British Columbia

How Elizabeth May is making her wedding low-carbon

Elizabeth May and her partner, John Kidder, are getting married today in Victoria. The couple is trying to make the wedding a low-carbon event.

May is marrying John Kidder, 71, a farmer who grows hops in Ashcroft, B.C.

John Kidder and Elizabeth May are planning a low-carbon wedding in Victoria. ( Julia Kidder)

UPDATE: Elizabeth May's wedding dress was a 'walk through a garden' on Earth Day

When the leader of Canada's Green Party gets married, one might expect her to plan a wedding that skips some of the nuptial trappings that aren't in line with an environmentally conscious lifestyle — and that's exactly what Elizabeth May is doing.

Today, which is Earth Day, May is tying the knot with John Kidder, a 71-year-old farmer who grows hops in Ashcroft, B.C. The couple is trying to keep the event as low-carbon as they can.

Here are some of the things they're doing to make the wedding's environmental footprint lighter than most:

1. Emission-free shuttles

The Electric Vehicle Club of Victoria is helping out, according to May.

"I basically have a whole lot of deeply committed EV enthusiasts who are volunteering to ferry guests between the cathedral and the reception," she said.

She and Kidder are also chartering an electric bus to pick up about 50 people from the ferry terminal and bring them to the event.

2. Re-used flowers

The ceremony will be held at Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral, and according to May, they'll be able to re-use all the flowers left over from Easter Sunday. 

This Google Streetview image shows Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, which isn't Elizabeth May's "regular, weekly" church. She attends St. Andrew's in Sidney, but scheduled her wedding at Christ Church Cathedral the day after Easter Sunday. (Google Streetview)

3. Potluck reception

"We're not wealthy and the idea of having a zillion people for a sit-down meal is pretty hard to do on a budget," May said. "But potluck is certainly going to be — it makes it doable to have a lot of people."

This point may be easier on the bank balance than on the planet, but if people take home their extra leftovers to eat later, it could reduce the waste associated with large feasts.

4. Locally gathered centrepieces

May said the flowers for her hair and bouquets are being locally gathered.

"[They] are all being put together by friends locally from flowers in their own gardens," she said. "They're also decorating the hall for us with flowers from gardens."

May said the centrepieces will have re-used Mason jars in place of new vases.

5. Discouraging family and friends from making the trip

One of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from a wedding is all the travel people have to do to gather in one place. May and Kidder are trying to reduce the amount of travel associated with their wedding.

"I am encouraging friends in other parts of the country to stay put and we'll get to them," said May. "So my brother in Cape Breton is not coming."

She said she and Kidder will get on a train to make their way across the country. Separate receptions will be held for their friends in Toronto and Ottawa.

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is a video journalist with CBC News, based in Vancouver. You can find his stories on CBC Radio, television, and online at


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