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Green Weddings

Uniting the elegant & unique


Despite the growing popularity of green, or eco, weddings, it's easy to forget to factor the environment into wedding preparations.

It’s your wedding day; your dress looks beautiful; your hair is perfect; and you have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something … green?

Despite the growing popularity of green weddings, many brides get caught up in frenzied wedding planning. It’s easy to forget to factor the environment into wedding preparations.

Greening your glamour
Reducing wedding waste doesn’t have to mean sacrificing glamour. As an eco-friendly bride, you don’t have to walk down the aisle in a brown burlap sack, tossing wildflowers into the wind. In fact most green weddings turn out to be creatively enchanting.

“You can have the elegant and chic wedding you’ve always wanted while still making it green,” says Amalia Ward, co-creator of Talen Events, an environmentally conscious event firm in Ontario. “It might take a little creativity, but in the end your event will be a reflection of you and your commitment to living a sustainable lifestyle.”

Picking a place
Statistics Canada’s preliminary report states that in 2007 there were 151,695 marriages in Canada. According to a survey conducted by, the average Canadian bride plans to spend $19,038 on her nuptials.

Splurging on a wedding is an easy way to make it unique, but having a ceremony and reception that are environmentally and economically friendly can be the real icing on the cake.

Hosting your wedding at a fancy hotel or golf course is not always a cost-effective option, and choosing the perfect venue without leaving an environmental footprint can be tricky.

What’s a bride to do?
Consider an outdoor picnic setting in the park. Guests can sit on traditional red and white checkered blankets while sipping champagne. The important thing to remember is
to have the ceremony and reception at the same place, or keep them as close together as possible to cut down on transportation.

“We try to have the event in one locale to ensure that transportation between events is not required,” says Ward.

Caring with carbon credits
Getting relatives and friends to and from your wedding can leave a hefty hole in the ozone as well as in your bank account. Using carbon credits as favours is a great way to even the environmental score.

Using an online carbon emission calculator, couples can add up the CO2 emissions that each guest would produce on the way to and from the wedding. The bride and groom can then purchase offsets from companies that support projects to reduce global carbon emissions.
Couples can print out certificates from their chosen carbon offset company to give to their guests that explain their environmental endeavour.

Making a reservation at one of Canada’s many eco-friendly hotels for out-of-town guests is another great idea. Green hotels pride themselves on energy-saving measures such as installing low-flow showerheads, establishing recycling programs, and providing only organic or fair trade products to guests.

Something new, something recycled
Wedding rings may be the smallest items at a wedding, but their significance is immense. Wedding bands without diamonds are the best choice for reducing environmental impact. But if you still want to sparkle, why not choose a vintage band handed down from generations past?

By recycling old jewellery, mining emissions and environmental costs are saved and a new and unique symbol of your love is created.

Focusing on flowers
Flowers can be one of the biggest factors in a wedding budget. Choosing a local vendor can significantly reduce the cost. Growing flowers in your garden for floral arrangements or bouquets is an even cheaper alternative and saves exotic flowers from being shipped in from tropical locations.

“A good question to ask yourself when you’re planning your flowers and centrepieces is, ‘What am I going to do with them after the wedding?? says Tiffany daSilva, co-creator of Talen Events. “Can your flowers be replanted? Can your centrepieces be given to your guests and reused in their homes?”

Remember, it’s your day
Whether you’re thinking of flowers or favours, receptions or rings, it’s important that those helping you plan and execute your special day are on board with your down-to-earth ideas.

Choose a caterer, florist, and wedding planner who will help you step confidently into your new partnership while leaving a small footprint on the earth.

Tips to reduce cost and environmental impact:
Avoid a paper trail: A wedding website can provide guests with invitations, maps, and directions. You can receive RSVPs electronically, effectively avoiding the energy and carbon emissions that result from manufacturing and shipping paper goods.

Consider natural fibres or go secondhand: For your bridal gown, choose alternative materials such as organic cotton or hemp that don’t contain harmful chemicals used to dye fabrics. Hiring a local designer is also a helpful alternative—with a few alterations, a secondhand dress can be just as stunning and unique as one that is brand new.

Think local when picking the menu: Fresh organic food should be considered, as it is free from chemical fertilizers. If you plan on serving seafood, ask your caterer about sustainable seafood options.

Do your part: A wedding lit by candlelight or compact fluorescent light bulbs reduces energy and greenhouse gas emissions. For favours, you can provide your guests with something that gives back, such as flower seeds or tree saplings to revitalize planet Earth.

Green savings
Some big-ticket wedding items include the cost of professionally catered food, the bridal gown, and flowers. Consider the following cost breakdown:

Average traditional wedding prices
Cost of catered multi-course meal: $25 to $40 per person
Cost of new bridal gown: $975
Cost of traditional floral arrangements, with flowers flown from overseas: $805

To save money and the environment, try these alternatives:

Greener wedding prices
Cost of buffet-style vegetarian meals purchased from a local deli: $5 to $20 per person
Cost of second-hand bridal gown: $488 (half the cost of a new gown)
Cost of using local, in-season flowers: $403 to $536 (half to one-third the cost of flowers from overseas)

  • Great meal ideas include vegetarian lasagnas or pastas, with a variety of cold salads and finger foods.
  • Second-hand dresses can be purchased online or through a charitable organization.
  • Single-flower seasonal arrangements, such as a classic bunch of tulips, can provide a striking and cost-effective look.

Destination nowhere
According to an online carbon calculator, a destination wedding with 50 guests travelling from Canada to Cancun would generate over 25 tons of CO2. Opt instead for a local celebration, where you will be able to invite more guests at less cost to Mother Earth.



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Raise a glass and say cheers to not-so-hard drinks

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD