Monday, July 28, 2014

Our Small Footprint Wedding

We, naturally, wanted our wedding day to be a reflection of who we are.  Who doesn't?  Living lightly on the earth is as natural to Matt and I as breathing.  It is more than a lifestyle.  It is our life.  As such, we wanted to do our best to reduce or eliminate unnecessary waste from our wedding proceedings and to make the whole thing as low-impact as possible (while still as awesomely fun as possible).
It was easy enough to do, really, except for in regards to food.  Food was the tricky bit.  Not insurmountably tricky, but it was the only thing that made me scratch my head.  "What to do....what to do?"
In an ideal world I would have liked all the food to be organically raised and handmade, but its not an ideal world and I wasn't footing the bill for the food.  So, we bought it in bulk to reduce the amount of containers to dispose of (and save money, too, I suppose).  The pickles were the ones we put up last year, so they were local and in reusable containers.  The bread we bought from the bakery at a family-owned grocery store.  Matt's mom, Sharon, made both our bride-and-groom cake and cupcakes for the guests.  Matt made cashew cheeses galore (there are still some in the freezer!).  All of the food was of the sort that it would keep well in the cupboards, such as pretzels, or that we could freeze any leftovers of, such as sliced baguettes.  We still have cheese and fruit in the freezer!
We talked about using cloth napkins and then realized we'd have no use for 100+ bonus napkins once the day was over.  Plus, we'd have to buy or make them.  Then we stumbled upon paper napkins at the discount grocer made from 100 % post-consumer waste.  In addition to being made with recycled materials they could also be composted when we were through with them.  So, napkins--check!
Matt did a little research online and found a good deal on plates and forks made of compostable, sustainable materials.
We considered getting compostable cups, too, but in the end chose recyclable instead.  The compostable plastic cups typically need to be composted in a commercial setting where temperatures get higher than in our home pile.  We do not have commercial composting available where I live, except for the disposal of yard waste.  As such, cups we could recycle afterwards seemed the better bet given the limitations of our region.
Matt brewed almost all the beer for the wedding--and we named them, too:  Three Brothers Porter, Three Sisters Kolsch, Summer Solstice Ale, It's About Time Wheat Beer, and Good Times Coffee Porter.  We'd had our friends saving bottles for us all year so we could bottle up all the wedding beer.  We did end up buying some Coors and Bud Light because some people just don't like exploring the beer palate and just want something mild and familiar.  Also, when we did the taste test of the wedding homebrews shortly before the big day there was a couple batches that were inexplicably overcarbonated--the Nuts in Love Brown Ale and the I Do Double IPA.  Like, foam-over-the-second-they-are-opened overcarbonated.  So, we bought a little extra to compensate.  The cans were recycled and the bottles either recycled or reused once again.
As to the non-food details:
My dress was second-hand.  Used is always lighter on the earth than new (not to mention a fraction of the cost).  It was my mom's dress when she married my dad in 1977.  My grandmother made it for her.  I love that.  It fit like a dream, too.
Matt's suit and shoes were also second-hand items, too.   I didn't wear shoes.
We chose white tops and khaki pants for our wedding party because we didn't want to make them buy an outfit they would never wear again.  That seems like a waste of resources--both environmental and financial--to me.
Our wedding rings were made by a friend.  In this way they were both more special to us and our money supported the independent artist who actually crafted the work.  Yay for the handmade.
We limited our decorations.  Basically, my rule was this:  if I can't use it after the wedding, I don't want it.  No streamers or big ribbons or anything.   And really, the hall was so beautiful it didn't need decorations.  So, we just had centerpieces made of canning jars with white sand and LED candles in them set on a tie-dye bandanna.  We sell bandannas--which I sew-- in our tie-dye business.  The candles we will reuse after the wedding (and already have, in fact, at the Fairytale Music Festival).  The canning jars we already had and would certainly reuse.  The sand in the jars will just get mixed into the garden.  They were simple and lovely and just what I'd envisioned.
The outdoor chapel was also unadorned aside from a couple vases of flowers on the alter.  The trees and sunshine were all the decoration we needed.
As I just mentioned we did have flowers, but again, in limited numbers.  They don't last long enough, in my opinion, to justify the resources that go into growing, cutting, and shipping them--frequently in refrigerated conditions--to their final destination.  I like perennial flowers much more than cut ones.  (But, that said, I don't mind cutting my perennials to put in a vase on the table and our wedding flowers were amazing.)
In the days following the wedding Matt sorted through all the trash which we brought home with us.  Yes, that is right.  We brought all the trash home with us.  See, we didn't want people to have to bother about sorting at the reception--Plastic cups go where?  And what about beer bottles?  Or these food scraps on my plate?  So, Matt said he would just take care of it.  I'd been fretting about what the best plan of action was and he just told me not to worry.  He'd take care of it.  And indeed he did.  (Though when Ryan learned we planned to take it all home he did put out a box for bottles near the tubs of beer so they wouldn't get all covered with food which was a good idea.).  Matt had my niece and nephew crushing aluminum cans and plastic bottles on the patio.  (They thought it was fun!)  He sorted out plates, napkins, and food for the compost pile and glass, plastic, and aluminum for the recycling bin.
End result:  Three five-gallon buckets full of actual trash for a wedding of about 130 guests.  I feel pretty darn good about that.  (And Matt is my hero.)
So, not only was it possibly the happiest day of my life, but I also didn't contribute a nasty pile of garbage destined to languish in our landfill for the rest of my life and beyond.  It made a good thing even better.  A fabulously awesome, totally Matt-and-Beth small eco-footprint wedding.  Superb.  Just superb.
All photos by Jenny Lynn Photography.

10 comments:

  1. Echoing that sentiment, superb! gorgeous happy pictures. I especially loved your take on the wedding party, white tops and khaki pants, ingenious!

    Our third daugher is getting married in six weeks time, eep! We have organised afternoon tea at a beautiful art deco hotel not far from us that is reasonably priced, we have a lady from church adding to existing flowers, the brides bouquet is very simple, and folk are car sharing. I am making her dress which ivory with butterflies dotted around in a simple wrap tea dress style so she can wear it again.

    Once again loved your picture of such a special day.

    san x

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  2. Wonderful! And beautifully told!

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  3. I am so proud of the way you and Matt care for the earth; and the wedding was precisely your style. Not to mention it was absolutely beautiful and loads of fun!

    Mamma S.

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  4. What a well thought out event, good on you both. I'm especially impressed with you guys brewing all the beer, love the names! Some lovely photos of your happy day too.

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  5. What a beautiful wedding for two beautiful people!

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  6. I adore this post. Especially the photos. What a beautiful & memorable event!

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  7. Thanks so much to each and EVERY one of you. You enrich my life from near and far!

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  8. You are amazing!! I love how absolutely elegant your wedding was.

    We are putting together a simple outdoor wedding for our second son and I have been making simple things and love your photos for more ideas. We had been playing around with the mason jars and now with your photos I am clear where we are going!

    Thanks and woohoo for such a lovely day!

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    1. I'm glad you liked the mason jar looks. It suited us and was quite simple to put together. Good luck on your son's wedding. It is quite an undertaking, but absolutely worth every effort. What a magical day we had.

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