DOWNTOWN — A $300 used gown, invitations made from hops and yeast, and a vegan dinner created from locally-grown ingredients all combine for one sustainable wedding.
It’s exactly what Santa Monica couple Austin Nicholsen and Kate Shukle have planned for their Aug. 29 nuptials at Hartley Botanica in Somis, a small agricultural town in Ventura County where the couple will be hosting what they describe as an elegant yet eco-friendly affair before approximately 200 guests.
“When we were planning our wedding, the very first thing that came to mind is how do we do this in a way that is cohesive to our lifestyle, which is obviously a strong focus on environmental awareness, and minimize usage without sacrificing the style and aesthetic of what a nice wedding should be,” Shukle, an artist and waitress at Real Food Daily, said.
The elements of the green wedding will include a used gown purchased on Craigslist, homemade desserts, locally-grown flowers for all arrangements, and favors that will come in the form of hand-made postcards, natural wood chopsticks and seeds.
Even the gift registry will be green, but only in the fact that the couple didn’t set one up.
“It’s how we live our life,” Nicholsen, a musician and entertainer, said. “We try to always buy the most sustainable products and recycle as much as possible.”
As sustainable living has become more mainstream, so too have similarly themed weddings, giving couples today a wider selection of vendors that specialize in eco-friendly methods. The growing green wedding market now includes everything from green planners to green venues.
One of the biggest ways to go green is by going local with as many parts of the wedding as possible, hiring caterers closer to the venue and ordering ingredients that are in season, whether it’s food or flowers.
“Ask vendors a couple of questions before you hire them,” Anja Winikka, the editor of TheKnot.com, said. “Ask what practices they do and in what ways they are eco-conscious.”
Another area to cut back on could be the invitations, taking out all of the extra pieces, including tissue paper and response cards, instead directing guests to a Web site where they can RSVP.
“That saves money and cuts down on needs of paper,” Winikka said.
The planning for a green wedding is in the early stages for local couple Darra Adler, the coordinator for the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, and her fiancé Matt Henigan, a senior account executive for Sustainable Works’ Business Greening Program.
The couple just recently became engaged in April and are planning on marrying at Temescal Gateway Park next June.
“Weddings can be really over the top and we’re doing a lot to keep things local,” Adler said. “It fits in with both of our lifestyles and we want all of that to be reflected in our wedding.”
They recently hired Megan Fickling of Santa Monica-based La Partie Events to plan the wedding, fitting in with their theme of hiring local vendors.
Some ideas that the couple and planner have already brainstormed include hiring caterers from the Farmers’ Market and purchasing locally-grown flowers for the event. Fickling said that the arrangements could be made from reused containers and vases.
She added that a wedding can be made sustainable by making a donation to an environmental organization for each guest in lieu of a favor. Brides can also buy dresses that are made out of organic cotton or reused material.
Fickling said the couple is her first to specifically request a green wedding, adding that she was excited to receive the call.
“I was happy that a couple was going to prioritize [sustainability] and they still wanted it to be beautiful and elegant like any couple does and there are a lot of ways to do that and still be green,” she said.
Whether a green wedding costs more than a conventional one seems to depend on the event. Experts say that serving an organic cake might cost more than a nonorganic cake, but ordering locally-grown flowers that are in season could cost less because it cuts down on shipping costs.
Nicholsen and Shukle said they don’t believe their wedding will be any more expensive than a non-eco event, and that it might even be cheaper because so many parts of it are homemade, including the invitation for which they bought the card stock online and assembled over glasses of wine and old episodes of “The Simpsons.”
The couple also went green on the wedding bands and engagement ring — the former are antiques and the latter was originally a gift from Nicholsen’s father to his mother when the groom was born.
“It’s fun for me personally to defy the odds of what people think it’s going to be,” Shukle said. “When they come to the wedding that day, we not only want them to be sharing in our wedding, but we also want them to go away with a renewed sense of what things can be like in life.”