Canadian Wedding with a German/Swiss Twist

Four months before my July wedding I was inundated with the same comment from almost every female I encountered: “Oh you must be so busy!” Further into the conversation always came the question, “Is it difficult planning a wedding from overseas?” I was living with my fiancé in Switzerland, for the hockey season (August- April) and was getting married in Montreal, Canada, on July 9th.  For a while my answers remained the same: “No, not really”.  I didn’t understand what was so hard about planning a wedding, even from another country.  We picked the venue the last time we were in Canada, I ordered my dress from a shop near my house in Switzerland (planning to haul it home on the plane), I googled photographers, cake makers, bridesmaid dresses, floral ideas- and felt totally confident that the internet was the only tool I needed.  Until it came time to order invitations . . .

Who could have imagined that there were so many different types of wedding invitations?  The textures, the fabrics, the bling, the prices!  I hadn’t a clue where to start and found myself, for the first time, feeling the stress that everyone had been expecting me to feel. All I wanted was to be able to physically walk into a shop and look through sample invitations, you know, the old-fashioned way.  Unless I wanted German invites however, I was going to have to spend hours upon hours scrolling through digital pictures and emailing paper companies back home with questions like “How green is that green really?” and “ Is that string looking thing like a twine or a plastic?”  The whole process was getting out of hand, and just before I was about to cry out to my bridesmaids back in Canada and beg them to just go to a store and decide for me, I figured out just what to do.

The wedding was to have an eco-friendly, outdoorsy vibe.  I am an animal and environment lover so a lakeside wedding on the grounds of Swiss-style chalet in the Laurentian Mountains was the perfect setting.  When climbing through the vast jungle of invitations however, aside from the number of choices, I also came upon a moral dilemma: did I really even want to buy all this paper and superfluous bling for 150 people? Not really.

If there is one thing I have gained from living in Germany and Switzerland, it is a new perspective on the environment and excessiveness.  Sure, being yelled at the first time by a neighbor in Germany who discovered I had thrown a cardboard box into the trash, or heaven forbid a glass bottle in with the metal recycling, was not the easiest way to learn, but now I really appreciate the lessons.   Europeans in general are known for being environmentally savvy. Swiss and German people don’t mind what many North Americans may deem to be inconvenient, like separating all the different recycling, turning the car off while waiting at rail crossings, or living without air conditioning.  So to face my invitation dilemma I put my German thinking-cap on, went back to Google, and came upon the perfect solution: Seed paper! It is made with recycled paper and has seeds engrained in it.  You can get wild flower seed paper and even herb seed paper. And you actually plant them! Not only was the idea perfectly green, but the invites were beautiful, and our guests loved them.  Many were amazed at the unique concept, and of course just how oh-so romantic it all was.

Once I got my Swiss bridal gown on board our April flight, we arrived home in Canada and it was all wedding all the time.  My experience with the invitations really helped keep me grounded and focused on what was important throughout the rest of the frantic planning.  Instead of  the customary box of candy or candle holder wedding favour, we opted for a donation to the Humane Society in my home town of Winnipeg, and heart shaped bird feeders. When the day came, my future husband and I stood hand and hand under the warm July sun, a tiny red rose in my hair, a matching one on his lapel, knowing that it was the perfect day.  We had the green grass, the blue lake, the rolling foot hills, a grand chalet, and it all felt so appropriate.  We were so pleased to be able to show our Canadian friends and family, as well as our special guests from Europe, such a great time on our big day.  Because once the roses dry out and the cake is all gone, it is the love felt and and fun had that will remain in peoples’ minds . .   and the wildflowers each spring to remind them.