A Historic Day in Atlanta: the First Greenroof Wedding!

May 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

On Saturday, May 22, 2010 we believe history was made in downtown ATL when Bill Brigham and Beate Allio took their wedding vows.  A traditional affair with silk and lace, ribbons, flowers, and lovely music, this was still no ordinary wedding ceremony ~ we’ve all heard about going down to City Hall to get hitched, but our bride and groom were married in front of about 50 family and friends high above the city street on the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Greenroof!

We’re sure it was the first wedding on the Atlanta City Hall Greenroof, and believe it was the first on an ATL living roof, maybe the southeast or even the  U.S. – if you know better, please let us know and we’ll blog about it, too.  But until then, Bill and Beate will claim the title.

I’ve known Bill Brigham, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Bureau of Watershed Protection, Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta since 2001 when I was involved in the initial planning sessions for the greenroof on the Atlanta City Hall, back when then Environmental Manager Ben Taube and team were considering the old Atlanta City Hall East…  Bill eventually designed the greenroof on the new City Hall at 55 Trinity Avenue, and we’ve attended many meetings and conferences together, were on the Atlanta Local Host Committee for last year’s Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, plus we filmed him here last October (see Rooftop Hopping in Metro Atlanta, photo below), and anyone who knows Bill is immediately impressed by his extreme good nature and sense of humor (landscape architecture skills not withstanding!).Bill getting ready for his interview with Landon!Due to weight and space limitations, the guest list was very selective, so Aramis and I felt honored to have been included in the couple’s special day.  A second marriage for both, it was very touching to see the blended family together.  Bill’s son, Roland, was the Best Man, and Beate’s daughter, Nicole, was the Maid of Honor.  The bride’s two sons, Chris and Devon, were Groomsmen and both the Mother of the Bride, Mrs. Renate Freter, and the Mother of the Groom, Mrs. Charlotte Larsen, were part of the wedding party.

Scott Lubar was the Officiant uniting the couple, and we all enjoyed Bill Grabbe, the pianist, and Carol Smart, the soloist with their delightful music and voice.

The colorful, intimate setting was perfect for a man so instrumental in the design, ongoing research and maintenance of the greenroof, and fitting for a woman who was introduced to the future groom by Lucy Smethurst, a conservationist, plantswoman, artist, and neighbor of Saul Nurseries‘ “Swamp” location.  Bobby Saul donated all the plants for the project in 2001 along with the greenroof growing media from Ernie Higgins of ItSaul Natural – Mr. Natural (both in attendance), and Bobby had afterwards introduced Bill to Lucy, and then Lucy introduced the bride and groom!  So you could say greenroofs and kismet played a part in the couple’s future.

“Plant love.  Leave no waste.”

That could have been the motto of the wedding.  The invitation was printed on 100% post consumer waste, on seeded, plantable paper – all we have to do now is plant the invitation in a sunny corner and keep it moist, and we’ll have a mini wildflower field to remind us of the balmy late spring day.

And wait, it gets better!  Instead of throwing rice or bird seed during the recessional -Bill had said, “Heaven forbid!”  The couple opted for a safer alternative, both environmentally conscious and beneficial:

“We will be using the green rice look-a-like… sedum leaflets stripped from the sedum species already being used up on the existing roof.  (Another one of my crazy ideas.)  This way it keeps any “invasive” plant species from destroying the roof and will instead act as a “re-seed” to the existing roof’s sedums.” ~ Bill Brigham 

Regeneration at its best with pretty sedum packets after the expression of vows, exchange of rings and announcement of marriage!  The reception followed at Lucy Smethurst’s estate, which is nestled in a beautiful natural wooded area with naturalistic plantings, trails and artist gallery.

Thanks to Bruce Morton of Exposure Media Photo for sharing his photos with Greenroofs.com (which are available for purchase). 

Congratulations to Bill and Beate and the new Brigham-Allio family!  Perhaps this will be just the first of many more greenroof weddings to come at Atlanta City Hall.

~ Linda V.