July 25, 2020
If you’ve already seen my website, you probably noticed that sustainability plays a big roll in my business. The idea of reducing our carbon footprint has become more apparent in our daily lifestyles. People are looking more and more for eco-friendly alternatives to substitute into their daily routines. I thought photography and the wedding industry as a whole was a unique approach to this lifestyle.
So… why not make the first post a mini guide on how to have a sustainable wedding, and explain how it really isn’t as hard as it may look! I’m currently planning a wedding myself, so I totally understand the stress that can go into all of this. So I am here to give you a few tips on how to make this as easy as possible while keeping it eco-friendly.
When it comes to wedding planning and sustainability, the venue is one of the most important things you can look at. You want to look at how reception is held, and how things will be served. When searching for a venue, opening up that dialect and voicing your concerns is super important. Reason being, you are immediately going to know if they have to save views as you or are willing to work with you.
Asking a few simple questions such as:
What type of glassware is served? Are bar beverages served in a plastic or reusable cups? Are the plates and utensils reusable or plastic? Do they have paper or cotton napkins? Is a water station/bar area provided or will there be plastic water bottles?
These questions will easily tell you if this particular venue will be able to accommodate you. You also want to look and see if the venue has an on-site catering company or not. If venue has a caterer, you’ll want to check in about the food as well.
I have to shout out my venue because they deserve it. I’m currently working with Terrain at Styers and they have been incredible. They have two locations (Glen Mills and Devon) both located outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They have been on board with all of my decisions when it comes to sustainability, have been so understanding and done so much to make swaps so that we are not creating any waste on our wedding day.
Going green doesn’t mean the food has to sacrifice its taste! Farm-to-table dining has been popular for quite some time now, so ethically sourced ingredients are easier to locate. There are a couple of different ways you can approach an eco-friendly diet on your wedding day:
If you are using an on-site catering company, you’ll want to make sure they are using locally grown ingredients. If there is not an on-site catering company, look into small businesses/caterers that already use locally grown ingredients. A question you may immediately have is, well isn’t that more expensive? While yes, organic material tends to be more expensive, local in-season products are not. So asking your caterer to source in-season, local ingredients guarantees freshness and keeps costs down. Also, when you source locally, it needs less packaging for transportation, so our Mother Earth thanks us for that. It also cuts back on emissions to transport products, so a win-win for us all!
Along with ingredients, you’ll want to look at the menu you are serving as a whole. A vegan diet is much more sustainable than a diet that contains dairy, meat and fish. There’s a ton of vegan alternatives to those delicious, savory and even hearty meals you may be used to. Vegan doesn’t mean flavorless!
This is a little on the unknown side, and very new to the wedding world. But there are composting services out there and many do weddings! (I hired a composting company for my wedding, Bennett Compost. They are located in the Philadelphia area). There is so much unnecessary food waste at weddings. Food gets thrown into the trash and sent to our landfills where it cannot properly break down. Composting guarantees all of your food scraps go right back into our earth to break down into beautiful soil. You can even look into donating your food! A lot of food banks will pick up untouched food and sometimes caterers have worked with food banks and know of someone to call.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘eco-friendly attire’ is secondhand, or wearing something your mother or grandmother wore. If you love the idea of wearing your mothers dress, but don’t necessarily enjoy the style, talk to a seamstress! They can help transform the gown into your vision. Another option is to check out a consignment boutique or small shop. If you don’t love the idea of wearing something secondhand, find a company that uses eco-friendly fabrics (cotton, linen, etc).
The option to rent a suit rather than buy new has always been a favorite. If you’re not interested in renting and want a custom/new suit, locate a brand that uses sustainable fabrics.
Select a color palette, and shop vintage or at consignment boutiques to find mismatched gowns! If you’re looking for something more specific, look into brands that use sustainable materials.
Opt for an e-invite! Wedding websites are so in depth now and contain all the information you’d find on a paper invitation. If you don’t like the idea of an online invitation and wish to print, check out a company that using recycled paper. You can always send out a paper invitation and have the RSVP, menu and details online (that’s what my fiance and I did. We wanted a paper invitation but didn’t want a ton of paper waste. We used Minted to print our invitations).
Instead of buying single use party favors, give your guests something they can keep. Etsy is a great place to start! You can buy mini succulents, vintage shot glasses, stamped canvas bags (use these bags for the dessert station so people can take dessert home), a bulk candy bar, and so much more.
The process of buying online and shipping can get wasteful pretty quickly. Instead of creating a gift registry, create an online wedding fund! This makes for a super easy eco friendly wedding alternative! Have your guests skip the gift and give you money towards making memories, a flight/airbnb/meal on your honeymoon, a down payment on a home, or for savings. Wedding websites are a great platform to use because you can create categories for your guests, that way they can choose where their money is going. This helps your guests feel like they aren’t just blindly handing over money and gives them the opportunity to choose what they give money towards. Wedding Wire, The Knot, Zola and Minted are all online wedding website/registry options.
Super simple: use local greens and flowers from local growers! The first step is to communicate with your florist. There’s some back end wasteful things that go into creating floral displays, bouquets, etc. so if you’re fully communicating with your florist, they’ll be able to educate you on alternatives to keep it sustainable. It’s also great keep in mind of the flowers and greens you’d like in your bouquet and what season they bloom, as in season is the most sustainable.