The white dress. The solemn exchange of rings. The kiss. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to… reduce, reuse, and recycle?
Every couple dreams of a wedding that truly represents who they are. Often this involves perfecting a choreographed first dance or choosing just the right shade of ivory for the embossed napkins. For Valley bride Stacey Riggio and her groom Dana Kenny, it meant they were going green.
The self-proclaimed tree-huggers saw their April 2009 wedding as an opportunity to make a statement about their support for the environment without being “in your face” about it.
The couple’s green wedding planning was guided by the criteria of the National Resources Defense Council and the Nature Conservancy. “Green” options conserve energy; use biodegradable, eco-friendly materials whenever possible; and incorporate locally grown, organic foods and flowers.
Fortunately, Stacey and Dana found the Hudson Valley full of green businesses willing to accommodate them. “It was definitely a case of ‘Ask and ye shall receive’ when it came to finding green options,” Stacey said.
Their hunt for a green wedding began with location. They wanted a venue that already incorporated environmentally friendly practices, so “green” elements would be built into the cost. They decided to host their ceremony and reception at the same location to eliminate the energy cost and pollution of unnecessary transportation.
Four Hudson Valley locations made the cut: Mohonk Mountain House and the Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa in Ulster County; Osborn Castle (646-734-5766) at Cat Rock, and The Garrison, both in Putnam County.
Though all of these venues are beautiful and green, the deal was sealed when they met Todd Smith, the Garrison’s banquet manager. Smith gave the couple a tour of the Garrison’s impressive organic gardens, explained its farm-to-table philosophy, and detailed its green cleaning practices.
Then it was time to figure out all those big little details.
Stacey and Dana considered inviting their guests by e-mail through Evite.com, but decided that in order to prevent a riot by traditional relatives, they would have to settle for recycled paper invitations and ask guests to RSVP by telephone or e-mail to eliminate the carbon footprint of reply cards and envelopes.
Stacey and Dana wanted to make donations to their favorite eco-friendly charity, rather than give favors of Jordan almonds or plastic picture frames. Their parents, however, had other ideas.
The compromise: The couple donated money to the National Resources Defense Council and gave their guests wildflower seeds embedded in organic cotton to be planted after the wedding.
Stacey found that it wasn’t difficult to find gorgeous gowns made from organic fibers, but those options are a bit pricey. “If I had more time, I would have bought a used dress from a thrift shop or online,” she sighed. Instead, she opted for an off-the-rack gown from David’s Bridal. (For organic dress options, consult organic clothing blogs like Bride Power, or find pre-owned wedding dresses.)
Stacey turned to the Carmel Flower Shop (888-89-BLOOM or 845-225-4623) in Putnam County to find green floral options. Unfortunately, few in-season, local flowers were available for the couple’s April wedding. However, owner Diane Farrell was able to blend what was locally available with California and Holland flowers grown on sustainable farms.
“If the bride and groom have friends with wonderful gardens, you can use those flowers to make your wedding greener and even more special,” Farrell suggests.
Photographer Michael Gold (Corporate Image Photography; 845-255-5255) of New Paltz shoots with a digital camera to avoid the chemicals in film processing. He guided Stacey and Dana to the greenest album options and located a printer who used recycled paper and water-soluble inks for their thank-you cards.
To compensate for the wedding’s impact on the environment, Stacey and Dana purchased carbon offsets from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (866-233-8247) for the equivalent amount of wind and solar energy their wedding consumed. These certificates represent a reduction in greenhouse gases through the funding of renewable energy sources.
After creating such a beautiful, unique wedding, Stacey shared a few words of advice for couples planning their own green weddings. “We weren’t penalized at all cost-wise for any of our green choices,” she said. “You can often find the same or better quality green options. And all that legwork is time well spent if you can inspire someone else to live a little greener.”