Dream Green Weddings Offers Brides a Touch of Green
The amount of waste produced by weddings is one of their most negative factors, according to Heather Teague, owner of Dream Green Weddings. And there are 2.5 million weddings in the United States every year. “That’s a lot of waste!” Teague says.
But waste and weddings don’t have to go hand in hand. Eco-conscious brides can lessen the environmental impact of their big day by making a few small changes, suggests Teague. Her Dream Green Weddings virtual storefront features eco-friendly invitations, favors, décor, and gifts to make any wedding a touch more green.
“We’re here for mainstream brides who want to be environmental but can’t do everything,” says Teague, who launched the site in September. “We’ve found that there are many shades of green.”
Teague focuses on helping brides-to-be choose just a few green alternatives for their weddings. With busy lives and limited budgets, planning a completely green wedding is too big a commitment for most brides, who also don’t want to give up their dream weddings.
The most popular items on Teague’s site are the handcrafted wedding favors, including birdseed hearts, organic soaps, and beeswax candles. Many of the items come in varying scents, colors, and shapes and can be customized for each wedding.
“Brides like being able to customize their wedding while still making an eco-friendly choice,” Teague says.
Teague’s personal favorites are the botanical Honeypots, luminaries that are handcrafted on a small farm in Georgia. The beeswax globes are embedded with pressed, dried flowers that virtually come to life upon lighting the small candle inside.
Socially Responsible Vendors
Dream Green Weddings donates a portion of its profits to the National Wildlife Federation. The company website highlights suppliers’ commitment to charity by displaying a description of each vendor’s socially responsible and eco-friendly practices. The makers of Honeypots, for example, use organic farming techniques, and for each Honeypot sold, they donate a portion of their profits to environmental research.
Teague spends hours researching to find unique vendors. “It’s a lot of reading of blogs and books,” says Teague, who is currently in discussion with an artisan who makes place card holders from reclaimed wood (wood that comes from trees that fall naturally).
Many of the artisans featured on her site have never sold through retailers before, so it’s a first-time experience for both. “We can focus on the marketing and they can focus on the products they sell,” Teague says.
A Sustainable Business Model
Besides donating to nonprofits and using eco-friendly and socially responsible vendors, Teague keeps her business green by using a virtual office. To minimize transportation, she works from home and communicates with her Web designer/programmer at his own home office via phone and e-mail.
Teague keeps her supply chain green, as well. Whenever possible, she ships directly from the supplier to the customer, instead of having the supplier ship the products to her. The site is based out of Florida, and she doesn’t think it makes sense to have a Colorado-based vendor ship to her, if the product ultimately needs to be sent to California. “It’s great that these vendors are on board to do this for us,” she says.
Before launching the site late this past summer, Teague worked as a marketing consultant. Running the site is a natural fit with her marketing, Internet, and business background, she says.
To promote her young business, Teague has done quite a bit of blogging and uses Twitter and Facebook. She also partners with other sites that have complementary services and products, including Recycled Bride, Modern Hippie Magazine and Earth Friendly Weddings Blog. “It’s very grassroots,” Teague tells me.
To highlight her sustainable business practices, Teague sought certification for Dream Green Weddings through the Green Bride Guide. Dream Green Weddings was rated at four leaves out of five, based on criteria such as sustainable business practices and charitable donations.
Walking the Talk
Teague and her husband live sustainably, too, and have since their own wedding day 12 years ago. Teague credits her husband with being a huge motivation; he, too, is an environmentalist.
“As a couple, we motivate each other,” she says. At home, the Teagues practice water conservation and live dishwasher-free. They also recycle everything they possibly can, including the cardboard cylinders from toilet paper rolls. “We’re huge into recycling. The recycling people who pick our stuff up probably hate us,” Teague says, laughing.
The Teagues planned their own green wedding well before eco-friendly weddings became trendy. They were married outdoors in Mead Garden, a small, botanical garden in Winter Park, Florida. Since the wedding was held during daylight, they used no energy for lighting. With only 50 guests, they were able to hold the ceremony and reception in the same location, reducing the demand for transportation. And, their invitations were printed on recycled paper.
Teague hopes to influence today’s brides and grooms to be more eco-conscious about their own wedding receptions. “We’re getting away from the ‘platinum’ wedding,” she says, speaking of the growing eco-consciousness among wedding couples. “That’s not to say it can’t be beautiful and elegant.
“Couples are going to keep getting married, and we’re going to keep having weddings, because that’s part of our culture,” she says. “But we can do a lot of things to reduce the impact of weddings while still being creative and environmentally responsible.”
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