Love is in the eco-friendly air

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Two people standing together and promising a commitment in front of loved ones elicits an emotional response from the witnesses. Thus: this is the reason people cry at weddings. Many couples are interested in marking such an occasion a mindful celebration. Chicago Green Wedding Alliance (CGWA) connects all conscious couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to a community of environmentally and socially accountable vendors.

“We are an association of green-minded wedding vendors that advocates for eco-friendly weddings and events,” said Molly Schemper, marketing committee chair for Chicago Green Wedding Alliance and the owner of FIG Catering. “We promote green initiatives — even if you’re not using our vendors — like recycling, composting, organic food and materials, reusing, etc.”

Brenda Li and Phyllis Lee had a no-kill wedding last year, which involved staying away from meat and cut flowers. They implemented an organic vegan menu with natural beverages from Centered Chef and used living terrariums from florist Fab Flora. Li and Lee minimized waste by using green to-go boxes for guests to take home leftover food and plants.

“Every vendor we hired to be a part of their wedding was from CGWA, and the venue itself shared green practices,” said Carlene Smith, owner of Naturally Yours Events.

“We were very excited to work with someone who shares our vision of an eco-friendly wedding that is chic and elegant,” Li said. “Carlene listened to our ideas and worked like a true partner with us in all aspects of the wedding planning. We really appreciated this combination of advisory and partnership roles.”

Kpoene’ Kofi-Nicklin, owner of Mignonette Bridal and a member of CGWA, works with many same-sex couples.

“The CGWA has been an incredible way to reach couples who want their ceremony to be gorgeous and joyful without making a significant impact on the earth. As an eco-friendly bridal salon,” she said, “it is very important to us to work with other vendors with a green mission.”

“Our shop was built using repurposed building materials,” she continued. “We use natural fibers in our designs whenever possible, and, in the shop, we use low-voc paint and low-energy lighting.”

According to Kofi-Nicklin, many same-sex couples fear judgment from salespeople when they go shopping for wedding clothes. Kofi-Nicklin is proud to offer all of her clients a special experience in a supportive environment.

“When we moved to Chicago, we were thrilled to find that the push for marriage equality was so heavily supported by the wedding industry here, so we dove right in. We were pleased to work with several same-sex couples to customize their gowns and suits,” Kofi-Nicklin said. “Mignonette Bridal also does a number of free weddings each year, and this year, we are thrilled to be giving away a wedding to a very deserving international same-sex couple who will be calling the Windy City home after their wedding in August.”

For more information, visit www.greenweddingalliance.org.