Green Weddings
Walk down the bridal path the natural way
by Lisa Whitaker

When most brides dream of their ideal wedding, edible flowers, hemp dresses, and non-renewable resources are the last things on their mind. Yet, for others, these items are at the top of the list.

Organic weddings, AKA green weddings or earth-friendly weddings have carved a small, but respected niche for themselves in the world of wedding planners.

So how does one begin to plan a green wedding? Much like any bride would, by picking a date and searching for an ideal location. The great outdoors is the most popular place: a lavish garden, waterside setting, a farm, or the grounds of a lovely resort are ideal — any place away from the noise and pollution of the city.

Octopus's Garden ( in Oro-Medonte (an hour north of Toronto), is one of these unique locales. Specializing in intimate weddings and cocktail parties, its garden is a true eco-tourism setting. In keeping with a balanced lifestyle, Octopus's Garden grows a wide selection of organic fruits, vegetables, edible flowers and herbs, allowing the bride and groom to create their dream feast — naturally.

According to Bruce Mathews, head chef and one of the main hosts, it's the almost four acre natural setting, surrounded by crown land on three sides along with a hundred organic fruit trees, hardwood trees, evergreen trees, a wildflower garden, herb garden, and rivers that really make it the perfect place for those who wish to pursue the garden path.

Once the location is decided, the menu is the next consideration. There are several caterers that target an earth-friendly market. Whole Foods Market (Hazelton Lanes, Toronto) is one of them. They have a vast organic menu that caters to both intimate and large weddings.

Want something different? There are myriad possibilities. Add a nasturtium flower stuffed with goat cheese, or wrap a tulip flower casing around any appetizer for a colourful arrangement. Pansies, day lilies, begonias and violets are some of the most popular and widely used edible flowers. When you "incorporate all these things on a plate, it can be a very stunning presentation," says Matthews.

So you've picked your date, nailed down the location and the menu is set. Now what do you wear? Don't bother looking for a gown in any of the downtown bridal boutiques. A true organic bride will opt for a gown made from natural fabric and renewable resources, such as hemp. A number of fabric stores do carry the necessary material. Throw in a little silk, and add the decorative touch to this otherwise dull material, and it could be the dress of your dreams.

Every bride wants to look beautiful, no matter how earth tied her roots may be. And any salon that carries Aveda makeup and hair products will give the bride the 'au natural' look she desires.

According to Colleen Buyanski, consumer relations representative for Aveda: "[Our products] strive to be 100 per cent naturally based, with minimal synthetics. The Uruku makeup line is naturally derived from the Uruku Palm Tree, and provides natural, rich, long lasting colour that stays on the face longer." This is great for brides that don't want the hassle of constantly reapplying. Their natural hair products work just as well, giving the bride a style that will hold up as long as she does.

When it's time to round up the troops you can stick with tradition and mail out conventional invitations or you can move online and partake in the newest wave of wedding mail — evites. Numerous sites are now available to help you design and create your own electronic wedding invites. However, if you do prefer to stick with customary invitations, numerous invitation houses carry recycled paper products or tree-free products, and some go so far as to use a soy-based ink.

Planning any wedding takes a great deal of time and effort, but planning a green wedding presents an even greater challenge. It requires plenty of research, but the resources are available to make the dream a reality.