How to Plan a Sustainable Elopement – Eco Friendly Wedding Tips

Planning Resources

December 19, 2021

There are a lot of perks to eloping instead of planning a big wedding – and one of them is that elopements are much more sustainable, and better for the environment!

According to The Green Bride Guide, the average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage, and 63 tons of Carbon Dioxide. Those are pretty mind boggling numbers. When you choose to elope, you’re already minimizing so much of that impact – by cutting out catering and silverware for 200, decorations and centerpieces that you’ll never use again, and  the big electricity-sucking venue, the amount of waste and the carbon footprint of your wedding day drops significantly! But, there are some important steps that you can take to plan a sustainable elopement, and to make sure your wedding day is as eco-friendly as possible.

Pin this photo to plan a sustainable wedding!

Why Do Sustainable Elopements Matter?

Before we get into tips for a sustainable elopement, why does this matter?

Of course, it’s a big deal because of the environment – we humans often have a bigger impact than we realize. While most people don’t have bad intentions, when you’re exploring outdoors there can be a lot of damage when we aren’t aware of how we affect the world around us.

Another big reason that it’s important to learn about sustainable elopements and how to reduce your environmental impact on your elopement day is that it ensures that elopements can continue to exist. Eloping has exploded in popularity the past few years, and as more and more couples realize that they can get married the way they want to, more ceremonies are taking place outside – in parks, on trails, and in outdoor recreation areas. I definitely believe this is a good thing – every couple deserves a wedding day they love. But, with more visitation and more ceremonies, people who are uninformed and unaware of their impact can cause damage to the land. This leads to closures, and many parks have already begun to limit where elopements can take place, and even if ceremonies are allowed at all. By planning a sustainable elopement and being responsible while on public land, you ensure that these beautiful places stay open, and that couples can continue getting married in amazing spots!

Tips for a Sustainable Elopement

Throughout the planning process and on your actual elopement day, here are some eco-friendly wedding tips to ensure a sustainable elopement!

Learn About LNT

One of the most important things you can do for a sustainable elopement is to learn about LNT (which stands for Leave No Trace). LNT is a set of 7 principles created to inform people about their impact on the outdoors, and they’re good to keep in mind anytime you’re out in nature.

Here are the 7 principles, and how they can relate to your elopement!

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare – make sure you have a map of your hiking trail and that you’re familiar with where you’re going. Be ready with safety gear and extra food and water, and familiarize yourself with the specific LNT rules for your elopement location.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – do not go off trail! Wildflowers, grass, and other foliage take a long time to grow, and a short time to be destroyed by a footstep. Stay on trails, rocks, and hard surfaces.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out) – don’t leave anything behind that wasn’t there before, and if you see litter along the way, do your part and pick it up!
  • Leave What You Find – don’t take anything with you. Shells, flowers, leaves, and rocks can be tempting, but if everyone took something, our outdoor spaces would look really different.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts – be aware of any current fire restrictions, and only make campfires in spots where it’s allowed. Always practice campfire safety!
  • Respect Wildlife – remember, this is where they live. Keep your distance, for your safety and theirs.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors – when you elope, you usually don’t rent the place like you would with a venue. You’re sharing it with other people, so don’t block trails, play loud music, or disrupt the peace.

Reuse Your Wedding Attire

One of the best ways to help the environment is with slow fashion, thrifting, and buying second hand. Slow fashion is clothing designed to last – with quality construction, environmentally friendly materials, and sustainable production. Wedding dresses, and often wedding suits, are usually only worn once, which means a lot of resources go into making an outfit that won’t be reused.

But, you can combat the environmental effects in a few ways. First, you can find second hand wedding dresses and suits at thrift stores, online, and sometimes in stores. You can also rent instead of buying a new outfit, or donate your attire after your elopement day! Brides for a Cause is one great place to donate or get second hand dresses. If your elopement is more casual, many couples actually find outfits that they can wear again, like a white sundress or some dress pants with a nice button up that can be worn in the future.

Avoid buying something that won’t ever be worn again, and encourage your guests to do the same by wearing what they already have!

Think About Your Food

Everyone’s gotta eat, so when you have a meal on your elopement day, opt for locally sourced foods. Transporting food from other places takes a ton of energy and fossil fuels, so buying local is one of the best things you can do for a sustainable elopement! If you have any leftovers, save them for later or compost them instead of throwing them away.

Get Ethical Wedding Rings

Diamond mining has both social and environmental impacts that a lot of people aren’t aware of! When you shop for wedding rings, look for ethically sourced diamonds. Look for companies that are honest about how they source their diamonds, and opt for rings that are ethically made!

Forgo Paper Invites

Instead of sending out paper invitations to your elopement guests, you can send invites online! Another alternative is to find stationery that’s made with recycled materials – and encourage your guests to recycle their invites too.

Find Local Florals

Like food, sourcing flowers from all over the globe uses a ton of energy for transporting them to you. A great way to create a sustainable elopement bouquet, boutonniere, or some floral decorations is to find locally sourced flowers. When you’re looking for a florist, be sure to ask them about this!

Another thing to keep in mind with flowers is that while they are biodegradable, contrary to popular belief, it’s not harmless to leave them on the ground when you’re outdoors. Anything that doesn’t belong there has the potential to damage ecosystems and harm wildlife, so avoid tossing petals or leaving behind any flowers. Some elopement locations also have rules about certain flowers – many species that drop seeds or petals easily aren’t allowed in sensitive environments.

Hire Vendors Who Care About Sustainable Elopements

A huge way to plan a more sustainable elopement is to hire vendors who are on board! With everything from florists to photographers, working with people who are passionate about the outdoors and preserving the environment is the best thing you can do. 

As an elopement photographer, a big part of my job is helping couples plan their elopement day – which includes making sure that we’re all in the loop about the LNT rules, environmental concerns, and anything you need to know about your specific elopement location!

If you’re ready to plan your eco-friendly elopement day, get in touch!

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Mary Andrikus is a Southeast Asian photographer and believes that Black Lives matter and always; all bodies are beautiful; LGBTQ+ individuals should have the right to respect and full equality; nature should be accessible to everyone; and business is political.

Mary Andrikus does not and shall not discriminate folks of any race, body size, ability, gender identity, creed, sexual orientation, age, religions and national origin.