How to Be Green and Save Green

The Wedding Guru Judy Lewis fields this week’s wedding questions. Today: Wedding tips and recommendations for the budget- and eco-conscious bride

Even in the best economic times, budget and finances are an issue for most bridal couples. Whether it’s you or your parents who foot the bill, spending more on a wedding than one can afford is truly foolish.

A mother of the bride asks: “My daughter wants to get married next summer. Money is a concern and we’re trying to create a beautiful, meaningful — but low-cost — wedding for about 70 guests. Since she’s a vegetarian and very concerned about environmental issues, she’d like to be married outdoors in a scenic area in the Valley. She has not set a date yet because finding the right venue is so important. I may be asking too much, but can you give me some suggestions about where we should start to look?”

Dear mother of the bride: As far as finances are concerned, you’re pretty much in the same boat as most people planning weddings these days. It’s a reality we all need to face while this economic recession is around. Your daughter’s environmental concerns are commendable. Good for her! And good for us!

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Begin by keeping in mind that it’s the marriage — not the wedding — that’s truly important. I don’t have prices available to me, but in general terms, I can give you some guidelines for selecting a venue. Restaurants tend to be less expensive than catering venues; weekday nights tend to be less expensive than weekends; off-peak season tends to be less expensive than height of the season; halls, such as a firehouse, VFW, or a community room, will be less expensive than catering halls and resorts. You might want to check for last-minute dates for which caterers can cut you a better deal than their regular fees. (Check’s article, “Rethink Your Wedding to Beat the Recession” for effective cost-cutting tips.)

As for your daughter’s concern about the environment, the Valley is a great place to have a wedding; a number of wedding businesses in the area are going “green” — especially florists. Good Old Days Florist in New Windsor is an eco-florist. Owner Lynn Mehl purchases carbon offsets for her energy use and donates a percentage of wedding revenue to environmental/wildlife charities. She uses specialty grown, eco organic/U.S. flowers and, in her words, “every sustainable business practice of green floristry we possibly can.” (Check out my interview with her in “Preserving Your Heir-blooms,” where she dishes on what to do with your bouquets after the wedding.) Grammy’s Garden in Warwick heats with non-fossil fuel, doesn’t ship long distances, and uses no insecticides, which makes their flowers a luscious green.

Many Valley caterers are proficient in creating vegetarian menus and being “green,” too. Fresh Company in Warwick tells us that they “use the freshest, finest ingredients and local growers are key suppliers.”

Need more information about planning an eco-friendly wedding? Check out my article, “Planning a Green, Politically and Socially Conscientious Wedding.”

And as for the venue? The list of beautiful vistas is almost endless, and not all are prohibitively expensive! At the prospective venue, explain up front what your budget restrictions are and find out if they will work with you — or suggest less expensive options at their location. A few examples of venues that you can start with are Apple Barn Farm in Livingston, the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, Bear Creek Recreational Center and Catering Hall in Hunter, the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, Opus 40 in Saugerties, and Pamela’s on the Hudson in Newburgh.

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Hope this helps!

To submit your own question to the Wedding Guru, email Judy at

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