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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Doing Good by DIY

Last week I dished on the delicious and charitably minded food at my dear friend Leah's wedding reception. As promised, here is my mini-interview with the fabulously eco-friendly bride, who also happens to be a talented interior designer and DIY master. 

All photos by Bonnie Sen.
Can you tell me about some of the eco/charitable elements of your wedding? 
A large percentage of the decor was made from recycled or found materials.  A family friend cut all of the bottles to use as candleholders for the table centerpieces. I think the wine bottles turned out amazing. Our friends and family really  pitched in to drink up for the sake of the wedding decor.


What about flowers? How did you ensure your flowers were eco-friendly?
We used succulents and mums (which were in season too)  instead of cut flowers throughout. The idea was that guests could take a piece of the wedding home, instead of using fresh cut flowers that don't usually last more than a week.

What were your three  favorite DIY items that were eco-friendly or reusable?
The string balloons, which were a labor of love. We redid them about three times. The formulas for the glue I found did not take into account Louisiana humidity. We ended up adding cornstarch to the mixture the third time they collapsed and that did the trick. The wood circles were a favorite too, a neighbor had been meaning to get rid of an old fallen tree for some time, and donated the woodcuts. Instead of plastic we used the wood to catch the candle wax.

Homemade globes provide a great photo backdrop that's also reusable.
I really loved the Huppah! Family friends donated weekends to help with everything, and this was something that ended up being a wonderful group effort. Some of the fabric was new, and a good bit was salvaged material from thrift stores around Baton Rouge. 

The Huppah in daylight- still gorgeous!

Any other reusable favorites that other brides could reuse?
The mason jars for the signature cocktail added a nice touch to the overall feel of the backyard affair, and will be reusable for the next party. We also decided on beer kegs instead of bottled or canned beer to cut down on waste.

How did you limit paper products?
 The chalkboards not only added a nice tone to the backyard feeling, but we saved paper by not having to print programs and menus, etc. There was also a huge monetary savings to not having to design and print all the programs and menus that just end up as landfill later. We did not send reply cards with the invitations. Instead we asked that guest reply to our wedding online. We were able to reduce our footprint a little further by doing so.  

Now for some more great closing shots for your own DIY inspiration... 


Yup, more food - even after last week's post was dedicated to food...
it was a Louisiana wedding after all.





Monday, November 19, 2012

Food for Thought


I recently had the pleasure of attending my dear friend Leah’s wedding. Leah is another Louisiana transplant living in DC. We met via our hubbies who were childhood best friends. I knew Leah & Adam’s wedding would be picture perfect. As an interior designer, Leah has impeccable taste. Anyone can tell you she is also a DIY Queen with a big heart – two things that were apparent in all aspects of the wedding.
Adam & Leah and their Oskar! 
Oh yeah...and she's gorgeous too.

There were so many beautiful, unique and personal elements to Leah's wedding, I can't fit everything into one post! So, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday being just around the corner, I thought I'd start off with a post on the charitable and DIY food elements from Adam & Leah's big day.

The appetizer spread. Photos Bonnie Sen. 
Saying that the food was phenomenal would be an understatement. In truth, the praline catfish was downright addictive. Having good food at a Louisiana wedding is not out of the ordinary, but what made Adam & Leah’s wedding buffet extraordinary was that it was prepared by students from the ProStart Culinary Program.

The ProStart Culinary Program is a nationwide, two year program that trains high school students for professional work in the food service industry. Essentially, the program aims to "bring the industry and the classroom together" to facilitate hands-on learning and training. Students in the program learn culinary techniques and management skills through real-world educational opportunities. ProStart is supported by the National Restaurant Association and state chapters. Currently, there are over 50 high school programs and more than 1,200 students enrolled across the country. For many students who are not pursuing the traditional college track, the ProStart Program gives them real world experience and transferable skills.

Leah's mother, Susan, had the brilliant idea to use the ProStart program to cater Leah and Adam's wedding. Susan is an art teacher at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge Louisiana and many of her talented art students are in the ProStart program. The students often brought Susan delicious things they cooked from across the hall. So, she got to thinking and asked Mr. Steve Oubre, the culinary teacher at Woodlawn, if the students would be up to the challenge of catering a real wedding. Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Oubre had a small catering business and he was sure his students would be up to the challenge. So, Leah, Adam and her mom talked about the option and thought it would be wonderful to make a donation to the school’s program. Not only did the student participants gain some real world industry experience, but Adam and Leah were able to create their very own custom menu along with the chef and the kids in the program.


Some of the Woodlawn High ProStart students having fun in the Red Eye photobooth. 
Another fantastic foodie element from Adam and Leah's wedding was their dessert table. Adam and Leah opted out of the huge expense of a traditional wedding cake and instead they ordered several little (and very delicious) cakes from a local bakery. The cakes they ordered were small, so they decided to add a few pies to the mix. To make things even more personal, they asked their friends and family to bake their favorites.
Yum!
Leah was delighted with the variety and the fact that people got to share a little piece of themselves, saying"Everyone brought something unique and special that represented them. My Gigi made her apple pie, of course your chai spice pie - so unique and delicious (I made a pie with my sister, for the recipe click here), we had pumpkin, and pecan, and raspberry, and even a lemon tarte. My best friend Alice's father made his famous blackberry pie with blackberries from his own backyard vine. It felt very personal I think, having so many wonderful friends and family members contribute."

The pies were just the tip of the DIY iceberg at Leah & Adam's wedding. Stay tuned next week for DIY design & decor tips from my interview with Leah and more amazing pictures by her photographer, Bonnie Sen- including some cute pics of the oh-so-photogenic Oskar (below). Happy Thanksgiving!