'Green day' - How to go green on your special day

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For her wedding, Kimberly Christopher asked Angela Casaccio, owner of Cela Creations in La Grange, to create a bouquet made from brooches and costume jewelry passed down from Christopher's grandmothers. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media

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Most brides want to be dressed in white, or some shade of ivory, cream or champagne, as they walk down the aisle.

But more are choosing to add green to their wedding day.

As people become more aware of ways to protect the environment and to save money, so do brides and wedding vendors.

Through her business Threadhead Creations, Rai-Lynne Alexander of Knoxville, Tenn., makes eco-friendly wedding dresses from organic fabrics.

“They are all brides doing green weddings,” Alexander said. “It’s all for one big day, but weddings can be incredibly wasteful.”

From the dress to flowers, decorations, food and transportation, couples can find ways to make their big day less wasteful, more environmentally friendly and, in some cases, less expensive.

Forever bouquets

Leah Teague, owner of Flourish Floral Design Studio, and Sarah Brobst, volunteer coordinator at Ijams Nature Center, make bridal bouquets from brooches, fabric or paper .

A brooch bouquet, which is gaining popularity due to Pinterest and Etsy, is made of vintage brooches and broken jewelry. Sometimes handmade fabric flowers serve as a base.

Brides are turning to these alternative bouquets because they are unique, last forever and can be passed to future generations .

“You have something you can keep, one that doesn’t mold or rot,” Brobst said. “And they’re made from things that would be in a landfill. Pins are broken or you have one clip-on earring — who wears that?”

Brobst buys brooches at thrift stores or flea markets. Sometimes brides collect brooches from family members.

If a bride doesn’t have a favorite flower, a brooch or paper bouquet could be a great option.

“They’re really easy to personalize,” Teague said. “One bride was an avid reader. For the paper flower accents, we used a lot of vintage books.”

Teague said brides can use these alternative bouquets for bridesmaids, mothers’ corsages or centerpieces. Then, they become a gift.

Brooch bouquets are more expensive than cut flower bouquets because of materials and labor. Brobst charges between $150 and $500 while Teague charges an average of $250 to $300.

Hemp-silk gowns

A wedding dress doesn’t have to be seafoam, lime or teal to be green.

Alexander’s dresses are usually white or ivory, but they are eco-friendly due to fabric she uses. Most of her fabrics are hemp-silk blends, and the silk is “wild or peace” silk.

“They let the silk moths emerge from their cocoons before they harvest the silk,” Alexander said. With traditional silk, the moths are destroyed.

The hemp or cotton she uses is grown without herbicides or pesticides and is certified organic.

She began making eco-friendly sundresses and ready-to-wear items for college students and concertgoers in 1999. Several years later some customers asked if she could make eco-friendly wedding dresses. She made her first one in 2003, and, after nicer eco-friendly fabrics emerged, she moved to “green” wedding dresses full-time in 2006. The dresses cost between $500 and $1,500.

She’s seen a shift in the mind-set of her customers as more brides are looking for greener wedding options.

“[At first,] they were buying from me because they wanted custom dresses or they had bought from me before,” Alexander said. “Now, they’re finding me because they are doing a green wedding.”

Garage sale finds

Weddings are a great time to repurpose items found in the closet, at a garage sale or thrift store.

One of Teague’s brides used teacups from her grandmother’s china for flower planters on each table, and brides could use mason jars as votives for candles.

Teague said about 75 percent of her brides are taking a greener approach to wedding planning.

“Whether it’s for financial reasons or their own personal style, it’s very on-trend right now to use these reclaimed items,” Teague said.

Buccafusco collected rocks from a nearby creek and used decoupage to put people’s names on them. Those became place cards and a keepsake for guests.

For invitations, she and husband Mike Dearing used recycled paper and saved paper by having people email RSVPs.

They had the ceremony and reception at a bed and breakfast so people didn’t need to drive.

Rita Cochran, who does rentals and special events for Ijams, encourages people to make jam or pickle vegetables as wedding favors, use local breweries or shop farmers markets. Brides can make jewelry for their bridesmaids by repurposing vintage jewelry, Brobst said.

“It’s about asking friends, ‘This is what I’m thinking, what do you have in your closet?’” Brobst said.

Going green and repurposing items can make a wedding more personal. Brides are shying away from traditional, formal weddings to plan events that better fit their personalties, Teague said.

“ Anytime you can use something you already have and love, it makes it that much more personal and meaningful,” Teague said.