As Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and retired entrepreneur John Kidder looked at each other at the altar of Christ Church Cathedral on Monday, May wiped a single tear from her soon-to-be husband’s face.
It was an act of tenderness that punctuated a day of gentle care and attention to each other, their guests and the planet in an environmentally friendly Earth Day wedding.
“We pledge here to be married heart to heart, mind to mind, body to body, true nature to true nature, giving up our small selves and taking loving refuge in each other, extending loving kindness to all things,” they recited to each other after saying their individual vows.
About 600 friends and family applauded the couple during a ceremony presided over by the Right Reverend Logan McMenamie, which began with an Indigenous welcome by Norman Garry Sam and the Woman Warrior Song performed by Racelle Kooy.
May, who was escorted down the aisle by daughter Victoria Cate May Burton, wore a two-piece, ivory-coloured dress with a three-quarter-length sleeve jacket in the same material, created by Sue Earle of Salt Spring Island. The dress was designed to represent spring, with handmade tulips, peonies and ferns on the bottom of the dress giving it a garden effect.
May, who wore a head wreath of flowers, stood with Burton, maids of honour Karen Morgan and Debra Eindiguer, and stepdaughters Nadya Burton and Jo MacArthur.
Kidder, who wore a cream-coloured suit and white shirt with yellow socks, stood with best man Peter Ladner, a former Vancouver city councillor. Grandchildren, of which the couple now have a combined 11, took part as ring bearers and flower girls.
As church bells rang out, May and Kidder emerged from the cathedral just after 1 p.m. smiling, kissing for the crowd and greeting those gathered, before getting into the backseats of an electric-powered Tesla, and were whisked off to a potluck reception in Sidney.
The so-called “Elizabeth & John’s Big Fat Green Wedding” was an environmentally friendly affair, including a bus that was chartered to transfer family and guests from Vancouver to the cathedral. The bus was also set to transport guests and the wedding couple back to Vancouver.
A fleet of electric-powered vehicles loaned by the Electric Vehicle Club of Victoria, led by the Tesla, ferried the wedding party and guests to the reception at Mary Winspear Community Cultural Centre in Sidney.
Flowers that filled the cathedral were “repurposed” from Easter Sunday, head wreaths of flowers for the bride and wedding party were locally gathered, and the reception for about 500 was potluck. In lieu of gifts, the newlyweds suggested donations to three charities. The honeymoon will be a train trip from Vancouver to Ottawa.
Rather than have friends fly in, the newlyweds will hold receptions in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Margaree, Cape Breton, to reduce the wedding’s carbon footprint.
Guests at the nuptials included environmentalists David Suzuki and Vicky Husband, Grand Chief Stewart Philip, singers Valdy and Bill Henderson, Senator Pat Carney, politicians such as Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, former MPs Pat Martin, Jim Manly, David Anderson, Svend Robinson and Stephen Owen, current Green MLAs including Andrew Weaver, Green federal candidates and authors, including Des Kennedy.
Kidder, 71, a retired technology entrepreneur, operates a hops farm on his family’s Ashcroft property. He is the brother of the late actor Margot Kidder, best known for her 1978 role as Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie, and Annie Kidder with People for Education, which promotes public schooling.
Kidder was married for 34 years and has been a widower for about 10 years.
At the reception, Kidder serenaded May with his version of The Best is Yet to Come, popularized by Frank Sinatra.
Kidder will be the federal Green Party candidate in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Valley in the October general election. He joked at the reception that he plans to tell voters: “If you don’t elect me, I’ll never see my wife again.”
In 1983, Kidder was one of the founders of the Green Party of B.C., the first Green party in North America. He ran as a federal Liberal candidate in the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding in 2011 and as a provincial Green Party candidate in the Fraser-Nicola riding in the 2013 B.C. Election.
At the reception, Sylvia Olsen, mother of Green Saanich North MLA Adam Olsen, told how she encouraged Kidder to ask May out on a date.
May, 64, who has never been married, said when she first met Kidder six years ago, she knew they were meant to be together.
“John Kidder just saved my life,” said May, an environmentalist, author and lawyer who moved to Sidney in 2010, and was elected the following year as MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “He’s made me happier than I’ve ever been in my whole life. I love him more than the moon, the stars, the sun.
“I know for sure the best is yet to come.”