"Green" Wedding Reception Venues
Wedding and reception venues that go the extra mile to reduce their impact on the environment.
by:Cody Ellerd Bay
You drive a hybrid car, eat locally and compost like a pro. Now it’s time to choose a wedding venue that will reflect your superstar eco-consciousness. Seattle Bride green girls know that the construction and operation of buildings can consume as much as 40 percent of the energy used in the U.S. Fortunately, the Seattle area is home to a number of green-built venues that aim for a low impact on the earth while still making a great impression on you and your guests. From energy-efficient lighting to vegan spa products to on-site lodging, these local spots were built on environmental principals and continue to make them a priority in their daily operations. Greening up your wedding, stylishly and seamlessly, is as easy as saying “I do.”
HYATT AT OLIVE 8
If you’re sharing your special day with 600 of your closest friends, it’s nice to know that you’re doing it in a place that’s as kind to the environment as possible, and is the first hotel in Seattle with the LEED certification to prove it. The clean and modern spaces here, accented with limestone and bamboo, can host celebrations both intimate and grandiose, in either the elegant Ballroom (up to 600 people), with its light-filled foyer, or in several smaller meeting spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows. Before the big event, you’ll be treated like a green queen, with lots of pampering in the hotel’s Elaia Spa (vegan pedicure, anyone?), private yoga classes, locavore snacks from Urbane downstairs and house calls from the stylists at Seven salon.
What makes it green: Low-flow plumbing and dual-flush toilets; energy efficient; living green rooftop insulates and provides a bird habitat; plug-ins for electric cars in the garage. Know before you book: A downtown location means parking rates are at a premium.
Having a green wedding doesn’t mean leaving the city. You can put on a chic and urban affair in the heart of downtown Seattle and your guests may have no idea that there’s a very happy granola girl smiling away in that gorgeous gown. Ceremonies take place on the fourth floor Terrace, a modern and naturally lit outdoor/indoor space with convertible roof panels—that’s right, an automatic plan B in case of rain. In the adjoining Great Room, a warm banquet space where every table has a great view of the dance floor, guests may not know that the wedding feast by BOKA chef Angie Roberts is at least 90 percent organic, or that the hotel-recommended DJ (Bamboo Beats, a Seattle Bride favorite) drives a hybrid car and purchases Renewable Energy Certificates in your and your honey’s names. And when you turn the “Do Not Disturb” light on outside your complimentary harbor-view suite, the wasteful plastic door card you’re not using will be the farthest thing from your mind.
What makes it green: E-brochures to cut down on paper waste; bulk toiletry products in dispensaries in rooms. Know before you book: The Terrace’s capacity is 150 guests for a seated dinner, while the fourth-floor banquet room can accommodate 200 guests standing.
SLEEPING LADY MOUNTAIN RESORT
This 67-acre mountain retreat near Leavenworth has a long legacy of eco-stewardship, beginning in the 1930s, when it served as a home to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later, it functioned as a youth camp run by a renegade Roman Catholic priest who performed marriages for anyone, regardless of their denomination, so long as they were truly in love. Television-free, smoke-free and strategically lit so as not to detract from the stars above, this alpine escape truly keeps the property’s tradition of natural reverence alive. Ceremonies take place either at the Kingfisher Meadow and Stage, with Icicle Creek and the resort’s namesake mountain as a backdrop, or beneath the high ceilings of the Chapel Theater, a chapel turned performance space with lots of Old World charm. Receptions are held in the rustic Salmon Gallery, where floor-to-ceiling windows make sure the great outdoors is never too far away. Perks include an on-site organic garden and spa, a large, heated outdoor pool and hot tub carved into the mountainside, pet-friendly facilities and a private honeymoon cabin.
What makes it green: Award-winning use of recycled and nontoxic building materials; electric vehicles used by food and maintenance crews; preference for local and sustainable—and gourmet—cooking ingredients. Know before you book: The resort’s facilities are spread out over numerous acres (guests should expect to walk); the landscaping and layout are rustic.
Does the word “green” conjure images in your mind of organic arugula, fresh basil pesto and pistachio ice cream from Washington dairy cows? Fresh and local was the mantra of Willows Lodge’s Barking Frog restaurant well before most people were conscious of the carbon footprint of a mango, and the Northwest cuisine here is a draw for foodie couples. Of course, the scenery is nothing to scoff at either: Five acres flank the Sammamish River as it flows through Woodinville wine country. Couples can wed in the Garden Gazebo, surrounded by fragrant herbs, and have an intimate reception in the warm and cozy Gilman Room, or throw a large party in the Sammamish Ballroom, with glass doors opening onto the herb garden.
What makes it green: Sustainable landscaping practices; reclaimed construction materials; first Northwest hotel to win a 5-Star EnviroStars award. Know before you book: The lodge is about 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, so guests driving back to the city should celebrate responsibly.
CAVE B INN AND WINERY
Imagine holding a dramatic cliff-side ceremony 900 feet above the breathtaking Columbia River, or sealing it with a kiss in front of a romantic vineyard, surrounded by orchards and trellises draped with ripening grapes. Cave B offers both experiences at its awe-inducing oasis set in the arid landscape of central Washington, in an eco-friendly venue that blends gracefully into those stark natural elements even as it offsets them with lush abundance. Sustainable practices make their way into the fabric of the whole experience, from the lobby’s chandeliers, made from recycled farm equipment, to its geothermal system for heating and cooling. It’s a destination spot that’s a little bit contemporary and a little bit country, and out here, where east meets west (in Washington state, that is), that works just fine.
What makes it green: Organic chef’s garden; composting; recycling of winery byproducts into cattle feed and cooking fuel; cottages’ use of bulk toiletries instead of individual travel-size products. Know before you book: Concerts at the nearby Gorge Amphitheater can be heard from the resort, so time your ceremony accordingly. The inn has accommodations for only 70 people, with more lodging options in neighboring towns.
NOVELTY HILL–JANUIK WINERY
This Woodinville winery gets big points from wine-loving couples, who love that they can see the winemaking facilities through the glass walls of the reception space. It gets even more points from earth-loving couples who love that the winery complies with a strict set of regulations to respect the salmon run and wetlands of the area. And pretty much everyone loves the groomed outdoor spaces and bocce ball court. Couples can wed in the garden and celebrate afterwards in the Terrace Room, a contemporary and austere space that extends into the adjacent tasting room and the gardens, which feature an outdoor fireplace and native plants. And since wine lovers tend to also be food lovers, the full-time on-site chef prepares seasonal menus using organic produce from Carnation’s Oxbow Farm. What’s not to love?
What makes it green: Designated Salmon Safe; maximized use of natural light; option of using linens made from recycled water bottles. Know before you book: Couples who want an outdoor wedding here need to book well in advance; the summer months fill up fast.
How Green is Your Wedding?
- Save paper resources by using only recycled paper and offer electronic RSVPs instead of extra cards.
- Ask your caterer to serve water in pitchers rather than buying plastic bottles.
- Instead of individual place cards, put table assignments on a single, artfully done recycled-paper poster board.
- Hire a bus to transport your guests. One vehicle on the road is much greener than 100.
- Request flowers that are locally grown. Exotic calla lilies have to be flown in from Columbia or Ecuador, but lush peonies can be found in our own backyard.