Your wedding is a meaningful event and you are probably choosing every little detail with intention. Here are some tips on how to make the choices that will also be gentle to the planet.

Photo by Danelle Taylor, courtesy of The Weekend Florist

Choose a local venue: Considering a destination wedding where lots of friends and relatives travel with you to a distant locale? By far, the #1 way to bring down the environmental impact of your wedding is to minimize the number of flights people need to take. According to Terrapass, up to 73% of a destination’s carbon footprint comes from guests’ air travel. If you do nothing else, choose local. A few great venues to check out include the Kortright Centre, Pioneer Village, and Evergreen Brickworks.

Choose a honeymoon that doesn’t require flying (or is closer): Similar to the point above, air travel to your honeymoon is a huge source of carbon emissions. Eco-resorts close to home are becoming more and more common. Here is a list of resorts in Ontario.

Hire a green caterer: Eating local will reduce the amount of transportation needed to put your meals together. Get bonus points for serving vegetarian options. Take, for example, Urban Acorn – a Flexiatarian Catering company in the Junction Triangle, founded by husband & wife team Chef Daniel Holloway and his ‘Boss Lady’ partner Marie. Inspired by art, music, and using food as a dialogue for social change, Urban Acorn wants to encourage people to broaden their understanding of food and each other with the hopes of building stronger communities. That’s music to our ears! Other great caterers to explore are 10Tation  and Vert Casse-Croute.

Photo courtesy of Urban Acorn Catering

Choose a eco-friendly florist: Sweetpea’s, for example. In addition, imagine your first charitable act as a couple donating your gorgeous flowers to those in need of a smile the day after your wedding, complete with a note from you! The Violet Heart Project will collect all of your flowers at the end of your wedding and will restyle them into smaller arrangements which will fit perfectly atop a table at a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility. Because The Violet Heart Project is a Not-for-Profit organization, they will provide a contribution acknowledgment letter for your accounting purposes. How cool is that? See a feature on them and other eco-friendly vendors on CTV’s The Social.

Opt for a second-hand wedding garments and sell or donate them afterwards: Many couples wear their wedding garments once or only a few times at most. Choosing second-hand offers new life to a garment that took a great deal of energy to create. Here are several Toronto-based projects where you can purchase second hand and/or donate wedding dresses: The Bride’s Project, Vintage Bride, Angels for Cuba, and Precious Angel Gowns.

Choose sustainable rings: As with wedding garments, the greenest option for rings is to go second-hand. If you want a new ring, consider artificial diamonds and lab-grown gems and bands made from alternative metals, such as titanium and tungsten. Fair Trade Jewelry and second hand stores offer many options.

Recycle and compost at the venue to divert waste: ensure bins are well marked and ideally ask a volunteer to help people sort properly.

Send out e-invitations: Emailed invitations help reduce deforestation for pulp and paper. Anther option is using plantable stationery that is printed on biodegradable paper. It has small seeds so that when discarded, it can be planted and sprout flowers. Check out Botanical Paper Works!

Carpool or use public transit: Encourage guests to carpool or use a pooled ride service. Consider offering a shuttle, bus or other group transportation from the hotel to the venue.

Offer eco-party favours: Pick a cause like environmental conservation, or choose an organization like a local wildlife refuge and make a gift in in lieu of plastic favours that will be thrown away. For example, give the gift that grows with LEAF, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the urban forest. They offer gift certificates in any denomination.

Embrace the Green Wedding Challenge and celebrate your love for each other and the planet! Additional ideas and tips on green weddings can be found here:

Terrapass: 16 Simple Solutions for a Super Sustainable Wedding Day:

Low-impact Options for a More Sustainable Wedding

We thank Sarah Bunnett-Gibson, wedding officiant, for contributing tips to this list. The Green Wedding Challenge is a partnership initiative between Dance Together Project and the School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario