• Emily Bienek

Portland City Hall Elopement | Sustainable Fashion | Food City of the Year - Destination Wedding Cit

Updated: Oct 21, 2018

This Portland elopement is full of eco-friendly inspiration and sustainable fashion that we want to share in depth for you. There are some incredible alternatives out there that will help you transform your own wedding into one that is conscious about environmental and ethical problems so that you can lower your impact and do more good.

Check out the highlight video below, the amazing photos and scroll down to read about the sustainable alternatives!

Men's Fashion: David Wood Clothier

David Wood has a store full of fine clothing that I'd be honored to wear - I am totally into women wearing tailored menswear. I might be a tad obsessed with his style and his store. He not only sources incredible pieces from Italy and from other fine made in America apparel companies, but he's also a fine tailor and has some really great shoes and men's fashion accessories.

Typically, menswear at a wedding is relatively sustainable in that it is often rented. When you're thinking about clothing, things that can be re-used over and over are much more sustainable than those that are single-use. Of course you also have to think about the materials (natural are better than synthetic) and the ethics (made in a factory that pays living wages and has ethical working hours and conditions, maybe even a green factory!), but for most people, having something that's reusable is great because it both reduces the demand for new pieces of clothing and re-uses what's already out there. For this groom, he wanted to build on his existing wardrobe because he thinks long-term with his clothing and invests in a small wardrobe filled with long lasting pieces. David Wood was the perfect place to go because all of his pieces are tailored to perfection, are made from artisans using ultra high-quality materials, and are curated and sold locally, person to person.

He and David worked together to mix texture and print within a tonal look perfect for late summer/early fall. Tan linen brought in the summer feels, while a small grey houndstooth was a nod to fall. The blue shirt had a fine linear print, paired with a similar blue paisley tie. The green pocket square added a pop of personality because, well, it's a piece of sunshine that drew out smiles from everyone who passed by! The shoes were leather, oxford style sneakers, bringing the functionality of a wedding day filled with walking around the city and the style of this fashion-forward groom together into a beautiful piece.

Bridal Fashion: Silviyana Bridal (Rania Hatoum, Designer)

Finding an eco-friendly wedding gown is hard. Why? Because not many boutiques or designers market their gowns as such! Luckily, Silviyana Bridal Boutique in San Jose has made its eco-friendly gowns searchable, helping brides to find an option that suits their values. In the wedding gown industry, perfection is ideal, which means that a whole lot of fabric (often synthetic) and even a whole lot of "imperfect" dresses are going into landfill. Synthetic fabrics are made of plastic, so over time they only deteriorate into micro-fibers that are saturating the oceans and being mistaken as food by the fish early on in our own food chain. Moreover, sequins are plastic, so are many of the non-glass beads used to adorn dresses. Rania Hatoum is a designer who not only makes incredibly beautiful gowns, but she also experiments with using alternative fabrics to replace the synthetic organza or polyester's that the wedding industry has grown so accustomed to.

The "Catcher" dress is made of abaca, a material made from banana fibers, Philippine native cotton, and glass beads on the bodice. This dress was in ivory, which is the natural abaca color. It was naturally textured - like a linen would be - but it was light and floated behind the bride as she walked unlike any fabric I've ever seen before! Typically, with a dress that has a fairly heavy looking, full skirt like this dress, the outer layer does not float; that makes this dress even more special!

Silviyana Bridal has filled their store with eco choices for brides, but they also are on a mission to give a platform to indie designers as well! I'm all about green initiatives, and also helping designers get their work into the world. The boutique also carries accessories, from which we pulled this hand-made in LA hat from Jill Courtemanch Millinery.

Hair and Makeup: Big Day Beauty

Chrissy of Big Day Beauty is a traveling event hair and makeup artist who I've worked with before. I am so glad that she worked with this bride because she was able to create the most beautiful low up-do that encapsulated sleek romanticism, with a soft, architectural feel. Confession - I am literally obsessed with chignons and wear them a couple time a week when my hair is long. I couldn't help but gawk at this amazing hair! The makeup was soft, but colorful, with a mauve eye and lip that matched the flowers and hand-dyed silks perfectly.

Big Day Beauty offers eco-friendly hair treatment options at the salon such as Inca Glow, which is a completely organic and natural hair smoother. While hair and makeup is one of those areas where you're probably going to encounter plastic packaging to be able to have quality, long-lasting hair and makeup, Chrissy and I are doing our best to minimize the impact on the planet by engaging in proper recycling. At my studio, I have a beauty product TerraCycle box that is the perfect place to put any of the plastic packaging from her high-quality products.

Jewelry: Market Square Jewelers

Jewelry is one of the easiest ways to make a more sustainable and ethical choice because it can mean choosing a company like Vrai and Oro who are based on strong values, or it can mean heading down to your local vintage or estate place! Some companies re-use metals, or if they use new metals, they make sure it is sources ethically. For diamonds, the most ethical option is to purchase something that's re-used, or that's man-made, above ground. Buying local is always a great option too, although many times that's impossible unless you're looking at vintage or paying high-dollar for a jeweler to source and make a special piece for you.

For me, here in Portland Maine, where I need access to already made jewelry locally, Market Square Jewelers is the best of both worlds. Not only do they have an enormous and incredible collection of vintage jewelry, but they make some of their own pieces too and re-use old stones. That is the Elizabeth Henry Collection that you can check out in previous blogs (this one too).

This elopement features one of the coolest men's weddings bands I've ever seen. It's yellow gold and engraved with leaves, but the leaves are imprinted in such a way that the overall texture is reminiscent of a hammered look. I can't even explain it well enough - look for yourself!

In addition to that amazing men's band, this elopement also has probably the best engagement ring and wedding band combination I've seen from the vintage market yet! The band is two diamonds per size with a space in-between for a solitaire engagement ring to sit all cozy inside. From afar, it simply looks like a five stone ring, but it's both! For those of us who are OCD and literally can't deal with bands/rings that are ever off-center, this is perfection.

Flowers: Poppies and Twine

Flowers are easy to mistake as something that can't really have much negative impact on the environment - but that is wrong. Many times, flowers and greenery are grown and distributed in not-so-green ways, often putting way too much CO2 into the atmosphere. Lots of farms use chemicals, many of the most popular flower varieties use more water than we could imagine, and, of course, there's the fact that the majority of flowers are shipped in from overseas.

For a sustainable bouquet, boutonniere, and other flowers for weddings, we seek out florists who are able to source locally. To take it up another notch, we look for those who are willing to forage the flowers! All of the flowers for this couple were foraged in and around Yarmouth, Maine in the days before the wedding and they look as chic and professional as any other bouquet! I'm so lucky to know Leslie of Poppies and Twine because she has great connections with local flower farmers, and she has a yard full of blooms ready for use too!

Invitations: Flower Seed Paper and Margo Dittmer

The absolute easiest way to send invitations is to, well, not send them at all. It's the digital revolution, send a pretty email and get a website! In lieu of that, if you have a small number of invitations to send or just want to be a little more traditional about it, then opt to use seed paper and envelopes out of raw, recycled paper. Flower Seed Paper on Etsy sells the most beautiful seed papers that are printable, so you can enlist a local artist like Margo to make some beautiful work for you. The seed paper can be planted and then flowers will grow at the homes of all those you invited to your wedding. Not only is it earth-friendly, it's also a really great sentiment! Make sure that the artist you choose to do your printing or calligraphy has access to soy based inks. While seed paper is great, if it's covered in petroleum based inks, then it isn't really great for the earth or the flowers that will subsequently try to grow.

Food and Drink: Petite Jaqueline and Vignola - Cinque Terre

If you didn't know, Portland was just named the Food City of the Year by Bon Appetite Magazine. We Portlanders love our food, and we're pretty proud of this title. Many more couples are choosing destination weddings to places other than a Sandals resort, and foodie cities are rising in popularity as cultural destinations. I would argue, with the evidence of Bon Appetite behind me, that Portland is a wonderful destination wedding city!

After the City Hall ceremony, the couple headed off to Bistro PJ - also known as Petite Jaqueline - for happy hour. Bistro PJ is a true French restaurant inspired by Jaqueline, a real, very petite lady who you might run into at the restaurant. I suggest getting the French 75 and having some of the cheese and charcuterie. Although, this may be one of the only places you can find crepes during happy hour, so if you're looking for something new, grab one of those!

For dinner, the couple met up with family at Vignola - Cinque Terre. This is on the top of my list for sustainability because not only do they have a seasonal menu using locally sourced ingredients - but they locally source both product and protein from their own farm! What?! Suggestions here are hard to make because my choice will always be what's seasonal. I particularly love late summer veggies, but any time you come here, there will be something new, something ultra fresh, and something with a very low carbon footprint.

Models: Elizabeth and Caleb

Big thanks to the amazing Elizabeth Eddy and Caleb Foster for modeling for me. I wouldn't be able to share inspirational shoots with the world without amazing models or willing real couples. Caleb is a professional model represented by Maggie Agency in Boston, MA. He lives in Portland, though, and I swear there were at least 5 people on the street or driving by who stopped and yelled "Congratulations, Caleb!" while we were shooting. He's mad about good style and really into living a healthy life with a well rounded diet. Elizabeth is also a professional model and is in grad school to become a dietician. She has a passion for food and is a vegan, herself. After the shoot, we visited Slab in Portland, where we both went crazy over the most amazing piece of vegan pizza we'd ever had. If you're in town, check it out!

To learn more about our own sustainability values, check out the Values and About Us pages. To chat with Emily about photographing your elopement or wedding, or just to pick her brain about some of the greener ways to do things, drop a line on the contact page.

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