For Bethany Daman and Sasha Schellenberg, faith is important, and so is their commitment to the environment.
It’s a big reason why the Winnipeggers selected their jobs. Daman, 24, is the living well co-ordinator for the Green Action Centre; Schellenberg, 23, is a bike mechanic at Natural Cycle Works.
"I believe in the importance of caring for others, and caring for the Earth," said Daman, originally from Niverville, about how her Mennonite faith influences the way she views the world.
Growing up in a Mennonite Christian camp setting in Alberta, "being green has always been important to me," Schellenberg said.
So when the couple, both graduates of Canadian Mennonite University, started planning their Aug. 10 wedding, they knew it needed to reflect how their faith causes them to want to preserve and protect the environment and address climate change.
"We wanted to be frugal, support local business, avoid waste and things only used once," Daman said. "We wanted to minimize the environmental and carbon footprint."
Their first thought was to keep it to just family, to minimize the number of people who needed to travel to the event. But that conflicted with their commitment to community, which is also 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," Daman said.
The wedding will be held in her parents’ backyard near Niverville. "To save our planet, please carpool," the couple wrote in the invitations.
There have been a few jokes about the directive, Schellenberg said, but "the response has been good." This includes his family, which is going to drive together from Calgary.
To compensate, the couple plans to make a carbon-offset donation to Manitoba’s Climate Action Team.
"I’ve been actively involved in the team and it feels like a very natural fit," Daman said.
Other ways they will reduce the environmental effect of the wedding include: renting vintage dishes, cutlery and napkins from a service that purchases its items from local thrift stores; using homegrown flowers; making their own beeswax tea lights (on used bases); and buying beer from a local brewery that uses local ingredients.
Daman’s grandparents are making half of the wine, with the rest being bottle-and-cork from Manitoba Liquor Marts. For non-alcoholic 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 any leftover food will be frozen for future consumption. Guests are being asked to take something homemade for a potluck dessert.
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."
Attendants have been told to wear whatever they want that they already own.
While it’s been a good exercise, the couple acknowledge planning a green wedding isn’t easy.
"It’s a challenge to have a 100 per cent green event," Daman said. "Unless everyone walks to the wedding, you use only the stuff you have and everything is handmade, it’s very difficult."
"We want to be as green as possible, but we know there are contradictions," Schellenberg said. "We need to make our peace with that. Not everything can be perfect."
And while they expect the wedding to be less expensive than most — it will come in at around $9,000, considerably less than the $30,000 cost of an average Canadian wedding — it’s not about the money, Daman said.
"We don’t just want a wedding that costs less. We want a greener wedding."
They know, in the grand scheme of things, a 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 has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.