There are a few things you can do to reduce your impact when you’re planning to elope. With these tips for a more sustainable elopement, you can make informed decisions and help protect the environment.
As more and more people become aware of their carbon footprint, sustainability is a bigger consideration when it comes to planning their wedding day. Traditional weddings produce a ton of waste (an average of nearly 200 kg according to The Green Bride Guide), so eloping is already a huge step towards tying the knot more sustainably!
Deciding to Elope is Sustainable!
By making the decision to elope instead of throwing a big wedding, you’re already making a decision that’s much more eco-friendly!
This guide isn’t meant to shame anyone – because the truth is that just about everything we humans do has some sort of impact on the environment. Also, sustainability isn’t about being perfect. It’s about making realistic, repeatable choices.
I hope you enjoy your elopement day to the fullest, while being conscious of your impact. Don’t sweat it if you aren’t crossing off everything on the list all the time. Doing your best is enough!
Limit Your Elopement Guest List
One of the biggest things that makes an elopement much more sustainable than a big wedding is a smaller guest list. With fewer guests, you’re reducing the number of people who need to travel to get to your ceremony.
When you elope outdoors, limiting the number of guests you have (or even cutting out the guest list entirely) reduces the impact you have on the ecosystem. Grasses, meadows, and all the foliage in outdoor spaces is often more fragile than we realize, so the more people visit a place, the more damage can be done. Along with reducing the number of cars or flights, this is a big step to a sustainable elopement!
Learn About Leave No Trace for Sustainable Elopements
Leave No Trace (LNT) is huge for any outdoor elopement!
LNT is a set of 7 principles created by the Center for Outdoor Ethics to guide the way we recreate outside. A lot of harm is done because we’re unaware of how we impact the environment and the ecosystems around us, even though most people have good intentions.
These are the 7 principles, and how they relate to elopements.
- Plan ahead and prepare. – Know where you’re going. Check trail conditions. Always have extra food, water, and safety gear.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces. – Don’t go off trail. Avoid stepping on grass, flowers, or any surfaces that aren’t hard and durable (like rocks or sand).
- Dispose of waste properly. – Pack out anything you bring in. Don’t leave anything that wasn’t there to begin with. Avoid confetti, balloons, flower petals, rice, and any other items that aren’t naturally found in that environment. Even if they’re biodegradable, this can disrupt ecosystems and be dangerous for wildlife!
- Leave what you find. – Don’t take anything with you (unless you see some trash along the way). Shells, flowers, and cool leaves can be tempting, but if everyone took something, these outdoor spaces would look a lot different.
- Minimize campfire impacts. – Check fire restrictions and only make campfires where it’s allowed. Be safe and put out all embers before you leave!
- Respect wildlife. – Keep your distance and remember that you’re in their home.
- Be considerate of other visitors. – Don’t block trails or walkways. No loud music. Follow all regulations for your elopement location.
Thrift and Borrow What You Can
A lot of the time, you can hit up local thrift stores and find some amazing decorations! You can ask friends or family members about borrowing things as well.
Also considering donating what you’ve used after your elopement day. Wedding attire and accessories can be donated if you aren’t saving or re-selling them. You can also donate flowers to hospitals or nursing homes.
Avoid Buying Items You Won’t Use Again
One of the biggest things you can do for a more sustainable elopement day is to avoid single use items or things that you won’t use after you’re married. Those “just married” signs can be cute, but will you use them after the elopement? Decorations that you won’t need after your wedding day contribute to a lot of waste – so try to stick to things you’ll use again… or thrift these items when possible!
Look for Eco-Friendly Elopement Vendors
The people you hire for your elopement can make a huge difference when it comes to sustainability! Booking vendors who are aware of Leave No Trace principles and who run their own businesses ethically is important.
As a LNT informed elopement photographer, part of my job is to help couples learn about LNT and how it applies to their specific location. Different spots can have different rules and requirements. I help with elopement planning as well, so if you’re ready to plan your day, I’ll guide you through the process and give you tips for a sustainable elopement!
Contact me to get started on your eco-friendly wedding day, and let’s plan a sustainable adventure!