Pavilion at Crystal Lake Wedding | Green Wedding | Middletown CT | Rachel & Sean

A glimpse into Rachel & Sean’s wedding Day from their perspective!!


Our goal for the wedding besides, of course, celebrating our love, was to have a zero waste event. Through the planning process I realized that having a zero waste event brought back the elegance and charm that has been forgotten in many recent weddings filled with plastic throwaway cups, bubbles, and paper napkins. In addition to bringing back the old-time romanticism, I also found that the way I did things was actually less expensive than having the disposable items. Thrift stores and eBay became my best friends. Everything from our wedding bands to the centerpieces, the bridal party's clothing to the favors, was secondhand, recycled, upcycled, or sustainable in some way. The look we wanted our wedding to have was that of an enchanted forest, sort of like stumbling upon a fairy land when going for a walk in nature. A time where anything can happen, filled with unexpected details and experiences. And I should say the look "I" wanted. Sean, was more than happy to let me do whatever my heart desired when it came to wedding design. We're both extremely frugal, so he knew he didn't have to worry about the budget. 

Sean and I met 12 years ago at a college party where he wrote his AIM screen name on my arm. When we started dating we immediately became each other's best friend. We've shared so much over the years. We know each other's best traits and faults. After being together for so long, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we want to spend the rest of our lives together having adventures and making memories.

Sean is the First Mate of a Tugboat and I am a Social Media Manager. We are young snowbirds. We live in Rhode Island for the summer and fall, and go to a warmer climate in the winter and spring. Right now Florida is our winter home, but our ultimate goal is Hawaii. 

How he proposed: Sean took me to the Kinney Azalea Gardens. We go there often because it's a beautiful place to walk. We found a trail with no name so we walked down it. In the middle of the trail there was a huge rhododendron. I climbed up into the branches; about shoulder height when standing on the ground. Sean seized the moment, grabbed my hands, and said "Since you can't run away..." and proceeded with a beautiful proposal. If you know me, you know that being proposed to in nature (and in a tree for goodness sake!) is the most magical experience I could imagine.

Photography by Amanda Morgan

Invitations -  Feel Good Invites printed the loveliest of invitations on 100% recycled paper made using wind power. They were bound with a vintage ribbon, and sealed with sealing wax that Rachel purchased on ebay with antique seals monogrammed with an "M", also purchased on ebay. Rachel, her mother Cindy, and her grandmother Rebecca enjoyed "girl time" while assembling invitations, watching Grace & Frankie, and chatting about life and love. 

Centerpieces - Rachel curated antiques at Goodwill and thrift shops. She found real silver and bronze pieces for prices as low as $1.99.  She also borrowed antiques from bridesmaid Kate's family. The unique and whimsical antiques were filled with local flowers, herbs, and potted plants by It's So Ranunculus. It's So Ranunculus also made the bridesmaid's bouquets and ceremony decor that was repurposed as reception decor. A friend of the family, Marlene Dufault made the bridal bouquet. 

Bridesmaid Dresses - Rachel bought 12 dresses secondhand bridesmaid dresses in various sizes from ebay and Poshmark, then held a dress try-on party for the 7 bridesmaids. Rachel sold the dresses that were not selected on ebay for more than she paid for them.

Groomsmen Outfits - The suit jackets and pants were rented from The Black Tux, Rachel made the pocket squares from her mother's vintage fabric collection. The men were told to where shoes, belts, and shirts that they already owned. 

The Favors - Organic cotton drawstring bags, hand stamped by artist Linda Fulghum in New York were filled with seed bombs shaped like hearts by Free Mountain Designsin Idaho. The seed bombs were made with 100% post consumer recycled paper and organic, non-GMO wildflowers & herb seeds. 

Seating Chart - Rachel hand lettered a book made from bamboo paper and leaves with each table and list of guests seated there. She added sentimental photos taken by the couple's friends Mark and Danielle of Will & D Photography. The book will serve as a keepsake in the years ahead.

Bridal Gown -  Rachel has since developed a rule to only buy second hand clothing because the clothing industry is one of the top polluters. Her dress was made by Hayley Paige who makes her gowns in New York.

The RIngs - Sean's wedding band was gifted by Rachel's mother Cindy. It was Rachel's father's band who has passed away. Rachel's engagement ring was made by Alexis Russell using cruelty-free diamonds and recycled gold. Rachel's wedding band was made custom by Kevin Duris, owner of Duris Studios using her mother's diamonds and recycled gold. 

Ceremony Touches - Vintage frames found in Rachel's family's basement were turned into whimsical signs using fabric as a background inside frame and hand lettering the glass with a paint pen. Rachel and her mother created paper cones to hold flower petals using an old wallpaper sample book, also a basement find. Rachel purchased embroidered handkerchiefs at her local antique store, The Phoenix, that she washed, pressed, and tied with a vintage ribbon for guests who might need them for happy tears.

Registry - The couple used Zola as their registry where they were able to add experiences and cash funds like a Road Trip Fund, Honeymoon Fund, and even a Breakfast In Bed Fund. Leading sustainable lives means that they don't need or want much "stuff".  

Guest Book - Rachel's mother CIndy Temkin made a wedding quilt for the couple using organic fabrics. The back side of the quilt included printed frames in which the wedding guests signed their names along with a congratulatory message.

The Food - Chef Steve Lisitano of The CT Wedding Group provided a menu filled with local fare. The couples' signature drinks; The Drunken DIver and Pixie Potion included ingredients like local herbs and berries, as well as iced tea from local orchard Lyman Orchards. There were 10 passed hors d'oeuvre during cocktail hour that included yummy bites like Summer Bruschetta with native peaches, ricotta, pickled onion, and local honey. The 3 course sit down dinner was customized to any guests allergies or dietary needs.  In addition to the cake there was a Blazing Donuts station where donuts were flambeed and any assortment of toppings were added. As a final touch, the guests were provided with breakfast sandwiches on freshly made biscuits at the end of the wedding. Rachel and Sean love having breakfast for dinner, so this was only fitting.

The Cake - Rachel is employed by CakeSafe, a company that specializes in making tools for bakers. Her co-worker Danielle Marhefka made the delicious brown sugar gluten-free cake, and her boss Juli Chapin meticulously assembled and decorated it; hand painting  the monogram from the couple's wedding website with edible colors. 

The DJ - Will from PowerStation kept the party going with a reggae dancehall vibe. 

The Venue - Pavilion on Crystal Lake was more than accommodating with Rachel's eco-friendly requests and could not have been more perfect. Lindsay and staff made sure the day went smoothly for the couple and all of the guests.

Hair - Ashley of Elegant Events Salon understood Rachel's vision immediately. She even has a tattoo of a fairy, so there was nobody more fitting to turn Rachel into one on the big day. Rachel kept her makeup simple, it was done by her close friend Jennifer Marshalsea who also performed the Celtic handfasting ritual during the ceremony. 

Officiant - Darlene Rice filled the ceremony with special touches making it an unforgettable experience with much laughter and happy tears. 

Added Details - With the money that was saved on things like flowers, centerpieces, and decor, Rachel was able to purchase some eco-friendly add ons. She knew that the venue typically offered recyclable plastic cups for the infused water station at the ceremony site. Since reusing is so much better than recycling she bought and donated to the venue, restaurant quality washable cups. She found these never-used cups on Etsy, sold by restaurants who had an overstock of them. Rachel also purchased stainless steel reusable straws that guests could take home. They included a special cleaning brush. The straws and brushes were purchased on Amazon. 

Surprise - Rachel's friend Ashley Arnold Cullen gave the couple a magical surprise in the form of a living statue of a mermaid. Ashley founded Silent Soapbox, a company that provides living statuary for events. The wedding guests couldn't believe their eyes when the statue of a mermaid gave them a wink or slowly changed poses during cocktail hour. Yet another aspect that made the wedding unforgettable.