Q: I'm getting married next year and I want it be an earth-friendly event. Any ideas?
A: No doubt lots of greenies shudder at the thought of attending another overly materialistic celebration (and last year nearly 60,000 people tied the knot in Ontario) where you can pretty much guarantee that the environment is the furthest thing from the bride's and groom's minds. But when it comes to your own nuptials, there are endless ways to turn a white wedding into a gorgeous green event. Some eco heads might consider skipping the whole ring tradition altogether, given the that one pair of gold rings leaves behind six tonnes of waste rock, and metal extraction is never a good thing eco-wise. But GreenKarat (in the U.S., see www.greenkarat.com) sells sustainably developed, fair trade bands. Recycled gold and platinum rings start at $132. If you're looking for Canadian diamonds (no blood diamonds, please!), Organic Metal Gallery on College (416-533-8127) has some that start at $300.
Now for picking the perfect spot. What about a location or org that's dedicated to green causes, like the Conservation Foundation? It runs the Kortright Centre in Woodbridge, a gorgeous glass atrium in the woods that can accommodate up to 175 guests ($1,400 rental fee). You can cut back on transportation and all the nasty things that come with it pollution-wise if you hold your ceremony and reception at the same spot. Octopus's Garden (www. octopusesgarden.on.ca or 1-877-249-2374) in Oro-Medonte, an hour north of the city, is lush with organic fruit trees, wildflowers and heirloom veggies that get served up in the gourmet restaurant for small weddings ($500 rental fee) or in a tent outside for larger parties.
If you're heading to a site that doesn't have its own chef and you need a caterer, there are many options, depending on your diet and taste. There's Cosmos Organic Foods (416-305-0535), Macrobiotics Plus (which cooks without electrical appliances, 416-964-8885) or non-profit caterers whose proceeds go to their own programs, like (the vegan) Toronto Animal Rights Society (416-604-8552) or Foodshare's Field to Table (416-363-6441 ext 35). If the caterer doesn't already do so, request that leftovers be donated to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and that bottles and cans be recycled.
When it comes to cakes, Sweets from the Earth will do vegan versions and sweet tables for as little as $120 (647-436-2004). The Toronto Animal Rights Society also does custom cakes.
But what is an eco bride to wear? This is where "reuse" can be the perfect mantra. If your mother or grandmother doesn't have a dress you're keen on, hit the second-hand stores and have a seamstress make adjustments. Or buy your own fabric and have it made! Toronto Hemp Company on Yonge (416-920-1980) carries an off-white hemp/silk blend for $19.95 a metre, or check out organicweddings.com. Rawganique makes beautiful and surprisingly affordable hemp suits as well as hemp/flax dresses that would be great for brides and bridesmaids alike (the company is based in the U.S., but you can order online at www.rawganique.com or call 1-877-RAW-HEMP).
As for telling your guests about your fabulous green wedding, you can cut back on paper by sending e-vites to those with computers. For the old-fashioned way, Grassroots on Bloor or Danforth sells 100-per-cent post-consumer card stock ($10/25) and envelopes ($7.50/25 and up) in various shades. Thistle Printing on Mobile Drive (416-288-1288) uses environmentally friendly inks and comes referred by Greenpeace.
Definitely ditch that pesticide-laden bouquet and go for an enviro-friendly florist like Eco Flora (416-254-2674) if you're not up for growing your own. It sells organic and fair trade flowers. My Luscious Backyard (416-873-2611) sells organic beauties it grows in, you guessed it, the backyard. You can also zip half an hour north of the city to the Wildflower Farm (1-866-476-9453) to pick your own native organic flora at reasonable prices.
Other tips? Toss organic birdseed instead of rice. Don't release butterflies - they can spread parasites and disrupt the migration of wild species. And instead of useless wedding favours, tell guests you're giving $1 ( or as much as you want) to your fave green charity in their name. Need a place to register? Why not Grassroots? Or for something a little ritzier, call Ecoworks (416-461-6121), "an eco-chic lifestyle gift service" that does green wedding favours and consulting, too.
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