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Be Green

Green Weddings

For many young, about-to-be-married types, that big special day just wouldn't be that special if it created a whole bunch of waste. As people get more environmentally conscious, it's only logical that couples will want to include that sentiment in their wedding preparations.

I've done it (that's my husband, Patrice in the photo)
And you know what? It's loads of fun! The idea of thinking outside the box (and also of thumbing my nose at the big bad multi-billion dollar wedding industry) is entirely delicious. And speaking of dollars, a green wedding can be significantly cheaper than a more traditional one (although arguably, half these traditions were started by a money-hungry industry, but I'll spare you the conspiracy theory). My own wedding cost us around $2100. That's with 45 guests, a dress, a suit and bouquet thrown in. And no one went home hungry and both Pat and I had the time of our lives.
(The cardboard cutout by the way, was not part of any "geste verte". "She" was leftover from a CBC publicity thing and I got to take her home. She ended up having a great time at the wedding, showing people where to meet us at the Botanical Gardens!)

Moving right along, this whole idea of a green wedding: Pat and I were far from the only couple interested in the idea. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, in response to a call I put out, I received this email from a viewer:
Good Morning Geeta,
My colleague mentioned that you were looking for brides planning a green weeding. Well, my name is Alana Kane and I work for Kahnawake Environment Protection Office. My fiancé proposed to me on March 29th and ever since, I have been researching green alternatives for my wedding next year. I have found some very helpful websites, however I am really looking forward to your segments to help me out. Thank you for all you do, education is the only tool we have to remind people that we can do things differently! I would love to be a part, somehow, of the wedding segments you have planned.
Thanks again,
Alana Kane

Now Alana, I figured rather than prattle on about my own experience, I'd get another green bride-to-be share her planning secrets with you.

Enter Isabelle Abdel-Sayed and her fiance, Dino Monaco. They're getting married in June and are in the final stages of their wedding prep. You can find out what they did by watching the video that aired tonight on CBC News at Six.
(I'll add a fresh link with just the video by tomorrow morning)

If you're planning your own wedding, here are some useful guidelines:

1. Check out ecochicweddings.com, a fantastic site by American writer and green warrior Emily Anderson. I got SO much of my planning info from there. It helps you look at the event from a different perspective. Perhaps the most useful shift in my mind was about venue....
2. Pick a venue that doesn't need much alteration:
This simply means that you and your partner need to sit down and think about the tone of what you want. Do you want a "tropical paradise" feel to your room? What about weather concerns? It's easier and cheaper to find a venue that already has most of what it will need to be your special place. Pat and I really wanted someplace filled with flowers and life and instead of booking a gallery or banquet hall and filling it with flowers (that we'd have to pay for), we decided to go where the flowers already were: The Botanical Garden! .
3. Steer clear from things tagged "wedding" or "bridal": I notice that when something is specifically marked for a wedding, the price tends to treble. If you can't find what you want outside the wedding industry, perhaps you should ask yourself whether you really need it--and whether you're likely to ever use it again.
4. Reuse: My favourite of the 3 "R"s. Isabelle decided to buy that gorgeous purple dress and I went for a classic, strapless cocktail dress that I got at Le Chateau. Both Isabelle and I are going to get loads more wear out of those dresses and for those that say a wedding dress is magic, I'll say this: It IS magic to put on a lovely dress--especially one with such personal significance--and then go out to dinner with the man you married! Pat wore jeans, a really nice jacket with a vest underneath. He wears those jeans when he goes to tango class with me: HOT!

5. Something borrowed: Because my whole family is back in India, Pat and I had two weddings. Our little green Montreal wedding and our big fat Indian wedding (which was also relatively green, by the way). To go with my mother's own wedding sari (which I borrowed for the occassion, thereby creating a new Nadkarni tradition), I borrowed heavy gold jewelry from my aunt. Traditionally, family members would have bought me some, and while it's tempting to hoard valuables, I realised that I wouldn't wear the stuff here in Montreal. So my aunt happily lent me her gorgeous stuff (and it added so much sentimental value to the whole event.) Yay!
You can borrow everything from a dress, jewelry or a venue to crockery, decorations and shoes. And borrowing (if done tastefully) actually helps keep family members feeling implicated and special (which is what weddings are all about anyway!)
6. Say no to gifts: Okay, wait, don't turn off your computer and run away! Think about it, the average couple these days lives together for a bit before they get married. So they have most of everything they need. So how about you ask your guests to buy you green stocks and shares? Or send money to kids in Africa (or Burmese cyclone survivors or Chinese quake victims? Or feathered factory farm survivors?).
7. But if you don't want to skip the shower:An idea for a shower that I LOVED and used is one that's borrowed from a Navajo tradition. It's called a Blessingway Women often have them in times of transition, most commonly before the birth of a child. The woman invites her female friends to bring stories and wisdom to guide her on her new adventure. I asked my ladies to bring a story of love from their own lives and a lesson they'd learned that would help me in mine as a married woman. The nicest part? The fact that everyone received and took home the same gifts that I'd been given. That evening remains one of the most profound of my life.
8. Go paper-free This is a tough pill to swallow for brides who spend hours agonizing over what paper works best, logos, the perfect shade of ink, etc. The solution (that saves time, money and most of your sanity?) Use an evite. You can create them for free online (and customize them to suit your theme) They're easy and an unexpected side effect is that it's really easy to manage and keep track of who's coming and bringing whom. It also facilitates carpooling (which is great for the environment). If you really love the idea of paper invites, consider getting some from Wishbuds
They're a Quebec company that makes (among other goodies) seeded paper invites. This means that once your guests have RSVPed, they can simply stick your invitation in a pot of earth, add water and watch it blossom into a flowering plant. How's THAT for happily ever after!

9. Take home prezzies If you're married (ha ha) to the idea of having gifts for your guests to take home, consider doing what Isabelle and Dino are doing: use organic living plants. You can choose from practical (and yummy) herbs to pretty cacti or lucky bamboo or flowering plants. The lovely thing is that your plant (especially if it comes in a gorgeous fair-trade pot from stores like Dix Mille Villages or a wild hang-on-your-wall pot from FlowerBox will help guests remember your special day for years to come!
10. Go vegetarian It's just one meal and good karma. No, but seriously, veggie food tends to be cheaper and if you pick a good caterer (I highly recommend the woman who did ours. You can sample her goodies at her Plateau restaurant, Fuschia) it can really change the way your guests even look at veggie food. Plus, no animals get hurt!

I'm going to post more stories from those of you who wrote an called in. Check back here tomorrow. And I'm looking for more stories to share. Send me stories of YOUR green wedding/commitment ceremony experience. If you have photos, send them on to geeta.nadkarni@cbc.ca
Ain't love grand?

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Comments (2)

kimm fuller


i think you are talking about fuchsia epicerie fleur- great neighborhood place!

Posted May 20, 2008 09:53 PM

binky holleran


sure enough! check out the website at www.flowergrocery.com
hi geeta! we are loving your topics and info. i`ll be catering dino and isabelle`s green wedding so i`ll share some pics of the food soon. we are not using disposables but instead serving hors d`oeuvres in edible pastry shells or on leaves. it will be a beautiful event!

Posted May 22, 2008 11:39 AM

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