Eco-friendly weddings are on the rise on LI

Rosamond Baiz, left, and daughter Perry Bliss with

Rosamond Baiz, left, and daughter Perry Bliss with hand-painted seashells they made for Bliss' July wedding held at their family business, The Old Field Vineyards in Southold. Bliss gave each guest seashells painted with the date of the wedding and personal messages. (August 8, 2013) (Credit: Jeremy Bales)

Kabri Schmid and Jora Lehrman's wedding reception Sept. 28 at Bedell Cellars winery in Cutchogue will feature a delicious aspect of the green wedding movement taking root from coast to coast.

Every item on the menu -- from the main course to the coffee and sweeteners -- will feature ingredients grown on a farm or made at a local business on the North or South Fork.

"I'm from an Italian-Irish family, and she's from a Jewish family, so enjoying food and alcohol is how we were brought up," said Schmid, 28, who grew up in Babylon and works as a project manager for a general contractor. She met Lehrman, also 28, a structural engineer, while they were studying engineering at Columbia University in Manhattan. They live in San Francisco but will be coming back for their wedding to Long Island, where most of Schmid's family still resides.

Schmid credits the decision to become a locavore to a book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" (2007) by Barbara Kingsolver, which changed her attitude about food and "where it comes from." The book details a family's attempt to improve its diet by eating only foods they grew or obtained locally.

So, the couple's custom-created menu will feature free-range Long Island duck from Crescent Duck Farm in Aquebogue, oysters from Peconic Bay, roasted corn couscous made with corn from Pike Farms in Sagaponack, herbs from Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett and goat cheese from the Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic.

The East End is also the source of the wine, beer, honey and coffee -- the latter from Aldo's, an artisan roaster in Greenport. In case guests miss the message, the menu will cite the local source of each food ingredient.

A smaller footprint

A farm-to-table menu is one way to reduce your carbon footprint, the amount of carbon or other carbon compounds emitted into the atmosphere by transporting food long distances. But with the green movement also focusing on reducing landfill waste and reforesting land, environmentally friendly alternatives include meals served on recyclable place settings, table-to-garden wedding favors and paperless invitations and wedding photos.

"Weddings are a very wasteful industry," says Judy McCleery, a former Town of Southampton recycling coordinator who is now president and owner of Northforkweddings.com and Southforkweddings.com. "We love to celebrate . . . in ways that create waste," she says. But nowadays, she adds, wedding clients are asking vendors to use sustainable practices, and "the vendors are delivering."

For example, some wedding photographers now offer a discount for couples who settle for digital-only photos posted on photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and SmugMug, instead of requesting prints or a CD, McCleery says.

"The whole idea of video streaming your wedding and having things you normally print online, or having a digital invitation, that is all really new," says Kate L. Harrison, chief executive of Greenbrideguide .com. The website features articles about how to keep mosquitoes away from backyard weddings without using pesticides and how to avoid getting married near a fracking site, and a carbon calculator created by a Canadian company, which shows how much of a carbon footprint your wedding will leave behind. It then asks you to offset your carbon footprint with a cash donation to plant trees.

How popular are green weddings? Harrison cites a 2011 national "What's on Brides' Minds" survey by David's Bridal, which found that 78 percent of brides would take steps to make their weddings more environmentally conscious. The same survey found that 37 percent of brides donate leftover food from the reception, and 35 percent serve locally sourced dishes and/or decorate with locally sourced flowers.

Herbal weddings

Meredith Russo, a florist who owns The Flower Petaler in Huntington, says a green wedding can help support local farmers. Sunflowers, dahlias, zinnias, hydrangeas and other seasonal blooms for bouquets and place settings can be purchased at farm stands from Riverhead to Orient. Another increasingly popular option, she says, is an "herbal wedding" decorated (and scented) with lavender and other colorful, fragrant herbs, which can be planted later in the home garden. Biodegradable seed packets can serve as place cards or escort cards. Afterward, they, too, can be planted.

Another vendor, Rosamond Baiz of The Old Field Vineyards, says couples planning a reception at the sustainable Southold farm are increasingly asking for eco-friendly party items, including biodegradable bamboo plates, which can be composted and decompose in as little as 60 days.

Baiz's own daughter, Perry Bliss, came up with a green idea for her July wedding at the vineyard that shows how creative the movement can be. As wedding favors, Bliss gave out seashells she'd collected and hand painted with the date of the wedding and personal messages to each guest. Said her proud mother: "Each favor was a hand-painted work of art."

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