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Joshua Lynch

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It’s a nice day for a green wedding

Green Wedding

Hillary Kleeb and Andrew “Bubba” Mason's green wedding included an environmental restoration event with the wedding party before the ceremony. Photo by Joshua Lynch.

When they tied the knot Saturday, the only thing traditional about their ceremony was the day of the week.

Otherwise, Hillary Kleeb and Andrew “Bubba” Mason’s wedding Aug. 30 was far from the formal black-tie affair: It was green.

There wasn’t a white stretch limo. Instead, Kleeb and Mason carpooled with their wedding party to Orcas Island, where they and their guests stayed in cabins for five days.

There wasn’t a caterer. The now-husband and wife went shopping for locally-grown, organic food that was prepared communally.

There wasn’t formal attire, either. Mason wore comfortable, loose pants and a nice shirt. A friend of the bride made Kleeb her dress.

And flowers?

“We might pick some flowers up at the farmer’s market on the way over there,” said Mason, a 27-year-old nursing student at the University of Washington, last week.

Bucking tradition

Like a growing number of engaged couples, Kleeb and Mason decided to plan a wedding that was uniquely theirs — and environmentally conscious.

Kleeb, 33, works for Friends of the Hylebos, an organization that protects and restores the Hylebos Creek Watershed in Federal Way.

It became a part of her wedding dream to minimize her ceremony’s impact on the environment.

“It’s who we are. We’re about reducing our footprint on the Earth,” she said. “We decided to create something we believe in, and we’re making everyone join us.”

With wedding guests in tow, Kleeb and Mason spent the day before the wedding removing troublesome blackberry plants from an overrun area in West Hylebos Wetlands Park.

“I just love it,” Mason said of the nontraditional pre-wedding event. “Most everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves, too.

“My mom,” he quickly added, “said she was a little skeptical.”

It’s who we are. We’re about reducing our footprint on the Earth. We decided to create something we believe in, and we’re making everyone join us.
– Hillary Kleeb

Though she hasn’t been involved with an all-out green wedding yet, Maegan Both, an event coordinator and owner of Bridezilla Events, said the wedding industry is responding to the popularity of eco-friendly practices with more options for green brides and grooms.

“It just comes with the territory in the Puget Sound,” Both said. “There’s more of a social awareness in this area.”

She noted that local, organic food and flowers are very popular. Shuttles for guests between venues have also become common. And more and more, Both said she sees couples forsaking wedding favors — which, she said, are often just thrown away wastefully — for donations to charities.

The Web site Carbonfund.org capitalizes on green weddings with a carbon footprint wedding calculator. Users can calculate the amount of greenhouse gases a wedding will produce, then counter it by buying carbon offsets from the organization. The offsets go to carbon-reducing projects and renewable energy research.

While none of her clients have purchased wedding offsets, Boff said they often have weddings close by and go for short, nearby honeymoons — or “mini-moons,” as she called it.

Kleeb and Mason are taking a mini-moon themselves. They’ll go backpacking in the Olympic Mountains.

Guest lists are getting shorter due to high gas prices and environmental concerns, and fewer people are coming to weddings, Boff said. Kleeb said she would have around 30 guests at her wedding. Most of her relatives had to travel from out of state.

“There were so many of us coming from so far distant,” said Kleeb’s mother, Christine Devine, who lives in New Zealand. “Rather than come together for a dinner and a ceremony, we get to stick around and interact for a few days.”

Regardless of economic concerns, Boff thinks it’s most important for couples to design a ceremony around their beliefs — even if it is a little non-traditional and could bother guests and family.

But, for the most part, Kleeb and Mason’s soon-to-be family is OK with the couple’s green wedding.

“There was never any shock horror,” Devine said. “This is her. This is my daughter. This is the ceremony she should have.”

Five ways to green your wedding:

  1. Provide environmentally-friendly travel options for your guests.
  2. Have an outdoor ceremony, or light the ceremony with candles.
  3. Serve only locally-grown, organic food with recycled plates, decor and silverware.
  4. Don’t bother with wedding favors. Instead, make donations to charities dedicated to helping the environment.
  5. Spread the message of sustainability and demonstrate your eco-friendly lifestyle to guests.