Planning an Eco-Indie Wedding

Picking out a wedding dress is one of the most difficult wedding decisions – period. When you are trying to keep your budget small AND maintain environmental sustainability, the challenge nearly doubles in complexity.

Having already searched Etsy.com for everything else for the wedding, it comes as no surprise that I combed the crafty site for gowns as well. Below are a few of my favorites that I am actually considering for my special day.

[[[ Note: there are many many many more gown designs than just these, but I already have a style in mind, so my choices are easily narrowed. ]]]

By CiCiBridal – $550

“This dress can be made in any color combo. Shown in a gold an ivory combo. This will be made in your measurements when purchased.”

By CiCiBridal – $699

“‘Caroline’ is one of our newest creations with beautiful lace fitted with a flare! This dress shown in ivory but can be made in white as well. Convo if you would like any other changes.”

By CiCiBridal – $499

“One of a kind truly! Something unique and special for your wedding day, shown in ivory but can be made in white as well. This dress will be made in your measurements!”

By vrreis – $850

“Dupioni silk red dress, bustier top and full hem with train.”

Thanks to a fun post from Style Me Pretty, I’ve become quite attached to the idea of using vintage milk bottles to hold the floral centerpieces at our reception.

It doesn’t seem like I’m going to have a hard time tracking them down either! Check out all of these choices from mysunshinevintage:

For an even more blatant vintage/rustic look, I could choose from the menagerie of vintage glass bottles and jars offered by atticeclectic:

_

Held right here in Connecticut, below are a few of my favorite elements from the wedding of Lisa Bartlett and Brett Mitchell, as featured on Brides.com.

At their lake-side ceremony, Brett’s parents escorted him down the aisle to a wrought-iron trellis where Lisa and her father met him soon after. “We scouted the land to find the best view,” says the bride of the trellis’s location on a grassy field overlooking the lake and forest.

Ceremony programs, crafted by Lisa with help from her sister, were made of brown recycled paper and ivory ribbon. By adorning their ceremony programs, cocktail napkins and wedding cake with a simple “M” (for Mitchell), the bride and groom tied together the elements without going overboard.

Pink cookie favors had a special message attached, letting guests know that a donation was made in each of their names to the American Cancer Society, an organization that’s meaningful to the couple.

[Images courtesy of Brides.com/Dasha Wright]

This image is from a different wedding on Brides.com, but I love the sign that the bride & groom made to describe/explain their non-assigned seating plan (which I want to do; Lisa and Brett also did this, but there was no good photo example).

[Image courtesy of Brides.com/Kiernan Conroy Klosek]

Always curious by the little-understood “mystic forces” of the universe, I was driven to dig deeper into the Cosmic Wedding Planner, presented by in Brides.com’s Astrology Guide.

Being a Gemini, it can be hard to nail down one type of style – especially since my sign is known for being full of variety and flightiness (a trait I’m very guilty of). So, do I live up to Brides.com’s idea of what works for a Gemini wedding? Let’s find out!

Your Bridal Style: Funky, eclectic, edgy, fun

Verdict: YES!

What’s Important to You

  • Fast-paced action and excitement
  • Cutting-edge style with dabs of tradition
  • An awesome music mix by the best DJ
  • Lots of variety and crafty touches

Verdict: Yes, except for the “fast-paced” part; I used to be that way, but now prefer things a bit more mellow, but still fun.

Wedding Dress: Let’s start with rule number one: Gaudy and girlie gowns must be “eliminated”. You’re a sporty sign that looks great in basics like tank tops and cargo pants, so why veer from what works? Gemini rules the arms, torso and waist, so choose a gown that flatters these areas.

With your biceps, you’ve got the right to bare arms, so go strapless or wear a simple, spaghetti-strap style with a jeweled sash at the waist. Avoid boxy shifts and overly structured styles and go for soft and fitted instead.

Striking a balance between masculine and feminine and structured and flowy is key. A unique or avant-garde gown, even a short dress, might suit your personality well.

Gemini rules the hands, and if you’re good with yours, you might even pick up needle and thread to make your own one-of-a-kind creation. A splash of color goes far, so don’t feel trapped in “bridal white”—let yourself dip into the rainbow for a dress you truly love.

Verdict: All 100% true. I plan on wearing a strapless, sightly fitted gown, so it sounds like I’m headed in the right direction already.

I’m still not sure about venturing out of the white-ivory-cream color family though; I am still a bit traditional in that aspect.

I have been having a hard time choosing between a full-length dress and a tea/ankle/calf length dress (very 1950s style).

Accessories: Emphasize your Gemini-ruled areas – arms, hands and torso. Adorn your wrists, even your upper arms, in cocktail rings, jeweled cuffs and intricate bracelets.

Or if you wear a super-girlie dress, create the striking contrast your sign loves with a tough leather wrist cuff. Gloves look sharp and unexpected on you, especially with a strapless dress.

You love to surprise people, so skip the dyed-to-match shoes and throw on some heels in shocking pink, neon green or electric blue.

Tuck a flower behind your ear or put on a fun headband—wear your hair loosely or flowing freely. A few hair gems and sparkly touches keep you feeling fun.

You get bored easily, so you might even wear your hair one way for the ceremony and in another style for the reception. Come prepared!

Verdict: I am certainly all about the hands and arms, though I don’t want to wear too much that would take away from the wedding ring. I love the leather cuff idea, but will skip the gloves.

No way will I be wearing dyed-t0-match shoes! I will be wearing flats, since I am already 2 inches taller than my fiance, but I plan to wear some nice yellow ones.

I always wear my hair down, so it would be nice to do something else with it. Of course, that also depends on how long my hair will be at that point. Nothing fancy, though – just some nice curls or a modest braided bun. I’m quite keen on the idea of wearing flowers in my hair. 🙂

Ring: Gemini rules the hands, so your ring should be a great fit, since it’s sure to be noticed. As the sign of duality, try a double ring or a contrast of masculine and feminine styles.

Jeweler Isaac Gottesman of Chicago’s Dimend Scaasi (dimendscassi.com) recommends a tension-set ring with a funky modern metal band that’s also curvy and feminine. The tension setting makes the diamond look like it’s floating magically.

Choose a princess-cut stone, which is square and ultra-sparkly and has lots of facets.

Verdict: Picking a ring is very hard because my own personal style morphs so often. Do I want something with stones or not? Should it match my engagement ring?

The one thing I do know is NO GOLD! I am very interested in palladium though. My fiance doesn’t wear jewelry at all, but he has found wedding bands made by Scott Kay that he really likes. The company offers palladium as an option, but I won’t about the sustainability of their creations and as a company.

Party: You put the “party” in bridal party, Gemini. Pack a limo with your loudest friends and hit the drive-through window en route to the chapel. As for dresses, there will be nothing stiff and formal for your maids! More like short, sexy and racy—or at least above the knee.

You might even put your bridesmaids in costume—they can dress as hula girls, for example, and put leis on guests’ necks as they arrive. You’re not big on having your bridal party look like clones (even if you are the sign of the twins).

To mix it up but keep some coordination, send your maids to a place like David’s Bridal, where they can choose from a range of tops and bottoms in the same color and fabric.

Verdict: This does sound a bit like me, though my bridal party will be quite small. I’m not doing any overtly-themed wedding, so the costumes are out, but I am going with the final idea of giving the bridesmaids a color and fabric, then letting them chose their own style. 🙂

Reception: Originality and diversity are the keys to your special day, Gemini. To satisfy your need for variety, think in contrasts. An indoor-outdoor wedding keeps things exciting and surprising. Find a caterer that specializes in “dinner by the bite,” where your guests feast on portion-size tastes of many fun dishes.

Since your mate is probably quite different from you, consider adding a unity candle to your ceremony, and have family members from each side light it to symbolically bring you together.

Aim for funky decor, like a chocolate-brown aisle runner with sky-blue or hot-pink variegated stripes. Bright, patterned tablecloths and chair covers can carry the color scheme onward.

As an air sign, you love to feel the wind on your face, so stage your wedding on a cliff or in front of dramatic windows. With your love of adventure, you could even skydive into your own reception and recite your vows while airborne—why not?

Theme weddings are great for Geminis too. Hire a mariachi band and go south of the border, or round up your favorite fiddlers for a hoedown barbecue celebration.

The key is fun, fun, fun. You are the kind of bride who jumps into the pool in full bridal regalia, getting the whole wild night started!

Verdict: Hooray for the indoor-outdoor wedding! That is exactly what my fiance and I are doing. 🙂

We aren’t quite sure exactly what we are going to do for the ceremony, though we both plan on writing our own vows and exchanging rings. I like the idea of a candle ceremony, but still need to share the idea with my fiance.

Bright colors and aisle runners are out – we do plan on using blue and yellow for our wedding, but it will be subtle while we let the beauty and nature of the Spring season shine through. We’re having the ceremony outside and won’t be using an aisle runner – not our style and yet another way to save money.

And I totally would jump in a swimming pool or ocean in a full wedding dress, haha – they got me there!

Flowers: It’s all about the best of both worlds for you, Gemini. The flloral and event designers of Martin Jobes Design (martinjobesdesign.com) advise you to pair full blooms with delicate buds of the same flower.

Lisianthus, anemone or freesia are great choices to showcase open blooms with the promise of buds. Or “mix in a surprise with the addition of a small grouping of colored blooms to one side of a white bouquet, or add a tailored cuff studded with ‘cuff links’ to hold your bouquet,” they suggest.

Customize each table at your reception with a slightly different mix of blooms and vessels at each table, suggests the Martin-Jobes team, or use a single color palette with a mix of flowers for a “unified look.”

Verdict: I’ll be designing all the floral arrangements myself, and I really like the “full blooms mixed with delicate buds” idea. 🙂 As far as flower types, I am really drawn to ranunculus the more I see them, but that’s the only flower I’m already set on.

I’m not sure if I’ll be using flowers, candles, or both for the table centerpieces … only time (ad the budget) will tell. The single color palate concept is a great idea!

Cake: Variety is your middle name, Gemini, and you’re always willing to try something different. Rather than serve just cake, place yours on a table surrounded by matching cupcakes, ice cream sandwiches and cookies.

With your impulsive nature, you know how fun it can be to grab a quick sugar fix! You love funky, mod color combos like chocolate brown mixed with aqua, hot pink or apple green. Karen Rivera-Gorski of The Painted Cake (thepaintedcake.com) recommends a “bold color contrast, clean lines and modern motifs.”

For your sign, she suggests a square dark-chocolate fondant cake wrapped in a hot-pink sugar ribbon and bow and adorned with hand-sculpted chocolate roses. If flowers are too girlie for your sometimes tomboyish sign, choose graphic symbols like polka dots and stripes or use cute retro piping. Gemini rules the hands, and you can be crafty in the kitchen.

You might even make your own cake or at least advise on the decor. As the sign of the twins, you like to mix and match. Alternate flavors between each cake tier and give your guests an unexpected, delicious surprise.

Verdict: There won’t be any pink, but there will be a variety! I love cake, cooking and cupcakes, but I’m not much of a fan of pies, so there won’t be any of those. My fiance and I already decided on a chocolate cake, though we keep debating over a traditional cake and a cupcake tower.

Invitations: Fashion your wedding invitations with the spirit of originality and fun. With your hands-on nature, you might even design your own layout or create a cool motif. Modern, graphic and colorful stationery is more interesting to you than a solemn engraved set.

Many Geminis are eco-friendly types, so explore the range of beautiful recycled papers and print with soy-based ink. Include crafty touches like stitching and fabric or make your own paper from herbs and flowers. You could even send a CD, a DVD or something other than a printed paper invitation.

“Gemini is the sign of the twins,” says invitation designer Karalee Serra of Simply Serra (simplyserra.com), “so the Gemini bride might use her wedding invitation to express a completely different side of her personality from what she shows the world day to day.”

Verdict: Making my own invitations has crossed my mind many times, but I’m already hired good friend and eco-designer Tara Hogan to do the deed. “Many Geminis are eco-friendly types” – too cool 😀 (Of course my invites will be eco-friendly!)

I am thinking about adding some machine stitching in a unique thread color along one side of the invitations, or maybe some rubber stamping on the envelopes …

Special Touches:

  • You love gossip, and your ruling planet Mercury makes sure you’re the first to hear it. Instead of a wedding program, make a tabloid-style “magazine” that tells the story of how you two met, written in sensationalized prose.
  • Appeal to both sides of Gemini and do a dramatic costume change, suggests wedding planner Danielle Bobish of Curtain Up Events (curtainupevents.com). Wear a traditional ballroom gown for the ceremony and change into a sexy mini or even a sassy suit for the reception to dance the night away.
  • Bobish also says to consider making an unexpected and creative getaway: If you’re near water, use a motorboat or matching Jet Skis! Land bound? Nothing screams adventure like leaving (or arriving at) your event on a motorcycle or a funky Vespa.

Verdict: The first idea is hilarious – and tempting. The second idea has crossed my mind many times, but for budget reasons, I doubt it will happen. The third idea rocks my socks and will depend a lot on the venue location we end up with; a swank Vespa would be my dream!

Honeymoon: Geminis are adventurous and active, so there won’t be too much lazing on the beach in store for you! Jet Skis, deep-sea diving, parasailing or some other extreme adventure is more your speed. You need lots of variety to keep from getting stir-crazy.

Wedding planner Danielle Bobish of Curtain Up Events (curtainupevents.com) suggests Thailand, where you can stay at a high-end luxury resort one night, then rent a beach bungalow for $10 and enjoy a campfire the next. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

Bobish recommends a full schedule of “fishing in the rivers with the locals, playing with monkeys, hiking the gorgeous beaches, riding elephants and indulging at amazing mountaintop spas.”

You love bright colors and tons of action, so head to Brazil for the Rio Carnaval, suggests Bobish. Get swept up in the floats and costumes, learn to samba from the locals and enjoy the sexy Brazilian beaches. A cruise can be fun too, since the variety and activities will keep your restless sign entertained.

Verdict:  Our dream would be to go to Italy, but we just can’t afford it. Instead we will be having a honeymoon that is a nice mix of active and indulgent relaxation at a spa resort in either New York state or Pennsylvania.

Final Verdict: They got a lot of it right and only a little bit of it wrong, but hey, astrology isn’t a perfect “science“! 😉

You probably remember the extensive list of cost-cutting wedding ideas I posted, thanks to Snippet + Ink. Though very crafty, Martha Stewart isn’t always the biggest promoter of money-saving concepts. Delightfully, that seems to be changing, by way of her 50 Ways to Trim Your Budget list on Martha Stewart Weddings.

Here are some of my favorites (many of which do overlap my previously-posted list):

Food+Drink

  • Limit alcoholic beverages to wine and beer, choices that will satisfy most of your guests.
  • Breakfasts, brunches, and afternoon teas are usually more affordable than evening receptions: They’re shorter, the fare is lighter, and guests tend to consume less liquor early in the day.
  • Buy your own wine wholesale. You’ll pay your caterer a corkage fee to pour it, but wine purchased through him can cost twice as much.
  • Most merchants offer a 10-percent discount for buying wine by the case, and they’ll often increase that if you purchase several cases at once.
  • If your caterer’s contract will permit it, hire an outside baker to provide the wedding cake. Even though you’ll have to pay a cake-cutting charge, you will likely pay less overall if you shop around.
  • Use expensive ingredients, such as lobster, in hors d’oeuvres rather than in a main course.
  • Dispense with a separate dessert course, and just present the wedding cake as dessert with coffee and tea to end the meal.
  • Order a moderately priced, plainly decorated cake, and make the focal point the cake topper. Vintage bride-and-groom figurines, wedding bells, horseshoes, a basket filled with fruit, or a pair of doves (from an antiques shop or handmade) are classic symbols that can make a cake memorable.
  • Instead of pouring Champagne all night long, serve just a single glass to each guest at the appropriate time to toast the bride and groom.

Flowers +Decorations

  • Mix berries, pinecones (for winter), and other economical nonfloral embellishments among costlier blooms to fill out bouquets and displays.
  • Bowls or compotes filled with seasonal fruits from a farmer’s market can take the place of expensive floral presentations.
  • A single pillar candle in a hurricane lantern is a wonderful centerpiece, as is a casual display of votive candles in the middle of a table.
  • Flowering bulbs — amaryllis, narcissus, and hyacinth among them — often cost less than regular flowers and are dramatic rising from a layer of stones set in clear containers.
  • Your florist won’t have to supply vases for your centerpieces if you have a collection of containers, such as jelly jars or milk jugs. Filled with flowers, such vessels make pretty displays.

Other Budget Tips

  • Try to keep the number of attendants as small as possible: The larger the bridal party, the more you’ll spend for gifts and flowers.
  • To minimize the guest list, refrain from inviting children and coworkers. Include your friends’ significant others but not casual dates.
  • Before signing a contract with your caterer, photographer, or florist, try to negotiate a lower, yet still reasonable price.
  • Borrow accessories from family and friends instead of buying them; this can also provide your “something borrowed.”
  • Ask talented friends or relatives to help with your wedding. An artistic friend, for instance, might design your stationery, or a baking enthusiast could make cupcakes or cookie favors.
  • The nicest wedding sites — parks, museums, public gardens — may be the most affordable.
  • Pay wedding costs with a credit card to earn frequent-flyer miles toward your honeymoon. Just make sure to avoid incurring interest charges by paying the balance in full each month.
  • After the event, donate your flowers to a hospital or nursing home; it’s a thoughtful thing to do and also a tax deduction.

Fellow elementary school classmates (just like my fiance and I), below are a few of my favorite elements from the wedding of Minhee Park and Truman Cho, as featured on Martha Stewart Weddings.

“In fourth grade, most boys are more interested in teasing girls than being friends with them. But even at age 9, Truman Cho knew there was something he liked about Minhee Park, his classmate at Laguna Road Elementary School in Fullerton, California. The two stayed friends throughout high school and college but it was not until 1997 (14 years after they first met) that Truman asked Minhee out on a date.”

“In keeping with the school theme, letterpress invitations, maps and reply cards were printed on vintage notebook paper by Minhee’s company, Paper + Cup. Attendance reports asked guests to indicate who was coming. All the components slipped inside a small manila folder printed with the couple’s names and address label peek through the outer envelope.”

“A desk on loan from a nearby school had apples for the teacher (actually seating cards). The placard on the table paid homage to Mrs. Cogan, Minhee and Truman’s fourth-grade teacher.”

“Each guest looked for his or her name, handwritten in perfect penmanship on vintage graph paper. The table number was indicated on a numbered sticker (made by running the paper through a sticker machine from a craft store) on each apple.”

“Vintage lunch trays were for guest to collect their dinner cafeteria-style. The wooden utensils were hot-stamped with the couple’s names, and paper napkins were rubber stamped with the date.”

“Each guest’s place was outlined in chalk on a roll of black paper. Red artist’s tape secured the corners to the tablecloth and single-flower arrangements rested in milk bottles, lattes bowls and ceramic tumblers. Votive candles illuminated paper bags trimmed with scalloping shears.”

“On the tables were pop quizzes about the couple for guests to fill out and deposit in drop boxes covered in paper. Minhee and Truman mailed the graded quizzes after the wedding with their thank-you notes.”

“No one could resist the blackboard guest-book station. Guests stepped up to doodle and write notes for the bride and groom. The blackboard was a backdrop for instant Polaroid photos that got placed in the guest book.”

“Self-adhesive photo corners were attached to the pages of a vintage accounting book in advance so guests could easily slip pictures into place.”

“Ice cream was one of the sweets served at the reception. The wood spoons were hot stamped with the couple’s names.”

[Images courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings]

Growing up in Indiana, surrounding by cornfields, I openly admit that I am partial to both country lifestyles and designs. This passion is a vivid inspiration for my new apartment and my upcoming wedding.

I heard about the great magazine Country Home recently and was delighted by their February 2009 issue. Unfortunately, I was crushed to hear that their next issue will be their last – Country Home has become a victim of the slow economy.

While perusing their site at nauseum over the weekend, I found some great crafty ideas that would work at home and at our wedding!

Bandanna Napkin Ring: To fit standard dinner napkins, cut a bandanna into 6- by 9-inch strips. Fold each strip in thirds lengthwise, then fold in thirds widthwise. Sew a button on one end, about 1 inch from the edge. (Choose any colorful loose buttons you may have on hand; they don’t need to match.) Then cut a corresponding buttonhole on the opposite end of the strip.
Doily Vase: Tightly wrap a doily around a vase. Snip away any excess, then hand-stitch the doily securely in place to create a snug fit. A clear glass vase creates an elegant illusion, but experiment with different vases and doilies to find a combination you like.
Floral Favors: Fashioned with small, sweet flowers from the garden or even the supermarket, nosegays make perfect party favors (or boutonnieres at a country wedding). Tie them with homemade ribbons that are made with pinking shears from floral fabrics. To keep the flowers fresh, cut them the morning of your party. You might want to provide small vases or containers so guests can tote them home.