Bruce provides extensive online resources and a creative variety of services such as: Sand Blending, Hand Blessing, Rose Exchange, Mothers Rose Presentation, Unity Candle, Hand-Fasting, White Dove Release, Wine Ceremony, Breaking of the Glass, Butterfly Release www.4wed.net/

His “Locations” list includes a wild variety of natural settings as well as traditional in-door wedding and reception locations:
Outdoor SoCal Wedding Locations Here are just a few of the many magical locations in Orange County that could make your wedding a natural delight.

Sherman Library & Gardens is a botanical wonderland. Corona del Mar
Los Coyotes Country Club - Buena Park
Descanso Gardens is one of Southern California's most magical botanical delights
Dana Point Yacht Club - Dana Point
Fullerton Arboretum - Fullerton
Seacliff Country Club - Huntington Beach
Ocean Institute - Dana Point
Santiago Oaks Regional Park - Orange
Rancho Capistrano - San Juan Capistrano
Country Garden Caterers - Santa Ana
Red Rock Chateau - Trabuco Canyon

Greenfield Paper Company

Greenfield Paper Company’s handmade, recycled and alternative content paper cards offer various green options such as being plantable seed paper for a wildflower harvest.
Greenfield Paper Company
7196 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
Greenfield Paper

A tree-in-a-box

A tree-in-a-box comes in a little peat pot for a growing gift. Tree In A Box, in Mt Shasta, CA offers an evergreen favor selection: Tree In A Box

Seabreeze Organic Farm

Seabreeze Organic Farm in San Diego specializes in creative green solutions such as organic coffee, tea, oils and herbs, fresh flowers from traditional roses to daisies, mixed bouquets and forget me nots… and naturally grown edible blooms. Couples can freeze organic, edible blossoms into ice cubes to accent water or drinks. Organic farms support fair wages, sustainable/organic agricultural practices, and lessen the impact on the environment.
Seabreeze Organic Farm

Organic Bouquet

Eco-friendly flowers also can be found at Organic Bouquet, one of the innovators of organic production of flowers. Their options include traditional lilies and roses, as well as mixed bouquets, wreaths and gift baskets. Some of their flowers are sourced in California, or direct from international farmers.
Organic Bouquet, Inc.,
750 Lindaro Street, Suite 330
San Rafael, CA 94901
Organic Bouquet

Jewelry classes

With jewelry classes available in most communities, crafting a couple’s wedding bands is quite feasible with some time and talent. The romance of gemstones and metals can be woven into the ceremonial exchange. Gemstones like Chalcedony, offer special meaning -- a Native American symbol of community joining together.

Light and fragrance

Essential-oil candles and natural clay make a perfect combination to light up the ceremony or evening event with added fragrance (perhaps from Aroma Naturals in Irvine

Aroma Naturals

Aroma Naturals are available at a wide variety of retail stores in Southern California.
Aroma Naturals
17651 Armstrong Ave.
Irvine, CA 92614
949.263.1400 or 800.462.7662
Aroma Naturals

Natural Locations:

Calamigos Ranch is nestled on 130 acres in the natural beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains of Malibu, Calamigos Ranch is the perfect place to hold your wedding. to create an interesting and tasty menu sans meat, dairy and processed sugar. At Calamigos Ranch, 15 Indoor and Outdoor Banquet Facilities offer a variety of unique and special settings to accommodate groups.
Calamigos Ranch
327 S. Latigo Canyon Road
Malibu CA 90265
(800) 821-2097
Calamigos

Do you have a special place …like RenFaire? A themed Renaissance Wedding at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire can be an outdoor wedding of your dreams. A wondrous Elizabethan atmosphere and setting, can be the setting for a private ceremony and reception site. The wedding garden has a beautifully decorated wedding arbor, shaded picnic style banquet tables, a dressing pavilion for the bride and her attendants, a white aisle runner, private privies, and seating for your guests. Aah, the creative possibilities for the wedding party and guests!
Faire is held at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, 15501 E. Arrow Highway
Irwindale, Ca 91706
Renaissance Entertainment Corp
P.O. Box 1550
Irwindale, CA, 91706
626-969-4750
RenFair

Mani’s Bakery

Mani’s Bakery in Los Angeles, which is cooking up a vegan caramelized apple cake and organic chocolate-dipped strawberries organic wheat or rice flour, and often use soy cream cheese icing, which can taste like either a cream cheese or butter cream. Mäni’s Bakery bridges the gap between gourmet and health foods with traditional gourmet desserts using unrefined sweeteners such as fruit juice reduction and real chocolate sweetened with barley malt. Wheat flour is organically grown to retain more of their natural nutritional value.
519 South Fairfax
Los Angeles, California 90036
323.938.8800
ManisBakery.com

Michele Coulon Dessertier

Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla is known for their Gateau Aileen hot-milk sponge cake layered with organic berries grown by local farmers. They also offer options such as mini desserts, truffles and other delicious sweets to compliment a wedding. Crystallized edible flowers can be a finishing touch au naturel. Dessertier.com

Evo Limo Service

The first limo service in the US to deploy a fleet of luxury vehicles exclusively powered by clean, domestic alternatives to gasoline is Evo Limo Service in Los Angeles.
Evo Limo

The nation's biggest hybrid car rental fleet, EV Rental Cars, a partner of Fox Car Rental www.foxrentacar.com. Fox rents their hybrids at six airports (LA, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego)

GreenWeddings.net

Green Weddings provides wedding planning services from the Malibu coast to Los Angeles and work exclusively with local resources who use only sustainably-farmed and harvested foods, and no chemically-treated flowers. Their services include helping you connect with “green hotels” who recycle, save energy, use alternative energy sources. They often have their own organic gardens, compost and use biodegradable detergents. They give back to their communities and support local businesses.
angelwrites@earthlink.net
(323) 953-0453
greenweddings.net

Vintage Weddings

Vintage wedding gowns and formal wear can date from the Victorian era through today. In addition to finding Vintage Wedding Gowns and Formal Wear, you will find Vintage Bridal Veils, Vintage Bridal and Formal Sewing Patterns, Victorian and Vintage Jewelry, Tussie Mussies, Victorian Hankies, Vintage Shoes and Boots, Purses, Parasols and More . . . VintageWeddings

Live Music

Live music supports both your memorable day and the local arts scene. Many quartets, bands and singers are available, such as The Mallette String Quartet who play Sinatra, Bach or the Beatles, music to fit any mood, occasion or celebration in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange County, Santa Barbara and Southern California.
818-341-5102
www.mallettestringquartet.com

PartyPop.com can help locate SoCal musicians

Another source of artists and musicians is LA Green Cafe: la.greencafe.com