Greenwashing 101 :: Verifiable Venues


Photo Courtesy of Lauren Larsen Photography

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Larsen Photography

We have been quite the busy little bees here at VGP this past couple of months, and to my dismay our scheduled blog posts have not been posting!  SOMEONE (see ME!) may have scheduled them to post in 2013, and that’s just too long to wait to finish this series :)

We just finished up our 2012 wedding season this past weekend and now it’s time to refocus and prepare for a busy holiday season, and goal setting for the next year.   My to do list is literally three pages long, but we are all so excited about some of the awesome weddings we have coming up in 2013.  It is always such an honor when a couple trusts their wedding day in your hands, as well as a huge responsibility.  Part of the responsibility that we have taken on as wedding planners is to help our client’s wedding wishes come true.  Brides specifically hire Vera Green Productions because their wedding wishes are to have an exquisite wedding without making a huge impact.  We have the responsibility to protect our clients from vendors who are trying to get their piece of the eco-wedding pie without offering true eco-friendly services.  This is what we in green commerce call “greenwashing.”

Today we are going to pick up our series on greenwashing by discussing what to look for in an eco-friendly wedding venue, and what warning signs you might find that will tell you to dig a little deeper and find out where their priorities really lie.

There is a lot to take into account when selecting a venue for your wedding.  Of course style and cost are the two biggest factors for couples when selecting their venue.  But from a sustainability standpoint there are certain other factors to take into effect.   They are listed below in no particular order:

1.  The building- Was the building itself built to serve it’s current purpose?  If so was it built (or remodeled) according to specifications set by the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Energy Design (LEED)?  LEED is the international standard for sustainable building, and not only applies to new buildings, but also standards to give existing buildings credibility in the green commerce community through adaptive reuse.  In addition to adhering to LEED standards brides and grooms can think outside the box for their venue location.  Refurbished historic homes, parks, ranches, barns, and rooftops all supply beautiful backdrops for your nuptuials, and with the proper knowledge and planning they can add to the sustainability of your event.

2.  Waste- Many venues in DFW don’t have access to recycling services, so in order to have recycling facilities at their venue they must pay an outside service.  This is a big burden for most venues, which is why they don’t offer recycling services.  Some don’t allow disposables at all, and some will say that they CAN recycle, but that doesn’t mean that they do.  Be sure to ask questions about their recycling program.  If they can easily tell you what types of items can be recycled through the program that they use and have bins on the premises then you can be comfortable that they actually DO recycle.  Of course if you love a venue but they don’t have on site recycling you can always look into other options, such as bringing bins yourself and having the recyclables carted off after the event.  We will not only provide this service free of charge for our clients, but we will also take compostable refuse and food and flowers for donation!

3.  Power-  One of the easiest steps for businesses to take to “green” their operations, and current rates for renewable energy sources are in line with those of conventional options.  If a venue is claiming that they are eco-friendly this is a bare minimum that they should offer.

4.  Business Solutions-  In a businesses day to day operations it is imperative that they are taking steps in the office to reduce paper and solid waste if they are claiming to be green.  In today’s digital age it is so easy to be 100% paperless.  There are dozens of online services that offer affordable and user friendly online contract solutions, and the sky is the limit where electronic information packets and brochures are concerned.  This is not only an eco-friendly solution, but also a practical one as you have an online record of everything and don’t have to worry about lost documents!

5.  Site Maintenance- Does your venue use natural cleaning products?  Because if they are claiming their piece of the earth friendly pie, they should.

6.  Design-  It’s a big misconception that sustainable design has to be all reclaimed barn wood and living roofs.  Pay attention to the decor that is used in your “green” venue.  Are their lights traditional, LED or CFL?  Do they have wall to wall nylon carpet or a more sustainable reclaimed hardwood or bamboo option? Do they have vases among vases of fresh cut out of season flowers, or wholesome and beneficial living plants that contribute to air quality?

7.  Preferred Vendors-  Your venue most likely has a preferred vendor list.  Pay close attention to the vendors on that list.  Do they share the same principles as you?  This is the biggie, because these are the companies that do the most work at this venue, and if they don’t at least offer eco-friendly services on top of their conventional ones then you have to wonder just how true the venue holds to their claims.

It is nearly impossible for a venue to feasibly be 100% eco-friendly.  That would be a huge investment for business owners, and in order for them to operate such a business there fees would have to be incredibly high restricting them to a very limited portion of the wedding market.  So with that said, just because a venue doesn’t follow any or all of the above practices doesn’t mean that they are a BAD option.  For example, if a venue runs on fossil fuels and doesn’t have a recycling program in place they may take other steps to make up for those facts.

The point of this post is not to condemn those who are not able to offer 100% eco-friendly services, but to provide brides and grooms with the knowledge to spot businesses who are making unfounded claims.  And if you are in love with a location for your wedding, but they fall more in line with traditional operations you can take that into account in other aspects of your wedding planning.  But it still never hurts to encourage them to make the necessary steps to lead their business into the green revolution!

To end I would like to share some of my favorite eco-friendly venues in North Texas:

Hickory Streent Annex

F&R Whiskey Distillery 

City Club Fort Worth (This was the first venue in Fort Worth to start taking green initiatives!)

Nylo Hotels Dallas Southside

Trinity River Audubon Center

Advertisements

Organizing your event: Decor Prep


This week we are coming back from a little break and kicking it into high gear to prepare for a very busy fall wedding season. At this point all of our weddings are planned, the decor has all been procured, and now it’s time for us to get our brides and grooms organized for their big day.

For our clients we prepare an inventory check list that details how much of what needs to go where, and although in most cases we actually source all of the props and accessories for our brides; on occasion our clients do prefer to control this aspect themselves. When this is the case organization and clear direction is key. This is not only from a communication aspect, but more importantly that knowing everything is clearly dictated gives you a sense of calmness and keeps that inner bridezilla at bay.

Today we want to share our tips for how we organize all the little details for our client’s events, and how brides can keep their wedding items together and effectively communicate their vision for what these items are to be used for.

How we prep and keep props organized before a big event:

  • When we design an event for one of our clients one of the items that they will receive from us is a master document that outlines every detail, how many they ideally need for their particular wedding, and where to find them.
  • If we are sourcing the details for our clients, then we keep everything tagged and filed away in our studio.  Everything is separated by each event in a color coded box.  For example, the Albrecht wedding is a purple box, and the Mentzel wedding is a gold box.  We also have a master inventory list that is checked regularly to ensure that everything is on track to be secured prior to the event.
  • After everything is filed by event, we then have a secondary system where we keep items grouped by location at the event, i.e. place cards, favors, and guest book are in a separate box that is labled “sign in table”.
  • We often have several people who are assisting us as we set up for an event, so it’s important that each person know how to stage a particular area should I be off fighting fires prior to an event and unavailable to dictate to them.  For this reason we will have a sketch or photo of a mock up available with each box so that there are no questions or surprises causing a delay in set up.
  • Finally, we insist that EVERYTHING that can be done in advance is done in advance.  Years ago we had a wedding that was located at a private estate.  We had everything taken care of prior to the event, except for one big surprise.  The bride decided last minute to purchase sparklers for her sendoff, and remembered about an hour before the wedding was set to end that they were still in boxes in her closet.  So we ended up spending the last hour of the wedding unwrapping 250 sparklers that were individually wrapped inside four pack boxes.  It was no skin off our back, but it did take us away from doing other tasks that we usually assist with as a wedding draws to an end such as organizing everything to be packed away after the party is over, or getting the getaway car loaded so the bride and groom can take off.  The point here is that when more is done in advance, we, your coordinators, have more time to spend on YOU!

How can you to translate these tips to work for you?  As I mentioned earlier, many brides prefer to source their own details for their wedding.  This not only allows them to maintain a sense of control, but also saves a little money in the long run.  When this is the case, it’s evermore important for us to be sure that we as well as our clients are organized.  We want to be able to devote every moment setting up for an event to actually setting up, instead of tying ribbons on mason jars or figuring out what to do with 200 mini wine bottles.

 How to make wedding organization work for you:

  • Get boxes- or bags, or whatever is easiest for you to keep your wedding items organized in.  They don’t have to be nice, but keep in mind that the easier they are to organize your accessories in the easier your wedding day setup will be.   We suggest to our clients that they do it exactly like we would.  Separate items in boxes by the area that they belong in your wedding.
  • Create a checklist- Actually, you should create several throughout the course of your wedding planning, but for this particular area you should make one that details your details, where to get them, when you got them, and when you need them by.
  • Create a manefesto– this is different from a checklist.  See the image above that we found on apartmenttherapy.com in a great article about using technology to organize your home.  Give it a read, because it easily translates to prepping for your event.  Your manefesto should list every item that you have secured for your event, what should be done with it, and where it can be found.
  • Do the prep work-  I think we covered this pretty well above, but seriously, don’t expect the people setting up your event to have time to do everything.  If it can be done in advance do it.  If you don’t have time to do it in advance, pay someone.  You deserve to not stress about these little things.
  • Be clear in your delegation-  It doesn’t matter if it’s a rough sketch on the back of a napkin, an immaculate professional mock up, or advanced auto-cad rendering, the best way to explain your vision is to show it.  Never assume that your set up crew is going to assume what to do with an item just because you think it might be obvious.  This will cut down on unnecessary questions and people bothering you before you walk down the aisle, and it will save time for whoever is setting up your event.

If there is anything that you can do for yourself before your wedding, it is taking the time to get organized.  Just a little bit of time will save you a lot of grief, and make you enjoy your engagement so much more!

What steps are you using to organize your details for your big day?  We would love to hear new ideas!

xoxo
Ashley Paz
Owner | Creative Director
Vera Green Productions | Vivi Gray Design

Inspiration and Education: Our Favorite Wedding Blogs


We spend a lot of time reading wedding blogs.  It’s a requirement of the job if we want to stay ahead of the curb in our business.  Also, blogs are a great way to zone out and immerse yourself in inspiration, and be educated by the advice that they offer.  I’m constantly being asked what my favorite blogs are, and it’s so hard to answer because they are all different.  The beauty of a good blog is that it stands out and offers unique content for it’s readers.  This is a long post, but definitely one for the bookmark.  I’ve featured my favorites which I am splitting into two categories.  “Inspiration” blogs are those that feature mostly real weddings and photo shoots.  They exist to inspire brides to push the boundaries when styling their events.  “Education” blogs feature mostly advice on wedding planning and projects.

All images are screen shots of the blog’s banners.  They are linked directly to that blog so you can just click the image and a new window will pop up for you to bookmark the website!

Inspiration Blogs

Ruffled caters to brides who love vintage weddings.  The editor Amanda started the blog after planning her own vintage wedding and not having any resources to turn to.  Today it is one of the best resources for vintage, rustic, eco-friendly weddings that a bride could have!

Green Wedding Shoes features eco-friendly wedding inspiration for all styles.  This is the bride that I personally feel more connected to because they are so relevant to the services that we offer.

Once wed began as a source for brides to sell their wedding gowns online.  Now it is a spetacular collection of some of the best wedding inspiration on the web.  Although there is a ton of content on this site it remains very user friendly.  As you can see from the banner below they categorize inspiration to provide the best user experience as possible.

The Wedding Chicks is a collection of fun, funky, and beautiful wedding images.  My favorite feature of this website is the Printables & DIY section.  They have collaborated with some of the countries best designers to create awesome DIY invitation suites, and accessories for your event.

Junebug Weddings is all about luxury wedding inspiration.  They feature the best of the best when it comes to photographers, planners, and designers.  The details they feature are always stunning with a focus on event design.

Every Last Detail is going to be my segway blog because it is probably one of my favorite daily reads.   There are a few reasons that ELD stands out to me as a constant source of both inspiration and education.

First of all, Lauren Grove the editor of ELD is a real person.  She isn’t afraid to put herself out there and be seen by her readers.  I actively follow her twitter feed as well as admire her instagram stream and of course her blog and she isn’t afraid to give her readers a glimpse of her personal life.  This makes you feel more connected with the advice that she gives and more open to taking it.

Second, this blog has great content that covers real weddings, inspired shoots, and relevant advice.  I’m not calling other blog’s advice irrelevant.  What I’m saying is that this blogger is a tenured event professional in her own right and knows the issues that engaged couples want to know and things that real wedding professionals want to share.  I think that the advice that is offered on this blog is priceless, and if there is any one blog to read daily this is it!

Next, They are broad.  ELD features weddings of all kinds.  You will find farm weddings, ballroom weddings, DIY weddings, and upscale events all featured on this blog.   They are focused on the details and providing their readers inspiration and education for replicating those details in their own wedding.

Last, they are selective.  ELD just doesn’t post any old content that comes through.  Being selective is good because a blog is supposed to provide readers with inspiration and she has done that by making sure that the details in the wedding she posts are flawless and her advice is good.

Educational Blogs

Oh Happy Day is the brain child of Jordan Ferney a San Francisco based party planner who features great DIY projects for events and home.

Eco Beautiful Weddings blog features both real weddings and wedding planning advice that of course focuses on eco-friendly wedding planning.  They also have a beautiful online magazine that they publish quarterly.

Engaged and Inspired is my newest obsession.  This is a great budget bride blog that features advice that is useful across the board

Martha Stewart Weddings is of course king in the wedding industry.  And I couldn’t in good conscience make a list about wedding advice resources without mentioning MSW Bride’s Guide.  No wedding planning experience would be complete without a weekly zone out to MSW!

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite wedding blogs, what are some of yours?  Do you feel like we left anything off our list?