When Nick Kordesch talks about his green wedding, he’s not referring to the color of the table runners. In June, Nick, 34, the sustainability coordinator at San Francisco State University, married Hazel Perry, 33, a genetic counselor at UCSF, in what the couple call a “zero-waste wedding.”
Because the East Bay holds a special place for them — Nick is an alumnus of Cal and Hazel, who attended UC Davis, grew up there — they held their ceremony at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. After vows were recited, the 130 guests launched into a sing-along of a personalized rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.”
“It was very Berkeley,” admits Hazel with a laugh, noting that their “not-so-secret” plan was to “quietly educate their guests about the environment.”
It also should be no secret that their love story started in the great outdoors. They had met briefly, years before, through Hazel’s brother, Toby, who attended graduate school with Nick at UC Santa Barbara. But in 2010 their real meet-up was when Toby organized a “sibling camping trip” to Pinnacles National Park — he invited Nick and Nick’s two sisters, and he persuaded his own sister, Hazel, to come along. This time there was a mutual “head turn,” says Nick of remeeting Hazel.
“I had no idea Toby’s sister was so cute,” said Nick. “Plus she was cool — way cooler than me — and fun, silly and smart.”
“Nick was just simply the kindest person,” said Hazel, who admits he was also her type: nice plus nerdy. There was a moment when they were washing dishes together when she thought, “This guy would make such a great dad.” Despite his nerdy exterior, Hazel was surprised to find out he was also a sports aficionado and had been in a college fraternity. “He was a curious mix of everything I liked and everything I didn’t know I liked,” she said.
A few months later, Hazel had tickets to a baseball game that she shyly offered Nick. Although she couldn’t attend, the gift allowed a welcome exchange of e-mails. It was soon obvious that Nick would be an invitee at Hazel’s upcoming house party, where they finally made a move toward each other.
Both were concerned about telling Toby, and they kept the news secret for a few weeks, but then Nick took a long-game perspective. “I knew it would be hard in the short term, because Toby would feel like he was losing his close friend, but I sensed this was going to be serious,” he said. “It being too perfect was my only concern.”
Toby’s response to his sister, when he was finally told, revealed his approval. “It sucks now that you’ve taken my friend, but it will be the easiest wedding speech I’ll ever have to give,” he told his sister.
Two years later, at the wedding, Toby delivered what Hazel cites as a “love poem” to his friend, which she, at some points, found “cringe-worthy” but hilarious.
The reception was at the Brower Center in Berkeley, named after David Brower, a prominent environmentalist and also a native of Berkeley. Nick cites him as an influence in his commitment to the environment. True to its founder’s convictions, the Brower Center requires all events to be sustainable; they ask that food and drink be local. And notably, they don’t allow trash to be left behind: Everything must be recycled, composted or packed out. Nick and Hazel decided to forgo the latter option and, to that end, everything used to make and serve their guests’ Cuban dinner was composted or recycled. They used no plastic wrap or plastic bags; plates were compostable bamboo; and for wedding favors, guests were given a “commemorative” canning jar imprinted with the couples’ names, to be used for water and cocktails.
Hazel wore a lacy, form-fitting, spaghetti-strap gown, which, in true recycling zeal, she is looking to sell. (By the way, it’s a size 0.)