What do you do if you are committed environmentalists who plan to get married? Have a green wedding, of course.
That’s what Winnipeggers Bethany Daman and Sasha Schellenberg are doing. The couple, graduates of Canadian Mennonite University, want their Aug. 10 wedding to reflect their desire to care for creation and address climate change.
“I believe in the importance of caring for others and caring for the Earth,” said Daman, originally from Niverville, Man., of how her Mennonite faith influences the way she views the world.
Growing up in a Mennonite camp setting in Alberta, “being green has always been important to me,” Schellenberg said.
In planning the wedding, they decided it should be frugal, support local businesses, avoid waste and minimize the carbon footprint.
Their first thought was to keep it to just family, to minimize the guests who needed to travel. But that conflicted with their commitment to community, which also is part of their faith.
“We went back and forth on that,” Daman said. “But we decided we really value having our community around us that day.”
But a bigger wedding meant more people had to drive. “The carbon footprint, that was definitely the biggest challenge,” she said.
To minimize the amount of carbon produced, they asked guests to carpool. To compensate for all the driving, the couple will make a carbon offset donation to an environmental group.
Other ways they will lessen the environmental impact of the wedding is by renting dishes, cutlery and napkins from a local business that buys all the items from local thrift stores; using home-grown flowers; making their own beeswax tealights on used bases; making homemade wine and buying beer from a local brewery that uses local ingredients. For nonalcoholic drinks, there will be homemade lemonade.
The meal will be a taco bar supplied by a certified green local restaurant. A compost bin will be available for anything that isn’t finished, and leftovers will be frozen. Guests are being asked to bring something homemade for a potluck dessert.
What about the wedding dress? Daman bought hers used for $50, plus a bit for alterations. “Not buying a new wedding dress was a big thing for me,” she said.
As for Schellenberg, he will wear his high school graduation suit — “it still fits,” he said. Attendants have been told to wear whatever they want that they already own.
The couple acknowledges that planning a green wedding isn’t easy.
“It’s a challenge to have a 100 percent green event,” Daman said, “unless everyone walks to the wedding, you use only the stuff you have and everything is handmade.”
“We want to be as green as possible, but we know there are contradictions,” Schellenberg added. “We need to make our peace with that.”
While they expect their wedding to be a lot less expensive than most — about $9,000, compared to $30,000 for an average Canadian wedding — it’s not about the money, Daman said.
“We don’t just want a wedding that costs less,” she said. “We want a greener wedding.”
They know their green wedding is not going to solve or reduce climate change.
But, Daman said, they hope it “can start conversations about what people can do to care for the Earth.”
John Longhurst is a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant in Winnipeg, Man.