WoW Blog

Marrying with Mother Nature | WoW's Top Tips for a Green Outdoor Wedding

Posted By Victoria WoW June 26th, 2013

Possibly the best thing about living on Southern Vancouver Island is that we are surrounded by the splendor of Mother Nature. Nearly every neighbourhood in Greater Victoria boasts an unbelievably photogenic ocean view. Lush pastoral farmland borders our populated urban areas. Mountains, harbourfronts, and regional parkland offer scenic vistas of our gorgeous city and the landscape beyond the waters that surround us.

In Victoria, we are environmentalists by default. We can't help but appreciate the magnificence of the natural world that teems at our doorstep.

It is this bounty of natural beauty that calls to couples, from Victoria and beyond, to take their wedding celebrations outside. It is also the natural beauty that can inspire couples to seek venues, products and suppliers that offer more environmentally sustainable options.

As special occasion vendors, we know that taking weddings outside can add a level of complexity that brides and grooms don't always consider. It is our job to educate our clients about all the possible details to keep in mind when planning their outdoor nuptials, including those that are eco-conscious.

Women of Weddings has compiled a comprehensive list of tips for you to share with clients that are planning their stylish outdoor weddings with a lean towards green.

The Venues

  • As optimistic as your couple might be, encourage (even insist) that they have a Plan B in place in case of inclement weather. Our windy, marine climate can turn in a heartbeat, and even the most sturdy tents cannot always shield guests from gusts and sheeting rain.
  • Suggest to your clients that they consider footwear appropriate to the terrain- sand, rocks, or grass can take the grace out of your steps. Get them to extend the suggestion to their guests to make sure everyone is safe, comfortable and stylish.
  • If dancing the night away is on the agenda, offer the option of a portable dance floor to invite smooth moves.
  • Create comfy lounge areas that will allow guests to relax and take in the atmosphere. Think outdoor rooms that are so on trend in design right now.
  • Lucky for us on the West Coast, our creepy crawlers are somewhat tolerable. But mosquitos, nosee-ums, and wasps in late summer can put a bug in the celebrations. Suggest decorating with citronella candles, offering eco-friendly bug spray, and hanging faux wasp-nests as a deterrent.

The Menus

  • With the abundance of delicious local produce, grains, seafood, meats & cheeses, and wines, spirits & ciders available on Southern Vancouver Island, it is entirely possible to create a menu inspired by the "100-mile diet". For couples that choose the Victoria region as a destination, they may not know what we grow locally, so seize this opportunity to inform them about our local producers. Not only does sourcing food locally reduce their carbon footprint, it supports our local economy (including us!)
  • Hosting an outdoor wedding can give couples a chance to create a culinary theme that is less formal than an indoor sit-down affair. Advocate for creative themes such as a family-style barbecue, seafood roast, or a picnic, which can also translate into a less expensive menu.
  • Glorious summertime weather is short-lived in this part of the world, but nonetheless should be taken into consideration when it comes to food. Advise couples to avoid foods with mayonnaise to reduce chances of spoiling in the summer sun. For wedding cakes, fondant or marzipan icings will stand up better in the heat than cream frostings.
  • Remind your clients to provide plenty of water, iced tea, lemonade or other non-alcoholic beverages to ensure everyone stays hydrated. And how about suggesting water stations where guests can refill BHP-free water bottles emblazoned with the couple's insignia? Create a memory, not garbage, with this green idea. Not to mention a great guest favour that will get used and reused.

The Invites

There are countless ways to reduce paper when it comes to wedding invitations. Introduce these ideas to your clients and look like an eco-hero:

  • Send out gorgeous invitations but skip the RSVP card and envelope. Instead, urge guests to RSVP via email.
  • Cut down on paper even further by opting for postcard invitations. If the wedding is outdoor or destination, couples can take advantage of the added whimsy.
  • Opt for paper that has seeds embedded in the fibres. Guests can plant the paper to grow flowers or herbs.
  • Establish a wedding website or Facebook page that broadcasts all the important information like maps, photos, and RSVP information.

The Photos

  • Most wedding photographers are already working in digital formats, which automatically eliminates the excessive quantities photo paper and chemicals that once associated photography as unfriendly to the environment.
  • One factor that brides and grooms may want to take in consideration for their outdoor wedding photos is the potential glare that can be created in the height of summer, especially midday. Educating clients about optimum conditions for photography is a must when planning an outdoor event.
  • Speaking of ideal lighting, photographers may be the ideal candidates to alert couples to the pitfalls of positioning their guests facing into the sun. This can impact their ability to watch (and enjoy) the event, make eyes water, and offer less than optimal conditions for them to take their own photographs.

The Music & Audio

  • Under perfect conditions, hosting a wedding outdoors can be a dream come true. But on the South Island, the wind can rise in an instant, not only sending delicate decorations and veils billowing, but also affecting the ability to hear the ceremony. Advise your couples to plan for a sound system that will ensure their vows are heard loud and clear.
  • For musicians, bands and singers whom brides and grooms hire to entertain at their outdoor wedding, remind them to have extra power sources available at the venue for their equipment.

The Flowers

  • Hot on the heels of the local food producers movement is a trend to support local Island growers of flowers and greenery. The closer the source of foliage and blooms, the less fuel and energy is required for transporting them, thereby reducing the eco-conscious couple's carbon footprint. Recommend florists who offer options for locally-grown flowers in Victoria.
  • Opting to adorn their venue with potted plants and flowers are also a growing trend amongst couples hoping to reduce waste associated with their wedding; petite potted blooms can also do double duty as guest favours.

The Décor

  • Hosting an outdoor wedding is also advantageous in the Victoria area because of the natural foliage and stunning gardens available as instant décor. This can reduce costs for couples.
  • Suggest to clients that they avoid single-use decorative items that will become trash after the event. Renting gorgeous décor from our WoW suppliers is always a smart alternative.
  • If there are disposable decorative elements left after the wedding, perhaps suggest the bride donate them to a school or daycare for crafting.

The Favours

  • As much as couples would like to think that their whimsical wedding favour will take a precious spot among their guests' dearest memorabilia, the truth is that many will end up as garbage. The key to more sustainable wedding favours is to offer gifts that are either edible or plant-able. Trends include monogrammed candies or chocolates, organic jams, seedlings or herb garden starters.
  • Another option is for the couple to donate to a charity that they support in lieu of favours, which is not only more green, but serves a greater good.


The Transportation

  • For the betrothed who wish to be eco-conscious, the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to keep their event local to where most of their guests live. Hosting their ceremony and reception in the same place will also eliminate the need for guests to drive from place to place.
  • If your clients opt for more remote locales, propose that they consider creating a carpool program within their wedding plans, and have guests coordinate on their aforementioned green wedding website or Facebook page.
  • And of course, limousine services often offer large-capacity limos which cut down in emissions and give guests a safe ride home after the festivities.

The Look

  • For outdoor weddings, sunscreen is, of course, a must-have. Makeup with added SPF is a perfect combination, and makeup artists can help brides and their bridesmaids to apply sunscreen to hard-to-reach spots after they are dressed. And don’t forget about the groom and his crew- men are notorious for neglecting to put on sunscreen properly!
  • Pure sentimentality is not the only reason people cry at weddings. Outdoor weddings can have the added element of gusty wind and glaring sun, both of which can make eyes water. Waterproof mascara and eye makeup goes without saying, but advise women to have a tissue or handkerchief ready. For best results, wrap the tissue around your index fingertip, look up and press firmly into the corners of the eyes before tears come.
  • Speaking of wind, hair stylists will want to take into consideration the potential for blustery weather when helping brides to design their look. If they are planning to wear long hair down, perhaps suggest leaving lip gloss behind, as this can be an annoyingly sticky combination.
  • A green alternative for wedding gowns, not to mention a sentimental one, is for the bride to re-design her mother's or grandmother's dress with a modern flare. Get to know our local tailors and seamstresses so that you can confidently recommend ones that can help your clients source out the best. The same approach can be taken with vintage or previously-worn wedding gowns.
  • Suggest weighing down a bride's veil with tiny fishing weights to prevent billowing. 
  • Bridesmaids are often encouraged to wear a dress that supposedly can be worn again, but unless they have some say in the design or colour, this doesn't always happen. Propose to brides that they perhaps select a uniform colour, and let the bridesmaids choose an outfit that they truly would wear again. For an even more sustainable option, perhaps let the bridesmaids choose from what they already own.
  • For jewelry, extracting precious metals and diamonds from the earth is taxing on the environment. Many eco-conscious brides and groom are electing instead to seek out vintage or heirloom jewelry, or to source diamonds that originate from countries that are conflict-free. Canadian diamonds are quickly gaining prestige for cut and clarity.

***All photos included in this post provided by Karen McNeil Photography.

Experience an eco-friendly outdoor venue for our next WoW Event. On Tuesday July 9th, join WoW for a "Picnic in the Country" at the idyllic Kildara Farms with Fresh View Events in North Saanich. Our networking event will take place on picnic blankets spread on the grass, so be sure to dress appropriately! Showcase Sponsors include Karen McNeil Photography, Love Notes, Good For You Catering, and Sei Bella Sugaring Spa. RSVP now!


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