Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Expert Spotlight: Gorgeous and Green Events

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Pilar Zuniga of Gorgeous and Green Events, an event planning company in Oakland, CA that specializes in green and sustainable events. Longtime artist and craftswomen, Pilar has a beautiful aesthetic and as you'll see from the pictures below, her events are not only sustainable, they're quite stylish as well. She was kind enough to share her own insight about green weddings, including simple and economical eco-tips, how to avoid green-washing, and practical advice for the environmentally conscious bride-to-be.

How did you get started in planning eco-friendly events?

I started with my own wedding first. But the background is that I lived in Berkeley for many years, so I think some of the sustainable hippie has rubbed off on me. I also work in public health and being green and sustainable has so much to do with individual health and community health, it was hard to avoid learning about and becoming a green-minded person. So here I was, marrying someone who had studied sustainable development. It kind of had to be a green and sustainable wedding or else...

We decided on doing what we could in our budget, and I decided to become the green wedding planner. I had to do a lot of research at the time because it was more difficult to find sustainable and organic produce. A few of the ways we planned sustainably: we had locally caught fish, included locally grown and organic flowers, we recycled, we rented, I sewed, I crafted, the ceremony was outside steps away from the reception and we had a vegan/organic wedding cake. We splurged on the cake, but not on my dress. From there, I realized I had just taught myself how to be a green planner, and with continued research and learning I feel like I get better at it everyday.

What are three simple and economical ways a bride can make her wedding green?

1. Green your attire: Buy a recycled dress or have one made by a local seamstress with organic materials. Let the wedding party wear their own clothes or something they'll actually wear again.

2. Simplify your decor: Ask the florist to use only locally grown flowers ( yes, they have to ask their outlets) or order organically grown and fair trade flowers, this may cost a little more and it may also reduce the amount of flower variety available: so plan to simplify your designs and your expectations. If you have a green planner or florist in your community, seek them out to help you.

3. Go local and small: Try to spend in your community and support local and small businesses and artists, especially if they are green and organic. Not only will you have to pay less in shipping, it won't have shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to get to you. Supporting local organic growers, caterers, seamstresses, chocolate makers, etc. is a great way to give back to you community economically.

Can you explain green-washing and share how a bride can avoid a vendor who green-washes?

Like any new sales concept, going green has become a way to interest customers and clients who want to act sustainably. The only problem is that a lot of businesses and stores are taking up a few green concepts to make it look like they are green, when at heart most of it is still very un-green or not sustainable. My advice in avoiding this situation is to look for vendors who are doing everything sustainably and green. Find out how their business practices are green, and if they really believe in and are invested in sustainable practice. Besides using recycled materials, how else are they acting and advocating green?

If you could give an eco-conscious bride one piece of advice, what would it be?

There isn't too little or too much you can do to act sustainably. Obviously, more is better, but if the small steps are what work for now: pick up a book, hire a green vendor, plant trees or opt for a reused gown. Once you start thinking about being green, more ideas will come your way. Even if you can't find what you're looking for, asking and requesting for green and sustainable materials and services let's people know that change needs to be made. Don't give up and share your passion with others. Advocate, request, suggest and spend green.

And now for a silly question! If you could get married (again) anywhere in the world, and budget was not a factor, where would it be and why?

I would probably have it in the same place (baja Mexico) since it was not far away and most guests could travel by car. However, I would have rented a large mansion for the event so it could be more private. Definitely I would have changed the honeymoon if money was not an object. I would have liked to have honeymooned at a private house in the Mediterranean, maybe Greece or Spain or the French Riviera. But then my green sense reminds me of the carbon footprint. So maybe I would just have moved there!

Photo Credits: Cara Mia Photography and Erin Beach


{The Perfect Palette} said...

awesome tips! we love these ideas!

fig+sage said...

I think paper lanterns and white lights can make any event better :)

Thanks for sharing these!!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for making the point that any little step taken to be eco-conscious is important. I think that many brides may feel that with all the waste their wedding will create, "why get rid of the extra envelope in their invitation?", but every little bit counts!

Mother of the Groom Dresses said...

These are some of the best ideas I have seen about green weddings. The paper lanterns rock and that pic with all the blue lanterns is gorgeous, but my absolute favorite is your idea of using the kale plants for flowers - exquisite!
Mother of the Groom dresses

Central Ohio said...

In Central Ohio going green is no longer a trendy fad but a needed action adopted by everyone from all walks of life and from all areas of industry. As more and more people the world over become eco-conscience a demand for eco-friendly goods are on the rise.

Stephanie Ginzburg said...

Another tip I have is to pick a venue where you can have both your ceremony and reception; this way guests and vendors are saving on gas and can easily reuse decorations/flowers from the ceremony at the reception.

Knots Landing OIB said...

The beach is a great place for a green wedding. We love the idea of the solar lights for the wedding reception.

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