In the Spirit of Earth Day
A Sustainable Wedding
Text: Johanna Kaestner
Photography: Bride, Groom, and Guests
An organic, or "green" wedding may
have you thinking of drab colors, like the brown, natural coffee
filters you already use. This is a far cry from the wedding of your
Read how Eileen and Chris combined dreams and conscience in order to
celebrate their wedding in an environmentally responsible way.
Eileen creates the layout of the hall
Eileen was the first one to think "green." Her cousin, who owns an
organic tea company in Boston, had introduced her to cooking with
organic ingredients and taught her to take our earth's resources into
consideration. It soon became her way of life, and she was very happy
when she found a job in San Francisco working for a magazine with
social, cultural, and environmental issues on its banner.
Chris makes the bamboo frames
|A year later, Chris moved to San Francisco. Without knowing it
Eileen's aunt, Mim, played matchmaker. She had given Chris Eileen's
phone number before he moved to San Francisco. A year later their
friendship turned into love, and after a rather creative proposal, they
started to plan their wedding together. Read:
Eileen and Chris attend Grace Cathedral, an Episcopalian church
in San Francisco; they love the multicultural services there. However,
they knew the church was much too large for their ceremony, so they
picked St. Steven's Church in Belvedere in Marin. Its contemporary
design and simple wooden details appealed to them.
The church's brand new parish hall, a modern L-shaped building
made of steel, wood, and glass, was completed just in time for the
reception. The natural courtyard, adjacent to the new building, served
as the perfect place for the after-ceremony cocktails.
Having decided on the venue, Eileen and Chris were interested in a caterer
who could provide organic food. They found him in Russell Wegner, owner of
Work of Art.
Russell was someone they knew from their association with the San Francisco
Museum of Art, where they are members. Russell's company has a zero waste
policy, and his delicious fare is enhanced by the elegant buffet-scape
presentation. For Eileen and Chris he created a brook of shiny black pebbles
banked by bamboo and ferns, a natural setting in which to set out the
wedding dinner. The buffet dinner was creative California vegetarian based
cuisine. Meat lover guests could dine on seared, free-range chicken breast
with roasted pepper caper relish.
The wife of Eileen's cousin, a baker, provided the organic wedding cake. She
arrived from Boston with three frozen cakes in her luggage. There were Chris
and Eileen's favorites: German chocolate and carrot cake, and finally a
vanilla apricot cake. The cakes thawed during the trip, and could be
decorated on the morning of the wedding. The cake stand was custom-designed
by Chris and built by his friend Greg Kice from steel and bamboo. If you want to
purchase the stand, please send your offer to
One of Eileen's friends is a hobby florist, and Eileen entrusted her with the
designs for the personal flowers. She created the bridal bouquet with
wine-colored calla lilies accented with white freesias, Eileen's favorite
flowers. The "best women" sported bouquets of white tulips.
All invitations, announcements, and programs were designed by Chris and were
printed on recycled paper from New Leaf Paper in San Francisco. There was a quiz on
the back of the program: How well do you know the bride? How well do you know
Eileen and Chris looked for reusable favors made from sustainable products. They
found bamboo plywood which they used to assemble 3 x 5 picture frames, which
served as place card holder. The place cards were made of recycled paper mixed
Eileen discovered her wedding gown "en passant" in a small designer boutique
in the Russian Hill District. Disappointed by hours of fruitless search in the
city's bridal shops, she spotted the off-white gown in the Atelier de Modistes and immediately fell in love with it. It resembled her favorite
vintage dress, a hand-me-down from one of her aunts. Of course, this gown,
made to fit, was more expensive than she had budgeted. However, she felt
this dress, not made in a sweat shop, could rectify the expense. The
designer and owner of the boutique, Susan Hanley, first made a muslin
sample; she adjusted the neckline in the back, and added a puddle train.
|Originally Eileen wanted to have her bridal
gown made from a blend of hemp and silk, but she discovered that the
material was too soft for a bridal dress. However, she liked that fabric so
much that she handmade the men's ties, the table runner for the bridal
table, and a few cushions from this fabric.
Eileen had no bridesmaids. She called her three attendants "best women."
Chris also had three "best men." The flower girl was the "best little woman"
and the ring bearer the "best little man."
The entire wedding party walked together down the aisle, Eileen with her
mother. The couple included vows from Grace Cathedral, that acknowledged
different religious beliefs. There was no receiving line after the ceremony.
The newlyweds and their guests walked together to the reception hall.
Chris's Hungarian family heritage was the inspiration for the Hungarian
Gypsy band that played during dinner. The DJ was a friend of a friend. He
played mostly music from the seventies, to which everybody could relate.
Instead of a gasoline guzzling limo, a Toyota Prius was the vehicle of their
choice of transportation from the city. They hired a bus to bring guests to
the wedding, saving gasoline and solving the problem of limited parking.
This and That
The organic coffee served at the reception was the gift of one of Eileen's
clients. Eileen's cousin provided organic tea, and other relatives and
friends provided wine and champagne.
The couple was registered in stores close to their home, and they asked
these business not to wrap the gifts. The stores called them when presents
were ordered, and Eileen or Chris picked them up when ,
The Event Professionals
Venue: Parish Hall of St. Steven's Church in Belvedere
Wedding Dress: Atelier de Modiste, San Francisco