We’ve all heard of something old, new, borrowed and blue — but how about adding touches of green to your nuptials? Here’s a look at some eco-conscious options, including an active farm venue, repurposing rings and giving a gift that truly gives back.
More than a barn
A wedding in a Vermont barn — even in a modern, post-cow, scrubbed-clean iteration — has become a popular trend in the past decade.
The nifty thing about the barn at the Intervale Center in Burlington is that it’s located right on a very active farm.
The Intervale, established in 1988 on land next to the Winooski River — land that used to be a town dump — has grown over the past 30 years to become a 360-acre farmland “campus” of sorts.
There are numerous community gardens; the place supports large-scale composting and a food business incubator space, a conservation nursery growing trees that can be used to shore up eroding streambanks, and a gleaning program that includes a “free-share” of vegetables for low-income families. And the place offers farmers both new and old assistance on making a go of the agrarian life, with a whole farm business planning program.
Sure, there’s a barn there for your wedding, but it’s part of something a lot more, and the Intervale ethos can’t help but creep into your big day.
Chelsea Frisbee, development manager at the Intervale, said the place rents out its 1860s-era barn for weddings and other private celebrations, May 1 through Oct. 1. The rustic structure was trucked over from a different property a decade ago.
Frisbee said the Intervale staff is available to offer advice on how to make the wedding experience eco-friendlier, and to offer a list of “preferred” caterers and vendors for food, drink, flowers and photos.
“We’ve found that the venue attracts people who are looking for more of a DIY ethic,” Frisbee said. “People who are looking for that authentic back-to-the-land feel.”
Turn blood diamonds green
Plenty of green-minded folks like those at the Intervale work studiously to help people reduce their carbon footprints — “certified organic” tomatoes from New Zealand, or straight from a non-organic farm with sound practices and purveyors with muck on their boots.
When it comes to green, socially conscious weddings, the choices also apply to what you put on your finger.
Gold and silver and diamonds may be a person’s best friends, but unlike tomatoes and carrots and kale, those precious metals aren’t coming back next year. And jewelers have embraced the eco-friendly aspects of re-using what’s out there, like composting for valuable ore.
“About 95 percent of the metals that are in the store are recycled,” said Jill Zborovancik, manager of Von Bargen’s Jewelry in Stowe. “We’re proud of that. They rarely mine new metals anymore.”
Sure, there might be a subset of shine lovers who blanch at the very idea of recycled gold, but clearly these days the practice is the norm as opposed to the exception. And Zborovancik said recycled metals are the same as the original ones — you refine it to get rid of adulterants and add some alloy to make it workable, just like you’d do to a fresh lode of aurum.
There are more than just environmental impacts to mining around the world, too, particularly in the diamond industry. The practice often involves abuse and torture of its workers who see next to nothing in their wallets as they mine the valuable gems, and the “blood diamonds” and other conflict resources mined in war-torn countries often fund the perpetuation of that war.
Zborovancik said Von Bargen’s works with diamond sellers it trusts, a trend the company has embraced ever since Julie Von Bargen Thom, daughter of founder John Von Bargen, took over the family business in 2014.
The store also has fun with the conservationist’s partner to recycling — re-using. According to Zborovancik, the company has been resetting and even reshaping old European diamond cuts that aren’t as popular as today’s trends — the old cuts are meant to reflect candlelight, so their facets are different.
And there’s always your old family heirlooms. Zborovancik said she did a project recently where a customer brought in his grandfather’s and grandmother’s rings, and she “squished” them together to form one new ring.
She said, “It’s a huge part of our business, and we love it because they’re all so unique.”
Giving the gift of giving
Lots of newlyweds will need crockpots and blenders, towels and sheets to start their new home, but there are also plenty of couples who are already bringing two of everything into their new life — it’s like the Noah’s Ark of home goods.
So, here’s an idea for what to give the couple that has everything: How about something they can give to others?
One new trend in socially conscious nuptials is setting up the wedding registry to allow gift-giving to charitable organizations.
A Good Beginning is a registry website set up specifically to funnel money toward good causes, and other online wedding registries have added charitable giving sections to their sites.
According to A Good Beginning, “Many organizations are simply not set up to accept and track multiple donations from small groups of people in a way that allows couples to track, acknowledge and thank guests appropriately. Not to mention that guests have to call each organization directly to give and are often faced with leaving messages, unreturned calls and more.”
There are hundreds of organizations in a dozen categories listed on A Good Beginning, from large global organizations such as Amnesty International and the American Red Cross to smaller, regional outfits like art museums and animal shelters.