I'm a big fan of many things: pizza, martinis, true crime documentaries, you know, the usual.
One thing that I really make try my best to pursue is a more sustainable life. Now listen, I am the first to say that I am nowhere near perfect when it comes to being a, let's say, Sustainable Superhero. I am, however, a big advocate for doing your best with what you've got, and I also feel pulled to spread awareness of how EASY it can be to make a HUGE difference and positive impact on the environment, and on the future of the world in general, if we just swap a few super simple bits and bobs for a more sustainable option.
Since I am an Elopement and Intimate Wedding photographer based in New Hampshire, a state that is blessed with stunning wilderness, I believe it's incredibly important for me to discuss how I, a members of an extremely prevalent industry, can do better. I also know that my couples, and you since you're here reading this, share similar values to me, which is why I decided to create this helpful resource for you as you're planning your wedding (or, honestly, any event you have coming up)!
Sustainable swaps are something I like to encourage my clients to consider on their big day to help ensure the planet is as everlastingly beautiful as their love. I also know from first-hand experience how overwhelming planning a wedding can be, and thinking about your impact on the environment may feel like the last straw on the wedding-planning camel's back.
I stand by the fact that wedding planning AND being sustainable should be FUN! There are so many options out there, which I truly understand, so my hope is that this resource helps give you a starting point - a first step, if you will - to make your journey of planning a sustainable wedding one that feels easier and more attainable.
So without further adieu, here is a list of 5 Easy Sustainable Swaps For Your Wedding.
You just vowed your love to your partner in crime, you sealed the deal with a kiss, and now you're walking back down the aisle together with your loved ones throwing rice or confetti at your heads...
This tradition is, admittedly, a fun one! It's a great physical and visual representation of your favorite people showering you with love after you tie the knot! Unfortunately, rice and standard confetti are far from being environmentally-conscious. Birds and animals aren't always supposed to consume rice, and it's also not native to the area where your ceremony is being held. Instead, an easy swap could be making your own confetti out of dried leaves or flowers that are local and native to the area you're getting hitched in! Just check out your local art store for fun hole punches, collect local leaves/flower pedals, and get punchin' that confetti!
Alternatively, you can invite your guests to throw bird seed, blow bubbles as you walk down the aisle, or have them hold up little fabric streamers on wands, which you can resell afterwards to another couple looking for a great sustainable swap! For something a little more extravagant, you could opt to place mini tambourines on everyone's seat for them to shake and play as you and your new spouse recess down the aisle after saying "I do!"
Consider having bubbles for your photos like one of my past couples, Austyn + Michael, did!
Photo by The Francis Frames
Okay, I am a HUGE fan of a giant-ass bouquet! The amount of comments I received on how big my own bridal bouquet was made me beam with pride! Yet I get so sad at the thought of all those flowers going straight in the trash afterwards :(
If you would like to opt for fresh flowers, try your best to work with a local florist, especially one who has an eco-conscious brand! What do I mean by that? Some florists still use that green flower foam when making floral arrangements, even though it's not great for the planet. Eco-conscious florists opt to use a chicken wire-looking substitute, which is less harmful for the environment! My fav florist, Sam from Moonflower Designs just moved from Boston to Seattle :( BUT she's still definitely worth checking out for some inspo! Her Instagram is also so fascinating, inspiring, and educational for couples planning a wedding, so be sure to check her out!
You could also use potted plants and/or succulents as decor on tables, which can double as wedding favors! Another option is to re-use that big beautiful bouquet of yours by sending it to be dried and framed, or made into coasters or ring holders with resin! If you, or a friend, is good with crafts, you could DIY it yourself! One of my best friends learned how to dry flowers to use my bouquet in a frame with a photo from our big day in it, and it came out beautifully! There are SO many small businesses that will use your bouquet and make coasters out of them by using resin - check out Posy Floral on Etsy (@posy.floral on insta) for modern floral preservation inspiration!
Another way you could reuse your fresh flowers after your wedding day to be more sustainable is by donating them to a local nursing home! This idea truly makes my heart grow three times its size, I swear 🥲 You would certainly spread the love by sharing your florals with folks at a nursing home - it would make their day!
If you're hoping to go down the faux flower route, please proceed with caution! Many faux florals are made entirely out of plastic, which means TONS of waste and toxins are created during their production, and it also means that they will outlast YOU on this planet, which we definitely don't want. Instead, look for paper flowers (there are some that look SO freaking realistic, like the ones in the photo below!)
If you're looking for an option that is a good combination of the two, look into dried flowers for your bouquet and decor! Dried flowers can last for years in your home afterwards, and can also be repurposed in similar ways to fresh flowers after the wedding if you so choose!
Also, it's important to note that not all silk flowers are made equally! If you opt for silk flowers, make sure they are made from actual silk, and not polyester and plastic!
Custom sola wood flowers from @thepaisleymoon on Etsy for a past bride.
Photo by The Francis Frames
If you choose to include wedding favors on your day, give some thought about what people will actually want and/or use. If it's a plastic-filled trinket that you're including just to have a favor, I would suggest skipping it. Not only will you save time and money, but you will also cut back on unnecessary waste.
Here are some favors that I think are cool and would be more than happy to receive as a wedding favor:
Herb Garden Grow Kits (so cute!)
Custom Cotton Tote Bags
Customized Coffee Beans (seriously, these are so cool!)
Customizable Soy Wax Candles in Glass Jars with Cotton Wicks
Potted plants that one of my past couples, Amanda + Mike, handed out as favors.
Photo by The Francis Frames
SAVE THE DATES & INVITATIONS
I'm not going to lie, I love receiving a good save-the-date and/or wedding invitation in the mail. It's such a fun way to set the tone for what the vibe of your wedding is going to be like, and it always amps up your guests' excitement! However, after the wedding, I know it's SO common for Save the Dates and invitations to be thrown away in the trash. Cue the tears from how much time + money you spent on making them perfect, right?!
A more environmentally-friendly (and cost friendly) option is to send online invitations! I feel like e-vites can be deemed 'boring,' HOWEVER, I am pleased to de-bunk that myth! A lot of wedding websites offer the option to send out invitations and will track RSVPs as well. ALSO, I have found the coolest website that I WISH I had known about when my husband, Tre, and I were planning our wedding called Greenvelope! They create a similar experience to opening a physical wedding invitation, yet it all takes place online! The invitations they provide have been designed by artists from all around the world, and still allow you the flexibility to customize the fonts, colors, photos, layouts, etc! They even have a selection of invitations to be sent out for wedding showers bach parties, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, and even baby showers, graduations, birthdays - literally any and every event! Definitely check them out and consider using them as a sustainable swap! (Also, this is 100% NOT sponsored, although I wish it were haha!)
If you would like to opt for printed invitations, I encourage you to look into eco-conscious companies that print on recycled paper, or perhaps ones that print them on paper that your guests can plant rather than throwing away! This will allow your guests to grow some wildflowers at the same that your love grows for your partner (awwwwww!) Just remember - the seeds should be local!
SMALLER WEDDINGS = SMALLER AMOUNTS OF WASTE
While it may be tempting to invite every person you've ever been friends with, downsizing your wedding means downsizing the cost and, with that, the waste from your big day as well. If you want an easy way to save money and to have a more sustainable wedding, opt to invite fewer guests to attend it. I say 'easy,' but I know this can be tricky for some couples! Do your best to focus on inviting your closest, favorite people, and remember that having a more intimate wedding will allow you both to spend quality time with the guests you have invited, which makes your day - and their experience - even more special.
I hope this journal entry has inspired you to get creative and think of ways to make your big day more eco-conscious! These 5 sustainable swaps for your wedding may take a little extra time to research, but knowing that your wedding day won't have as much of a negative impact on the earth will make the little extra time and energy SO worth it!
If you're looking for more inspiration for sustainable swaps, I've created a Pinterest Board with tons of ideas for each of these sustainable dupes! So feel free to save this post, share it on social media to inspire others, and let me know what YOUR favorite sustainable swaps for weddings are in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and speak soon!
The Francis Frames