With all the media attention that illuminated Andrea Parrish and Peter Geyer after they announced late last year that they’d be recycling aluminum cans to pay for their July 2010 wedding, it’s a wonder that they’ve had time at all to plan the actual event.
The Spokane residents have undergone more than 70 interviews, appearing in newspapers around the world and on the CBS Early Show, as well as MSNBC’s morning show.
On their busiest day, the couple did 31 interviews and filmed a video promoting their project.
Happily, though, the wedding plans are coming along, says Parrish, who works as a web content writer.
“We rented the castle, where it’s going to be held,” she says. “We’re very excited about that, and the friend who introduced us is going to be the officiant.”
Geyer has begun sewing his groom’s outfit and Parrish bought the fabric for her dress, which will be made by her matron-of-honor’s mother-in-law.
“It’s a party with medieval flavors, but we’re not doing full garb,” she says. “It will be an outdoor party with a medieval tent. My dress and Peter’s outfit aren’t medieval, but they’re old style.”
In other words, the couple has everything under control, despite the whirlwind of media attention they’ve received since December. Parrish laughs recalling watching some of the television interviews.
“The two of us on TV looks a bit odd,” says Parrish, who is 6-foot 4-inches tall. Geyer is 5-foot 10-inches and “weighs 140 dripping wet,” she says.
“We’re not your Ken and Barbie couple,” Parrish says. “No matter what your image is of yourself, when you see yourself on TV, it gets reset.”
Parrish and Geyer are 85 percent of the way toward their goal of collecting 400,000 cans.
The project got a major boost in January when the aluminum can company Alcoa donated 150,000 cans to the effort.
Since then, the donations have continued to pour in. About half come in the form of cash, after people who live outside the Spokane area hear about the project, recycle their cans, then send the couple the money they earned doing so.
The other half of the donations have come in the form of soda and beer cans from Spokane area residents. And Parrish and Geyer have the can-covered deck to prove it.
“We have a full 2,000 pounds of cans sitting on our back porch right now,” Parrish says. “It’s always fun, but, yeah, there are times when I wish we had our porch back.”
It’ll be worth it, she says, after they pull off a $3,800 wedding without going into debt.
If the couple ends up collecting more than their goal, 40 percent of the extra cash will go toward their honeymoon and 60 percent will be donated to two charities: Doctors Without Borders and The Rim Country Land Institute, a Montana non-profit that provides outdoor, place-based experiences to connect people with their local landscape.
On top of paying for the wedding with recycled cans and supporting global and environmental causes, Parrish and Geyer are trying to make the actual event as green as possible.
They’re holding the rehearsal dinner, wedding, reception and day-after breakfast all at the same location—that castle-like vacation home, which is in Hope, Idaho. Camping is allowed on the grounds, so guests won’t have to drive to and from hotels to be part of the party.
Parrish’s dad is roasting a whole, locally-raised pig for the reception dinner, and they’re asking guests to bring potluck-style side dishes, preferably made from local ingredients.
The disposable dinner plates and other food-service items they’re using are made from the sugar cane and corn waste products. And the couple asked their attendants to wear something they already own or to buy a new outfit they know they’ll wear again.
“We’re trying to have as small of an impact as possible, but still have a hell of a good time,” Parrish says. “We’re not going to say, ‘You cannot come unless you’re wearing organic cotton.’”
Parrish and Geyer are glad that their project has raised awareness about recycling. They’ve heard from people around the country starting similar efforts after learning about their wedding.
There are a few things the couple would do differently, though, and they’re putting together a starter kit to help others who want to launch a can-recycling program.
“I’d make sure I had drop-off places before we started,” Parrish says, “places where it’s easy for people to help out.”
She also advises anyone interested in a can-collection project to go into it knowing it’ll be messy.
“Be willing to get your hands dirty,” she says. “You’re dealing with a lot of sticky, smelly aluminum.”
When the project starts to gross her out, Parrish remembers the money it’s saving and its benefits to the environment.
“There are times it’s no fun, but every single one of those cans is saving 7 kilowatts of energy, and that’s enough power to run a TV for three hours.”