Say yes to nature at your wedding
For my husband and me, nature is a big part of our lives. One of our first dates was a walk in a local conservation area. We have travelled all over North America and beyond, visiting some of the most spectacular natural wonders on Earth: the Columbia Icefields, Yellowstone National Park, Tofino, British Columbia, Wyoming’s Grand Tetons and Snaefellsjokull National Park in Iceland. We also go for regular walks in our local parks, practise archery on an outdoor range and go on fishing and hiking trips.
Needless to say, when it came to planning our wedding, nature had to be a part of it. But surrounded by concrete and glass here in Canada’s largest city, how could we bring the vast, beautiful landscapes we loved into our Toronto nuptials? Well, we had to get creative. The good news is that it’s easier to do than you would think.
There was never a doubt that our engagement photos and, ultimately, our wedding photos would be taken outdoors. Toronto Parks and the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) have some of the most beautiful, natural spots to take photos. Evergreen Brick Works, with their native gardens, wetlands and historic buildings, was a great spot for us, and we had access to the adjacent forested TRCA lands as well. Check out your local park or conservation authority to see if they allow wedding photos. Taking photos in the great outdoors is an easy and affordable way to bring nature into your wedding.
Flowers and decor
Natural decor, such as fruits, locally sourced wood, acorns, pine cones and greenery, is a great way to avoid plastics and other materials that end up in landfills. I used locally sourced cranberries, gourds and pumpkins for my September wedding. These make great gifts for guests, or food for squirrels and birds after the wedding is over. Just make sure that you collect your items sustainably. Do you have a neighbour that is cutting down a dead tree? Voilà, wood for your centrepieces. Maybe you have some invasive Scotch pine on your property? Why not use the boughs and pine cones? Just make sure you dispose of them properly afterwards.
Adding native or in-season wildflowers is another way to give your urban wedding a taste of Canada’s natural beauty. Check out native plant nurseries in your area for ideas and advice.
Locally sourced, handmade favours are way better than a monogrammed photo frame made overseas. My cousin gave out homemade maple syrup for her wedding. Lacking a sugar bush, my fiancé and I went with something locally sourced: homemade Niagara peach jam. Not only does it support local community farmers and is organic, it was very tasty and also a lot of fun to make!
Another popular way to include a love of nature in your wedding is by skipping favours altogether and opting to donate to your favourite charity. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has a great wedding tribute program.
Having your ceremony outside can bring a little nature into your nuptials. In the Greater Toronto Area, places such as Ball's Falls Conservation Area, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area and the Kortright Centre for Conservation all offer beautiful outdoor ceremony locations and indoor facilities if nature does not want to cooperate, and are a short drive from the city. And the best part? Some of the money you spend on your wedding will actually go to conserving these great places and help support conservation.