If you are a wedding officiant chances are greater than ever that the couple might ask you to perform a wedding that is environmentally friendly. The unique philosophy of the Universal Life Church (ULC) often places their officiants at the center of the wedding preparations, instead of simply being a participant. Many ULC couples embrace a green lifestyle and want leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.
So what does one do if you are presented with such a request? Here are a few pointers:
* It’s more than recycling – everything connected with the wedding is either made of recycled materials, or recycled afterwards, or both. But the important thing to do for the environment is to get the message of sustainability across. So the green wedding must not only demonstrate recycling, but also demonstrate its message in a fun and original way. Don’t tell – show!
* Go to the food! Perform a wedding ceremony out in nature – perhaps on a scenic organic farm or even a vineyard, if you’re in wine country. These days there are many organic community food co-operatives who have beautiful gardens. Having your wedding ceremony in such a setting will minimize the fossil fuels needed to bring in food, especially if it could be a vegetarian wedding, since many ULC members are vegetarian anyway.
* Show the lifestyle of the farm laborers: Since community food co-op members perform the farm work themselves, they are not ‘laborers’ in the strict sense, but farmer-owners of the enterprise. But even on an organic farm – why not invite some of the people who produce the food to participate in a small dedication ceremony? For instance, the wedding officiant could briefly ask for a blessing on the hands that helped grow the food. This will give extra meaning (and taste!) to the food.
* Don’t destroy in order to decorate: There are so many beautiful things in nature – so why truck in flowers (or even fly them in from Holland)? Find local wildflowers, if they’re in season. There’s sure to be somebody in the wedding party and their families who knows how to make something beautiful out of what’s available. After all, that’s the very heart of sustainability!
* Wear and use things that have not been produced specially for the occasion. Using a hand-made pottery dinner service is low-footprint and a beautiful example of how to use the earth without putting back intoxicants into it afterwards. Wearing grandma’s wedding dress doesn’t only cut out the prodigious waste involved in wedding dresses, but is also a symbol of the continuity of our families on this earth. Come to think of it; the very wastefulness of a modern wedding is what bothers many green-minded couples – and, to be honest, the officiants who perform their weddings.
Finally, let’s take the massive “I” out of our green wedding and go back to the time when the entire village rejoiced because a couple – and potentially new children! – was being added to the community. This is how we move closer to the earth: By celebrating our humanity joyously and peacefully in the arms of Mother Earth. And this is how you can have a wedding ceremony that still stands out in the couple’s minds – and those of their friends – long after many others have been forgotten.