EDMOND — What better place to have a "green wedding” than a Green Sanctuary? Virginia Benson and Nelson Daniel said their environmentally friendly nuptials scheduled for today are an extension of a new program at their ministry, Channing Unitarian Universalist Church, 2800 W 15 St. One might say the couple has become faithfully green. "Our motto is reduce, reuse and recycle, and the more you do, the more green it is,” Benson said of the wedding. Daniel, 45, said the wedding and other eco-friendly efforts at the Edmond church go hand in hand with the belief that members of the faith community have a responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth. "There is a larger movement of stewardship of all creation,” he said. The groom is the chairman of the church's quest for Green Sanctuary accreditation with the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, an affiliate of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. His Green Sanctuary committee has completed several projects toward that goal, including a monthlong sermon series in April in conjunction with Earth Day, and it provides environmental information for use in the church's newsletter. Also, Daniel said the church has started composting and recently started using real dishes instead of cups and plates made of plastic foam and paper. Daniel said as church members enthusiastically embraced the program, he came up with the idea to go green as he and Benson say "I do.” Benson, 47, said she is a member of Daniel's committee and loved the idea. After becoming engaged in July 2007, the couple attended a local bridal fair and began to look at bridal magazines. Benson said she was a bit troubled by some of the conspicuous consumption that was evidenced. Benson and Daniel both have been married before, and she said she wanted to do something different. She said they began to look for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle as they made their wedding plans. She said the book "Eco-Chic Weddings” became her bible of sorts as she made arrangements and conducted research. Eventually, the entire church began to help with the wedding. Congregation members agreed to provide services such as photography, and some are allowing out-of-town guests to stay at their homes. "This is a family church, and this is becoming a family wedding,” Benson said. The bride said most people have been excited about the green wedding, which will be in the church's garden. Others not familiar with the concept have been curious and intrigued. She said the wedding is a way to educate the public about ways to simplify and "green” just about anything. She said a few people mistakenly thought they might have to wear green-color clothing to the wedding or that she would be wearing burlap or spun hemp. Benson said she quickly informed them neither was the case. "It doesn't mean you have to have a bare-bones wedding,” she said. "It just means you have to be creative.” Here's a breakdown of some of the measures the couple have taken to make their wedding eco-friendly: •Rings: The couple recycled old gold and gems to help pay for the new rings. The bride will be wearing one ring instead of two. The ring was made of recycled gold, fair-trade Canadian diamonds and fair-labor-mined Australian sapphire. Five percent of the cost of the ring will go to African communities. The groom's ring is titanium. •Invitations: Electronic invitations were sent, and paper invitations were mailed only to people without e-mail addresses. An account with the I Do Foundation Web site was set up to invite guests and keep them informed. •Food: Edible ornament arrangements will be used for decorations and part of reception menu. Also, compostable products will be used to serve food; the cutlery and plates are made from potato starch and corn. •Flowers: The outdoor wedding aisle will be decorated with planters made of recycled materials containing live flowers that will be planted at the church after the wedding. •Transportation: A certified high-efficiency, low-emission car is being rented for honeymoon travel. •Seating: Guests will sit on hay bales covered with white towels. The towels will be donated to a local homeless shelter after the wedding. The hay bales are being loaned by horse owners who lease property from the church and will be returned to them after the event.
Nelson Daniel and Virginia Benson stand at the site of their "green wedding,” which is planned for today at Channing Unitarian Universalist Church in Edmond. By Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman