Just over 160,000 weddings took place in Canada last year. Yes, you read that right. The average number of guests at each was about 130. Do the math and you’ll see that 20 million Canadians attend weddings every year. This activity can potentially leave a significant environmental footprint! By making certain choices, you can ensure that this event—a day your friends and family will remember for years to come—can be both grand and green.
Our senior director, Steven Guilbeault, proved this recently: “When my fiancée, now wife, and I started talking about our wedding, we quickly agreed that, yes, we wanted this to be one of the best days of our lives, but that we also wanted it to be as eco-friendly as possible.”
Here are a few of Steven’s eco-wedding planning tips to get you started :
As transportation accounts for 44% of Quebec’s GHG emissions, this was the most important aspect to focus on. We had to find a venue that guests could get to without having to drive tens or hundreds of kilometres.
We were looking for a venue that was central, pleasant and idyllic, and on a bike ride one day quite by chance we found a real gem: le Pavillon de la Jamaïque on Île Notre-Dame.
Just a 15-minute walk from Jean-Drapeau metro station, the pavilion is nestled in the heart of a lush wooded area full of flowers and right by the water. The ceremony took place outside under a magnificent weeping willow. We encouraged guests to use public transportation whenever possible, and about a third, including the groom, did just that. Some guests came in taxis and others carpooled.
We chose a caterer who has won various awards, including the 2015 Les Vivats for sustainable event practices, and with whom Équiterre had previously collaborated on several occasions. The meal, which was 50% vegan and 35% vegetarian, was prepared with about 80% organic produce grown on one of the farms in the Équiterre family farmer network or sourced within a 110 km radius. To ensure there was something for everyone, 15% of the dishes included meat or fish.
The beverages were produced locally, too, with wine from Domaine du Ridge in Saint-Armand, and beer from Montreal brewer Glutenberg. The rum, gin, vodka and even the sparkling juice for kids were also made in Quebec.
Decor, accessories and presents
There were no paper tablecloths, no disposable napkins, no wreaths or any other items with a short lifespan. And we borrowed lights from a friend to brighten up the venue. All in all, we made minimal purchases and produced minimal waste.
The only rule for guests was . . . no presents! Joining us for this memorable day was the best present they could give!
Despite our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint, some guests, including a few of my family members, had to drive hundreds of kilometres (carpooling) to attend the wedding. Some of my wife’s family friends even travelled from Europe for the occasion.
We therefore decided to offset the GHG emissions generated by travel. Organizations like Planetair and CO2 Environment offset, for a fee, the emission of each tonne of CO2 emitted for an event or activity by investing in renewable energy or by planting trees.
This should, however, be a last resort. It’s better to start by reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible and offset the rest.
Here’s to the best day ever for all future brides and grooms on the planet!