sweet buttercups: local, organic and fair trade wedding

A Yellow Buttercup Wedding

Spring is on it's way, and here in CA we've been showered with lovely rain to quench our dry aqueducts.  What is more reminiscent of rain showers and sweetness than daffodils and yellow blooms?  So here's a quick post of some lovely bouquets and other floral adornments that I created for Gorgeous and Green Events www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com with locally grown hydrangea, daffodils, narcissus and organic/fair trade yellow roses.   



up close and you might want to drink from these butter cups


two bridesmaids bouquets, smelling sweet


yellow and orange star, a natural show stopper


hydrangea looks so great as a pomander


buttercup-wrista nice full corsage, hydrangea and daffodils light up the wrist


Recycling Program: These bouquets made it to a second life when they were donated to City Hall, where couples getting married could use them for their lovely pictures of their civil ceremonies.  I know they brightened a few couples' day!  

For each event I do, I am more than happy (in fact I strongly suggest) that we reuse the lovely flower designs after the ceremony or reception.  If guests can take them home to enjoy or if we end up donating them to a local hospital or older folk's home, it always feels good to spread the love and joy that flowers create in people's lives.

In Green and Health,


Local and organic wedding flowers on a budget

A Green Wedding that saves you green (money)?

What if I told you as a flower designer and event planner, my real skill is saving you money as well as the planet?  It's the inheritance of working sustainably.  It makes perfect sense.  Use less materials, less shipping, less new things, and you're going to lower costs somewhere.  When I work on an event or project I'm thinking sustainablility.  What can I get nearby that will work perfectly for this theme?  What could I decorate with that is biodegradable or I can find used?  Who is growing those flowers nearby, rather than overseas.  Yes, it takes a little more work and a different way of thinking, but once you start viewing the world through the sustainable lens, it becomes very common sense.   So here's an example of a wedding I did on a budget.  And I didn't skimp on beauty and feeling.  The location was perfect.  An outside venue in September, wonderful weather for a late summer/early fall day.  The couple chose to have the ceremony in the redwood grove in the Berkeley Botanical Gardens and the reception outside on a patio near succulents and greenhouses. We had two small areas to decorate, but luckily those areas already came full of beautiful colors and ambiance.  The Redwood grove was so lush and magical, we just added a few special touches here and there to add a romantic and bright feeling.  The patio already had large succulents and plants around, so just a few splashes of color did the trick to enhance the atmosphere.  We focused on beautiful bouquets that matched the bright bridemaid dresses and a blossoming and bright bouquet to enhance the bride's simple column dress.  It turned out beautifully, and the flowers cost under $1,000.  Amazing at best.  

For more information about Gorgeous and Green Events and our sustainable practices visit our website: www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com

All the beautiful pictures are taken by local photographer Cara at Cara Mia Photography www.caramiaphotography.com

We used organic and fair trade roses and locally grown hydgrangea (I grow myself) as well as locally grown hypericum berries, bells of ireland and amaranthus from flower growers who bring their goods to the local flower markets.  They didn't travel far, and I use recycled vegetable oil to power my vehicles, so gasoline usage was at a minimum.    

ggcouplesqrSmall details on corners and walkways added splashes of color and romance

ggbridesquareA beautiful bride and a gorgeous selection of blooming beauty in her hand

gggirls2sqr2Bright colors and bright smiles, they must know those flowers are organic!


Using organic, local and fair trade flowers means less toxic pollution for the special events we enjoy with loved ones and the rest of the world.  It also means supporting local businesses and helping small businesses thrive.  More people and families are supported, less harm is done to the world around us. All that great energy and care shines through the event, through the flowers, the people and the environment that is taken into consideration.  Buy local and organic, think sustainably, care for the world.  

In Green and Health, G&G


Eco-Conscious Wedding in Baja Part 2

Details of a Green Wedding

The small pieces of an event or wedding are always the most tedious and possibly some of the most important.  Flower colors, number of birthday candles, seating charts, the 1st song, etc. etc.  And when it comes to a green event, making some of these details green and sustainable can get overwhelming.  Yet, people have been celebrating green for centuries, and really it just means we have to go back to our roots to find our sustainable ways.   At Gorgeous and Green Events we believe green design and event planning start with what's available in your area and what can be made and planned for without a lot of out of town materials or out of town vendors.  It's rather simple to do, but we've made it more difficult for ourselves in the US because we use cars, trucks and airplanes to transfer people and objects all around the world with the swipe of a credit card.  Not to mention all the chemicals we use to make things grow and appear in new ways and at different times of the year. With our wedding in Baja, my fiance and I decided to make even the small details green.  My mother and I contacted local flower growers in Baja (about 5 miles away from the wedding site) and ordered flowers that could be used in bouquets and arrangements for the wedding.  We picked those up the day before the wedding, so the florist, who also came down to Baja to work, could include those flowers in the arrangements.  

Bouquet by Heavenly Florist, San Diego

Heavenly Florist San Diego We chose to print our own maps and invitations at home.  I illustrated the map using information about mileage and freeways for guests I could find on the internet.  Since I had driven down Baja many times, it was helpful for me to add some additional driving pointers.  We just scanned and printed them at home.  Very cost-effective.   The Invitation papers we bought from www.invitesite.com . A great place to get invitations sets for printing at home, and they offer sustainable designs that include tree free paper, recycled paper and raffia.  

Invite Site's Hampton's

invite-site-pic If you have a chance, however, you can find recycled paper and envelopes in different colors from art stores and paper stores in your area, and print out your own invites at home.  You might even find a local printer who can do them for you sustainably, and cut out the extra travel carbons.

Here are some sustainable invitation vendors or companies that provide eco-friendly options:











I chose to decorate our cocktail napkins and table cards using some rubber stamps that I had bought at a local art supply store.  Rather than send out for printed napkins with our names or logo on it, I felt the stamps gave a festive and personal touch.  The place cards were printed on recycled cardstock and they were attached to small shells that sat in sand at the entrance to the reception.

Table Cards

PZ's Table cards

I made the ceremony programs by sewing sheets of printed vellum and recycled cardstock together and then adding a cutout from a piece of design paper I bought at the art store.  They were very special and were made at home!  Less travel carbons and a bit cheaper than having them done elsewhere. We had a lot of space to decorate, and really no amount of flowers would have added to the magnificent decor of the beach and beautiful blue sea.  So we opted to stay light on the table flowers and added some decor in the sky such as some paper flowers I made from tissue paper and tree-free paper that were strung up at the reception entrance.  Not only were they compact and pesticide free, we could recycle them when we were done.  

Sky paper flowers

paper flowers

We also needed more light on the patio where the reception was being held so we needed to buy or rent lighting.  I made some lanterns out of jelly jars and wire and hung those around and we opted for turquoise paper lighted lanterns around the space that looked magnificent by day and glowing at night.  Not only beautiful, but these lights were made of paper and old jars, recyclable or reusable materials for another event.  

Paper Lanterns

PZ's Sky

Lanterns at Night

at nightphotos by Erin Beach Photography, SF

  For wearable details besides my dress, I opted to go vintage.  I began looking for the perfect necklace months before, and found it close to home at a local jewelry shop that specialized in antique Native American jewelry.  I found a wonderful necklace of full turquoise, which not only is a favorite stone but also was one of our wedding colors.  I also found at a local vintage store a beautiful vintage hair comb with blue crystals.  It went perfectly with my dress and overall look, which had a special Spanish/Mexican Colonial feel.  



Vintage Hair Comb and Necklace

details There were many more details that I could go on and on about, but the take home message is really about simplifying and keeping things local and free of toxins.  If you can buy it near you, if it was made or grown near you, if it was grown and made without added chemicals and toxins, and if it was already used by someone else, you've made quite an attempt at keeping your event and your life green. All the beautiful event photographs were taken by Erin Beach at www.erinbeach.com  

Eco-Conscious Wedding in Mexico Part 1

The Breathtaking Wedding in Baja 

I was a generally conscious person, aware of the benefits of organic produce, recycling and carpooling.  I even favor vintage designs, art and clothes and had become accustomed to recycling and selling my clothes for needed cash or shopping sprees (thanks Berkeley).  But my when I became engaged to a vegan who had studied sustainable development, the eco-consciousness raising was significant. After we became engaged, we set forth to plan the most sustainable event we could.  And when we picked our venue, we decided on a quaint place in Mexico.  Generally, it's more sustainable to stick closer to home.  The less you and your guests travel, the less gas and jet fuel is burned.  But we chose Mexico for a few different reasons.  One: we had free lodging and transportation available to us there since my parents and their neighbors offered their lodging and vehicles for our use.  Two: we both resided in the Bay Area, but a good amount of our family and friends lived in San Diego and LA, and the location of our event was only about an hour or so below the San Diego/Mexico border.  Three:  it was a little easier on our pocket book.  With the money we saved on location, we could spend on getting organic and local flowers and other items that would have been more expensive in the US.   We also chose to offset the costs of our jet travel.  For more information about traveling carbon neutral or even carbon offsetting gift certificates check out:


[caption id="attachment_105" align="aligncenter" width="130" caption="carbon fund carbon offsets"]carbon fund carbon offsets[/caption]  


[caption id="attachment_106" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Terrapass gift certificate"]Terrapass gift certificate[/caption]   After we booked the location, the next item was the dress.  My dress.  Partly because as a bride-to-be there is a lot of pressure out there from magazines and commercials to pick the perfect dress, and partly because I myself was fascinated with the process of finding one.  I chose to search far and wide (mostly on the internet) for a used or recycled dress to my liking.  But this was no easy task in 2007.  There were but a couple of websites, and the pickings were dismally slim.  Since then, new sites have popped up and the pickings are vast.  Here are a few of the websites I ventured to and many new sites now selling used and recycled dresses:












I myself found an older pronovias dress on ebay, for darn cheap.  Now, it wasn't totally what I imagined, there was a lot of lace involved that didn't suit my taste, but the price was right and the fit and style was exactly what I wanted.  I also know how to sew, so for a few weeks before the wedding I managed to take most of the lace off and recreate the top in a way I preferred.  

twist and turnWedding photography by Erin Beach at www.erinbeach.com

If you are interested in doing the same and you don't sew, find a local seamstress/tailor and have them make the alterations.  Not only can you get the perfect fit for your shape, you'll also be paying the worker fair wages and supporting a local business! After the dress, we did some event and dinner planning.  We wanted to go vegan, but realizing that many people eat meat, we felt it was important to offer a few options.  So, we offered plenty of vegan sides like beans and rice, fresh grilled vegetables and potatoes, organic spring salad, tortillas, guacamole and salsa.  For the main dishes we offered locally caught fish and mango chicken.   We also had an appetizer buffet of freshly made tacos of either fish or beans during cocktail hour.  Those fish tacos were a huge hit and a Baja delicacy.  Local food was definitely getting the spotlight, so tasty and fresh! appetizer buffet I asked some friends to make some natural aguas frescas for guests who didn't want soda or wine.  My mother contributed a few cases of great Mexican wine and sparking wine from a local Baja vineyard, Santo Tomas.  

Find info here about Santo Tomas:  

santo-tomas1 We decided to go with a vegan and organic cake from a local bakery in San Diego: Stephanie's Bakery in Ocean Beach.  What a remarkable flavor explosion!  We chose three different cakes, mostly because we couldn't make up our minds.  My favorite was the chocolate with chocolate and more chocolate.  Can you tell I like chocolate?


cake and kisses Along with the dress, food, cake and location, there were many other details that needed planning and greening.  Please tune in next blog for more!

In Green and Health,


Green Chic Review

Green Chic  Saving the Earth in Style  by Christie Matheson

green chic book

  Although this book is not a "wedding" or "event" book per se, it is filled with helpful hints and smart remarks, making it an easy and intelligent read, to say the least.  It's also filled with great ideas that can be used in the  wedding and event arena, as well as every day of our lives.  So why not?

 Over all, I would say it's worthy of being picked up if you are looking for some green motivation.  It may also be helpful if you are  fairly feminine.  As the cover suggests, it's probably written for women.  However I think it's readable for just about anyone.  If a section dives into nail polish and you're not digging it, skip it.  There's some good info in there about  cleaning toilets and I think that is both a male and female issue, or at least it should be. Despite the title and the occasional inclusion of girlie info, the book is written very smartly, succinctly and it's pretty compact.  There are a good amount of suggestions as well as scary statistics to promote behavior change.  This, of course, is the whole reason you might be reading this type of book anyway, to change your behavior. There were some occasional steps I thought Christie could have taken to be slightly greener, but maybe that would have been pushing the envelope.  She does give a whole-hearted try for some of the more "hippie" products out there like natural deodorants and she does mention the menstrual cup, but I think there could have been a little more pushing in some areas or at least mentioning of the many options available.     I know just reading the book has influenced me and I think of myself as pretty well educated about green living, health and sustainability.  But, sometimes we forget the everyday actions we take that can have such a massive affect on our world and the people around us, not to mention our own health.  So, getting a little reminder is good for even us greenies. One piece of knowledge that I have heard before but was happy to hear again was about Bottled Water.  I know you've probably heard, drinking from the tap is way better for the environment and possibly for you.  It's also cheaper.  But did you know that we go through 70 million of those pesky bottles a day?  Think of it.  Families across America buying 24 and 48 packs of plastic water bottles at Cosco each week and how many of those bottles end up in the landfill, or better yet, in the ocean floating around as a giant island of plastic trash.  Not to mention that 1/4 of those bottles don't hold special water from fijian springs, but plain old tap water.  So why are we spending so much on this special bottled tap water?  Well for some more insight and suggestions, try the book.  It might just change the way you behave around plastic.  And paper.  And cotton...  until next time, G&G

local flower growers

Where is the local flower grower in your area? If you want flowers for your home, a special dinner or large event, your best bet is to find a local flower shop or florist that specializes in sustainable flowers.  Why?  Well, unfortunately it can take quite a bit of fancy footwork to find local growers and to actually get their flowers to your door.   (Hopefully in the future this will be a lot easier).  Unfortunately where you find most flowers, you find pesticides, thousands of miles of travel and probably a lot of plastic.  Yikes Most flowers are shipped miles and miles around the world and that means a lot of packaging and chemicals to keep them looking nice and refrigeration and gas/jet fuel to get them around.  Not to mention the resulting high amounts of pesticides and unfair pay/working practices that often result in less developed countries. Unfortunately, many flower shops may not even know where the flowers came from or how they were grown. If you work in floral design or event planning as I do, you have the opportunity as a vendor to work with growers, even visit local farms and ask questions.  How do they grow the flowers?  Are all the flowers they sell from their farms?  What do they pay workers?  How much fertilizer and pesticide is used?  Do they rotate crops?  Etc.  This information can be presented to clients and customers. If you're a customer: become an educated one.  Ask questions.  Give your business to vendors who are doing the footwork.  Give a darn about your green. These are some flower designs I created from local growers: [gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="2"] If you are a vendor check out www.ascfg.org for specialty growers in your area and see if they are sustainable.   If you're looking for local sustainable flower designers or shops, google may be your best friend, but you can also check out www.ecobusinesslinks.com If you live in CA and don't have time to find a florist, you can order online.  However, they ship, so it's not the most sustainable option.  But hey, better than nothing: www.californiaorganicflowers.com If you live in the BAY AREA, contact me: pilar@gorgeousandgreenevents.com