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Want to make your wedding a little easier on the environment? Here’s how!

Do Your Research
Half the battle of creating a sustainable event is knowing which vendors you can trust to share in your vision. Determine what is important for you, and seek out vendors who share your priorities. It will be much easier to succeed when working with vendors who share your goals than trying to work with those that don’t understand.

Paperless Invitations
Although you may get some flack for being untraditional, many are turning to the web for their invitations. With so many great graphic designers and web developers out there today, it’s still possible to keep the classic style and feel of traditional invitations, yet transform that style via web-based media. This will save paper as well as postage money! Greenvelope is a great E-vite resource that provides beautiful alternatives to paper invitation.

If you want to be green but are tied to the idea of traditional paper invitations, a compromise in this area would be to send an electronic Save-the-Dates but still keep paper invites. A little still goes a long way!

Picking the Right Venue
Choosing a venue that has a green initiative is probably one of the biggest things you can do to have an eco-friendly event. Find an event space that has met the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System, which sets the standard for sustainable spaces.

Some green venue options in Chicago would be Venue Six10, Greenhouse Loft, and Loft on Lake.

Go Organic
Work with your caterer to learn where your food is coming from. Make sure the caterer you hire has sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for your dinner such as free-range chicken or fresh wild salmon. For dessert, include free-trade coffee for your guests. Remember, going organic doesn’t have to be a trade-off for delicious food!

Green Wedding Favors
Certain wedding favors can contribute to waste, so give something eco-friendly as well as memorable. One idea is to plant a tree in your guests’ name, or even give out trees for them to plant in your honor. On a smaller scale, you could include sachets of herb or vegetable seeds so your guests can start their own eco-friendly edible garden.

If anything, foregoing the deck of cards or shot glass with your name printed on it will help save some trees and spare your guests from pretending to be excited about that.

Charitable Donation to Eco-Friendly Non-Profit
In lieu of gifts, you could also use that money to give to charitable organizations that support the green causes you are passionate about. Choose one that already has a special meaning to you, or do some research to find local organizations that share your passions. Your guests will appreciate knowing that their gift is going somewhere meaningful.

For more ideas on making your wedding a platform for service, check out our previous blog post on Weddings For a Cause

Recycle Your Decor, and Even Your Dress!
After any event there will almost certainly be a lot of things leftover. Whether it’s leftover food and cake or forgotten flowers or decorations, there are plenty of things that are in perfectly good condition at the end of the night that you no longer have use for. Instead of just throwing everything away or letting it sit in the back seat of your best man’s car for a few months, make a game plan for all the leftovers so nothing goes to waste. You can donate your flowers to a nursing home to brighten their space, recycle any paper decorations you’ve used, and coordinate with a food bank or homeless shelter that would take the mountains of leftover food you undoubtedly have. In these ways your big day can continue on to effect even more people for the better!

Here at Stitely Entertainment, we don’t just play music for weddings but we love to revel in the musical roots of Chicago’s blues and jazz scenes. This week’s Music Monday will be featuring 2 Chicago jazz staples: The Bobby Lewis Quintet & the Jazz Showcase venue, founded by Joe Segal.

Jeff Stitely has been playing with the Bobby Lewis Quintet for about 15 years, but Bobby Lewis’ legacy started much earlier. Moving to Chicago in 1961, Bobby quickly became the top studio call for recording on albums, commercials and films. As a studio recording musician he has logged over 7500 recording sessions and has recorded with names like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Joe Williams, Mel Torme, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Al Jarreau & Frank Sinatra, Ramsey Lewis, Natalie Cole, Jack Teagarden—the list goes on. He also accompanied Tony Bennett for 15 years in all his Chicago appearances. Lewis not only plays with the greats, but is one himself. He has recorded 11 albums and acted as executive and musical producer on all of them.

This week, his Quintet will be playing at the Jazz Showcase, Chicago’s oldest jazz club. Established in 1947 by Joe Segal, and now owned and operated by his son Wayne, the Jazz Showcase is a cultural icon in Chicago. Joe has been called the “ambassador of jazz” to Chicago and is constantly doing whatever he needs to do to keep jazz alive in the city. The Jazz Showcase features live jazz 7 nights a week and continues to be a space where jazz thrives.

With two pillars of Chicago jazz being represented this weekend, there is no excuse not to come out and take a listen! The performances will take place Feb. 5-8, at 8 PM & 10 PM, with an additional 4 PM matinee on Sunday. For more information and tickets go to

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

By now we’ve all heard of the “wreck the dress” trend in which brides ruin their wedding dresses by swimming or exploring through nature to get some unique photos post-ceremony. This bride featured on ABC takes it to a whole new level by scaling a 2,300 foot mountain in her dress—with fiancé, officiant & photographer in tow—to be married at the top. Check out the stunning images of this couple’s climb to tie the knot—a journey that was literally—and figuratively—breath-taking.


The Chicagoland area is perhaps one of the country’s most versatile locations for a wedding. There are all kinds of hotels, lofts, restaurants, museums, and parks that host beautiful weddings. A short drive north of the city is the Chicago Botanic Garden, home to a whopping 385 acres of land and 81 acres of water, and one of our favorite versatile wedding sites. We had the pleasure of speaking with Connie Bolle, Director of Sales & Special Events at the Botanic Garden, to find out just how green this garden really is!

Stitely Entertainment: What makes the Chicago Botanic Garden different from other event venues?
Connie Bolle: Our outdoor and indoor ceremony locations are the most photographed wedding spots in the entire Chicagoland area! Our Garden has over 385 acres and we host only one wedding an evening, so 100% of our attention is focused on the bride & groom, wedding guests and the amazing evening. Our location is easily accessed from major highways and the large complimentary event parking blows away the city competition with their required valet or expensive downtown parking rates. Fresh air, fresh views and privacy await just miles north of downtown Chicago.

SE: Why should people choose Chicago Botanic Garden for their events?
CB: Our Garden couples tend to be very focused on being environmentally friendly—we grow our dinner’s salad greens here at the Garden, we compost at the conclusion of your perfect wedding day, and recycle everything we can get our hands on! They love that we are a one stop shop—book your venue, your wedding menu and your linen—all with just one experienced and focused event planner, who is actually here on your wedding day! They really love that their wedding venue will be here for years and years to come, not a hotel ballroom with a new corporate name and horrific carpeting. We are a space you can bring your family and friends to 365 days a year and come back as a couple year after year to enjoy our incredible vistas.

SE: Can you please describe the different rooms and/or services?
CB: Our favorite space is our McGinley Pavilion, our waterside tented private location with an adjacent large patio that literally takes your breath away. With willowy white lanterns and the breeze from the basin, your guests are transported to a dreamy reception. Paired with our English Walled Garden for your wedding ceremony or cocktail hour, it simply doesn’t get any “greener.” For those brides that crave a contemporary LONG wedding aisle, our Rose Terrace is a photographer’s dream ceremony space. For winter and early spring weddings, we have our Nichols Hall and Krehbiel Gallery, two very posh spaces where nature shines indoors.

Jeremy Lawson 8.20.11 019

Photo by Jeremy Lawson

SE: Do you have different wedding packages? If so, what do they include?
CB: We have three different level wedding packages, though we tend to customize almost all of our weddings to fit our unique couples and their history, loves and ethnic origins! The traditional wedding packages include tables, chairs, china, linens, bar, service and more! Just show up with your favorite florist and orchestra, and we are ready to go! With our incredible gardens and views, you really can’t ask for a better backdrop for your wedding day.

SE: What are some of your favorite ideas from recent weddings?
CB: A stunning July wedding with Tamina and Leo included their two dogs in the ceremony! Puppy Love and Couple Love can’t be any cuter! For food, my favorite was Amy and Eric’s September wedding, where we re-created actual family recipes for their custom Sweets Table, complete with recipe cards for the guest to take and a family photo of the recipe author! It brought tears to the eyes of so many guests!


Photo by Robin Sloan of Riverbend Studio

SE: Have you recently hosted any particularly interesting events or organizations?
CB: We always attend the Wish upon a Wedding Gala and hope to host a wedding for a couple here very soon! It is a heart warming charity with a chapter here in Chicago, granting wishes to those who are terminally ill or who face extreme hardships. We also participated in the Special Event Show hosted here in Chicago in January and LOVED seeing the new Wedding Trends for 2013 and beyond. Romantic Garden weddings are so on TREND.

SE: What three words do you think best describe Chicago Botanic Garden?
CB: For the location: Expansive, Lush, Peaceful. For the food: Organic, Fresh, Delicious

SE: Anything else you would like to include?
CB: People always ask—but what if it rains? Our tented Pavilion with clear sides walls to pull is already set to go—and the day of the wedding, should sprinkles arrive, we effortlessly whisk your group into our indoor back up spaces! Don’t worry; we are experts at keeping the rain dancers away from our summer weddings!