I would like advice on having a wedding for 70 people in Los Angeles. I am happy to volunteer to be your guinea pig Bea if you'd like to do a wedding book!
What are zero waste ways to centerpieces, bouquets and thank you gifts for the bridal party? Is it really offensive to email save the dates, invitations, rsvps and thank yous? What is a zero waste bridal shower or bachelorette? What about the rehearsal dinner and brunch the day after for out of town guests?
How do you get people to understand your approach to a wedding of this style without giving up your privacy and starting another blog?
I would like to have it somewhere pretty and natural outside. We do not have a yard. The Huntington Library is the closest botanical garden and they charge 100k for a wedding and reception. I love the idea of buying a house with a big yard someday and throwing the wedding in the backyard, but that is a million dollars in LA.
I looked up green certified wedding planners in LA and fees start at 6k.
Our wedding wasn't exactly zero waste but it was close. We didn't have "to get people to understand" our wedding because it still felt like a lovely wedding and nobody noticed there was anything unusual about it ( except for maybe my drunk sister in laW yelling at everyone at the end of the reception but thats another story). Here are some of my tips:
We held the wedding at a historical home that a local university uses for retreats. It cost $1,800 to rent, including tables and chairs
Food/ beverages and table settings:
We rented glassware, silverware, dishes, tablecloths, and two big wrought iron plant holder things to define the "alter" space. We have a few large glass beverage jars in the family, but you can rent those too. We filled them with water with lemon slices but if i had it to do again i would float cucumbers and strawberries in the water like my friend did at her wedding) and " Hawaiian colada iced tea (from loose-leaf tea with coconut and pineapple floating in it.)
We got a keg of beer and returned it when we were done.
We bought big magnum bottles of wine and recycled wine bottles, but I know Bea has mentioned wineries that will fill bottles in California.
My mother arranged floral centerpieces-- check out your farmers market for seasonal cut flowers and thrift stores for clear vases. They can be mismatched and look great. Maybe you could find someone who sells flowers at a farmers market who wouldn't mind arranging the flowers into vases for you. At the end of the night we gave everyone who had helped with the wedding a centerpiece to take home.
We self catered, which only works if you have a family or friends who are reliable and great cooks. My aunt made two large orzo salads, my grand,mother made two large broccoli salads, and my other aunt cut up fruit. a friend smoked brisket, we bought rolls, and my aunts made large pans of potatoes Romanov. You can buy all of the ingredients and bring them to everyone's houses to prevent hem from buying packaged stuff. I brought my trivets and butter dishes, salt and pepper, etc. from home. I borrowed large baskets for rolls and things from my mom, and a chaffing dish from my grandmother. Some rental places have chaffing dishes and large serving dishes available for rent. I also had to borrow a van and ask a friend to drive it to transport everything. Hiring an Eco-friendly caterer would have been easier, but more expensive.
The men's ware was rented, my aunt made my veil from left over materials from making her own daughter's veil, I borrowed my great grandmother's necklace, and I sold my dress on eBay after the wedding. My bridesmaid dresses were not zero waste. This is one area that I could have improved on for sure. They all picked dresses and shoes they said they would wear again-- and so far two out of three have! I saw picture of a wedding online where all of the bridesmaids ( I think there were 7 or something) wore different but all pastel sundresses. The groomsmen wore different pastel button- up shirts. It was surprisingly beautiful. One of my friends just didn't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, but asked important friends and siblings to do short readings throughout the ceremony instead. It didn't really matter what they wore, but all dressed within the color palette of the wedding.
Decorations/ favors/ programs/ etc.
The place we were married looked lovely, so we didnt need any decor. Nobody missed the favors, the programs, the garter, etc.
We did send out paper invites, but they had a high recycled paper content, and the reply cards were postcards. If I had it to do again I would have done some kind of electronic save the date, and electronic replies for all but the elderly (granny isn't online) ;)
My mother made my bouquet, but if there are no people with that particular talent in the family, you could just order your bouquet from a traditional florist. There are fun non- floral bouquets from upcycled materials on etsy too, as an alternative. I had it to do again, I would save my mother the trouble of making bridesmaid bouquets and just have the girls carry a pretty fan. I would also save my mother the trouble of making boutonnieres and just have the men rent colorful pocket squares.
The vows, the music and dancing and the digital photography were all zero waste by their nature.
We put the wedding photos on Facebook and printed some ( gasp!), but declined the several hundred dollar album from the photographer. If I had it to do again, I would give her a flash drive to put all of the photos on, but as it was, she put them on a disc.
Good luck and congratulations!
This has been on my mind a lot too. I know wedding planning can be stressful since there are so many things that need to be done. I think the R’s used in order can actually help reduce that stress. You can still have an elegant but simple wedding.
Invitations: That is tough since many older generations may have a tougher time with that, and even the younger generations seem to be unable to RSVP to online things. I have plenty of friends who will not RSVP over facebook or any other electronic set up. You could use recycled paper, or even use paper that has seeds in it and people can plant it. I know that can an expensive cost, but it is a little better. Personally I do not think sending out electronic invitations is bad for a wedding. Maybe if everyone did it, it would catch on. You could send electronic invitations to people you know have email and check it regularly and maybe do a few cards for people you know need one, maybe a great grandparent. You can probably check and see if wedding sites also have a way to send electronic invites through them and will keep a tally of the responses. That would be very nice!
Venue: I think you have the right idea. Find a nice place that you will not need to decorate. Many places will have chairs or ones that you can rent. Sometimes they will also have/rent slip covers with them. I think this really depends on where you are and what places are around you so I can’t help too much.
Rehearsal dinner: If you can afford it you can pick a restaurant that is more conscious about being “green” and ask them to not serve straws and you would like actual plates and silverware. Some people, depending on size go with a place that will rent a room and set up a buffet. You can also ask for cloth napkins. If the place does it all and cooks the food- less for you to plan/ set up and easier to manage. You can also try to get a place that is close to your venue/ where people will be staying. Save gas and people will be happier- especially if they are already traveling to get to the wedding.
After wedding celebration: Some people do this at the venue and some pick another place like a hall. It all depends. I personally would prefer for the place to do all the set up, but again this is money. If you have a place you can also ask them to not carry straws or put out regular plates and glasses. If you need to you can rent tables and chairs. For the caterer you can try to get a place that is more “green”. You can decided to do buffet style or have it served. But this can be done on regular plates and with cloth napkins. As for the decorations it really depends on what you want. You can always buy used wedding decor online. One place I have seen is: http://www.tradesy.com/weddings/wedding-decorations/ Also a good place to pass on any wedding things that can be reused. Make money and help the environment. If you decide to go with flowers you can always talk to your florist about keeping it “green” not using the Styrofoam to make all the flower displays. You can also look into potted plants, some people even give those away, or even use cacti and give those away. This can be trickier to give to traveling guests.
I have also seen people have the party and dinner at a Chinese restaurant and big plates were served to each table. The plates were put in the middle and no table decor was needed! Also they did a BYOB and they provided the alcohol and mixers for everyone. You could get a keg, or buy the bottles with the flip tops that Bea suggests.
Gifts: For the guests you can make a donation to a charity in honor of them. I have seen some people set up voting jars and each person puts a toke, could be a rock or stone, and they put it in the jar for the charity that they want you to donate too. You can also give away seeds in paper envelops with the date and wedding stuff printed on it. You can also get soap bars made to give away- without packaging. Everyone needs soap.
Bridal party gifts: Some people pay for the girls to get mani pedis, others buy the jewelry for the day of (could be thrifted if you find enough pieces that work together). You could also get them a gift of an activity that they would like, movie tickets, or bowling, or even offer to pitch in a certain amount for the dress or tux rental. You can also buy them a nice bottle of alcohol if the event is BYOB.
Bachelorette party- this really depends on the maid of honor who plans it. If she respects your wishes she can make it work. It depends on if you have it at a house or go out to a club or hotel for a night. You would need to talk to the person in charge of it :) You could easily use the suggestions that Bea has put up for regular parties and gatherings for this or the wedding shower.
Gifts given to you: I have seen many sites that you can sign up for and you tell them what you want: dinner on honey moon, down payment on a house, or car fund. Then people can go to the website and donate money right what you want. Personally I like this idea best, and for those who cannot stand it you can also make a small wish list for nice things you might not be able to find used that fit what you are looking for.
Flowers for the bridal party: You have some non-flower options. I found a super cute thing on etsy. A woman takes scrap metal and makes metal abstract bouquets. You end up with a cool sculpture that can also be used as a tree topper- that is what the woman originally made them for. You can also thrift and get broaches to make a broach bouquet. Again, you can also look for a florist that will follow requests for simple bouquets without all the extra garbage.
Dresses: You can try to buy online.... I prefer not too since I want the experience of shopping with my mom and others. I am trying to find places that either rent dresses, or places that have used dresses available for me to try on. Or even places that will sell me a sample dress. You can also re-sell your dress, or have it repurposed into something you will wear, or made into a quilt or pillows.
For the bridesmaids you can look online for used dresses in the color you want, or you can try and find places that will rent dresses for you. I wish more places would rent bridesmaid dresses out since most people never re-wear them. It seems like such a waste.
That is about all I have for right now... I won’t be getting married for another 2 years, but I have been thinking about it a lot.
The seed thing sounds cute, but please don't do it. It's a great way to introduce invasive wildflower species that aren't native. A lot of the mixes have things like yarrow and morning glories and other plants that are really aggressive and crowd-out native plants. Not good for the environment at all.
I agree with you on that point. You wouldn't have to do flowers though. Seeds for veggies or herbs could be used. Honestly I do not think most people would use them or appreciate them, and yes they can still be invasive. You can do flowers that are native if you really want to go that route. Personally I prefer the option to give to a charity. No paper or waste and you can pick some causes that are meaningful to you and your guests do not take home something that they will not use.
I have a friend who had an almost zero waste wedding too. She's the one I mentioned above who didn't have a wedding party, just had honored friends do readings.
She and her husband rented a shelter at a park in the Seattle area on lake Washington. She didn't rent it "for a wedding" she just reserved it for less than $50.
The groom wore a suit he already owned (it was a nice suit), a friend brought her laptop and nice large speakers for music, and another friend and I set up the refreshments. It was a cool September lakeside brunch so we borrowed my moms big coffee percolater for hot beverages and the bride ordered a whole bunch of quiches and fancy pastries from a local bakery. The boxes were recycled. She borrowed cake plates and serving utensils from several friends. There were big bowls of fruit and small bowls of nuts and chocolates. The coffee cups, plates, and napkins were paper, but luckily, they could be composted in Seattle. The forks were compost able too I think. If I were planning a similar wedding I would rent coffee mugs, small plates, and cloth napkins as well as forks and bring a couple of dish pans to collect them in. I loved her wedding. It was so simple, but it was great. It wasnt about the pageantry that so many modern weddings seem to be about.m it was two people exchanging vows in front of their loved ones in a beautiful natural setting followed by a yummy brunch. Perfect!
In reply to this post by Trish
Indeed, it is true that flowers will brighten up any celebration and it is really important you get Flowers Delivery from a reputed florist. It is my nephew’s birthday and I am planning to book flowers for him. Hope they will deliver fresh bouquet in time.
Found this from 2014 and wondered what Vintage Princess' wedding actually turned out to be...? It would be great to hear how things worked out!
Thank you for writing to me! I actually ended the engagement because he was not treating me the way I wanted to be treated. I wish I had a better ending to the story for you. I have an unused Vera Wang dress here if anyone would like to buy it!
On Feb 17, 2017, at 12:26 PM, Catherine Sultana [via .] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Vintage Princess, actually that is a darn good ending...hate to see anyone perpetuate abusive relationships by joining their abuser in marriage! Take Care!
Get married at your local City Hall and take everybody out to dinner or better yet have a potluck. Problem solved. Specify "no gifts" so you don't clutter (or re-clutter) your household. Saves money, it's probably a relief for the people who don't have extra income to buy a gift you will probably return anyway, and it's just everybody having a good time without the stress of the material consumption process thrown in to make everybody miserable and wondering why they need a net ribbon bag full of white M&Ms or a throwaway camera.
The best weddings I've been to were the older couples getting married for their second, third, fourth time or whatever. One was up in Yosemite in the summer, everybody was wearing shorts and sundresses. Another was in the backyard of a friend and was a potluck with lots of plant-based food since there were many vegans and WFPB people there. Of course nobody brought gifts because by the time you're in your 50s or 60s, what could you possibly want or need.
The materialism and conspicuous consumption associated with weddings is disgusting to me. What are people trying to prove with all that wasteful crap and consumption?
I would like to share with you my favorite blog with a lot of free tips and materials for photographers - http://wedding-retouching.com/ I hope you will also share your findings!
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