Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recap #7: From Inspiration to Reality

As I was cleaning out the no-longer-needed wedding inspiration files on my computer and browser, I was pleased to see how the inspirational images I'd saved - mostly, I think, from that bottomless jar of eye-candy, Style Me Pretty* - were born out in reality.  Though I despaired of ever creating a wedding that could live up to the ethereal images on SMP with a down-to-earth budget, these show that a little ingenuity, and a great photographer, can converge to bring on the pretty.

The relaxed, familial, beach-party feeling of this was just the vibe I wanted...


We rented enough chairs for all the adults, and spread out beach blankets for the kids.  They got to have fun digging in the sand during the ceremony.

Oooo... the way the blue flags pick up the moody water of the sea....

Yes, with some bamboo poles from the hardware store, and some flags stitched by Mom (one of our few DIY - or DIFMP [for me, please] - projects), the flags define the wedding space without an altar or other religious symbol.

Sweet, simple bouts.  I'm not so much a fan of roses, and lavender wasn't allowed on the beach because of invasive species restrictions, so we ended up with rosemary (for remembrance) instead.


I'm a big fan of bright, non-matching wedding party outfits.  My Women of Honor decided that they wanted to match.  For the rest of the ushers and readers, we suggested the wedding colors of persimmon, pomegranate and cobalt blue.  They looked great!

Bright, bold blooms would energize the rustic setting, and echo the wedding party's bright colors...

Dahlias were lush, local, and seasonal!


Ok, one big difference between a SMP wedding and a DIY/ DIT one is the bushels of flowers.  I think we vastly under-ordered on the flowers, but they just weren't important enough to spend gobs of money on.


 In the final analysis, though, I like my bouquet even more than the inspiration photo!  Even more so because our florist adapted to the strict National Park restrictions to ensure that non-native plants could not invade the park.  (It occurs to me that I have absolutely no idea what happened to it after the wedding - flowers are so ephemeral.  Against all bridal tradition, we might have composted it!  Hopefully, the nutrients are returning to the soil, so that they and the love of that day can nourish flowers for someone else's wedding.)

*I no longer have the links or correct attributions for the inspiration photos.  If one of them is yours, please let me know and I'll post a link or remove, as you request.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vote Early and Often!

If you read this blog, it's likely that you also read some of the blogs that have inspired me, like The Broke-Ass Bride and A Los Angeles Love.  Back when I didn't think any one even noticed me, Broke-Ass was one of the very first commenters on this blog... to remind newbie blogger me that I needed to provide attribution of my sources of inspiration, including things I saw on her blog (ooops!  Thanks for the head's up on this rookie mistake!)

Dana, the original Broke-Ass Bride, consistently provides funny, thoughtful and eco-friendly commentary on planning a wedding on a budget.  Becca, of A Los Angeles Love, articulates a lot of the thoughts I've had about weddings and marriage with way more eloquence, insight and raw honesty than I've been able to muster.  I've enjoyed following their journeys, and appreciate the individual ways that each of these bloggers has used the lens of her individual challenges in wedding planning to provide insight into the larger phenomenon of planning a wedding in the US in the early 21st century. 

Both of these talented writers are among the finalists for the Wedding Channel's Best Bridal Blog Award.  Vote here (every four hours) for your favorite!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Green Revolution (in weddings)

After my post yesterday, I got to thinking what a huge impact more consciously sustainable weddings could have.

How many people get married each year?  2,152,00, according to this wedding report. (Imagine how that will grow as marriage equality becomes reality!)

Ok, so there are more than two million events each year.  Some are small, just close family and friends at city hall or in a house of worship.  However, the same report figures the average number of guests per wedding at 128.  So to balance out all the ten person weddings, there are some weddings with several hundred people in attendance.

All these guests have to be provided with refreshments and seating and entertainment, and therein lies a huge potential for positive change.

I'm inspired by the Green Congregations movement, in which Christian congregations affirm their commitment
to care for creation ...  [and] affirm the creation in all its glory and beauty. [They] acknowledge God as the source of all things.... As a result, [they] strive to respect all of life as sacramental. [They] accept our vocation as earth-keepers who care for creation. ...

What I like about this statement is that it's not dogmatic or sanctimonious.  It does not say how congregations should express their care for creation, only that they value God's creation and affirm their duty to protect it.
Further on in the Green Congregation handbook, specific steps are suggested, first for taking an inventory of how the congregation does business, including Worship, Education, Building and Grounds, and Public Ministry, and then suggests ways that congregations might work to lessen impacts in these areas (eg., install compact fluorescent bulbs in church buildings, reduce the use of pesticides on church lawns).  
Imagine how much difference just one of these actions would make: if every house of worship in the country stopped using toxic herbicides and pesticides on their lawns and gardens, we'd have many, many fewer tons of toxic compounds running off into storm drains, rivers, lakes and oceans.  And that's just from one tiny change.

Another example is Transition Towns, communities where folks gather to explore the question:  how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?

They raise awareness about current conditions, connect with existing groups in their towns, and assess various sectors of the town (food, energy, transport, health, etc.) to find out what actions are needed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create a more sustainable and liveable community.

I'm talking about the power of community here.  If people in a particular community, whether religious or secular, chose to change their lifestyles to take the well-being of the Earth into greater consideration, the cumulative impact of those actions can be HUGE!

Interfaith Power and Light is one such organization that helps religious congregations walk their talk in caring for creation.  Interfaith Power and Light
 [helps] buy energy efficient lights and appliances, provid[es] energy audits and iimplement[s] the recommendations, encourag[es] people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles and to drive less, support[s] renewable energy development through “greentags,” [and] work[s] on large-scale renewable energy installation projects such as rooftop solar and advocating for sensible energy and global warming policy.
Since weddings are (often) religious and spiritual events (supposedly 80% occur in churches and synagogues, but I'm not leaving you out, secularists), can we build on these ideas toward a Green Wedding movement?  Toward an authentic environmentally-conscious wedding movement, not another shopping spree for eco-friendly favors (though that could be part of it, if favors are a must).  

Not a 'greener-than-thou' competition over whose Mason jars have been used more often (passed down from my grandmother!) or how many tons of waste have been diverted from the landfill by forgoing disposable aisle runners and paper decorations, but a movement that begins with a thoughtful approach of assessing what is involved in the wedding, like the Green Congregations movement, and then thinking about how each of those components might be adapted to lessen their environmental impact.  

Maybe consultants like Interfaith Power and Light would spring up to assist couples in reducing their environmental impact.  Many of us already take on a careful calculus in seeking to lessen budgetary impact.  Can we incorporate environmental considerations, too?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Green? Really???

Seeing that some of my bloggy friends were vying for the Wedding Channels Bridal Blog Awards, I checked out the contenders.  It's exciting to see some of the awesome blogs that I've been reading ever since the first days of wedding planning being nominated for the title of 'best blog.'  I'm excited to see who wins!

But.... the category of Best Eco-Friendly Bridal blog is getting me down a bit.  Is this the best of the best when it to comes to planning an eco-friendly wedding???  Now, I love Green Wedding Shoes.  It's one of the few inspiration blogs I still read because the images are consistently gorgeous.  I've been reading it since... forever.... and a few sustainable weddings (including my own!) have been featured there.  But I never thought of it as an explicitly eco-friendly wedding blog. 

Are there no practical folks planning sustainable weddings?  Where are the offbeat eco-friendly brides and grooms?  We need stories and inspiration from real people, describing their successes and challenges in creating weddings that honor their love AND the Earth.  More stories like A Low Impact Wedding

Here's the challenge: it's time for those couples who are planning consciously eco-friendly weddings to step out of the background... come out of the forest... down from the mountain... out of the ocean... where ever you are hanging out, and share your stories of your green/ sustainable/ organic/ environmentally-conscious weddings.  If you've got one to share, I'll gladly feature it here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Notes from the field: Yosemite wedding

We had a spectacular time at Doc Water and Doc Bee's Yosemite wedding last fall. (It was so much fun that I took very few pictures!) Doc Water is one of those people who knows absolutely everyone, so it came as no surprise that one of her brother's in law was the co-owner of a lodge in Yosemite that was a perfect wedding venue.

Somehow, in the midst of finishing postdocs and preparing to move to the East Coast, the two doctors put together a super-fun and stylish wedding weekend, that included a scavenger hut, a crazy hat party, feathered angels wings, matching socks for all the male relatives, plenty of dancing, and, if the rumors are to be believed, some midnight streaking.

Read all about it at San Francisco Style Unveiled. And see a bunch more photos at First Comes Love - this is my favorite!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summertime Heaven: Homemade Lemon Gelato

Take Meyer lemons, handpicked from the tree out back.

Heat cream and eggs 'til steamy.

Stir in sugar and vanilla.

Cool, then...

Whirl in one of these:

Add you've got a little slice of summer heaven. Can't get enough of the stuff.

I was going into withdrawal after we returned from Italy, where we were on the constant lookout for the best gelato - which meant tasting many different varieties. Grom was declared the winner. Oh, you lucky New Yorkers - you've got one nearby!

We'll have make do with the recipe I found here.

So far, the ice cream maker might be our most-used wedding gift. Every time I use it, I remember the sushi and ice cream dinners my friend and I used to have. Could there be two more perfect foods?

This post has no affiliation with KitchenAid or Williams-Sonoma. I just love homemade ice cream.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Furla Fashion Fumble

After two weeks in Italy - which included four days in Milan, the fashion capital of the WORLD, and home to the flagship stores of such luminaries as Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Versace and Emilio Pucci - I came home empty-handed. Somewhat unbelievably.

When we left for Italy, my plan was to buy a decent handbag to upgrade my professional image, and more than likely, a pair of shoes, because, well.... I love shoes and Italians make wonderful shoes. With a plan and a full day on my own while Eric was lecturing, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that I would score some stylish Italian accessories.


My tour of the "Golden Quadrangle," Milan's fashion center, left me feeling a bit out of my element. If Gucci and Prada don't fit my lifestyle at home, what was I doing at these glitzy stores in Milan? When a $1200 evening gown at Valentino began to look reasonable (because, uh yeah, I have so many black tie events to go to...), I knew I had to get out of the neighborhood.

On the way to yet another cathedral, Eric and I passed a Furla shop. Angels were singing and a beam of light landed on a perfectly balanced, stylishly simple handbag. Laaaaaaaaaa!

I lust after these Italian handbags, but at $400-500 in the US, they're quite a bit out of my price range. When we stopped to admire the bags, I noticed that they were around 200 Euros. Still expensive, but far less than at home.

Much to my dismay, I paused. I choked.

My shopping karma deserted me.

We kept walking. I didn't throw down my credit card for one of those buttery-soft leather confections.

Now I see delicious handbags everywhere,

Morelle, who is sadly closing her shop.

or maybe it's still open here.

but they do not measure up to my Furla dreams.

Today's travel lesson: Know your exchange rates inside and out, so you can quickly calculate in your head (200 Euros = $247, fully half the price of a Furla bag purchased in the US!).

Also, know the approximate cost of things you are thinking of buying, easy to research on the web. I didn't fully realize the price differential between a Furla purchased in Italy and one purchased in the US until I got home and checked Furla US's website. Had I been aware of this difference, I might not have choked!