Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.
I think as a florist and an eco-friendly expert I can honestly say it really depends. Most people love to keep their wedding bouquets after the wedding, so silk bouquets are great for that aspect. However, for the rest of the floral designs, you may find it to be more expensive than actual fresh cut flowers. Most silk flowers are not made by US-owned companies and therefore they are shipped in from other countries like India and China. There are some vendors that have US made silk flowers but they are few and far between and tend to be more expensive. Fresh cut flowers are purchased from farms that do nothing but grow and sell flowers year round. So florists, in general, are green vendors if they are using the right growers. Flowers are a renewable resource whereas silk flowers, which are made with tons of plastic, are not! So if you want something that is going to last for years and years like your bouquets - go for it...but leave the rest to fresh flowers!
As far as recycling bottles, most venues in the DC Greater Metro area recycle simply because local governments have recycling already set up. The main thing is to ask your caterer to separate their trash from their recyclables in general. Most well known caterers are doing this!
Easy green things to do:
Change your lifestyle - don't just have a green wedding! Find ways in your life to be greener at home and at your office. This will spur you on to the internet to find fun and exciting and ideas and then get your guests excited about your wedding before it even starts.
Ask your vendors what they are doing to make themselves greener in their practices. They should be able to give you examples and if they can't spout off at least 3 - move on to the next vendor!
Don't serve beef at your wedding...I am not saying have a vegan wedding - just not beef! It is ridiculous how much energy is wasted on the production of beef...I could go on and on about this - but you can check out several sites online.
Pick a fish that is not being over-harvested.
Do a candy bar instead of favors - we do them with 100% green!
I could go on and on!
If you look at my website - I think you would say that our events are beautiful and elegant - more than 90% of the weddings on my website are green weddings! SO YES! You can have a beautiful elegant green wedding!
1 - Not do any at all
2 - Have an eco-friendly candy bar - we provide 100% eco-friendly candy bars in-house
3 - Do a carbon offset for your wedding at carbonfund.org and only do one sign about it - not one for every place setting
Find a local company that you love and purchase a particular product from their store for each couple and one per individual and tell your guests why you love it (especially if it gives back to the community that you are in). Go for less packaging or packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable. This might cost more, but your guests will appreciate it more.
I think if you can be innovative in all of your vendor choices - this will make a huge difference. Talk about your wedding in a different way to your guests...talk about how they are going to have fun and not talk just about you. Talk about a surprise green give away to get people excited. Do a trivia game to see how eco-savvy your guests are and instead of giving everyone favors - spend that $400-600 for favors you have set aside on a carbon offsetting gift for that individual who wins that game (which is normally enough to offset a family for a year)! You will spark a ton of people at your wedding to start thinking about the way they live their lives and how you would love to help them! Get your guests involved and then your wedding will truly reflect who you are as a couple!
Again, as I mentioned above, ask your vendors about 3 things that they do that are green...if they don't know and are not excited about doing that for you - move on to the next person on your list! Your true green innovative vendors will make it happen seamlessly for you!
Yes there are a few that I mentioned above. Keep in mind that I don't use a ton of different caterers though. I like to use the people that are tried and true and that continually provide the best service and quality food. However - I have not seen a crazy increase in price in doing eco-friendly weddings. They are cheaper options like chicken and certain types of fish that can be served that are better for the environment than beef. You must simply ask the caterer what they are doing in regards to their in-house green practices. If they don't know, again, move on to the next caterer.
My favorite green caterer is Avalon Caterers as they really do focus on local, fresh, innovative food and they have an amazing chef that reuses everything!!!!
Large caterers that are always going to be ahead in this innovation department that do a great job of being organic and eco-friendly are Catering by Windows and Design Cuisine...however - I have used about 4-6 other caterers that are starting to grow in this aspect and do a great job!
The most surprising thing to most people is that everything can be eco-friendly at your wedding (it just depends on the choices you make)!
There are eco-friendly dresses...some say they are just organic cotton or hemp dresses....but this is not true. Go to I Do I Do - the best bridal consignment shop in the DC area and get a Vera Wang dress for $1500! It cheaper, it is couture and it has only been worn once and you can sell it again after your wedding. In the 10 years that I have been doing wedding, I think maybe 7-10 brides have actually worn or reused their mothers dress. So don't be fooled into thinking that your little girl will wear your dress 30 years from now. Ok - so hold on to it for a year - sell it at I Do or on ebay or donate it! Making Memories is a great charity to donate your dress to.
You can also have eco-friendly dress by not buying dresses that are not cut in the US. Many couture dress companies cut their dresses in India or China and then they are shipped to the States to have additions to them. Be careful and ask your bridal salon about this. We are featuring all US made dresses at our 2009 DCCWC couture bridal show on January 31, 2009 at the Decatur House - so come and see what a couture green dress is all about! www.dccwc.com
There are few other items in regards to dresses - I have written an article that will be published on a few blogs online and you can see our spotlight article at www.sagemcgreen.com about green wedding dresses in general!
A green venue is one that gives back to the community and fund art projects, etc. and that can also host your ceremony. Also - some hotels are completely wind-powered now. Sofitel in DC is 100% wind-powered!
The best green venues in the DC area - Woodend (Audubon Society), Decatur House, Chesapeake Foundation in Annapolis, Woodlawn, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Arts Club of Washington (that is where I got married!), Ronald Reagan Building (their chef has an all-new organic line of menus that use local and US based vendors), GW River Farm (American Horticultural Society). The list is really endless - don't give up on a venue - just ask them!
Some you can even write off a part of the venue as a tax deduction!
I think if you just look at the news and see our economy and see how are earth is not being taken care of - I can't imagine why anyone would not want to do a green wedding to start their new green lives together.
Being green can actually save you money - if you do it right!
Very long story and I am running out of time here! Feel free to email me and I can let you know!
There are eco-honeymoons where you can do service projects! We have a whole new plan for couples when it comes to totally greening your weddings, events, travel, homes and lifestyle.
In fact today - I am announcing for the 1st time that we will launch a new company called Green Love Events in January 2009! Green Love Events will be a subsidiary of Elegance & Simplicity, Inc. - which will be associated with Documentary Associates, Disk Jockeys On Call (they share office space with us), Love Life Images and MyDeeJay.com. This new cooperative company will provide floral designs, stationery, calligraphy, photography, videography, DJ services, image consulting, lighting and a host of other similar services all under one roof! We will be using reputable well-known companies as affiliates so brides can streamline their vendor selections and know they will have the greenest event possible!
I am sorry this is all the time we have for questions today! Feel free to contact me directly about how we can better green your wedding! firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.768.8814