Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wedding Planner Goes Green

Picked up this article online yesterday. I'm considering adding a green component to the Recession Bride's Workshop next Saturday, but I'm not sure if we're going to have enough time. You can find the article and more like it here.

The wedding planner goes green
From invitations to caterers, how to make your big day eco-friendly.

GREEN YOUR DAY: Environmentally friendly event planning has reached the wedding circuit.
Tiffany Eng, a girl in her early 20s, is getting married in June. Her guest list includes 650 people, and she expects around 500 of them to attend. Save the date reminders were sent via email, but the formal invitations were paper.

Along with the actual invitation, Tiffany sent a reception invitation, an R.S.V.P. card, and a card with directions to the church and reception. These items, plus the folder and paper bands to hold them together, and the envelope, add up to seven pieces of paper per guest.

Seven multiplied by 650 equals 4,550 pieces of cream, brown, and blue thick cardstock paper that will be used as invitations for one wedding—one of the approximately 2.4 million that take place every year in the U.S., according to the Association of Bridal Consultants, a nationwide trade organization for wedding planners.

The environmental group Conserveatree calculates that roughly 24 trees are needed to produce one ton of virgin printer quality paper. Also, bleaching the paper uses the gas form of chlorine, producing unwanted toxic dioxins. Even a small part of a big event can amount to tons of wasted paper and more pollution every year.

This is just one of the reasons that a new trend of environmentally friendly event planning has begun to crop up all over the U.S. Event planners across the country are becoming more conscious about what kind of waste is produced at weddings, and are starting to implement greener practices as they put together weddings, cocktail parties, and product launches. The owner of Lyndsey Hamilton Events, who has started suggesting her clients use recycled paper invitations, says, “If everyone did one simple thing, like use recycled paper, or recycle the bottles, all of those things really add up."

But even as these planners push recycling and organics, it is difficult to really define what a green event is. There is no industry standard for sustainability, the way LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifies buildings at different levels of green. And according to Jean Picard, the California state coordinator at the Association of Bridal Consultants, there is currently no way to figure out how many of the estimated 10,000 wedding planners in the U.S. engage in green practices. “They’re doing what their clients want to do,” she explains. “Some want some green. There’s no way to put numbers on that."

Nevertheless, looking more closely at what some of these event planners believe and put into practice gives a window into what is possible.

Danielle Venokur, who owns a sustainable event design and production company, says, “When you say you’re ‘throwing something away,’ there’s really no ‘away.’” Venokur, who opened dvGreen in January 2007, works this philosophy into her lifestyle and her business. Most of Venokur’s new clients come to her because she is green. “They want a chic, sustainable event,” she says.

Venokur prefers local or organic food and flowers, and recycling in terms of the waste, at a bare minimum. She works with the caterers and the venues to set up recycling and food compost systems. “Now that it’s trendy, I think New Yorkers are really getting on board. They’re psyched by the idea that they can have something that looks good,” says Venokur. “I think the climate is right for more of this."

In other parts of the country, too, people are looking for green alternatives.

Angelica Weihs, the owner of Green Weddings in Los Angeles, has been planning environmentally-friendly weddings since 2005. One of the challenges lies in finding vendors who will cooperate. Weihs likes to challenge the people she works with to be green by asking her vendors, “‘Are you doing anything eco-friendly? What are you doing with your trash?’” It reminds people that it might be necessary to make change."
One wedding she planned called for a chocolate fountain and Weihs convinced Classic Party Staffing to make the chocolate fountain organic. Also, her inquiries may have prompted changes in other companies, like Classic Party Rentals. “I cannot say that it was just me, but the demands of my company and other planners have influenced the rental company market.” It had been difficult to find green rental companies in the past, but now Classic Party Rentals is implementing measures like eco-friendly cleaning processes.

Most people, even the ones who are interested in eco-friendly practices, aren’t willing to give up everything that they consider traditional, according to Mark Kingsdorf, owner of The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants in Philadelphia. “There are very few clients who are willing to go all the way tree-hugger,” he says.

Other planners champion reuse as the best form of being green, over buying new things and adding more products, and thus, more waste, to the grand scheme of things. The owner of 5Senses Event Designs determines what clients have in their homes and what she has in her own inventory before buying or renting supplies. “We’re repurposing,” says Simone Hudson. “I’m not going to tell you to go buy organic plates for your next party. Pull the plates off your own shelves,” she says.

Until standards are established, for now, being “green” means doing the best you can, and that usually means going organic with food and flowers, choosing recycled paper for invites, and some form of reuse.

As much as it breaks Hudson’s heart to see things go to waste, she doesn’t preach to her clients, even when they want to throw everything away. “I’m not going to push it. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do at all. And you have to accept it. So you move on to the next event. Not every event is going to be eco-friendly."

She doesn’t get discouraged, because ultimately, “It’s a process,” says Hudson. “It’s a habit, and a mindset, more than an individual occurrence.”

Story by Evangel Fung. This article originally appeared in Plenty in May 2008.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

L.A. Times - Simple weddings: Get me to the courthouse on time

A few of my friends took this option last year, and I can't say that I blame them. As a matter of fact, it seemed like such a good idea that I offer an "elopement" package myself - make the appointments, reservations for dinner afterwards or whatever. There's something refreshing about a "simple wedding", you know? Refreshing and cheap.
And, of course, if you want to find out more ways to save money on your weddding....Recession Bride's Workshop, Saturday, May 9th. Visit for more details.

Here's the beginning of the article:

Some brides and grooms are scrapping their plans for big, expensive weddings.
By Susan Carpenter
April 26, 2009
Despite the gloom and doom of the economy, couples are still game to say, "I do." Indeed, the number of weddings expected to take place in the U.S. in 2009 is on par with recent years, holding steady at about 2.2 million. But the style and scope of those weddings are in flux. Many couples are reconsidering big, blowout affairs and big, billowy dresses. They are embracing less expensive locations, cutting back on guest lists and renting gowns. Some of them are even grabbing a few friends and running off to the county courthouse.

Big shindig to courthouse vows

Jill Cooper Clements was as excited as any bride-to-be when her boyfriend of one year proposed last year. Within hours of receiving her radiant-cut, 2-carat diamond engagement ring, she had already started planning what was expected to be a 275-guest, $150,000, New Year's Eve wedding.

Within two weeks, she'd booked the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla for the ceremony and reception. Within a month, she'd found her wedding gown at Saks. She sent out save-the-date announcements and put down deposits for the cake, her dress, an eight-piece band.

Then Clements and her fiancé, Bryce, got cold feet -- for the Big Wedding, that is. Less than two months before the Big Day, they canceled, opting to get married at the Beverly Hills courthouse instead.

"Although it was going to be this amazing, classy event, it felt really tacky to be so splashy and flashy in these times," said Clements, 30, a publicist who owns the Michele Marie PR agency in Los Angeles.

Clements' now husband, who works for a hedge fund, agreed. So they held on to their hand-calligraphied invitations. They forfeited $25,000 in deposits. They did, however, still dress for the occasion -- her husband in a tux and Clements in her strapless Amsale gown.

"I didn't need to put on a frilly fairy tale wedding for everybody else," said Clements, who picked up a bouquet from a local florist on her way to the high-rise courthouse. "We really just wanted to get married."

Despite the tanking economy, love still happens -- and so do weddings. It's just where and how those weddings are happening that's changing.

In L.A. County, civil wedding ceremonies performed in government buildings were up 17% in 2008 over 2007. Nationally, the number of couples marrying in civil, rather than religious, ceremonies in the first quarter of this year increased by 60% over the same period last year. according to Shane McMurray, CEO and founder of the wedding research firm the Wedding Report. "The increase in [civil] weddings really just says that people are quickening the ceremony process," said McMurray, who is based in Tucson. "Those types of ceremonies are certainly on the increase and I would have to say it has a lot to do with the economy." (Click here to read the rest of the article)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weddings + Earth Day = Plantable Invitations

One of my brides is looking into sending plantable invitations to her guests - after you're done with the invite, you rip it up, put it in the ground and it blooms into flowers in a few weeks. Never heard of such a thing, she mentioned it, and now they're everywhere. Green Wedding Shoes has a post devoted it to today, even.

The Average Cost of Wedding is $28,000. Yeah, Let's Take A Look at That.

So, I'm prepping for the Recession Bride's Workshop I'm having on May 9th, and it IS hard to believe, a little, that you could spend $28,000 on a wedding. It's a lot of money. Where does it all go?

Well, based on the past few weddings that I've done, here's what about what it looks like if you're having 100 guests, and I went a little easy in some places. The point of the workshop is that you can save in all of these areas, but if you don't, then:

Wedding Venue Rental Fee: $2000
Catering: $90 per person 9000
tax @9.25% 830
Service charge @20% 1800
Bar at Wedding Venue:
Wine @$35 per bottle,
1 glass per person 875
Cocktails, beer and soda
2 per person @ $7 per person 1400
tax on alcohol 210
Service charge @ %20 455
Venue, food, and beverage: $16,570

Cake @ $7 per slice 700
tax @9.25% 65
Cake Delivery 50
Cake slicing fee @ $2 a slice 100
Cake: $915
Bridal Bouquet 100
Centerpieces $85 x 10 tables 850
Boutonnieres @ $35 x2 70
Bridesmaid bouquets @$50x2 100
tax @ 9.25% 103
Delivery 50
Flowers: $1,273

Dress 4000
tax @9.25 375
Dress: $4,375

Tux rental @ $100 x2 200
tax @9.25% 17
Tuxes: $217
Invitations - 50 @ $15 apiece 750
tax @9.25% 69
Calligraphy 200
Invitations: $1,019

Photography 4000
tax @ 9.25% 370
Photogrpahy: $4,375
Reception place cards/table
numbers/favors 200
tax @9.25% 18
Reception misc. : $218
Hair and makeup 250
tip: 37
Hair and makeup: $287

GRAND TOTAL: $29,429
Just like that. Any questions?

Monday, April 20, 2009

You Can Have a Recession-Proof Wedding. Even in Los Angeles.

Press Release for my Recession Bride's Workshop, coming up:

You Can Have a Recession-Proof Wedding. Even in Los Angeles.
The Recession Bride’s Workshop, Saturday, May 9th

$28,000. It’s a down payment on a house, half the median U.S. annual income, and…the average cost of a wedding in Los Angeles. It’s a lot of money. Your 401k is not what it used to be (no one's is) - Why spend it all if you don’t have to?

On Saturday, May 9th, Liz Coopersmith, owner of Silver Charm Events, is hosting The Recession Bride’s Workshop, which will show you the best and most realistic ways to save money on your wedding. And, yes, that includes NOT hiring a wedding planner. “The first step is finding out where the money goes, the next step is figuring out how to save it,” says Coopersmith. “We’re not talking about sewing your dress from scratch, or asking your Aunt Susan to make her famous fried chicken for 200 of your closest friends and family. We all know you’re not going to do that. What I am going to do is offer attractive, reasonable alternatives and strategies that will save you thousands of dollars. And you will have the wedding of your dreams.”

The Recession Bride’s Workshop will be held from 1:00 – 3:00pm on Saturday, May 9th, at Market Lofts in downtown Los Angeles, at 645 W. 9th Street. Located only two blocks away from the Staples Center, Market Lofts ( recently won the Gold Nugget Award for mixed project of the year, and is one of the most desirable loft communities in the city.

Admission to the workshop is $20, which includes refreshments, wedding cake samples and a ticket to an upcoming local bridal show – so you can start getting more for your money right away. Registration is now open online at For additional information, contact Liz Coopersmith at 310-801-3602, or

Friday, April 03, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Silver Charm Events! Gifts for Everyone!

So it was five years ago this month that Silver Charm Events was born. I got laid off, came home very upset, and my husband - in his way - shrugged, asked, "Why don't you start your own business?". Easy for him to say, since he already had his own business. And then I thought, hey, why not start my own business?

And, as a special birthday party favor this month, book a Day-Of Coordination package in April for your wedding anytime this year, and get the 2004 rate - $750. That's a discount of $500. You can buy a lot of cake for $500. No, it's not featured on my website (yet), you've got to ask for it, so shoot me an email at or call/text me at 310-801-3602.
But, ah, the news, today: GAY MARRIAGE LEGAL IN IOWA

The Iowa Supreme Court has released its big gay marriage ruling and guess what, it ruled that denying gay marriage is unconstitutional. The gays can now get married in America’s Heartland! Iowa, everyone is so nice there. Everyone was so nice to us there on our convention road trip last summer. Turns out they were just trying to gay-marry Ken!