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Green UNH couples vie for free wedding

Contributing Writer

Published: Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

Like many young couples today, Jim Gouin and Liz Beaudoin could really use a free wedding; but unlike most couples Gouin and Beaudoin might just have a shot. Last month the couple was selected to be among five finalists in the Green Wedding Giveaway, an annual contest hosted by Clay Hill Farm.

"The message of the contest is about green connectedness and how couples can explore the parallel between their commitment to the earth and their commitment to each other," says Jennifer Lewis-McShera, the contest's director and manager of Clay Hill Farm, a 200-seat restaurant and function center in York, ME. "Through the contest each couple explores their own shade of green."

In addition to a reception for up to 100 guests, the grand prize includes flowers, invitations, and photography by local vendors, who Lewis-McShera says work to uphold their own environmental accountability.

Gouin, a recent UNH graduate, and Beaudoin, a current senior, say that over the years they have worked to integrate green habits into their everyday lifestyle. They cite shutting off lights and computers, biking, and using reusable water bottles, as simple choices that have helped to reduce their impact on the environment, and they encourage others to do the same.

"Everybody can commit themselves to more green actions," says Gouin. "There's some political statement associated with green and really this contest isn't about that at all. It doesn't matter where you lay... anybody can take steps to be more green."

The couple attributes much of this environmental consciousness to their time at UNH and to the university's environmental initiatives such as the annual Spring Break Challenge. Beaudoin says she first got into the habit of turning off her appliances while living in Hubbard Hall during her freshman year.

"It really only makes sense to bring these same green habits into our own wedding,

 she said. "You see time and again: people get in their minds ‘a wedding, it's just one day', but there's a lot of waste that can come from weddings."

In the end, it may very well be these same ties to UNH that help the couple succeed. The voting for the contest takes place online and anyone with an email address is eligible to vote. Gouin and Beaudoin have been campaigning relentlessly on campus, sending dozens of emails to students asking for votes and canvassing support from nearly everyone they meet. In addition to scouring the student directory, Gouin took to advertising on whiteboards around campus and says he spent hours running from building to building in the rain in order to get the word out.

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