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Organic isn’t just for food anymore

Pam Jung
Submitted photo/Kathy DotsonKathy and Brett Dotson had a totally eco-friendly organic wedding.
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For eons the word organic applies to things we eat, but to weddings?

Yes, indeed, as Kathy (nee: Hempel) and Brett Dotson just proved this last October when they had a totally eco-friendly organic wedding-from the natural fiber clothes they wore to the tree-free invitations they sent out-in Nevada City.

This phenomenon is becoming a trend, says Michelle Kozin, 33, the creative force behind a year-old online business called Organic Weddings, that provides advice and products for the eco-conscious.

The wedding with reception took place at the Sierra Friends Center, Nevada City, the site of the former John Woolman School, a beautiful environmentally friendly place itself.

The 14-member wedding party wore natural fiber clothing. The cotton in the men’s shirts was organic. The girls and women’s dresses were made out of hemp, which says Dotson, feels like raw silk and comes in everything from neutral to vibrant colors. She wore a dress sewn for her by a seamstress friend in part out of recycled white eyelet lace.

The food, of course, was organic, and it was potluck, in keeping, says Dotson with local tradition (“Nevada County is famous for its potlucks.”) Included was free-range chicken and Wolavers Organic Beer. The cake was a stroke of genius. After finding out that a totally organic wedding cake commercially made would cost $1,000, a bunch of Dotson’s friends each made an 8″ x 8″ cake out of organic ingredients and laid them out together like a glorious edible quilt.

Her mom, who was more than a little nervous about the food scene coming together, was later heard to say it was beyond her expectations: “not only delicious but good for you too.”

Why were Kathy, 31, and Brett, 33, so sure they wanted such a wedding? How could environmentalists involved with the South Yuba Citizens League (SYRCL) not? They understood their power to “vote” with their dollars in having their wedding expenditures both reflect their style and values and still help the environment. Dotson wasn’t attracted, she says, to the commercialization of weddings. “I wasn’t interested in the ways weddings were usually put on. They’re so throw-away, and that’s not me. I wanted a wedding that would reflect not only our values but also the style of Nevada City.”

After doing some research locally and on the internet at sites such as the wedding channel and finding them wanting, Dotson stumbled onto Kozin’s web site (out of Boston) and fell in love with it. Not only did Kozin give advice but also delivered product, such as hemp paper, from which Dotson made her invitations, programs, and thank yous.

Recycled vases from thrift stores; napkins made out of recycled paper; rented china and glassware, not throw-away paper products; and organic flowers all contributed to this unusual wedding. Dotson even made a point of not registering at a big corporate store, but rather at local stores, such as JJ Jackson’s in Nevada City. She also told friends about Kozin’s web site from which guests could order anything from hemp rugs to recycled glassware.

“Every single element of the wedding reflected me and being true to myself,” says Dotson. “It was perfect.” She says the 300+ guests thought so too, telling her it was the most special wedding they had ever been to.

Will she herself become an eco-friendly wedding consultant? “I should, ” she laughs, “because I found this whole new niche and have been through it myself.”

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