Do you know how much waste happens in one year with weddings? According to botanicalpaperworks.com, "The Green Bride Guide states that the average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day."
Today, I wanted to give you some ideas on how to have an eco-friendly wedding, specifically an eco-friendly elopement. Elopements in general produce less waste, because there are less guests than a traditional wedding. But there are still ways to help the environment even if you are eloping!
The elopements I like to photograph most are adventure elopements. So we are gonna be outside on public lands. One of the most important things to know and to start with is to familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace. It is a set of 7 principles to help preserve the beauty in nature and it's functions so it can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come. Click here to learn how to Leave No Trace on your elopement day!
So if the plan is to be on those lands of national parks, state parks, national forests, etc, it is best to contact them (usually phone call is best) to obtain the proper permit to be able to get married on those lands. There may be restrictions in certain areas, so be sure to see if there are any so no one harms the land even more. And bring your permit with you in case a ranger wants to see it.
Another good thing to do is to carpool with your guests. Less cars makes it easier to park, and there's less emissions to get to the same spot. Especially if we are meeting at a hiking trail, there is usually limited parking, so the fewer amount of cars, the better.
If you are planning to have a decent amount of guests, a cute idea is to find some recycled paper invites! There are lots of resources out there to find more eco-friendly things, like this one! Or if you don't want to hassle with that, there are online platforms out there that will allow you to send your invites/save the dates via email! It's a quick and convenient way to see who will be attending as well.
These next few tips align well with following LNT. A good alternative to popping champagne for that champagne popping photo is to use sparkling water instead. It looks just the same as champagne, but it doesn't leave a sticky mess behind that will draw wildlife. Also, it leaves the champagne to actually drink it, instead of showering it all over the place! And don't forget to pick up that cork! You can also take the cork off before shaking, and use your thumb to cover the opening of the bottle halfway, and then you can go to town shaking it up! Then you won't have to have a scavenger hunt for the cork afterwards.
This one may trip some people up, but you know that "biodegradable" confetti? It's actually not biodegradable! It takes a ton of time to end up dissolving. And that can cause harm in the meantime. A good alternative is to use native leaves you found on the ground naturally, or if it's cleared with the land managers, bubbles may work as well! If you are having guests, make sure to tell them to not bring flower petals or confetti, because they might have been planning to surprise you with it, and not tell you until it's too late! It's just a good idea to communicate with everyone upfront, so there are no problems!
With the wildfires that happen every summer, it's a good idea to skip the smoke bombs as well. All it takes is one little mistake or one little shift in the wind to set a whole forest ablaze. A really fun alternative is to bring battery powered fairy lights! These wrap up small, and can be used instead! Plus, they make for some fun photos and a much safer environment for everyone.
The last tip I have is to do your research for your florals/bouquet. Talk to a local florist to get flowers that are in season (this will keep them cheaper, too). You will want a bouquet that won't be invasive to the environment you are gonna be in. Avoid flowers with seeds that drop along the trail, and make sure the flowers you get will hold up well for a few days, and so no petals will fall on the trail as we walk. A lot of the time if you are hiking, your bouquet will be tied into your hiking bag while your walking. So you will want to get flowers that are gonna be sturdy and ones that won't flop around too much! If you mention to your florist that you will be hiking, I'm sure they can help make it last for the elopement while following these guidelines!
And there you have it! Some tips to have an eco-friendly elopement, while also following LNT principles! If you follow along these guidelines, it will help your day go smoothly and there will be nothing to worry about! It will just be about you two having the time of your lives together!
If you have any eco-friendly wedding ideas you love, list them down below in the comments!