I actually did a fair amount of research about what wine to serve at the reception. Dakota and I are not particularly wine-savvy, but I needed to choose something, so I decided to go with an organic wine from California (local and pesticide-free, was my hope). That actually ended up being a bit more difficult than I expected. What I learned is that there are actually different levels of organic-ness when it comes to wine. There's 100% organic wine (made entirely of organic ingredients), organic wine (must be made with 95% organic ingredients) and wine "made with organic grapes" (with 70% organic ingredients). The 100% organic and organic wines are also sulfate-free, while the "made with organic grapes" wine may contain sulfates. Oh, and then there's biodynamic wine, which is similar, but somehow different than 100% organic. Anyway, for a wine-novice, it was a bit overwhelming.
What I ended up doing is looking at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for wines with organic on the labels, and then trying to taste as many as possible and find ones that people would probably like. We ended up going with Bonterra for the reception. Bonterra is the organic label of the Fetzer wine company. Their wines were fairly decent, easy to source (sold at both Trader Joe's and Ralph's in California) and inexpensive (around $10/bottle). So, that worked out pretty well. We also had a small wine reception the night before, where we served a variety of organic wines, including Green Bridge Syrah, which I'd recommend.
For the beer, we got two kegs from Craftsman Brewing Company in Pasadena. They're a very small microbrewery based in an industrial park fairly near our house, and they make delicious beer. They are also extremely nice and helpful. We had a keg of theirs at our inaugural patio party last Fall, and it was a huge hit. So, we definitely wanted to use their beer at the wedding. The Craftsman beer was a big success once again, and, after visiting their brewery, I felt happy to use such a great local business at our wedding.
- Our gift bags to those who helped at our wedding were actually re-useable recycled-cotton tote bags, great for bringing home groceries, from reusablebags.com
- Our invites were printed on Neenah Paper's Classic Crest FSC and PCF (chlorine-free) recycled paper
- I wore a cute, blue cocktail dress to get married, and I plan to wear it again at other nice events. Same goes for Dakota's suit, which he's already worn again
- We used our website to encourage our guests to rent hybrid cars from EV Rental and to carbon-offset their trip with Terra Pass
- We registered with Heath Ceramics, a California pottery studio, and VivaTerra, an "environmentally-friendly" online store. Of course, a real green choice would have been to not register at all
Yes, the most environmentally-friendly thing we could have done would have been to not have a wedding at all, or to have a really small one that required no one to travel on a plane, no one to buy us gifts and no fancy clothes or jewelry. But, I guess we weren't willing to go that far. We tried to keep the wedding down to just the things we really care about--seeing friends and family, good food and drink, and lots of dancing--and we did succeed in that. I feel like we avoided overspending and over-consuming on things that didn't make a big difference to us. But, we certainly could have had a smaller, simpler wedding.
I guess I'm always going to be a battle between my consumer impulses and aesthetic desires and my convictions to live moral, environmentally-friendly life. I'm still working on and thinking about that, and this year, as we start real work on the kitchen remodel, that conflict will come up again. I plan to be thoughtful about all my choices, though, and hopefully I'll make the "right" ones--whatever that ends up meaning.