Wedding Trends: Ideas for Going “Green”

Door County makes you think of “green”; the beautiful green waters of the bay, the lush surrounding farms and state parks, the local fresh produce and cuisine. But when planning a wedding, one can’t help think about all of the “green” that you’ll be shelling out to make your special day spectacular and some brides are also concerned about the environmental impact their day may have on the beautiful county we love.

Green Ceremonies

Most green brides come educated on the topic according to Lisa Carlson of Cottage Garden Wedding Event Planners & Flower Shoppe. “They want a ceremony close to nature, preferably outdoors by the water, in a park, on private property, or by a barn — somewhere that shows off the beauty and nature of Door County.” Bridal party kicks off a good time on the grounds of the Alpine Resort's golf course. Photo courtesy of Door County Wedding and Event Planners & Flower Shoppe. Bridal party kicks off a good time in Ellison Bay. Photo courtesy of Door County Wedding Event Planners & Flower Shoppe and Art of Exposure Photography. With 5 state parks, public nature preserves like the Ridges Sanctuary or property held by the Door County Land Trust, there are quite a few spots in Door County that have low fees (or are free) and a beautiful, natural backdrop for a ceremony. Larry Majewski of the popular Spanish style restaurant, Parador in Egg Harbor, finds that “greener brides will try to confine the church, festivities and lodging to a single village so that guests are not driving all over the county for each event.”

Local Food

Local sourcing of food also helps the green effort and Parador takes that seriously where they proudly to featuring pork and lamb from local Waseda Farms.

Waseda Farms is a Certified Organic farm  located in Baileys Harbor. Photo courtesy of Waseda Farms. Waseda Farms is a Certified Organic farm located in Baileys Harbor. Photo provided. “Our whitefish is sustainably caught by the Hickey Brothers out of Baileys Harbor. Our beef and chicken is organic and from within the state. We know our farmers by name. We work closely with Kathy at Greens N Grains, and Dale from Lynn-Dale Farms, for seasonal, organic vegetables.” Larry feels it’s their responsibility to be environmentally responsible, but it is an especially good feeling to deliver a dish to a table and tell them exactly where it comes from. “Aside from some very Spanish ingredients, we prefer food our food to travel as little as possible. When we receive food we waste very little. For example, a chicken arrives whole and is broken down into breasts for our Roast Chicken, leg and thighs are used in our Empanada, and whatever is left is used to make chicken stock.”

Sustainable Favors & Decor

Larry also sees that green brides have been looking to local businesses to pick up place settings, décor accents or favors, and define their wedding as authentic Door County. And that’s something Mike Felhofer of Door County Candle Company can confirm. Soy candles from Door County Candle Company are a great way to incorporate a "green" philosphy into your wedding.“We see a lot of couples in our store planning their weddings and a lot of honeymooners as well. Many like the idea of using our locally produced candles as part of their special day for burning during receptions or, with the ability to customize labels for them, as party favors or part of gift baskets for their guests. They all appreciate the handcrafted nature and quality of our products. We also help a lot of couples with candles and a wide range of decorative accessories used in centerpieces.” Personalize the message on your Door County wine. A great way to be a thoughtful "green" bride.This type of sustainable purchasing and personalization isn’t unusual, but has become the norm for brides looking to add a special touch to their wedding without adding to their wedding “footprint”. Door Peninsula Winery also allows you to personalize your wine labels for a small fee which makes for a nice wedding favor or gift to the bride and groom, and bottles have become popular in centerpieces at the reception or upcycled by crafty bridesmaids at bridal showers. “Recycling is very important, green brides want everything eco-friendly,” states Lisa Carlson who has seen many unique ways that bridal couples have incorporated sustainable values to their wedding planning and ceremonies. “Food or cake leftovers can be donated to a local charity. For jewelry, some love to have their wedding rings designed and created by a local artist, or vintage pieces incorporated as decorative accessories. In the spring, brides can incorporate the natural beauty of Door County by decorating with cherry and apple blossoms and in the fall beautiful colored branches surrounded by gourds and pumpkins.” She has also seen potted plants or herbs given as favors to guests as a keepsake of the day’s memories. Farm market, fall wedding pumpin pic by Avenson Photography. You can find picture perfect farms and Farmers Markets all over Door County. Photo by Avenson Photography.

Local Flowers

Local flower farms like Blossoms in Sister Bay, McKeefry & Yeomans in Ephraim, and Door’s Fleurs in Brussels give brides local options for their bouquets, decor and centerpieces. Many of them focusing on local varieties and offering fresh cut blossoms for your event. Sarah Cilley of Door’s Fleurs is not new to the green cause, and it’s one of the things that drives her business in Door County. (See her farm and find out more in her interview last year: 10 Minutes with: Sarah Cilley.) She has seen the impact of transcontinental shipping and wants brides to have a local source for their floral needs. “I was President and CEO of a transportation company, a 48 state motor carrier. Our trucks burn fossil fuels to get 6 miles to the gallon loaded, if we’re lucky. Can you just picture a shipment going coast to coast with tens of thousands of trucks running daily doing the same thing?” She now operates her flower farm in Brussels and prides herself on sound horticultural practices and management. She recommends using native floral species and utilizing flowers that are in season saying they’re more fragrant, “I believe the beauty of a flower comes from not only the sight but the smell of it. Aroma therapies and scientists have captured and bottled their unique fragrances, but to hold it and smell it from the source is refreshing and hard to duplicate.”

Wedding Recycling

Another thing that’s hard to duplicate is the inventiveness and creativity of brides themselves. One of the latest trends in the wedding industry is rummaging. I’ve personally seen many wedding dresses, centerpieces and even signs and other décor pop up on my Facebook feed and people clamoring to snap them up. Facebook wedding rummaging. Pages like Door County Rummage on Facebook have become a popular way of getting bridal supplies for less. Newly married, Kate Rispens of Sister Bay is one of those recycling brides. “I used a ton of rummage sites and auction sites for hunting for wedding supplies. I found lots of decorations used on eBay and on the Wedding Bee wedding forum … I made almost all of my decorations myself including the centerpieces, cake tower, candle holders...you name it and I made it! I love crafting so picking up bits and pieces of things to create beautiful decorations was a blast!” She has found that Facebook is the best way to recycle your pieces since unlike eBay there are no fees. “I'm definitely finding glass cylinders and centerpiece stuff goes FAST! When shopping I swear it was listed and before I could email someone to say I'd take it was gone. Glass pieces for centerpieces are expensive and you need a lot of them. Being glass they clean up to new with a wash and are easy to sell.” She has also found that Craigslist works well and is in the process of hunting all the wedding resale sites as we speak. “No need to hang onto all of your wedding decorations if you can rehome them to someone who can use them...you get some money back and they can save some. It's a win-win for everyone involved.” Green is not going away and seems to becoming more a part of everyone’s lives including brides and grooms, and Door County businesses have risen to the challenge making it the perfect destination for a fabulous, worry free wedding. I hope this has given you some ideas on how to incorporate conservation philosophies into your wedding, and if it’s sparked a few ideas or you were a “green” bride, please comment below.  I love to hear your stories and tips.

Bonus Tip: Lodging

Find out who's Travel Green Certified in Door County! Launched in 2006, Travel Green Wisconsin promotes smart, environmentally friendly businesses offering certification to those with a total of 35 points or more in nine sustainable, eco-friendly categories ranging from waste reduction to education and landscape conservation.