PEI

Ontario couple chooses P.E.I. for unique 'eco-wedding'

An Ontario couple recently made Prince Edward Island their destination for what they called their "eco-wedding" — nuptials with less environmental impact.

'P.E.I. is beautiful enough that it didn't need decorations'

Rochelle and Mike Byrne of Markham, Ont., chose P.E.I. for their destination eco-wedding. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

An Ontario couple recently made Prince Edward Island their destination for what they called their "eco-wedding" — nuptials with less environmental impact. 

Rochelle and Mike Byrne were married in Cavendish, P.E.I., Sunday, July 16, followed by a honeymoon road trip back to their home near Toronto.

"Everything that we do as a family we try to do in an environmentally-friendly way," shared Rochelle Byrne by phone from the couple's home in Markham, Ont. "So planning a wedding was no different." 

Rochelle started A Greener Future two years ago, a non-profit organization that focuses on litter cleanup and prevention, and she wanted to walk the walk on her wedding day.

'So much waste'

Weddings, with all the trappings of cut fresh flowers, party favours and uneaten food, can "be a lot of waste at the end of the day," said Byrne. 

Mike and Rochelle Byrne or Markham, Ont., stayed with all their wedding guests at the Stanley Bridge Resort in P.E.I. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne )

They chose P.E.I. for its stunning ocean views, and were pleased to find the little Island of 150,000 souls "very environmentally-minded" already, with its comprehensive composting and recycling program. 

"There were already so many resources that were already set up for us," she said, noting she was surprised to find a compost section in the hotel room's trash can. "Everything we requested — we could do." 

Here's how the Byrnes made their 32-person wedding an environmental dream come true. 

1. No decorations 

"P.E.I. is beautiful enough that it didn't need decorations," she said. The ceremony was held in P.E.I. National Park on cliffs overlooking Cavendish Beach. The Byrnes needed to apply for a permit, but the venue was free. 

'P.E.I. is beautiful enough that it didn't need decorations,' says bride Rochelle Byrne. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

Not only did this save lots of money, she said, but there was no time spent on cleanup or disposing of pew-markers, centrepieces or bouquets.

"The only thing we had was a speaker with a rechargable battery," she said, from which a friend played pre-planned music using an app called WeddingDJ. 

2. No flowers

The bride and her four bridesmaids carried native tree saplings down the aisle instead of bouquets, which was "one of my favourite parts of the wedding," she shared. 

While bouquets are beautiful, the resources behind growing and shipping flowers to use them for only a few hours were too much for Byrne to contemplate. 

The bridal party carried saplings rather than bouquets, then planted the trees as part of the ceremony. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

"We picked up some saplings at the provincial nursery in P.E.I., and they gave them to us free of charge because we only needed five," she said. 

As part of the ceremony, the wedding party planted the saplings in the park, for which they needed permission, in holes they'd dug the day before.

"We get to go back and see those trees grow whenever we visit," she said.

Another way she saved money and reused resources was using a website called Bunz, a trading group.

3. Thifty clothing

Byrne found her wedding outfit second-hand locally, including a stunning white dress. She also found some electric blue Manolo Blahnik shoes for $12.99 (regular retail approx. $1,000). 

The bride's attire was second-hand including designer Manolo Blahnik satin shoes she found for just $12.99 at a thrift store. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

Bridesmaids purchased inexpensive matching dresses they will wear again from a chain store. 

Groomsmen wore white shirts they already had, with matching grey pants custom-made by indochino.com — a little on the expensive side, but can be worn over and over. 

4. Buffet meal out

Wedding meals often lead to waste, Byrne said — guests leave food on their plates because the portions are too large or they don't like some items. 

The wedding wasted less food by eating at a restaurant where guests could choose their own portions. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

The Byrnes chose to take their guests to Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers in North Rustico, P.E.I., where guests could choose from an existing buffet, and drank locally-made wine. 

5. Eco-rings

The Byrnes bought their rings from a company called Do Amore, a company that builds water wells for communities in need.  

The Byrnes's rings were made by Do Amore, which uses sustainably- and ethically-sourced metals and gems. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

It also uses sustainably- and ethically-sourced gems and recycled metals. Even the ring boxes are handmade from sustainable wood, the company says. 

6. Practical favours

For favours, the Byrnes gifted their guests with reusable enamel camp mugs to use for drink refills at the dance.

The couple gave their guests wedding favours of reusable tin camp mugs. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)
 

"We wanted something that wasn't just going to end up collecting dust or end up at Goodwill one day," she said. "I think everybody loved them."

"Our reception virtually had no waste!" she added.

7. Shared lodging

The Byrnes stayed at the Stanley Bridge Resort where they rented four cabins and a lodge room for all of their guests to share. 

Many of the guests already knew one another, which made sharing cabins not only comfortable but fun, Byrne said.  

8. Local pics

The Byrnes used P.E.I. photographer Simon Reid, who donates 10 per cent of his income to building homes in Haiti. Reid's wife also live streamed their wedding online for friends and family who couldn't make the trip. 

Rochelle and Mike Byrne said everything about their P.E.I. eco-wedding was perfect, including the weather. (Submitted by Rochelle Byrne)

9. Carbon offset

To put the icing on the cake, the Byrnes purchased carbon offsets from less.ca

"We purchased 5 tonnes which balances the carbon emitted from the entire wedding including travel by us and our guests," said Byrne. 

They chose to support an offset project in Fredericton, N.B., to keep the benefits of their purchase on the east coast.

'Feel better about it'

Byrne encourages others to try an eco-wedding.

"Not only is it better for the environment to be of conscious of your resource use and how your wedding is planned — but it saves a ton of money and you feel better about it," she said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca

now