More than a "green wedding," a reflection of our values.

Sep 26, 2011 by Vivian Best | Story Popularity: 16


Will and I were married this summer and put a lot of thought into the details. A wedding is quite an adventure to plan, and we both have large families! There were many websites devoted to "Green weddings," and I'd like to share some of the conscious choices we made so that others may reflect on and learn from our experience. I'll be working on this a little at a time and may experiment with organizing it in different ways.

Will and I used shared googledocs, and shared a Dropbox to collect information together, and keep track of everything from tasks that needed to be done, expenses and timelines, ideas for our vows, to our thank-you list.

We were lucky to have friends who sat down with us to talk about how they planned out their wedding. We learned a ton! It was great to see the choices that other people made, and to hear them talk about their budgeting choices. We learned useful information like the fact that your caterer can help you obtain compostables, if you ask! They were also kind enough to share their expense list, which helped us to comparison shop and price out what we wanted. I'm happy to share ours, if anyone would like to see it. =)

Will and I looked at many rings together.

I liked the idea of not mining for more metals. I love the vintage aesthetic of art deco rings. We looked at antique vintage rings at Mellow's Antiques (841 Bishop Street), and found something beautiful! The filigree designs are one of a kind, and I loved it so much I decided that I wanted to keep my engagement ring as my wedding ring. Who needs to wear two rings, not me! =)

Will chose a ring made of Hawaiian Koa Wood. Oddly, it was handcrafted in Canada! The company that makes them is called "Touch Wood".

ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Facebook, text messages via cell phones, and phone calls to friends and family were sufficient. No trees were printed on!

LOCATION: An important factor for us in location was "quiet". We had a Quaker-inspired wedding, where we asked guests to observe silence, and very few locations were able to offer the quiet that Lyon Arboretum offered. It's a unique site in the back of Manoa Valley, which had never seen a wedding quite as large as ours (140 people)! We enjoyed the photo opps with the well-labelled native plants and supporting the arboretum in its mission to support research and education with the money that we paid to have the event there. It was great to provide our guests with a retreat from the city for the day. The arboretum is closed on Sundays, and when you book and event on Sundays, the entire arboretum is open for your party to explore.

We had some challenges, like the ceremony site that we selected being sloped and too damp for chairs to be set up, but we dealt with it, and people stood instead. Our reception was held in the parking lot area, which we tented. Ken Seamon, the facilities person there was responsive and easy to work with. We also left him with our layout, so that others can use it for their future events.

HIGH EFFICIENCY BULBS: We were given all sorts of options for lighting by the rentals company. We focused on the feel of an outdoor wedding. When asked about draping, about uplighting, about all sorts of other details, we opted out. We chose to spend extra money on high efficiency bulbs, and less on the details that would have made our outdoor wedding, less outdoorsy-feeling, while making a choice to conserve some energy!

PARTICIPATION!: When I was growing up attending weddings, I was bored out of my mind. I remember attending a wedding when the family of the bride was asked to stand, and I got excited to have a chance to participate... but then, all we did was read a few lines that were already printed. One of the features of the Quaker wedding tradition that I love is that anyone can choose to speak and share what they feel called to share. (Neither Will nor I are officially Quaker. It was a choice to have a Quaker inspired ceremony.) We let our families and friends know that they would have the opportunity to share, and some chose to deliver prepared thoughts and others just spoke from the heart. It was INCREDIBLE. His family, which come from a Christian tradition, could add thoughts and blessings reflecting their values, and my family (some Buddhist, some Christian, some spiritual) had a chance to share in their own ways. I spent so many moments alternating between laughing and being moved to tears, listening to our beloved community share their insights, blessings, and love with us. At the end of the sharing, they all signed a wedding document acknowledging our marriage (no minister!). Our document hangs proudly in our home, and is a reminder of our special day and the people that participated. If anyone's curious about what the document says or looks like, please feel free to send me a message and ask to see it! =)

EDIBLE DECORATIONS: I decided early on that I wanted to put my focus on edibles, and not flowers. The arboretum provided scenic beauty and living flora. As our centerpieces, we made fruit baskets with fruit that had been purchased at the KCC Market the day before. Each table was labelled with a food item that is part of a shopping list for a typical week in our household. I chose to make my own bouquet (with some help from friends) and had a few little flowers in my bouquet that were a part of the Chinese broccoli and other greens from Otsuji Farms. Ed Otsuji also contributed purslane, and a few types of kale! The bouquet also had opal basil from Nalo Farms, there was some beautiful purplish spinach, and to hold it together, we used stems cut from ti leaves (obtained from the farmer's market as well). We encouraged guests to take fruit home as favors, and we brought some of what we had left over to IHS to donate. My own family enjoyed a ti leaf duel and managed to eat their way through 2 pineapples using the compostable forks and knives to cut them open! We ate parts of the bouquet for breakfast. =)

MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT: We each asked a cherished friend to play music for our ceremony (they played flute and guitar), and then asked a friend to DJ music for us. We saved some money by borrowing a sound system from a dance group I belong to, and some projection equipment from some folks will knows. We had a large dance floor installed for the evening. I've been swing dancing since 1999, and many of my friends are dancers. I had asked a friend to teach a beginner lesson early in the day, but at that time, no one was very interested. After watching Will and I dance, people were inspired to learn, so, I ended up teaching a beginning swing dance lesson at my own wedding to over 40 people! (I'm a professional swing dance instructor, in addition to all the other random stuff I do and teach!) It was awesome! =)

We also had a photo booth. We hired Bambooth ( to provide a participatory memory for our guests of our wedding that they had a chance to create, and we had a great time laughing and looking through all of the photos that our friends and family took in the booth! Everyone receives a print of their photo at the time they take it and we received all the images on a thumb drive. All the photos were available for our guests in an online gallery, and they could even share their images on facebook! (Bambooth was great about communicating with us and very professional! They were great to work with!)

Will also happened to be at "Eat the Street" just before the wedding, and was excited about the Yelp tent's giant JENGA! He asked if we could borrow it for our wedding and they happily lent it to us! We housed it under one of the canopies, and our guests had a great and adults! =) It added an extra randomly fun activity to the wedding, and I liked that people had more things that they could do!

FOOD: We had a few different stations. We had a ginger cooler station and supported "Pacific Kool" (They are a local business that uses Hawaiian ginger for drinks. We have loved their drinks at the farmer's market, and thought it would be a nice addition to the wedding). We invited "Le Crepe Cafe" to come and make crepes for our guests (Crepe Cafe did catering for a "First Friday" back in January of 2009, and Will and I ate there during our first date on the lawn of the Hawaii State Art Museum!). We had an amazing caterer (Off-Menu Catering) named Kevin Fujinaga, who coordinated efforts with Chefs Doug Lum and Bill Bruhl of "Green Cuisine" to provide us with a menu that was locally sourced from farms that we love. Kevin was supportive of our request for compostables as well, and helped us to procure enough not just for our wedding, but for the barbecue that we hosted the day after as well. At the end of it all, we still had some left, so I sold it on craigslist! We also ordered extra ti leaves from the farmer's market, washed them off, and cut them up to use as green "plates" for the wedding.

The menu:
Hamakua Maitake-Parsnip Tart
creamy parsnip puree and earthy roasted Maitake mushrooms in a buttery puffed pastry shell

MA’O Farms Arugula, Tatsoi and Baby Greens
Ho Farms Tomatoes,Cucmbers, Naked Cow Feta, Champagne-Mango Vinaigrette

Saikyo Yaki Glazed Fresh Hawaiian Fish
Sustainable caught Pelagic Hawaiian Fish roasted in miso-sake glaze, ginger-soy drizzle

Saikyo Yaki Glazed Tofu-Japanese Eggplant
Tian of Ho Farms Long Eggplant and Local Tofu Roasted in miso-sake glaze, ginger-soy drizzle

Beef Burgundy
Noisettes of beef, smoked bacon and Hamakua Mushrooms red wine-veal demi

Olive Oil Poached Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Steamed Kai Choi

CAKE: We decided not to have one. We decided instead to have Bubbie's Mochi Ice Cream. We are HUGE ice cream fans, and had a great time going down to Bubbies to select our favorite flavors. The owner recommended we limit our choices to 3 flavors, but we couldn't resist going with 5! We were able to pick up on the day of our wedding. They were packed in dry ice. The only real challenge was that there was a window within which the ice cream had to be opened, distributed, and eaten. We had a buffet-style reception, with enough staff to pour water, and help with making sure that the food was in steady supply, but they were not going to be able to serve mochi to each table with enough time for everyone to eat them before everything melted. Lucky for us, our emcee created just the right amount of excitement so that there were "ice cream runners" for every table. Fortunately, no one was trampled in the process! =)

ONLINE INVITATIONS: was incredibly helpful. We designed a "wedsite," and tracked RSVPs online using it. Here's a link:
Prior to the wedding we made the event private. No trees were printed on!

AMAZON REGISTRY: Amazon allows you to link to other webpages, and we were able to create a way for our guests to support organizations that we love (including Kanu Hawaii, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, and Common Cause Hawaii), support our green interests like Foodscaping ( and vermicomposting (we asked for a can o'worms).

ZERO WASTE STATION: was easy to work with! Food waste went to a pig farm, compostables went to a farm where they were composted, and our entire wedding generated 2 bags of trash. =)

RECYCLED THANK YOU CARDS: has an option where you can print cards on recycled paper. We liked the personal touch of handwritten thank you notes. =)


Archived Comments

Comments posted prior to adopting Facebook comments.

  1. Olin Lagon says:

    Thanks for sharing this list. May many couples find this resource (I got married too early to benefit).

  2. wow Vivian! this sounds like an awesomely beautiful day. Congrats on it all. I'm hoping a photo of your bouquet is on the wedding web site. If not, is it possible to post one?

  3. Vivian Best says:

    Oddly, I couldn't find any photos of just the bouquet. I have 2 profile photos on facebook with the bouquet though! I'll friend you so that you can see them! =)

  4. Wow, Vivian! What a beautiful, inspiring day. I really appreciate and respect all the thoughtful details you and Will included as a part of your union. I agree with Olin - I hope like-minded people find this post - I've been married ten years, but if I were planning my wedding today, I would definitely think differently about what I'd want it to look like.

  5. Carmille Lim says:

    Wow, Vivian! Congrats on your marriage and your (green) wedding.

    I love this blog post -- your list of tips here is practical and not intimidating at all.

    I'm mentally filing this post for my own wedding....when I grow out of my commitment-phobe phase. (:

  6. This is such a great story! Congratulations firstly on your marriage, and secondly on your execution of a real green wedding. 2 bags of trash? Right on!!

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