It’s Not Easy Being Green

With Earth Day around the corner, I got to thinking about some of my efforts to “green” our wedding. Some worked out well. Others didn’t. I’d like to share one aspect of our wedding that isn’t as green as we had hoped it would be: the decor.

I imagine I’m not alone in looking at pictures from other weddings and thinking that candlelight adds a beautiful quality to the scene. Early in my planning, I was especially drawn to mercury glass. I love it so much that my floral designers are using mercury-glass vessels in all of our table arrangements and aisle decorations. I can’t wait to see the beautiful result.


From Inspired by This / Photo by Joielala Photographie / Via

I thought I’d collect mercury-glass candle holders to extend the look to others parts of our venue. The hitch: Mercury glass, the real stuff, is expensive. We could spend hundreds of dollars on mercury glass and only amass a small collection of it. I briefly considered making my own using one of the many tutorials that are on the web, but a discussion with one of my florists changed my mind. She suggested that we use mercury-glass votives on the bridal-party table, but stick to clear on the rest because the clear glass would allow more light to bounce around the room.

I knew plenty of brides sold decorative items from their weddings in the Classifieds section of the ‘Bee, so I started watching the listings for votives. I started doing the math in my head and decided that I wanted around 100 votives to put on tables and around the venue. The flicker of candles would be everywhere!


From Inspired by This / Photo by Henry Dillon Photography / Via

I made arrangements three different times to buy another bride’s glass votives, but each time something came up to thwart the transaction. When we got to the two-month mark, I worried that it was getting a bit late and decided that Mr. Mink and I had to act. We went to our local SPCA Rummage Store, which is like a Goodwill but the proceeds go to fund the local animal shelter. Surely, with all those used votives online, we could find plenty used votives in thrift stores. Our first outing resulted in precisely two glass votive holders.

Mr. Mink loves a good scavenger hunt and wanted to press on to the next thrift shop, but I realized that we’d possibly spent a lot of time (and gas!) on this search and still not have anywhere near the number of votives we needed. Though I had hoped to buy secondhand, we gave up the search and bought new votives at Michaels.

I think our cache is pretty impressive:


The pre-filled votives will go around the outside perimeter of our venue space, where mirrors with shelves are hung. The regular votives will get candles and go on the tables, with the flower arrangements.

I wish we hadn’t had to buy new, but I’ve consoled myself with the thought that we can sell our votives to someone else and give them a second life after our wedding. If we’re lucky, we’ll even find someone relatively local to take them so we don’t have to pack them up and ship them.

Have you made any efforts to “green” your wedding?


Mrs. Mink

Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012
All Aboard the Fail Train
Wine 101
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  1. Member
    almostmrsj 3593 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:15 pm

    Ugh, totally! I gave in to the candy bar thing and have had a heck of a time finding glass containers to put it in. Rental places charge an arm and a let, so buying it would be cheaper (and I could control it). I found some on Craigslist, but people would either not write back, it’d be sold, or they were asking more than I knew I could buy it for. I even spent a whole day with my mom thrifting it around three cities. We did find a few good pieces that way, mostly at one store. The rest I got at Michaels or Home Goods with either a 40% off coupon or super cheap.
    Vases from the centerpieces will hopefully go home with the guests and find new uses, and the candy bar stuff… I guess I’ll either sell on Craigslist or donate again. :)

  2. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:40 pm

    This is awesome! We’re doing nonfloral centerpieces, and these photos with all the candles are making me so excited about that decision. There’s nothing more romantic than candlelight!

  3. Member
    amethystmeg 235 posts, Helper bee @ 2:04 pm

    Please tell me you use a 40% coupon with each one of those! We bought the same stuff and I am so glad I stop on my way home from work each day to pick one up at a time so I could use those coupons. (It is literally right off one of the roads I take so no extra gas essentially).

  4. Member
    almostmrsj 3593 posts, Sugar bee @ 3:08 pm

    @amethystmeg: You must be me. I refuse to buy anything at Michael’s or Jo-Ann that isn’t on sale for 40% off or more or without a coupon. MrJ and I have gone together with our iPhone apps to different registers.

  5. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:33 pm

    We lucked out and found a bunch of votives for a dollar at a garage sale, those things are hard to find! We wanted to be as green as possible, but it can be so difficult!

  6. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:39 pm

    I don’t know if I’m being green or just practical. Almost everything can be repurposed. Pillars are a keepsake for us and immediate family. My father is making them. Cake stand. Which is also custom made will be used for holiday, family and special dinners. Glass votives and candles were all bought via classifieds here. Bought paper in bulk plan to sell to someone at cost. Dress is donated to Brides Against Breast Cancer. And fabric flowers for RD decor is made with clips so that they can be taken home and worn in hair. Jeesh… basically everything but the food can be used again.

  7. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:41 pm

    Oh and all events are near light rail so that traveling guests do not have to rent a car

  8. msdragon Member
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 4:24 pm

    I think one of the big ways ours will be green will be through how small it is, but I have to admit, we haven’t really thought much about keeping things eco-friendly — a lot of our stuff will be reusable, though!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    jk, Guest @ 4:34 pm

    Why didn’t your florist provide votives?

  10. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:01 pm

    @almostmrsj: I’m always surprised by how expensive those apothecary jars are! Glad you were able to round some up!

    @Miss Treasure: I almost posted a picture that showed long tables overflowing with tall, fat pillar candles. It looked awesome!

    @amethystmeg: Even better, they were on sale for 40% off and I had 20% or 25% off coupons that worked on sale items. Mr. Mink bought some with coupons from the paper and I used my iphone app. :)

    @almostmrsj: Hee hee! As we were leaving Michael’s on our last trip, I said “there’s never a reason to buy anything at full retail price at this place!

    @Mrs. Pony: We thought the SPCA Rummage Sale would be a gold mine because they have so much glass, but they have just a few items that would work as votives. I think the ones we got are actually juice glasses!

  11. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:03 pm

    @Miss Ke Aloha: I’m really hoping we can “recycle the wedding” at the end. You did so well!!!

    @Miss Dragon: I definitely support keeping things small! :)

    @jk: Renting them is just as expensive. We preferred to keep the floral budget as is and dedicated to floral arrangements.

  12. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 9:30 pm

    Oh, love it! I can’t wait to see how this turns out at your wedding. :)

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    Maria, Guest @ 6:26 am

    I’d be happy to buy them off of you after the wedding!!! I’m not local, but maybe we can work something out?? I’ll be travelling down south this fall…?? Keep me in mind!

  14. Member
    primcess 209 posts, Helper bee @ 6:27 am

    Should have logged in before I left that last comment so you can find me easier later… I’m Maria AKA Primcess. :) Can’t wait to see the photos of the final product!

  15. ostrich Member
    ostrich 2402 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:37 pm

    ahhhh, mercury glass – be still my beating heart. i scored about 40 of these bad boys at michaels and bought the rest from a former bride of my wedding planner’s in hawaii :) and after the wedding, my planner bought virtually everything off me – decor wise – which was AMAZING because i didn;t have to ship anything back…and future hawaii brides got to use all my favorite things for their weddings too. hooray for being green!

  16. Member
    microscope 111 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:44 am

    I bought my “mercury glass” votive holders from Koyal Wholesale. :-) I think they came out to a little over a buck a piece. I also picked up cracked glass stemmed votive holders from Garden Ridge. I wanted a little height variation among the candles. I like the way the candlelight bounces around the stemmed votive holder but still shines out.

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