Weddings celebrate and announce a union of unconditional love, so it makes sense that such a ceremony should give to the earth instead of harm it. With a green wedding, celebrations of the heart honor the needs of the earth. But what’s the best place to hold it, exactly?
How about a eco-friendly wedding reception locale? There are a growing number of eco-friendly venues for receptions in the Western North Carolina mountains.
For example, the Hawk & Ivy Bed and Breakfast (www.hawkandivy.com or 626-3486), resting on 24 acres of land in Barnardsville, has much to offer those seeking a green-wedding destination near Asheville. The property features an old farmhouse with a wraparound porch and a two-story guest cottage. In the warmer seasons, organic gardens and flowerbeds surround the guesthouse and wildflower meadows roll into a mountainous background.
Most couples choose to celebrate their union on the high ridge of a valley that runs through the property. This magical location offers a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the winter, smaller gatherings and celebrations are held indoors, in front of a burning wood fireplace. This intimate setting facilitates only one wedding a month.
Hawk and Ivy has a nature-conscious outlook that earns their eco-friendly status. Innkeepers James and Eve Davis work to create, as they call it, a “holistic space” on their land. They have an organic garden that supplies fresh ingredients and flowers. Eve is a self proclaimed, “berry fool” who grows blueberries, gooseberries and blackberries and serves them over organic spelt-flower waffles. The garden also provides fresh produce and herbs. Their kitchen is 100 percent organic, and when they can’t grow their own food, they support local farmers and suppliers. “From our flour to our vanilla extract, everything is organic,” says Eve, who adds that they can easily cater to vegans and vegetarians. The couple also compost and use eco-friendly cleaning supplies, soaps and laundry detergent.
“We want people to create their vision, and we want to help them along the way,” says Eve. “We’re focused on creating a sacred space for our guests.”
For those seeking privacy, the Brahma Ridge Farm and Event Center (www.brahmaridgefarm.com or 665-4404), a 40-acre Candler-area family farm on the edge of a 20,000-acre National Forest, is the place to go. This secluded farm is committed to green-practices and offers its land and extraordinary natural setting for special events and gatherings. For weddings, the farm sets up an enormous locally crafted tent and outdoor shelter—which holds 150 guests—and offer on-site camping and vacation rentals. One of Brahman Ridge Farm’s vacation rentals is the Earth Berm House, a contemporary, solar-powered house “buried in the mountains,” says Holly Berry, one of the farm owners.
The farm produces vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs such as Echinacea, goldenseal, ginseng and calendula. Though they don’t cater meals, they can point you in the direction of organic kitchens that cater large events. Guests also receive gift baskets of farm-fresh produce and herbs.
“Our farm tractor runs on bio-diesel, and no chemicals are used on the land,” says Berry. Bio-degradable cleaning products are used in all the farm houses and laundry rooms. “Our bath and shower house is stocked with environmentally friendly soaps and shampoos which we ask guests to use. And all bedding and laundry is dried in the clean mountain air,” she adds.
Off the beaten path and tucked into the mountainside, the location is ideal for those who want to escape and surround themselves with nature. Brahman Ridge Farm hosts no more that 24 weddings a year.
Mountain Magnolia Inn (www.mountainmagnoliainn.com or 622-3543) in Hot Springs, offers a classic space to host an eco-friendly wedding. The three-story Victorian inn was built in 1868 and has been elegantly remodeled. Set between the French Broad River and the Appalachian Trail, the inn is within walking distance from a spa, which offers a variety of mineral-water treatments.
Peter and Karen Nagle own and run the inn and pride themselves on having an eco-friendly business. Dana Nagle, the inn’s groundkeeper, graduated from Warren Wilson College with a degree in environmental studies. “We keep the inn up to her standards, and I’ll tell you, they’re high,” Peter says with a laugh.
The gardens supply the inn’s kitchen with organically grown herbs and many seasonal vegetables. The caretakers also grow organic hops for homebrewed beer. “From the grounds to the laundry room to the kitchen, being conscious of our impact on the environment has been a core value of the inn since its inception,” says Sachie Godwin, Mountain Magnolia Inn’s wedding coordinator. The inn hosts up to 10 weddings a year and serves 50-150 guests at a time.
Catered meals, including complete vegan and vegetarian cuisine, feature fresh, local food from CSA farmers and organic farms such as Broad Wing Farm, which neighbors the inn. Fresh seafood for the coast and hormone-free sunburst trout are delicacies prepared at Martha’s at the Mountain, the inn’s restaurant. All meat on the menu is organic and hormone free, organic wine makes up a third of the selection and organic coffee is brewed fresh at every meal.
The inn has installed low-flow toilets and compact-fluorescent light bulbs in the guestrooms, lobbies and hallways. All natural waste is composted. “The inn presented us with an opportunity to create an eco-efficient building,” says Peter. “And it’s served us well.”
The Duckett House Inn and Farm (www.ducketthouseinn.com or 622-7621), a turn-of-the-century Victorian Inn in Hot Springs, offers eco-friendly weddings in a country setting. Surrounded by mountains and running streams, the Duckett House is a perfect landing for those who appreciate the quiet of the countryside. Mineral baths and spas are within walking distance of the house. The grounds and view from the Duckett House are ideal of outdoor celebrations.
Run by Frank Matula and Brian Baker, the Duckett House encourages eco-consciousness through a number of sustainable practices. For wedding receptions, it will serve catered meals, with a vegetarian and vegan menu available. “There is an organic farm here in the valley that we buy from whenever possible, and we grow potatoes and tomatoes,” says Matula. “Our big crop is Sorghum Cane, which we make molasses with and it’s grown organically.” The Duckett House raises chickens, and they have “free range” on the property. Biodegradable waste is always composted.
The Duckett House also uses Seventh Generation cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.
This laid back Inn hosts three weddings a year and can cater up to 200 people.
The options are many for planning an eco-conscious wedding that will help to preserve our mountains, streams and springs for generations to come.