9 Tips and Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Plan a wedding that aligns with your values, and you'll probably save a little money in addition to saving the earth.

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When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we knew it had to be low-key, casual and preferably outdoors. To this day, years later, I do not regret one thing about how we chose to say and celebrate our vows. And included in my list of non-regrets are the choices we consciously made to have as eco-friendly a wedding as we could. So as another anniversary approaches, I'm sharing those choices with you.

The pavilion at our local nature preserve in Birmingham, Alabama, turned out to be a wonderful location for a casual wedding reception.

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

The pavilion at our local nature preserve in Birmingham, Alabama, turned out to be a wonderful location for a casual wedding reception.

1. Location: Reserve a Preserve

After much deliberation, we decided to have our wedding practically in our own backyard at a nature preserve. Many city and county parks will allow weddings, especially if you plan the particulars, as will state and national parks. The “What if it rains?” question was ever-present (as it is with any outdoor wedding), but at a certain point, we just relaxed, left it up to Mother Nature, and in the end, it all worked out. Choosing a park or preserve not only gives you a beautiful spot to get married, but it also contributes financially and gives exposure to a place devoted to environmental stewardship.

Friends created simple arrangements of sustainably grown tulips in vintage Mason jars. 

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

Friends created simple arrangements of sustainably grown tulips in vintage Mason jars. 

2. Arrange Sustainably Grown Flowers

I would like to say that I used a local farm or gardener for our flowers, which is an excellent idea, but I did the next best thing that I could afford and purchased our flowers through the floral counter at Whole Foods (who sources sustainably and ethically grown blooms) and asked a very talented friend to arrange them for us using vases (mainly vintage Mason jars) that I’d collected over the years.

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Use Expensive Sparingly

For a rustic-style table, look at mixing bright and fresh-picked blooms. A mixed arrangement can also save money. Kathleen Hyppolite, owner of Kat Flower, suggests mixing expensive flowers with less expensive ones. "If you love peonies but can't afford heaps of them, use them sparingly. Bring in affordable flowers like roses, carnations and lisianthus. The peonies will still shine and elevate the other flowers."

©Kat Flower

Go Bold With a Single Color

For a wedding with a faraway feel, stick with bold colors. Dominant shades of pink can remind you of tropical beaches, while deep red can whisk you away to the Far East. Using a single type of flower to create arrangements can also cut down costs. "Stay with one or two types of flowers and let them carry through the entire wedding," says Janie. "A floral designer is sometimes able to get a better price if they are ordering boxes of a single type of flower. Plus, one or two flowers can make an impact, especially if they are in a bold or complementary color combination."

©Kat Flower

Find a Designer You Jive With

When working with a specific cultural aesthetic, identify a floral designer who can help you create the perfect look. "Before meeting with a floral designer, do your research. Does the designer's style work with the look of your wedding concept? What elements do you need designed? Once you determine your needs, a floral designer will help create areas of focus and impact that will demonstrate your concept and work within your budget," says Kathleen Hyppolite, owner of Kat Flower.

©Kat Flower

Use Greens to Stretch Your Dollar

Think small and loose-style arrangements for a rustic, organic feel. "When choosing your design, don't go for extremely tight, compacted styles that use tons of flowers. Pick lower arrangements that feature lush greeneries, like seeded eucalyptus, bear grass and plumose. The greens will help stretch out the size of the arrangement," says Janie Medley, owner of Janie Medley Flora Design.

©Kat Flower

Try the Local Market

This charming spring bouquet is tied with a swath of lace and an antique pin. For the DIY bride, "Purchase flowers from the local farmers' market. I would suggest you plan your wedding around the time when flowers are in abundance (like the spring season)," suggests Janie.

©Janie Medley Flora Design

Provide the Florist With Containers

Antique silver, Mason jars and even tin cans can be upcycled into vases. "Provide your florist with containers. You can save money if you find a comparable container yourself, but be sure to take measurements. A container with a larger opening will call for more flowers," according to Janie Medley.

©Janie Medley Flora Design

Go Seasonal

A blushing white bouquet will look elegant at a wintry white wedding. If you are getting married during the winter holidays, look for flowers that are in season. "Regardless of the season, brides looking to save money should always opt for seasonal flowers. Though this does not guarantee rock-bottom prices, it always helps when flowers are readily available and abundant," advises Kathleen.

Photo By: KT Merry ©Kat Flower

Expect to Pay More Around the Holidays

A holiday wedding may call for an arrangement of red and green flowers to accessorize cocktail and reception tables. When planning a wedding around Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day and New Year's, be sure to include extra room in your budget. Janie says: "The quality of flowers at these times is not as high, as the flowers are forced to bloom. Flower growers charge more for flowers around major holidays due to supply and demand."

Photo By: Wendy G Photography ©Kat Flower

Repurpose

Soft flowers like roses and ranunculus are a wonderful way to celebrate romance. If you need to be budget-conscious, repurpose flowers that were used during the ceremony. Janie suggests you "repurpose flowers from an arch or gazebo to work elsewhere when the ceremony is finished. Lay the bouquets of your bridal party around the cake table, or use the flowers from the aisle for the sweetheart and cocktail tables."

Photo By: KT Merry ©Kat Flower

Think Beyond Flowers

A romantic flower arrangement can also be accentuated with unconventional elements. Here, light and airy feathers complete an ethereal bride's bouquet. For eye-catching bouquets, centerpieces and all your floral needs, Kathleen gives a final word of advice: "Choose vendors that you like and trust. And trust in them to realize your vision so that you can enjoy your beautiful day." See 27 Floral Alternatives >>

©Kat Flower

3. Buy Booze in Bulk

Rather than buying lots of individual bottles or cans for our beer-loving friends, we chose kegs instead, which greatly reduced the amount of trash or recycling (or cleanup!) needed for our fiesta. We did use plastic cups, but luckily, the recycling opportunities available caught most of this un-eco-friendly clutter. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could ask friends who brew to make the beer for you.

My sister-in-law made our cakes, which were perfect. Choosing local vendors, including family and friends, is both budget-friendly and eco-friendly. 

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

My sister-in-law made our cakes, which were perfect. Choosing local vendors, including family and friends, is both budget-friendly and eco-friendly. 

4. Hire Local Vendors

Our rehearsal dinner and wedding reception were both very casual, and we chose local vendors — individuals who were friends or friends of friends — to provide the food for each. We had barbecue and sides for our reception from — get this — a gas-station BBQ joint that was amazing, and so many people asked for the pit master’s business card that he ran out. We also asked my now-sister-in-law, an avid baker, to make our cakes, which were fantastic. All these choices kept our radius of influence and purchasing small, which is a great eco-friendly practice in general.

5. Choose Compostable or Recyclable Dinnerware

Like I mentioned before, we went casual (better known as Rustic Chic) for our wedding vibe, so it wasn’t a stretch to use compostable paper plates and compostable flatware for our BBQ dinner. I ordered mine here (and so over-calculated the number needed that we are still using them for parties nearly three years later!). Bonus: Our eco-friendly location already had bins in place for recycling and composting, so that next step was already taken care of for us. If your location doesn’t have recycling bins, you could dress up a few and scatter them about with a friendly reminder to guests.

The locally grown heirloom tomato plants we gave as favors were a big hit. 

Photo by: BOB FARLEY/F8PH0TO.ORG, Bob Farley

BOB FARLEY/F8PH0TO.ORG, Bob Farley

The locally grown heirloom tomato plants we gave as favors were a big hit. 

6. Grow Plantable Party Favors

While I didn't source our flower from local farms, we did get our party favors — heirloom tomato plants — custom-grown by good friends at Maple Valley Nursery. They were nice enough to customize the plant tags for us, too. The best thing about this was seeing friends post pictures of their plants and tomato harvest later in the season, so it was like the joy of our wedding day was living on in our friends’ gardens all over the country. You could find a local grower to do the same for you, or opt for custom wedding seed packets, such as these wildflower seeds from American Meadows.

More Green and DIY Wedding Favor Ideas

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After Dinner Coffee

When the reception is over, send guests on their way with your favorite coffee beans. Bonus? These darling free downloads from Something Turquoise really up the cute factor.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Potted Succulents

Great for centerpieces and favors alike, potted succulents are a wedding trend that is only getting more popular with time. Don't forget to personalize them like Chelsea Costa of Lovely Indeed did here by painting the pots with your wedding colors!

Farm-Fresh Display

For a rustic wedding, store your seed packets in an old wheelbarrow with a cute sign as seen here.

Photo By: Gracie Blue Photography ©Gracie Blue Photography

Pretty Little Packages

Each one of these sweet and elegant little boxes is filled with homemade cookies in the same flavor as the wedding cake. Visit Etsy for original box kits like this that can be put together by you and your wedding party.

©Courtesy of Angela Belt; Photography by Wayne Lawrence

Sew Cute

These delightful DIY sewing kits are so simple to make, and they are great to keep in a purse or car for fashion emergencies. Learn how to make them at Something Turquoise.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Cotton Candy

Send guests home with a sweet and nostalgic treat when you string a clothesline with bags of delicious cotton candy. Photo courtesy of Tim Robison Creative

Photo By: Tim Robison Creative

Spice Things Up

Show guests that you know how to think outside of the box by sending them home with a hot and spicy treat. Download the labels from Something Turquoise.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Lollipop Pics

Add taste to your special day by putting an edible image on a sweet treat. Use your save-the-date or engagement photo to make the personalized pops. Lollipics come in 19 different colors and patterns in 11 different yummy flavors.

Photo By: Picasa ©LolliPics

Plant a Tree

Give a gift that keeps on giving when you supply guests with a way to plant their very own Scotch pine tree. Make your own kit, or buy it premade from MorganTheCreator on Etsy.

Photo By: MorganTheCreator

Cocktail Creations

Let guests take home a taste of your signature wedding drink by filling cute jars with dried rosebuds and a recipe for a Rose and Mint Champagne Cocktail. Get the recipe here.

Macaron Morsels

Decadent and delicious, bite-size Tiffany-blue macarons are the perfect sweet treat to give guests for the drive home. Get the recipe here.

Hand Stamped, Mail Ordered

If you love the idea of giving out coffee beans as favors, but you just don't have the time to do it yourself, you can even buy the beans already roasted and in custom-stamped packaging from AproprosRoasters.

Catch the Wind

For an outdoor wedding, how about a lighthearted pinwheel to catch the breeze? Make pinwheels to match the wedding's color palette, and include the name of the couple and the date of the wedding. Blank paper pinwheels can be purchased from Paper Source, along with ribbon, paint, stamps and more.

©Courtesy of Angela Belt; Photography by Wayne Lawrence

Fresh Fruit

Great for a summer wedding, fresh fruit is a healthy treat everyone can enjoy. For an extra-special touch, package seasonal goodies in cute color-coordinated boxes, like these ladybug boxes from PartyPail.com.

Photo By: PartyPail.com

Air Plants

Even easier to care for than succulents, air plants make a great wedding favor (and place holder) even for those without a green thumb. You can find these rustic beauties on thisfineday's Etsy shop.

Photo By: thisfineday

Ocean and Air

If you love the idea of air plants but prefer a more nautical look, place your plant in a sea urchin shell for an instant ocean effect. Or, simply buy them from peacocktaco on Etsy.

Photo By: peacocktaco

Mocha Magic

For a favor your guests will be anxious to use, make your own mocha latte mix in super cute test tubes. Find instructions and download the free label from Something Turquoise.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Seed Packets

Create your own custom seed packets out of old magazines, cards or other paper. Simply fill with seeds from your (or a friend's) garden for an inexpensive favor inspired by nature. Learn to make the packets here.

To-Go Boxes Full of Treats

Personalize the favor boxes by using a thin strip of grosgrain ribbon in your wedding colors. A sticker with your initials can be a nice finishing touch.

Photo By: {Lauren S. Myers} ©Courtesy of Myers Maison; Photography Marlo Herring

Candy Buffet

Place favor boxes by the dessert bar and have guests fill them with treats. Customize the bar with the wedding color palette or the color of the season. For a December wedding, use white candy and striped peppermints. The fun is finding the perfect desserts to match your color palette.

©Courtesy of Myers Maison; Photography Marlo Herring

Natural Elements

These monogram bags are made simply using paper bags, chalkboard tags and raffia. Place some sweet treats inside so guests can have something to enjoy after the wedding.

©Courtesy of A Little Happy; Photography Lizzie Ford-Madrid

Double-Duty Terrarium

A charming place holder that doubles as a sweet party favor, this DIY terrarium place holder via Green Wedding Shoes is the perfect, easy craft that is sure to impress your guests.

Photo By: Green Wedding Shoes

Musical Memories

A CD with a custom label that includes the bride and groom’s initials is a wonderful favor. Include songs from the wedding reception as a reminder of the special day.

©AphroChic.com

Savory Treat

Walnut-Rosemary Olive Bread: yum. Invite guests to break the bread with you and your new spouse with these sweet and savory loaves. Get the recipe here.

Souvenir Favor

For a destination wedding, look for favors that do double-duty. A Caribbean wedding uses cast-iron airplanes as place cards and favors for guests. Baker's twine is simply attached to a piece of card stock and then tied to the plane.

©Courtesy of AphroChic.com, Photography by Sungold Photography

Homemade Lip Balm

Cheaper and safer (no mystery chemicals!) than store-bought lip balm, homemade beeswax lip balm is a great wedding favor for men and women alike, especially during fall and winter weddings. Learn how to make your own lip balm here.

A Little Glitz

Send guests home with a little sparkle. Glitter-dipped cooking spoons are a useful, glam favor that will remind guests of all the fun they had at your wedding every time they cook! Get the full tutorial from Something Turquoise.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Candy Holders

Place cards are inserted into Ferrero Rocher candies for a tasty display. To create your own candy seating card, use stirrer sticks and affix labels with the name and table number on them. Then simply push the stick through the center of the candy.

©Courtesy of Tracie Strahan-Elvi

Tiny Bubbles

Give the bride and groom a sweet send-off with mini party bubbles. To tie the bubbles in with theme of the wedding, place them in small favor bags. Find the bubbles at Oriental Trading Company.

©Janie Medley Flora Design

Pickled Produce

Do you love to garden? Try pickling your produce to give guests a charming country treat and to make sure none of your bountiful veggies go to waste.

Country Classic

Great as a vase and perfect to send home with family and friends, personalized Mason jars are just the thing for a rustic country wedding. Make your own or buy a set from David's Bridal.

Sugar and Spice

Give guests a sweet treat that will make it past the car and into some of their favorite dishes with a cute set of infused spices. 

Photo By: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland

7. Pick Wear-Again Clothes

My bridesmaids might beg to differ, but overall, my husband and I tried to pick clothing for our small bridal party that would be wearable for many years and many occasions. He chose khakis and a simple navy sportcoat, along with white Chucks that he actually caught one of his groomsmen wearing before the wedding. I picked red dresses (that may or may not be considered wearable again) and let the ladies pick shoes they would be comfortable in and would definitely wear again. I actually wear my wedding shoes all the time and it always makes me think of that day (and how I flipped them off post-ceremony and danced barefoot most of the night).

Eco Idea: Restore a Vintage Wedding Dress

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The Dress Today

Wearing my mom's wedding dress made my most-special day that much more personal and beautiful and honestly, it was so much easier than I expected to make it my own. All you need is a bit of optimism — and a few thousand dollars.

©Daniel Krieger

The Dress in 1975

My parents (Neil and Helen) were married on May 17, 1975 — almost 39 years ago. After I got engaged in October I came home to Philadelphia, and my mom and I dug out the box with the dress inside. When we pulled it out for examination, it was a wrinkly yellow mess with purply-brown wine stains on one of the sleeves and torso.

Before Alterations

Luckily my best friend Jess works in fashion and is intimately familiar with the proper care and cleaning of couture. She recommended I take the dress to Madame Paulette, "the only people we trust at work with our gowns." I immediately called and made an appointment. There, the woman told me that it would go through a month-long cleaning and whitening process. She couldn't promise me anything except that "it will definitely be whiter than it is now." She also told me that since the fabric is a strong one, it would most likely hold up well during the process. There was hope! Still, I was a bit nervous that it would only become ivory when I wanted white. If I hated it, I'd be out $750 and I wouldn't have much time — only three months — to find a wedding dress. (Did I mention we were planning a wedding in four months?)

Step 1: Cleaning

When I returned in December, I was ecstatic: The dress was sparkling white and the wine residue was gone. If Madame Paulette isn’t viable for you, I’d look for a cleaner that specializes in couture and/or wedding gowns. This is important so they understand the proper care for the fabric. I was lucky that my mom's dress was thick and sturdy; other delicate lace dresses don't hold up as well.

Step 2: Alterations

But our work wasn't done yet; the dress still needed to be altered. Enter Jess, once again, who recommended I take it to Lars Nord, a tailor to the stars. His work isn’t cheap -- we wound up paying him over $3,000 — but damn if it isn't the best. He told me we could do whatever I wanted to make it my own — but suggested slicing off the arms and adding tiny lace cap sleeves to make it more modern. He pulled in the bodice to make it slimmer all the way down and added a small train in the back for more drama.

Rockin' That Dress

There are tailors who will do it for less, but I didn't have the luxury of time to shop around... plus I knew Lars would do the best job. Again, make sure you are clear about your wants and expectations for the dress and that this tailor has altered wedding gowns before.

©Daniel Krieger

CI-Daniel_Krieger_Jamie-Shupak-wedding-floral-headpiece_h

Mine turned out even better than I ever could have imagined; it transformed from 1975 beauty to 2014 perfection.

Jamie Shupak Stelter and Brian Stelter know TV: She's the traffic reporter for NY1 in New York City and he's CNN's senior media correspondent. Now the two are bringing their talent to ulive with two original series: TV Dinner with Friends and TV Weddings .

©Daniel Krieger

8. Register for Give-Back Gifts

I hear some version of this from brides in their 30s and beyond: “I don’t feel like registering, because I already have all the dishes I need.” One bit of advice is that people are going to get you gifts no matter what, so you might as well pick some stuff you want. In our case, we did register for some nice kitchenware, but we also registered at REI for camping and outdoor gear we needed or wanted. Unconventional, I know, but our guests actually really enjoyed buying the random backpacking egg holders, headlamp batteries and such on our list, knowing they’d be a part of our adventures to come and would help us enjoy the outdoors, which is a major part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. However, we also asked for donations to various charities in lieu of material gifts, including donations to the river conservation organization through which we met.

9. Make a Mindful Exit

When thinking about our getaway after the reception, my friend, naturalist and fellow blogger Michelle was adamant that we not throw birdseed, as the mixes can often contain seed for non-native plant species. Instead, she created a mix of native seed that guests could scoop up and toss (only in designated areas) to preserve the native-planting plans at the preserve. You can buy bulk seed from places like American Meadows and do something similar — just check with your location to make sure you’re not seeding anything they’re trying to keep out. You want your wedding to be part of the solution, not the problem.

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Rustic Charm in the Mountains

Virginia, Managing Editor for Special Projects, and her husband Chris were married at a charming bed and breakfast in the Highlands of North Carolina. Maddie the dog just came along for the ride.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

An evergreen backdrop sets the stage for the happily-ever-after. The bride and groom recited their vows under an archway lined with pretty white hydrangeas.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

The late summer affair was held outdoors. A garden wedding can be a gamble, especially in the summer. Fortunately, Virginia and Chris didn’t have to resort to a plan B, the rain held off.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

Virginia’s bouquet was comprised of baby blue hydrangeas, soft pink roses and baby’s breath. A navy satin ribbon was a nod to the traditional “something blue”.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

After the ceremony, guests made their way up to the main house for cocktails and hor d’oeuvres. A simple and refreshing spiked Arnold Palmer made of sweet tea vodka and lemonade was served. There’s something about a signature cocktail that adds a festive flair to any event.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

The juxtaposition of the formal script on a burlap surface helps create the rustic-chic look.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

A menu card was tucked inside the elegant table setting.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz, our Production Coordinator, and her golf-loving husband Bobby said their vows over looking the 18th hole on a picture-perfect June afternoon. Liz’s mom made the elegant aisle runner with a bolt of satin fabric and 3-foot-tall sticky decals.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz is an ardent fan of University of Tennessee’s football team (Yay, go Vols!). So much so, she paired the team’s color, bright orange with a pretty pink fuchsia.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

The vibrant wedding colors add a big pop of personality to the country club’s Tudor-style setting.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Silver water pitchers and vintage teapots were used to hold bright bouquets of summer hues.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

The golf theme was carried throughout the wedding. The drink cozy favors reiterate the couple’s promise of eternity by stating “no mulligans” (if you don’t speak golf, that means no do-overs). Liz and Bobby also tweaked their wedding vows a bit and replaced “for better or for worse” with “through birdies and bogeys”.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

For additional decor, the bride’s aunt covered big books in the wedding colors and then used her excellent penmanship to personalize the book spines.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz and Bobby didn’t forget a single detail, they even made sure the bathrooms were properly adorned with their wedding colors.

©Temple Photography

Farms and Fields Forever

For farm-girl Karli, our Corporate Marketing Manager, sparkling wedding bands looked even more radiant on top of a rusted tent pole.

Farms and Fields Forever

Karli's bouquet combined succulents, calla lilies, peacock feathers and ranunculus with a beautifully-wrapped grapevine. All flowers were grown locally on a farm in Corryton, Tenn.

Farms and Fields Forever

The mothers of the bride and groom wore stunning corsages made of deep purple calla lilies and colorful peacock feathers, a nod to the bride's lovely bouquet.

Farms and Fields Forever

Fresh greenery lined the tables and added to the natural, outdoorsy feel of the farm wedding. Each centerpiece was composed of vines, twigs and ivy all found on the florist's personal farm.

Farms and Fields Forever

A couple of love birds donning a veil and top hat adorn the three-tiered amaretto wedding cake.

Farms and Fields Forever

Upon their grand exit, the bride and groom walked down a shimmering path as guests lined the sides waving sparklers and wishing them farewell.

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Marianne, our Productions Coordinator, and her southern gent Aaron were married at Castleton Farms in Loudon, Tenn. Aaron's unique groom's cake featured a bronzed cowboy boot that once belonged to his grandfather.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Marianne's wedding gown was already stunning, but she had a few alterations made to make it truly one of a kind. Her dramatic cathedral-length veil was made of Italian lace and completed the look beautifully.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

A beloved bride, Marianne was surrounded by friends on her big day. The 12 bridesmaids looked gorgeous in periwinkle gowns, carrying bouquets of white hydrangeas and peonies.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Because she wanted a classy southern vibe, Marianne chose to skip the popular tulle flower girl dresses and instead opted for classic white smock dresses. The flower girls carried simple moss baskets made by the florist, Brian Davis.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

As Brian is the featured wedding florist for Blackberry Farms, it is no surprise that his work is simply stunning, particularly this jaw-dropping table runner made of hundreds of hydrangeas. "I showed him a picture but didn't think he would really make it," says Marianne. "I was in tears when I saw it. It couldn't have been better."

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

To feed their almost 400 guests, Marianne and Aaron had a seven-tiered wedding cake covered in hydrangeas and peonies. It was so large that a stand had to be made, because they couldn't find one big enough. The delicious cake had layers of almond, lemon and almond with a raspberry glaze.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Since their wedding had an open bar, Marianne and Aaron wanted to make sure guests had something to eat before driving home. The caterer asked if they would rather have mini gourmet burgers, but the couple opted for Krystals on a silver platter. They were passed out on the dance floor, and Marianne and Aaron even took a sackful for the road!

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly, our Programming Manager, and her husband, Derek, were married at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in Birmingham, Alabama. Friends, family and easy DIY projects made their budget-friendly wedding and reception possible.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly and Derek adapted an outdoor classroom area at the nature preserve to become their ceremony site. Simple touches made it prettier and more comfortable, and friends chipped in to decorate all day before the afternoon ceremony. For example, friend and Made + Remade blogger Michelle Reynolds framed the ceremony focal point with grapevine and native plants.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Here, a friend (Elizabeth Brooke) covers the rustic wooden benches with fabric to make them more comfortable and to indicate that they’re reserved for parents and grandparents.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly and Derek held their reception in an open pavilion at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. Basic folding tables were dressed up with inexpensive canvas dropcloth (available at big-box home and garden stores) and handmade burlap table runners. Kelly also made a pennant banner to denote the bride-and-groom table.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly’s own collection of blue and clear Mason jars served as centerpieces filled with tulips ordered through the local Whole Foods floral counter, which proved to be a budget-friendly way to source fresh flowers.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

For wedding favors, Kelly and Derek asked friends who run the local Maple Valley Nursery to grow out heirloom tomato plants. For the summer months, after their late April wedding, friends sent reports about and pictures of their tomato plants and harvests.

Photo By: BOB FARLEY/F8PH0TO.ORG, Bob Farley ©BOB FARLEY/F8PHOTO

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

The groom’s older sister, an avid baker, made cakes for both the bride and groom. For Kelly’s cake, she experimented with gluten-free recipes until she got one that was just perfect.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

The centerpiece of the wedding decor was a quilt that many friends and family members contributed to and a close friend coordinated. Each quilt square represents a special memory or message. The group, many of them first-time quilters, presented the keepsake to Kelly the morning of the wedding. Throughout the reception, guests lingered around the wedding quilt to share stories about the couple.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

1975 Revisited in Vegas

This is Watson — in the three-piece blue denim suit — he's our Programming Manager. He and his beautiful wife Kelly said their vows not back in the 70s, but just a few years ago at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

1975 Revisited in Vegas

The ceremony was presided over by a divine holy man dressed in a white, bedazzled jumpsuit and sacred Hawaiian neckwear.

1975 Revisited in Vegas

If you’re planning a throwback wedding, don’t ignore tradition. Watson adhered to the longstanding custom of wearing “something old (the Disco shirt); something new (the boutonniere is fresh); something borrowed (Elvis called, he wants his platforms back); and something blue."

1975 Revisited in Vegas

Getting married can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Watson and Kelly announced simply "We're getting married in Vegas," and extended an open invitation knowing any excuse is a good excuse to fly to Las Vegas. What better way to celebrate than to get wild and crazy with your friends and family?

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