As more eco-conscious couples take their walk down the aisle, a growing green wedding industry has responded in kind. Enter "Something Green," a new service introduced by The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte.
"We are constantly looking for innovative approaches that aren't typically offered in the luxury hotel market," said Heidi Nowak, Director of Sales and Marketing for the hotel. "We noticed a trend among meeting planners, who are starting to book more and more 'green meetings' - food catered by organic, local services, paper products like agendas and meeting minutes printed on post-consumer waste. So we thought wedding services would be an exciting item to move in the eco-friendly, green direction as well."
So, just what eco-trappings does Something Green offer? Think table linens made from recycled plastic bottle materials, take-home guest gifts of plantable herb gardens, and centerpieces in compostable papier-mâché containers. The centerpieces may be replanted, composted or donated to the bride's choice of a local hospital or non-profit following the reception, and speaking of "replanting," all foliage and flowers for the package are locally-grown. The options are vast, with pink and purple ornamental cabbage blossoms, green hypericum berries, yellow daffodils, hot pink roses, spring bulb flowers such as iris, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, gerbera daisies, hydrangeas, delphiniums, snap dragons, cosmos, and zinnias in the flower category; pittosporum, boxwood, eucalyptus, ivy, galax and more in the foliage category. All plants are sourced just miles from the hotel itself, rather than imported.
In addition to the floral eye candy, Something Green also offers edible, drinkable eco-options. Organic beverages like Juniper Green Gin, Crop Vodka, Mount Gay Pagayo, 4 Copa Tequila, and wines by Bonterra pour from a four-hour organic open bar during the reception. We like the sound of the "Tomatillo Martini," mixed with Crop Tomato vodka, muddled peppercini, red and yellow grape tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano and fresh lime juice. Dinners make use of organic carrot purees, asparagus, hormone- and antibiotic-free filet mignons, and more. (Vegetarians will be pleased to know that meat-free dinners can be customized to their, ahem, taste). The chefs at Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte grow their own organic rosemary, oregano, chives and thyme up top on the hotel's green roof, making fresh herbs literally just a few floors away.
At the end of the night, the green bride and groom slice into an organic wedding cake prepared with house-made jams. Chef Jon Farace at the hotel mixes in organic flour, sugar, eggs, shortening, vanilla, milk, cream, and salt for the cake, and organic sugar, butter, vanilla and egg whites for the butter cream. The hotel then donates all unused food - dinner, cake, everything - to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
Prices for Something Green services are steep - $189 per guest - but considering that the average wedding now costs between $20,000 - $25,000 total, it's a steal considering the high-quality eco-products in this package. The max guest list for Something Green is 480, so if you capped that, you'd be looking at a $90,720 wedding. (A more modest guest list of 150 fetches a $28,350 price tag).