Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ask a Planner... "Eco Friendly Weddings"

Hi DreamGroup!

Do you have some suggestions for ways to host an eco-friendly wedding? 

Karly (soon to be Mrs. Reeves) - ;)

Hello Karly,

Thanks for bringing up a great ongoing point of interest these days!  I actually wrote an article about this exact topic a few months back so thought I'd share it again with our readers... It outlines some easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint (big and small) and even some inspiring resources to learn more.

Sustainable Weddings…A Convenient Truth

~ by Genève McNally

The idea of hosting a sustainable wedding has become quite the hot topic over recent years due to an increase in the concern for the effect global warming is having on our planet.  The realization that a wedding, although significant and deserving, is adding to the problem because of the high consumption of goods and polluting it brings with it, couples are choosing to make their weddings more environmentally friendly by incorporating several Eco-conscious elements into their wedding day.   Incorporating sustainability into one's wedding makes sense considering the amount of time we spend on the road in our cars attending to wedding details pre and post event, the travel emissions expended through guest travel and honeymoon voyages, and finally, the endless hours spent on our computers researching wedding options and printing all the necessary documents needed in carrying out a successful wedding.  There are many ways to do your part in making your wedding more sustainable, here are just a few:

Vendor Selection:
A great way to help make your wedding low-carbon is reducing the gas emissions released into the environment by choosing to work with vendors that operate close to your place of residence or at the very least close to the venue at which your wedding is to take place.  You will likely need to visit your vendors and venues several times leading up to the wedding and opting to work with ones close to home will limit the amount of time spent in your car driving and thus cut the amount of gas emissions being radiated into the atmosphere.  Alternatively, host your ceremony and reception at the same venue to cut down on travel emissions on the wedding day.

Food & Drinks:
Hire caterers and work with venues who “operate green” by recycling and offering sustainable food options like using local and seasonal produce, chemical-free organic foods, offer fair trade, organic coffee and tea, and ones that incorporate food products like free-range chicken and sustainable seafood like wild salmon into their menu options.  Grouse Mountain Resorts, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Culinary Capers, Savoury Chef, The Butler Did It Catering, and Cactus Club are just a few of the restaurants, caterers, and venues making noticeable efforts to reduce their environmental ‘footprint’ by initiating in-house Sustainability Programs.  Green Table, a local group dedicated to promoting sustainable food related businesses, is a great resource -- visit for a list of its members.  Furthermore, you can elect to offer locally harvested wine and beer – which is not difficult considering the wealth of world-acclaimed wineries and breweries situated throughout BC.

For items like invitations, programs, place cards, seating charts, menus, and thank you cards hire stationers that work with recycled papers where possible and who make use of the environmentally friendly vegetable or soy based inks.  Lately the option of burning the invitation into wood or tree bark has been popular!  There is an excellent variety of stationary products that fit the recycled/Eco-friendly category and they aren't the brown and natural coloured papers we have associated with recycled papers of the past.  So may choices these days! Another fabulous option that will take your stationary needs to the next level is to send save-the-dates, invitations, and thank yous via e-mail.  Paperless Post is a DreamGroup FAV.
Be sure to mention to your guests either on the back of the invitations or programs the measures taken to help make your wedding sustainable.  It’s a great opportunity to educate your family and friends!

Out of Towners:
Ask guests that are flying in to consider purchasing carbon offsets (a.k.a. environmental credits – visit for more information) for their flights to counterbalance the gas emissions being spent during their trip ( lists companies where offsets can be purchased).  If you are uncomfortable asking guests to incur these extra costs, you may wish to purchase them on those guests' behalf in lieu of favors.  Recommend nearby hotels, preferably ones that offer in-house ‘green’ programs and follow sustainable environment practices, to out of town guests so that they do not need to drive far distances to and from the venues.  Some of Vancouver’s Eco-friendly hotels include The Four Seasons, The Fairmont Properties, The Marriott Pinnacle, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Vancouver Downtown, and Delta Hotels. Encourage guests to rent hybrid or fuel efficient cars or to buddy up with other guests and carpool on the wedding day. 

Flowers & Décor:
Select locally and/or organically grown flowers to make up your table arrangements and bouquets.  Have potted flowers as centerpieces which can be given away to “one lucky guest” at the end of the night or transplant them into your garden to be enjoyed daily.  Reclaim items that your friends may have had at their weddings like corks used as place card holders, etc.  Instead of cut flowers use rocks and/or seashells and all natural beeswax candles to create that perfect centerpiece.  Pinterest offers a HUGE database of photo inspiration and DIY tips on how to incorporate environmentally friendly elements into your wedding.  And when you are done... sell them at DreamGroup's next Bridal Swap on April 7th 2013 at The Roundhouse in Yaletown.

This is one area where every couple can make their weddings more sustainable by offering guests edible delights like organic chocolates, teas, or honey as their thank you gifts.  Couples may choose to purchase tree saplings that are indigenous to the BC area to give to their guests with the message to plant them somewhere special in memory of the couple's wedding day.  A wonderful favor option, and most definitely sustainable, would be to make a donation in each guests’ name to your favorite charity.  Try one of these two deserving charities -- the Canadian Cancer Society ( & BC Children’s Hospital (

Without question, it is everyone’s duty to try to create a positive effect on the environment in some way and what better way to celebrate the uniting of your families by doing your part to ensure that future families have a healthy planet on which to live.  Explore your options… The Internet provides a wealth of information on sustainable products, local ‘green’ businesses, and the efforts being made to lower gas emissions and neutralize the carbon dioxide being put into our atmosphere daily.  Visit – an online magazine for Eco-savvy brides & grooms -- for articles and additional ideas on increasing wedding sustainability.  And look at it this way, since climate change is a global issue, any type of emission reduction or environmentally friendly effort (big or small) you make today will have a positive effect on our planet as a whole tomorrow.

Lots of great information!!  Hope it was helpful Carly. :O)

Wedding Planner signing off!  Until next week… keep those questions coming in!  Submit your questions by emailing us at


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Genève McNally, Principal Planner, DreamGroup Productions

Genève first began her wedding career in 1999 as the Catering Manager for one of Vancouver’s most sought after wedding venues, Brock House Restaurant.  In 2004 Genève and college friend Sarah Shore ambitiously started up what is now one of Vancouver's longest running and most trusted wedding planning companies, DreamGroup Productions Inc.

These days, in addition to working with her clients in a full planning capacity, Genève focuses her attention on the sales and marketing aspects of the company and is most often the friendly voice you will chat with when first inquiring with DreamGroup.  Genève is known to inspire and excite both clients and industry associates alike with her exuberant personality and joie de vivre!  Her ability to be refreshingly candid and her in depth knowledge of the wedding industry have earned her the friendly moniker “Two-Cents McNally”.  Genève also teaches the Wedding Planning classes offered through the dg Academy and is the chief correspondent behind DreamGroup's weekly Blog feature Ask a Planner.

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