Earth Day – No sacrifice is too small!

As we celebrate Earth Day 2011, we are reminded via news and television that there is a lot that needs to be done to reduce our carbon footprint, and that every small step you take is a step in the right direction.

Change is hard. You are used to doing everything in a very specific manner and when you go about change, it is a struggle at first. Those darned compact fluorescent light bulbs were so expensive at first it was hard to justify buying them but, slowly the prices cam down as  the impact of each bulb was slowly steeped into our psyche. Why do they even sell regular light bulbs anymore?

Planning your wedding, preparing for the largest social event of your life , one that will change the way you think, sign your name, make the bed and just about ever other seemingly mundane task is the  perfect time to begin thinking about how your actions impact the planet.

Here are the 5 best things you can to do reduce, reuse or recycle on your wedding day:

1) Talk to your jeweler and insist on conflict-free diamonds. The Kimberly process was enacted to prevent the illegal trade of  “blood diamonds” whereby mine workers are tortured, mutilated or killed. That’s not even the worst part, the worst part is almost 100% of the money goes back to those who perpetrate this violence. Conflict free diamonds come with a certificate of authenticity and are readily available at retailers everywhere.  Insist on  them!
2) Digital Photography allows  you to be able to view all of the proofs and print only the ones you wish to keep. Before you say anything, remember that digital cameras (especially the ones used by professionals) will produce the same kind of image as standard 35mm photography. If your photographer uses both,ask if you can get digital proofs.  Avoid single -use cameras at all costs.

3) Limousines can reduce gas emissions greatly when you consider the alternative of 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen driving individually to an event. Boom! You’ve just saved several gallons of gas! If you can find a limousine company that has alternative fuel vehicles or even hybrids, BONUS!

4) Buy locally grown food and flowers. It saves money, transportation and labor costs. You have reduced the handling time and you will have fresher, healthier, more desirable vegetation and probably save a few dollars in the process. It’s a win/win.

5) Consider giving your guests favors that will make a difference. Mini-trees, flower bulbs, plant able papers all can be wrapped in organic or biodegradable paper with raffia. It will be organic and visually appealing!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal expo Chicago

Green Weddings – the big picture

It is almost Earth day and I can think of no better time  to discuss the impact of waste. All of the plastic bottles, plastic ribbons, containers of all shapes and sizes that come with the packaging of an event! Yes, in all fairness they are mostly recycled but for every plastic option you are presented, there is probably a sustainable alternative.
Consider this:

Consumable gifts- Party favors that your guests can take home don’t have to be tchotchkes. You know, those things you take home and put on a shelf and then dust once a week. Be creative! Dress up some fancy chocolates or soy candles with organic tissue paper and a raffia bow. Tiny trees in a glass tube are great mementos, think about everyone at your reception planting a tree that you gave them…. they are really affordable, too.

Guest Book options are out there in droves. If you hate the idea of purchasing something that will be put away in a box (possibly forever), how about a large framed photo of the couple with an even larger mat where all of the guests could sign it. It will be framed and hang on your wall for eternity. Another great idea is a video guest book completely edited onto a dvd which you can pop in the player from time to time and have a look at how young everyone was ‘way back when’. There are tons of options available.

Candlelight is romantic and flattering. Candles can also be very bad for the air you breathe considering many candles are scented with chemicals and perfumes. Flameless candles are battery powered and look exactly like the real thing. If you must go with real candles use only soy , beeswax or vegetable based ones.

No plastic or paper. If you feel strongly about this, have a discussion with the catering manager at your venue. Although cloth napkins will be at the dinner tables, paper napkins will probably be at the bar. Ask them to omit these and be prepared to offer another alternative.

No balloons. Latex is plastic.  If you must  have balloons ask for Qualatex or Betallic brands.  Both are 100% biodegradable and have a half life of about 3 weeks (not very long) both are made with natural latex instead of plastic.  Mylar balloons can be re-used several times if they are handled properly. Check with your balloon resource.

Rice is fine. Birds do not die from eating rice. If you want rice thrown at your wedding, have at it. Make sure the pouches are reusable or biodegradable.

Bird Seed is better. Of course the birds will love you. Will the church? Will the best man get to the reception without a stain on his jacket?

Grass seed is best. Find out what kind of grass is at your site and buy a few bags of it. The birds will eat some of it, sure. But, a great deal of it will wind up on the grass and eventually produce more oxygen.

Sunday is Earth Day –  Take the bus or walk to work if you can and turn off the lights for an hour – it will make  great cuddle time!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Green Weddings Part Two – Invitations

One thing is certain when you are planning your wedding; the invitation should give the guests all of the information they need to know about what kind of event it will be. Aside from the printed words describing the date, time and dress code, the  style of invitation and the actual paper itself are big clues as to what one can expect on your big day. You should choose your invitations accordingly and don’t forget to order the matching Thank You cards!

When you add the layer of eco-consciousness to your affair, it might seem that you will have fewer choices. In this case, it is the contrary. Make no mistake, though, when your guests get your invitation they will understand that you are making an effort to reduce waste . Take this into consideration: Half the trees felled in the US every year are used for paper, and an estimated 30-40 percent of our landfills are filled with paper waste. And in case you didn’t know, the manufacture of paper is a nasty, toxic process that leaves a trail of waste and destruction. WOW! …and YUK! 

Conscientious  retailers and clever manufacturers have finally realized these devastating facts and have started making and marketing paper products that are eco-friendly and attractive! Your guests will understand your commitment to the environment as well as to one another.

Recycled Paper is made from post-consumer waste. Specifically, old paper. Recycling paper saves tons (literally) of trees. Paper can be whole or part recycled and can also be mixed with other pulp products. One thing is for sure – when it is recycled, it is clearly marked. Look for the “Recycle” logo. It will look and feel just like any other paper.

Tree Free Paper is made of various fiber rich products like hemp, sugar cane, kenaf, bamboo or (ready?) elephant dung. Not one tree is used and all of these papers are made from the surplus of one product or from a highly sustainable resource. Hemp paper was used by Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Indpendence and also used to print the very first Gutenberg Bible… so it has been around for some time and lasts forever without yellowing. All of these papers look and feel organic, they have texture and a timeless, elegant beauty similar to parchment.

Plant-able Paper is  hugely popular!  Imagine after the wedding instead of throwing out the invitation, your invited guests can actually plant the invitation into the ground and flowers or herbs will grow. An amazing reminder of the day, this will be the most talked about invitation ever received.  The instructions are easy and are included with each invitation. A powerful message to remind other subliminally that love grows like a plant and it needs some nurturing along the way.  These papers have some depth due to the implantation of seeds, don’t let that discourage you, the papers are wonderful to hold in your hand, if only for a moment, before they go back to the earth. You’ll be tempted to save them – but don’t.

The only option for Greenies that I strongly disavow is the urge to go paperless. For Tupperware parties, children’s birthdays, and neighborhood pot lucks, e-invitations are fantastic. It saves time, money and trees. However, your wedding is such an important event in your life and of those who love you, to even entertain this idea for a wedding invitation is simply a big no-no. Times change and so someday this may become the norm. I’ll let you know when that happens.

If you are interested in eco-friendly options for your invitations or if the environment is your cause du jour, following three simple rules will allow a good night’s sleep and a clear conscience.

1) Talk to your stationer about eco-friendly options.

2) Make Sure the paper being used is 100% recycled waste.

3) Use a company that uses products made from sustainable, renewable  or plant-able products. By making this commitment to your partner and the earth together you can rest assured that your invitation will stand out as one that is unique and memorable. The earth will thank you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Green Weddings! Step One – Flowers

Earth Day is only 4 days away and in celebration of Mother Earth, I am dedicating every day this week to a different topic on how to “Go Green” with your wedding. 

Going Green is not just about recycling or re-using, it is also about using products that reduce your carbon footprint. Simply put, your carbon footprint is based on how much CO2 is generated by the goods you consume.


Flowers are green, the foliage is green and the leaves and stems are almost always green. But not all flowers are created equal. Brides and grooms today have so many more options than those of days gone by. Even as recent as ten years ago,”Going Green” was more of a chore than a choice and there were few (if any) options  for an environmentalist. If you are an eco-conscious couple you will want to consider these tips:

Buy locally – Many flowers sold in the U.S. are shipped from faraway places  (China or Ecuador). Logically, flowers flown in from other parts of the world require much more carbon emissions that flowers grown locally.  Transportation, shipping, handling all contribute to higher CO2 levels being emitted into the precious atmosphere. The bonus? Local flowers are generally cheaper and you are contributing to the local economy.

Use Organic Flowers – Organic flowers seems redundant. After all, they should all be organic..right? yes, and no. Some flowers are grown in conditions that require intense amounts of nasty pesticides. If you are a staunch environmentalist,  pesticide-free flowers are the only option. The bonus is that organic flowers actually smell like flowers!!

Potted plant centerpieces – A single potted Orchid will look smashing at the center of your table. Hydrangeas and Tulips are popular potted options as well. Worried your tables will look like the garden center at Home Depot? Relax, a qualified florist can transform an ordinary potted plant into a masterpiece.








Grow your own –  Although it may seem ridiculous, it is entirely possible for even the novice to grow tulips, paper whites, Amaryllis or Hyacinth to be used to accent the room.

Talk to your florist– By far the most important piece of advice ever given! I strongly advise having a conversation with your florist about how you can go green. If you want to grow your own bulbs – great! Talk to your florist (first) to see how they can incorporate these into your scheme. I will issue a strong warning to all brides: Do not attempt to design and arrange your own centerpieces or bouquets. It is a mistake.  Unless your Aunt Fanny is a certified, trained florist – don’t let her do it, either. Just because she makes centerpieces for the Junior League once a year does not mean she can handle the magnitude and demands of a wedding.

Bridal Expo is the first and best place to being your journey for an eco-friendly wedding. Driving to one of our shows with 60+ vendors will save  countless hours of driving time and considering gas is $4.oo gallon or more, it is entirely possible that you will save hundreds of dollars on gas.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago