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Tips for An Eco-Chic Wedding

By: 
Megan McCarty Lara Burnap

More couples are focusing on planning and implementing a wedding that is not only beautiful, but also environmentally friendly. We turned to one of the leading wedding and event planners Janice Twomey of Rue 29 Napa Valley whose commitment to living a truly green lifestyle has translated to a thriving business. She brings a creative, eco-chic approach to planning weddings, from sourcing local, organic farm to table cuisine to finding unique ways to lower a couple’s carbon footprint on their wedding day. Here she shares 10 tips for making your day beautiful and green.

1. Location, Location, Location We are very fortunate in wine country to have a vast array of venues to choose from for weddings. Most of them are very proud of their commitment to the environment and their dedication to sustainability. Hotels like Bardessono in Yountville are very proud of their LEED platinum certification, being one of only three hotels in the USA. Solage Calistoga, Calistoga Ranch, Auberge du Soleil and the Westin Verasa Napa also have very strong green initiatives in their hotels and Spas.

Farmstead restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch in St Helena is one of my favorite wedding venues. They are not only a local farm; serving organic farm stand produce, but also an organic winery and olive oil producer. Restaurants like Brix in Yountville  have produce on their menu that is picked in the restaurant’s on-site gardens and served to their wedding guests on the same day.

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2. Wedding Websites Sending Save the Dates out digitally saves a lot of trees! For wedding invitations, there are lots of wonderful green companies available to lower your carbon footprint, for example Minted is a green certified business. Creating a wedding website is essential for destination weddings. Guests are able to track all the relevant information about the wedding weekend itinerary, guest lodging, restaurants, wineries, etc. and at the same time saves on paper and waste.

3. Think Locally, Act Globally By purchasing locally grown, organic and fresh food, organic and biodynamic wines, and hiring local artisans and vendors for your wedding, you ensure that the local economy benefits from your wedding. Napa and Sonoma are very dependent upon the wedding and hospitality industry for their economies.

One of the most important decisions you will make about your wedding is hiring vendors. By hiring and supporting local businesses that incorporate environmental responsibility into their own companies you will have a substantial impact.

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4. The Dress If you don’t have a family heirloom wedding dress to upcycle, and if you don’t want to shop in a vintage shop, consider shopping online for an earth-friendly wedding dress designer or a local artisanal dressmaker in your area. If that is not of interest, consider donating your dress after the wedding. This is not an option for everyone, but I think it is a beautiful idea to donate your dress to a family in need. One of the charitable organizations that can assist with this is the I Do Foundation

5. Wedding Rings Today there are many options for sourcing ethical, conflict-free diamonds and gemstones—Brilliant Earth is one such option. Tell the jeweler you want to see the diamond's System of Warranties statement. The most important thing is that the diamond has documentation all the way from the mine to the jeweler. This is readily available in any reputable jeweler nowadays.

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6. Décor & Floral Just as with the wedding menu, the floral should also be local and seasonal, and organic if possible. Wildflowers and herbs are always a great way to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals in your bridal bouquet. No matter the season for your wedding, ask your floral designer what flowers will be in season. This will also save you money on the overall floral budget. You can also work with your florist to design simple arrangements that use less floral, or I am seeing more brides choosing their bridal bouquet to be made from faux flowers that won't get thrown away, like the  white and blush bouquet pictured below.

Succulents are not only gorgeous, but they are also sustainable. You can use them in your bouquet, on your tablescapes, or as an escort card or wedding favor. After the wedding, it is easy to simply replant the succulents and enjoy them for years to come. Candlelight is not only romantic and beautiful, but it also will save money, at the same time being mindful of the environment. Floral designers will offer brides the options to purchase their vases and containers for their wedding floral, or they can rent them as well. This allows the florist to pick up the containers after the wedding and use them again. This is a very good idea and also helpful on the budget! Donating your wedding floral after the wedding to a local hospital, hospice or Vets home is always appreciated.

Using locally sourced décor items is always a green alternative. Companies like La Tavola Fine Linens have local artisans creating and hand stitching their linens in their Napa showroom.

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7. Local, Seasonal, & Organic In Napa the expression farm to table is not just a term, but it is in fact a way of life for most of us year round. We are able to source almost everything we need for a wedding within a 50 mile radius of the wedding venue. That lowers your carbon footprint big time! By offering a menu that reflects the season, your guests will not only be dining on the best cuisine available, but you will be honoring the principles of earth-friendly cuisine. Depending on your venue, you may want to consider donating any excess food to a local food bank or charitable organization. This is not always an option, depending on the wedding venue.

8. Wedding favors & Escort Cards Artisanal wedding favors are also readily available in wine country. Whether a small pot of local honey, an artisanal handmade soap, an organic extra virgin olive oil, a mini-bottle of bubbly… Napa and Sonoma have an abundance of local, green and organic wedding favors.

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9. Transportation Most of our local transportation companies offer hybrid vehicles in their fleet. Arranging transportation for your wedding guests is not only a practical idea in wine country, but it is very earth-friendly as well.

10. Gift Registry Do you really need more stuff? Why not have your guests donate to a charity that means a lot to the two of you? 

A green wedding will be just as spectacular as a conventional wedding, and in my opinion even more so. It will be a true, unique, personal reflection of the bride and groom. In my experience, guests are usually pleasantly surprised by all your special touches & creative details at an eco-chic wedding. I think most people are inspired to make those choices in their own life when they return home. Sometimes the smallest details at a wedding are the things that people remember the most.

Today thankfully, there are a myriad of websites out there catering to the green wedding market. Check out recycle and donate page for some additional ideas.

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