Photo: Host a green wedding by going carbon-neutral

Lindsay and her husband

Reduce emissions with an eco-friendly wedding travel plan

If you've recently decided to tie the knot, you may have asked yourself some difficult questions, such as, "How do I plan a green wedding?" or "How can I host an eco-wedding and cut down on emissions?"

Our solution was to host a low-carbon wedding — a green wedding with fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The first step involves reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, which fit my goal to make as small an environmental footprint as possible.

There are numerous ways to lower emissions from your green wedding — everything from organic flowers to choosing recycled gold wedding bands. And I've done the web research about sustainable, low-emission wedding ideas for you.

Reduce air travel and greenhouse gas emissions

Our biggest hurdle was asking 55 family members and friends to travel by plane for hundrends — in some cases thousands — of kilometres for our big day.

Air travel is by far one of the most environmentally detrimental things you can do. Burning jet fuel releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And because this occurs mainly in the stratosphere, there are other harmful climate impacts, like the formation of water vapour and other greenhouse gases. Having settled in Vancouver, but being from Edmonton and Victoria, this posed a challenge for us to have an environmentally-friendly wedding day.

We opted to calculate the emissions of our guests' travel, then looked for ways to 'neutralize' their negative climate impact by purchasing carbon offsets.

Calculate the travel emissions of your wedding guests

First choose a carbon calculator for flights. There are lots of free, online calculators that you can use .

Once you've selected a calculator, simply input the city your guest is flying from and the city they're flying to, and the calculator will provide you with the estimated emissions. For example, a round trip flight from Edmonton to Vancouver works out to approximately 0.2 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent, and Halifax to Vancouver is approximately 1 tonne carbon dioxide equivalent.

Work your way through your guest list and don't forget to include round-trips! At this point you will have a number in carbon dioxide tonnes. Our total was about 15 tonnes, or the equivalent of driving three cars for about a year.

Purchase carbon offsets for your eco-wedding guests

There are many online options for purchasing offsets. How does it work?

When you purchase offsets, you are essentially paying someone else to make greenhouse gas reductions on your behalf with their project. The project could be a wind farm, a solar station, or another kind of green energy.

It's important to choose high quality offsets to make sure your investment is creating new reductions that would otherwise not have happened. The reductions should also be permanent, like those from renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and verified by third parties if possible.

We chose to invest in sustainable energy projects like wind power and solar power. We reasoned that it made sense to buy offsets that reduced the need for fossil fuels, given that our emissions were created by burning fossil fuels.

Making your wedding celebration low-carbon is really no different than budgeting for details like flowers or a wedding cake. You can choose to focus on one area of high impact, like air travel emissions, or you can try to calculate the emissions from the entire event.

You'll probably be surprised by how interested your guests are in your efforts, and how supportive they are.

For more information on carbon offsets for your green wedding, check out or carbon offsets information page .

Have fun planning your carbon-neutral green wedding

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