Sustainable, Green Weddings

What Makes Oakleaf Cottage an Eco-Friendly Wedding Venue

Environmentally sustainable, zero-waste weddings are our every day. Learn more about our decor inventory, eco-friendly services, and ultimately how we help ensure your wedding is gorgeous, elegant, and guilt-free.

Green Certified Venue

We are proud to share that Oakleaf offers sustainable weddings and events, and is green|light certified via green|spaces Chattanooga. To be certified as a green venue, we have integrated the following sustainable practices:

  • updated all light bulbs to LED lights, 
  • added drip irrigation, 
  • implemented rainwater collection, 
  • utilize low-flow toilets, and 
  • regularly collect and take all food waste to NewTerra Compost, where it is turned into useable garden soil (which we then pick up later for our native landscaping)!

Our goal is to produce only one contractor-size bag of trash from each wedding – and we are happy to say most weddings achieve this goal! When we first started weddings, we were appalled to discover how much trash can be generated; on average, six contractor bags full, with some weddings having twice as much as that. Our heartfelt thanks to every vendor, couple, and guest along the way who have aided in our sustainability efforts.

Sustainable Wedding Venue

All of our weddings include all the details that can make weddings even more elegant, while remaining eco-conscious. We work with you to reduce or eliminate waste with sustainable alternatives, and we handle all the sorting and recycling. You and your guests don't have to do anything but enjoy the party!

Contact us today to take the first step in making your dream wedding a reality, all while minimizing your carbon footprint! 

Our Sustainability Story: A Letter from the Owners

It took one wedding in particular to make us realize having an eco-friendly wedding venue would be more work than we thought. Prior to that wedding, we sorted through the trash after an event and set aside what was recyclable, and what wasn't.

Well... after that wedding, we sorted, and sorted again, and realized we had TWO TRUCKLOADS of trash from a 60-person wedding. None of it could be donated or recycled. Neither of us could sleep that night -- how can we possibly create trash at our beautiful place, and send it all off to another once-beautiful place? In the morning we agreed, something had to change to make sure this didn't happen again.

The problem was, nobody seemed to have a blueprint on how to make this happen.

Through much trial and error (300 weddings will give you that!) we figured out a system that worked consistently for us. A system that you and your guests don't even know is happening quietly in the background. A system where we provide all the plates and glassware (I have a design background and probably went overboard on all of the options), and work with White Table for linens, who worked with us on the pickup/drop-off schedule to reduce trips and thereby, emissions.

We felt too, it was important to have a third party certify us. We are so lucky that green|spaces is here in Chattanooga and could walk us through a few more things we could improve on in the process, things we hadn't thought about.

There have been challenges through the years. In 2021 the farm we were taking the food waste to decided it was too much waste, and that the sugar from the cakes wasn't doing their animals any good. Then, magically, NewTerra Compost arrived on the scene, one town up from us in Wildwood.

Our county stopped managing glass recycling some years ago, but for a long while we were able to take all the glass up to Chattanooga. In December of 2023, they decided to stop allowing out of county (or state!) tags to come in, and we were literally at a standstill for most of the Spring 2024 season, watching the pile of glass grow with every event while we looked into getting our own glass crusher. It wasn't something we wanted to do, it's time consuming, would require us to run a dryer-sized outlet somewhere and figure out a location indoors for it -- plus the maintenance of the machine. In May, Overlooked Materials opened its doors and took in our entire season's worth of glass all in one go (THANK YOU!).

It still is a lot of work to be a sustainable venue. Hauling glass to one location, food waste to another, and recycling to yet another takes time. Checking back through what was sorted the night of takes time. Managing the inventory takes time -- but we love what we do and are happy to do these things, and to show that it IS possible to have an eco-friendly wedding venue.

We've found sustainability is important to most of our couples, and for that we are so grateful.

Cris & Dave Angsten

Our Location

Oakleaf is conveniently located near Chattanooga TN, bordering Cloudland Canyon State Park. We are an easy and scenic 24-minute drive from downtown Chattanooga, and an even 2 hours from Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville and Birmingham. Please inquire for a list of nearby accommodations. Our 28-acre grounds ideally accommodate events with up to 115 guests.

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