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Say 'I Do' to Green Weddings

By: Wenona Napolitano

With all the love at weddings, some eco–friendly couples remember their Mother (Earth) and opt for shades of green for their invitations, venue, wedding clothes, food, flowers and transportation. Wedding couples should not feel like they need to do everything green. Rather they can pick and chose what works best for their special event and their guests. Indiana Living Green looked at weddings and offers this sampling:

The dress is often the first thing a bride thinks about when itcomes to getting married. There's the vision from years of dreaming about the big event and how she'll look walking down the aisle. There are several eco–friendly options when it comes to getting a green gown. The bride can wear a family heirloom, find a stylish pre–owned gown, opt for a vintage beauty, have one made from sustainable fibers or purchase an earth–friendly ready–to–wear.

Search for pre–owned or vintage gowns at second–hand stores, consignment shops, thrift stores, antique stores and the Internet. Conventional bridal shops are starting to carry Deborah Lindquist and other eco–friendly wedding designers. There are several eco–designers online, too, where brides can purchase gorgeous green gowns either off the rack or custom made. The gowns and other attire are made from hemp, silk, bamboo and organic cotton blends.

Tuxedoes Usually at the insistence of the bride, the groom eventually thinks about what he, the best man and groomsmen will wear. Fortunately, they can rent their tuxes or they can check out vintage shops, second–hand stores and online resources for their attire, including some made with eco–friendly fabrics.

Location, Location, Location
Indoors or outdoors? Elegant or rustic? When you think of a green wedding location, what comes to mind? Nature? Definitely, though you can still have a great green wedding indoors when you choose an eco–friendly site that has implemented sustainable practices into their business or one that gives part of their proceeds to charity. Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville offers three distinct choices for weddings: the Loft, which will seat 100; the rustic Red Barn, which accommodates 300 for a sit down dinner; and the outdoor deck and garden area for 100 guests. Traders Point is an organic dairy farm and creamery with beautiful gardens, unique charm and warmth, that is both cozy and stylish. It offers onsite catering or the wedding couple can provide their own food, as long as it's organic.

Winchester Place in Greenwood also offers indoor and outdoor options for weddings and receptions. The 1912 AmericanFour–Square has a warm, homelike atmosphere to accommodate receptions and other events. Owner Garnet Vaughan said green events in Indiana are in less demand than they might be on either coast.

However, she suggested asking "for what you want at the venues to see what can be negotiated."

Winchester Place, which markets itself as "The Natural Place for Special Occasions," is a three–acre property that includes a 1/2–acre lake, a gazebo and a 1940s garden house. For outdoor events, a 40– by 60–foot tent goes up to overlook the water. Winchester Gardens can hold about 150 people. The house can accommodate up to 100, depending on the seating.

Katina Kaisher, owner of Eclectic Events & Design operates Factory12 Event Loft in the histori Roviar Building in downtown Columbus. The upper loft has 10,000 square feet and features exposed brick walls, wood posts and beams, hardwood floors, large windows and skylights. The lower loft has 8,000 square feet with similar features.

In Bloomington, for an indoor or outdoor wedding, check out historic Deer Park Manor, a 40–acre nature preserve with clubrooms furnished with fireplaces, antiques and artwork. The grounds are rich with waterfalls, fountains and beautiful gardens.

Other eco–venue options can include churches, temples, mosques, museums, historical sites, college campuses, organic farms, orchards or vineyards. Several state, federal and city parks also make fine wedding venues, such as Brown County State Park, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Sunken Garden at Garfield Park in Indianapolis.

One of the easiest ways to go green with invitations is to go digital. Set up a Web site or blog to take RSVPs, provide maps and registry information. offers a wide selection of digital announcements, save–the–date cards and invitations that can be tracked at the site.

Send invitations made from recycled or tree–free paper. Twisted Limb Paperworks in Bloomington has been creating colorful, handmade invitations or programs from 100 percent recycled paper for 10 years.

"Our handmade paper is 100 percent recycled using a combination of colored office paper, so we don't add additional dye, junk mail, grocery bags, cardboard boxes and grass cuttings from our field," said Sheryl Woodhouse–Keese, owner of the company. "All of the envelopes and reply cards we pair with our handmade papers are also 100 percent post–consumer waste, recycled and processed chlorine free. Even the see–through vellum is 30 percent post–consumer waste, recycled and processed without chlorine."

Some caterers specialize in organic menus, but just about any of them should be willing to use organic ingredients upon request. Local, seasonal selections are also good choices when it comes to the food. It's hard to get locally grown tomatoes in winter, for instance, but squash is available. The more local the caterer and the food, the smaller the carbon footprint for delivery.

The Cake
Other than the attention focused on the bride and groom, the cake is often the centerpiece of the reception. After going organic, local and seasonal on the rest of your menu don't skimp with the cake.Blu Boy Chocolate Café and Cakery in Bloomington offers chocolate culinary creations sure to make mouths water.

Blu Boy's cakes are made with local eggs, butter and organic vanilla. Sounds delicious. It also offers other organic and vegan options.

People probably think all flowersare eco friendly. Sadly, this is not the case. Most cut flowers come from South America, the Netherlands or California. Many of them have been sprayed with pesticides or treated with chemicals so they will retain their color and stay fresh longer.

Depending on the season, there are green options available. Just like food, flowers are seasonal. In Indiana, peonies bloom in spring, roses in summer, asters in fall and for winter weddings? Well, there are holly berries, dried flowers and more.

Local growers, such as Harvest Moon Flower Farm in Spencer, Fragrant Farms in New Harmony, or JP Parker Flowers in Indianapolis and Franklin, provide large selections of seasonal blooms. "We provide complete wedding floral services using organically grown flowers harvested on our farm, 12 months of the year," said Linda Chapman, owner of Harvest Moon.

"Trends are more natural than in the past, but it all depends on the bride. Now, we get brides who want natural. Sunflowers are really popular," said Pam Parker, owner of JP Parker Flowers. She grows many flowers on her Johnson County farm, including peonies, delphinium, phlox, sunflowers and zinnias. She also has lilacs, forsythia and other shrub flowers in season.

"More often, our customers ask about chemicals," Parker said. "Flowers have a less restrictive list of chemicals for commercial growing than food. In third world countries who knows? I am able to get chemical–free flowers in the winter from some food wholesalers, but varieties are limited."

Years ago, local greenhouses grew for the cut–flower trade year–round, but now, there are very few because fuel prices make it nearly impossible to heat the houses. "Field crops are less expensive, but I do miss the local greenhouse goods such as snaps, freesia and lilies," she said. Shipping crops from California can be pricey.

If no one has what the bride wants, check out The company ships organically grown flowers straight to you or your florist.

Photography is one area the wedding couple should never skimp on. The bride and groom can never go back and recreate the memories that a good photographer will capture. To go green in the photo area, search for a photographer that offers digital photography, proofs and albums. The only photos that get printed are the ones people really want. Take that a step farther and have the photos printed on eco–friendly photo paper.

For those candid shots everyone likes to have, ditch the disposables and ask guests to bring their digital cameras. After the wedding ask everyone to upload the photos to a share site like Shutterfly, Snapfish or Flickr or a newcomer, The Wedding Lens. These Web sites allow everyone to put images into albums, store them online, put them on disks, create thank you cards or other photo gifts. There's never a need to print unwanted photos.

Get creatively green with the wedding transportation: think horse drawn carriage, bicycles built for two, bicycle carriages, hybrid limousines, biodiesel shuttle buses, electric cars or carpooling. Keep transportation to a minimum by having the ceremony and reception in one location and close to home.

If there will be guests coming from out of town, provide an eco–friendly shuttle bus, such as one powered by biodiesel or natural gas, to transport them from the hotels to the weddingvenue. Any shuttle would be better than each person driving individually. At the least, encourage all guests to carpool.

Offset all the traveling done by guests and the resources and energy used for the wedding by purchasing carbon credits instead of favors.

Green Essentials
In every area of the wedding, there are eco–choices. As much as possible adopt the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle into every decision.

Reduce the amount of resources and waste created by using less. Ditch disposables of all kinds. This includes plates, napkins and tableware. Rent everything or, for a smaller wedding, use family dishes or purchase items that can be reused at home after the wedding, sold or donated to charity.

Reuse as much as possible. This can include décor, such as flowers or decorations, which can later be used in the home or those of family and friends. Make stuff do double duty: place bouquets in stands and use them as tabletop arrangements. Potted plants also make great centerpieces, which can be given to guests after the wedding for planting memories in their gardens.

Recycle everything possible after the wedding. Donate leftover food to a local shelter or send home with friends and family. Compost all the scraps.

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