A waste not, want not wedding
Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:52 p.m.
Sarena Mueller& Basil Jones
Married November 15 at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
This couple's vows included a commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle.
How they met: Sarena met Basil at a Jeep Club meeting four years ago while the two were students at the University of Florida. They were both dating other people at the time. It wasn't until Basil asked Sarena to tutor him in math a few months later that they began to notice how much they had in common and how well they got along.
Their first date: When the tutoring sessions were over, Basil decided to ask Sarena out on a "thank you" date. Since neither of them had been to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History, he took her there. Basil knew that Sarena enjoyed butterflies.
"It seemed only fitting," he says.
Why they're great together: Sarena, 25, and Basil, 31, both love the outdoors, whether it be hiking in Yellowstone National Park or off-roading in their canary-yellow Jeep. But their special bond goes beyond their common interests.
"He's my best friend," says Sarena. She feels she can trust him enough to share anything and everything with him.
Though they've only known each other for about four years, "it's like I've known her all my life," Basil says.
And although Sarena and Basil keep schedules that are as different as night and day – she works during the day as a kindergarten teacher at Norton Elementary School and he works the night shift at Target Copy Center – they manage to spend a lot of time together in the evenings.
The proposal: Basil popped the question last May, while he and Sarena were hiking with friends in Wyoming's Grand Teton Mountains. The group of eight had slogged through melting snow on a slippery slope of a trail that led to Hidden Falls. "It was a really tough hike," Sarena recalls.
What was about to happen next was even tougher for Basil, who had been carefully planning this moment for months. Although Sarena was completely unaware, Basil had already asked her father for her hand in marriage. He had a speech prepared and rehearsed. He had brought along an engagement ring. He had also made arrangements with his friend Jason to snap pictures of the couple at the moment Basil proposed.
When they got to the falls, Basil gave the signal to Jason that he was ready: "Group shot!"
"I kneeled down like I was going to tie my shoe," Basil recalls, "and she tried to get me to stand up: 'Come on, get up. What are you doing! He's trying to take our picture!'"
With that, Basil got so tongue-tied that he forgot his speech. "I felt like I was sinking into the snow," he recalls. "Here I am fixing to propose to her, I've got butterflies in my stomach, I had been planning this for eight months, and all I could get out was 'Will you marry me?'"
The wedding: Sarena grew up in a blended family on a farm in Alachua, where there were no fewer than five children living at home at any given time. She attributes her waste not, want not mentality and green values to her mother.
"My mom was very minimalist because there were a lot of kids in the house, and if you had a lot of clutter there wouldn't be much room for anything else."
The couple also wanted to save money on the wedding so they'd have enough to buy a new home for themselves.
From the wedding invitations to the diamonds in her ring, Sarena and Basil found simple ways to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. For instance, they designed their own wedding invitations, using their engagement photo from the Grand Tetons as a backdrop.
They chose Target Copy Center as their printer, partly because Basil works there but mostly because it's an environmentally friendly, locally-owned company that uses recycled paper products.
"We knew where our money was going," Sarena says of the couple's decision to use all locally owned vendors for their wedding. "It wasn't going to a corporation. It was going back into the community."
For their rings, the couple opted to use diamonds handed down from Serena's family.
Having the wedding and reception in the same place helped everyone save on transportation costs. And the gardens provided such a beautiful backdrop for the wedding and reception that the couple felt hardly any decorations were necessary.
"Most of what we used we rented," Sarena says. The Gardens provided the tables and the Plant Shoppe provided the centerpieces, which consisted of floating candles in bowls. Sarena and Basil also collected picture frames from around their house to set out framed prints of their engagement photo.
Although the couple opted to serve the food on plastic ware, they calculated into their decision how much water and energy would be required to wash dishes for 100 guests.
Even the couple's wedding attire was environmentally friendly. Instead of tuxedos, Basil wore a dress suit that he can use again. His four groomsmen wore black dress pants and white shirts, which they'll be able to wear in the future. The three bridesmaids' dresses were also chosen with re-use in mind– blue tea-length satin cocktail dresses.
Sarena decided to break with the tradition of saving her wedding gown for her daughter. She also decided to forego participating in a new trend in which brides trash their wedding dresses immediately after the wedding by swimming in them, riding horseback in them or even burning them while a photographer snaps pictures (www.trashthedress.com). Instead, she plans to donate her dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer and the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation (www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org). This non-profit organization based in Oregon re-sells donated designer wedding gowns at steeply discounted prices. Proceeds from the sale of the gowns are used to support breast cancer research.
"Why not give someone else a chance to wear a wedding dress that I'll never wear again?" she says.
Even the leftover food from the wedding reception was re-purposed: The couple donated it to St. Francis House to feed the homeless.
"There was a lot of food left over after the reception," she says. "It would have been such a waste to throw it away."
Coordinator: Gwen Williams at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Officiate: Jack Edmonds
Catering: Hill's Bar-B-Cue and Catering in Gainesville
Attire: The bride wore a taffeta dress with spaghetti straps and beading around the bustline by Jasmine from Solutions Bridal
Floral: White roses by The Plant Shoppe
Cake: A three-tiered white cake with buttercream frosting by Dannette Drageset
Photographer: JS Photography
Venue: Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
For ideas about how to have a green wedding, visit www.greatgreenwedding.com.
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