A Green Winter Solstice Wedding

Written by MaryBeth Kressin
    Thursday, 30 January 2020
A Green Winter Solstice Wedding

On the longest night of the year, surrounded by family, friends, the woods and a roaring fire, Nick and Leslie promised themselves to each other at the end of their beautiful ecofriendly wedding at Riverside Park.

One year prior, the couple signed a contract to rent the Urban Ecology Center for their winter solstice wedding and the planning began. “Being eco-minded is the foundation of who we are already,” they told me and it helped form what they wanted to do for their wedding. To assist with planning, they attended the UEC’s Eco I Do Green Wedding Expo to get some ideas.

Eco I Do has two floors of curated, eco-friendly vendors such as caterers, florists and rental companies. This is a good opportunity to try samples, talk one-on-one with businesses and discuss their green initiatives, all while gathering info for your own wedding. We also feature unique and engaging workshops to help share the hows and whys about environmentally conscious weddings.

Eco I Doblog1

Caterer vendor at Eco I Do Wedding Expo in 2019. Photo credit: Anna Nowakowski

Nick and Leslie spent the majority of their time attending these workshops where they learned about the floral industry and different sustainable options from UEC Land Steward Michaela Rosenthal. After hearing some of the unsustainable practices of the floral industry, it helped solidify their ideas to keep things simple and eco-conscious. 

Small Centerpiece

Going into the workshop, the couple thought their winter wedding would be all pine boughs, sticks and winter berries – not very colorful. Michaela’s biggest advice to them was “forage and dry” when things were still in bloom and vibrant to bring color to their centerpieces. This aesthetic worked well for their tastes.

They asked family and friends to help gather and dry plants with Leslie’s mom garden (and home) ending up being the pinnacle location as well as their own foraging walks. The intentional centerpieces started with slices of wood rescued from the landfill with dried flowers, foliage and seeds collected and glued on. The piece finished with glass candle votive left over from past weddings. At the end of the night, guests could take what they wanted home and any extras would be kindling for future fires.

Nick and Leslie “leaned into the parameters [they] were given.” They started gathering in spring but really kicked it up in fall – gathering fallen red maple leaves and crafting them into beautiful roses for the centerpieces and Nick’s boutonniere. Collecting them had to be just right timing, freshly fallen were supple and the best to be bent well. Other similar tips and tricks can be found at Eco I Do’s DIY crafting and décor area showcasing ideas to keep the eco-spark going.

For a specific vision they had, Nick and Leslie reached out to Alt’s, an ecofriendly floral designer and past Eco I Do vendor, who created a hanging “mistletoe” out of dried plants and flower he reclaimed from his land including moss, dryad saddle, grape vines and even bird’s nests. 

They also attended a workshop by Compost Crusader. Even though the talk didn’t apply directly to their wedding, it was incredibly informative for day to day consumption and they took the question of composting to caterers they were deciding between. 1pinecones

Nick and Leslie also made homemade fire starters from pinecones for their guests to take home – a fun DIY favor, completely sustainable and waste free! 

Without having their wedding at the Urban Ecology Center or coming to Eco I Do they said they might not have been as conscious about having an ecofriendly wedding – even though it is in their lifestyle. “The UEC was an easy choice – great beautiful venue and a lot of decisions environmentally already made for you (no plastic/Styrofoam, composting, dishes, rain water in toilets, solar panels) and there’s help to do [an ecofriendly wedding].”  

Because of their choices, they were even more happy and proud of their wedding than they thought they would be.

“I would hate to have a party to celebrate our love and the end result is a lot of garbage someone else has to deal with,” Leslie said.

When I asked them final advice and thoughts for couples looking to do an ecofriendly wedding they suggested; don’t buy new, lean into and celebrate the season you’re in and your parameters, focus and surround yourself with the experience of the day – not the stuff.”

“The day of is temporary – except for the love for each other and memories…. and the garbage” joked Nick.

amphiteatre Photo by Laura Wolske

Nick and Leslie got married in the woods on the longest night of the year. Photo credit: Laura Wolske

Most importantly, they unanimously agreed: “Make sure it is your wedding” and do it your own way.

Let us help you have YOUR ecofriendly wedding here or let us help you start planning a sustainable celebration! Come to Eco I Do Green Wedding Expo on Feb 16th from 11am-3pm at our Riverside park branch. More information can be found here Eco I Do 2020.

MaryBeth Kressin

MaryBeth Kressin

MaryBeth Kressin is the Facility Rental Coordinator for all three branches and part of the Visitor Services Team. When she is not working hard booking your party, setting up for your wedding, giving tours or helping at the front desk you can find her biking, cooking, reading in her garden or helping her husband renovate their house. She loves being outside, feels passionately about recycling and animals and is honored to be part of the Urban Ecology Center.


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