From flowers to décor to invites, wedding planners share their tips for a party that treats the earth like a special guest.A couple exchanges vows, framed by barrels of lush wildflowers.
1. Go for simple, high-impact design, advises DeJuan Stroud of DeJuan Stroud Incorporated, an event-planning firm in New York City. "We created a wedding in a barn, with white tablecloths and bistroware. We rigged wooden planks from the ceiling to hold pillar candles in glass cylinders. It was gorgeous-the entire room was illuminated with candlelight."
2. It's green not to use a tablecloth at all," says Alice Charlier of Alice Charlier Events in Los Angeles. "Nowdays a lot of rental companies have glass tabletops, and with the lighting, the effect is really stunning."
3. "Being green is really about reusing," notes Charlier, who is always on the lookout for interesting objects she can recycle. "We create hurricanes with old, prettily patterned mason jars, on which we might put a beeswax seal of the couple's initials. You can glue crystals on the jars-there's a lot you can do to make them distinctive." Charlier also loves to scour flea markets and antiques shops in her area for gorgeous vessels and vases.A natural theme gets the right look from Linens made of organic cotton, right, and hand-painted dishes.
4. "One of the best things you can do for the environment is use linen cocktail napkins instead of paper," says Jennifer Brisman of Jennifer Brisman Weddings New York. She adds that she has to budget five to seven paper cocktail napkins per person-a "ridiculous number to go through!"
5. Brisman advises looking for "clean" candles. "When you watch a candle burn, you'll notice the black soot that collects on the glass. Soy and honeycomb candles are much cleaner. Even better, they're available in every size, shape and color."
6. Want fabulous, blooming centerpieces, but flinch at the waste created by using cut flowers? Brisman has a lush alternative: "At a wedding at the New York Botanical Garden, we decided to use potted orchids as centerpieces. You can group six or seven pots on a table, and guests can take them home."Potted orchids needn't be tossed out after the party.
7. Stroud suggests using potted primroses and African violets or such nonflowering plants as herb topiaries. "There are beautiful single- and double-ball myrtle and rosemary topiaries in terra-cotta pots topped with a little deer moss. These work beautifully for replanting in gardens or in window boxes."
8. Charlier recommends putting an aisle of wheatgrass down a long table. "It looks very zen-and beautiful-with just crisp white linen tablecloths, wheatgrass and candles."
9. According to Corina Ann Beczner of Vibrant Events in San Francisco's Bay Area, "A number of pesticides may be used on roses." Her recommendation? If roses are a wedding day "I do" for you, go organic. (One website to try is organicbouquets.com.)
10. How to cut down on serving vessels? By making them edible, of course! Andrea Correale of New York's Elegant Affairs Catering & Event Design recommends planning a cocktail-hour salad bar with mesclun, spinach, watercress, lots of toppings and a choice of dressings-some creamy, some tart-all served in a deliciously edible parmesan cup. She also likes to serve mini passed salads, with a wisp of baby romaine peeping out of a hollowed plum tomato.For a luscious summer salad, pair watermelon and cucumber with feta cheese and fresh baby greens.
11. Never think organic doesn't mean delicious and fun, says Charlier. "We once served beautiful mini burgers in mini buns using grass-fed organic beef. And also tiny pizzas with crusts made from organic flour. They were so little-the size of a dollar coin!"
12. Don't forget the drinks-you can find fabulous organic wines and champagnes. Correale says, "We serve a red-wine sangria with Cointreau and sherry, and fresh-squeezed orange juice and fruit. It's simple and delicious."
13. "Picking a green vendor who believes in your vision is very important. Ask how much organic food they use, if they recycle, what they do with leftovers," says Charlier. Brisman agrees. "Look for a caterer who is mindful about paper product consumption and uses environmentally friendly cleaning products."
14. For her wedding cakes, Edith Meyer of Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes in Santa Cruz, California, uses only organic ingredients in her confections. "I stay away from using chemical products and stabilizers in my shortening and frosting. When I make strawberry buttercream, I buy fresh strawberries and puree them myself!"
15. "Give your guests a kit to plant trees," suggests Charlier. "It's very inexpensive. You can set them up on a table for people to take as they leave, or you can dress the kits up and place them at each place setting."
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