Wedding lighting can be sustainable, find out how with Danielle V! (Nick Scott/MNN)

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Danielle: When thinking about your wedding budget, I’m sure you've already put catering on the list, your rings, your dress, transportation, but when you think about the décor aspect, a lot of people forget that lighting can be a really crucial component.  I’m here today with Bentley Meeker, from Bentley Meeker Lighting, one of New York’s biggest and best lighting firms.  We’re gonna talk about why lighting is essential to your event and how you can introduce sustainability into that component.  What’s at the crux of your sustainability mission?

Bentley: Well, there are two sides of it.  One is because lighting consumes a lot of electricity.  So there are really two sides of it.  There’s the consumption side.  And then what you've got is you've also got the offset side.  So we can reduce our consumption and we have done that and we’ve done it selectively because using LEDs, while they’re incredibly efficient, artistically sometimes doesn’t really get you what you want.  And it’s a really interesting balance because you do have the ecological factors and--and the consumption factors.  And you've also got the aesthetic factors.  And sometimes they really diverge from each other.  And it’s a --

Danielle: So the LEDs are the more energy-efficient lighting option?

Bentley: LEDs are much more energy efficient.  The other thing that we--we can do and that we accomplish a lot through dimming is that we keep the level of lighting down a lot.  And the idea behind that is is it--is it creates a more romantic, sexier atmosphere to have the lights dimmer, a little more moody.  We use very low-wattage fixtures.  Even though they might be incandescent, we keep a very--we keep them very low level.  And, you know, the other thing is is that we sculpt with it.  So really what we’re starting with more is shadow and using light to sculpt an environment, rather than starting with a big wash of light and then starting to knock it down.

Danielle: Right.

Bentley: So from a consumption standpoint, starting with black and then adding selectively white, for lack of a better word, or light, you know, you save a lot of electricity there.  And, you know, again, like I said, that’s where the business and the ecological components --

Danielle: Come together.

Bentley: They come together.

Danielle: So talk to me about renewables, ‘cause I know this is really at the heart of your whole sustainability package.

Bentley: We buy a chunk of renewables every year on our own to offset our own consumption by a factor of five.  And then what we do is we have a box on each proposal that the client can tick off so that they can offset their particular project as well.  So, there’s an organization down in Eleuthera in the Bahamas and Eleuthera is a long-thin island that is really kind of remote.  It’s called the Cape Eleuthera Institute and the Island School and they have their own sustainable society there, almost completely sustainable.  They have wind.  They have electricity generated from solar.  They reuse water.  They have water filters.

Danielle: So like totally off the grid.

Bentley: I don’t know if they’re totally off the grid --

Danielle: Almost.

Bentley: -- they’re almost completely off the grid.  And, you know what?  We’re donating money directly to them and buying offsets directly from them and at a much higher elevated basis than we would otherwise be consuming, to try to really help them get completely off the grid and to help them create a model where other people can use this model.  And I went down there and I gotta tell you, it’s not a picnic taking a two-minute shower because that’s as much hot water as you got, but, you know, it’s an awesome concept.

Danielle: Right.  It’s a -- it’s a change that you make for a greater cause.

Bentley: Absolutely.

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Danielle Venokur, creator of a Manhattan-based sustainable event planning company, hosts MNN's "The Green Party." In this series, Danielle offers her easy and elegant ideas for hosting intimate gatherings and big events in an eco-friendly way. Danielle has mastered the art of blending stylish and hip while being sustainable and responsible. You can learn about her party style by looking at other chapters of "The Green Party" video series.

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