Real Green Weddings: Love Grows on the Family Farm

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Charley E. Wilkinson and Kevin M. Saiki were married August 7, 2010 at the Wilkinson’s Family Farm in Abingdon, VA.

“We like to joke that it was love at first sight,” Charley and Kevin, introduced through mutual friends, tell us. Charley was living with college friends in Pittsburgh, and they met Kevin on a trip to New Zealand, where he was working at the time. The couple connected when Kevin came to Pittsburgh for a visit.

After their first encounter, Kevin and Charley quickly began exploring a long-lasting friendship with one another, and he decided to move out to Philadelphia. “We got to know each other and spend time in a new city, which turned out to be a really special time for us,” the bride says.

The couple’s efforts to include green aspects into their special day began with the decision to hold the event at Charley's family's farm. “After deciding to have our wedding in that small Virginia town, it seemed natural to use all local vendors and buy local produce, flowers, etc., as a way to support that community,” the couple told us.

Charley and Kevin wanted to have a wedding that didn’t leave negative impact on the environment or their wallets, so they chose not to invest in wasteful one-time-use items. “Because we were both living our lives with sustainability, frugality, and eco-consciousness in mind, it became a natural part of the wedding we were creating.”

For the ceremony, the couple used an old garden arbor that has been a part of the farm for many years, and the bride’s cousins decorated it with flowers.

A repurposed wagon, old wooden Coca Cola boxes, heirloom lace and quilts from Charley’s grandmother all adorned the tables and the barn. The bride’s cousin scoured the farm’s old canning room and garage to gather 100 mason jars, which they cleaned out and used as vases for all the flowers. The couple also placed candles in some of the jars to light the roadway after dark.

To add a personal flair, the couple gathered old photographs of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents on their wedding days. They arranged the photos in old and new frames “to show our guests where we came from, as well as some looks back at old wedding day fashions,” the bride told us.

Early on in her planning, Charley decided to make wildflowers part of the main décor. The couple visited a local farmer’s market the Friday before the wedding, and purchased 8 buckets of flowers fresh from the garden. The seasonal flowers at the time included sunflowers and Echinacea, fitting perfectly into Charley’s vision. 

Her talented sister also helped to make all of the bouquets and several of the corsages using the wildflowers.

The bride and groom chose traditional attire for their big day: Kevin purchased his suit with repeat use in mind, and Charley purchased her gown used on eBay. The groom's floral tie and the bride's flower hair accessories came from vendors on Etsy.  

The couple asked their groomsmen to wear simple brown pants and white shirts they already owned, and they gifted them with ties to complement their outfits. As a gift for their bridesmaids, Charley bought handmade soaps and lotions, and handmade earrings to wear for the wedding day, both from Etsy vendors.  

Kevin purchased Charley's engagement ring--a gorgeous 1930s filigree design --from an estate jeweler in Philadelphia. She wears it with her grandmother’s wedding ring. Kevin’s handmade ring came from an Etsy shop.

The couple hired a local mother and daughter pair to cater the reception dinner. They chose seasonal and local ingredients for their late summer-inspired dishes as well as some delicious homemade desserts, such as shortcakes with local berries and cream and scrumptious carrot cake from the caterers’ old family recipe.

To end their day on a sweet note, Charley and Kevin gave their guests jars of honey. They purchased several gallons of honey from a local beekeeper in Meadowview, VA, and Charley’s sister created cute labels for the jars.

To engaged couples looking to plan their own meaningful celebrations, Charley and Kevin have some advice: “Choose a few things that are most important to you, whether it be location or time of year, and let those things drive your planning. Use the opportunity of throwing a wedding celebration to support local vendors who care about the earth and their community.”

Read More Real Green Wedding Stories

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