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Weddings are glorious days filled with enchantment no matter how big or small the ceremony. However, they are also full of a lot of waste! It’s very easy to get carried away planning your big day and forget about the aftermath our nuptials have on the Earth.
As we get more and more Earth-conscious, couples are opting for more eco-friendly weddings but sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin.
In this sustainable wedding shoot we show you easy ways to create a ceremony as loving to the Earth as it is to your partner and guests.
Not only will you have fun planning it but you’ll breath a sigh of relief when it’s over knowing that you’ve done your part!
The venue will set the tone for the entire event so it’s always best to get that nailed down first.
For this shoot we chose The Doyle, which is a rustic industrial space in downtown Las Vegas that was built in 1949. Filled with beautiful natural light, this rustic industrial space has barrel ceilings, original wood trusses, white washed walls, and a large courtyard.
It’s truly an artistic-run event space and that believes in honoring people’s visions. Steven Spann is a post-consumption, social practice artist, Mary Ellen Spann is a jazz vocalist (find her here on Spotify) and Maye Spann (who is only 6 years old) has a Youtube channel where she recycles last week’s leftovers into this week’s creations.
Further setting this venue apart is the fact that they provide furniture and decor for you when you rent out the space. This helps cut down on renting items that would cost you truck rental prices and the gas back and forth to haul them.
The space offers everything from couches, chairs, tables, rugs, HDMI projector, farm house tables, antique gold lanterns, and wood rounds etc.
By renting a space that already provides you with all the accoutrements, you cut down on a ton of your costs as well as the pollution to the environment.
The Doyle also allows couples to both bring in their own vendors (this is HUGE in regards to catering) and modify the space as needed. Most venues won’t let you put any nails in the walls etc causing the need for lots of wasteful fixtures to be built separate from the site. With the Doyle this whole step is eliminated.
Here are a few major key ways The Doyle sets the foundation for a sustainable wedding:
- Organic food waste – 100% of all captured food waste is reused. They have a small micro-farm in the back of their building that has ducks, rabbits, goats, pigs, guinea fowl, chickens and worms. They feed greens to the rabbits and goats, food waste to pigs, chickens and ducks and all sauces or dressings go to the worms.
- Greenery – 100% of all greenery gets recycled on the ground, in compost bins and through composting.
- Florals – 100% of all florals are recycled through goat consumption, composting or paper making.
- Aluminum Cans and Plastic Bottles – 100% of these captured are donated to the homeless to sell for profit.
- Cardboard – The majority of cardboard is cut up into small pallets that are used in Steven Spann’s art production. Some of the cardboard is used in murals for corporate events. Several corporations hire Steven to use all of their trash to make into artwork.
- Plastic packaging – They have used plastic packaging for interior of sculpture, as starter containers for seeds, and many other uses.
- Aluminum baking dish – caterers often use aluminum baking dish’s to keep food warm. They reuse these dishes through the animals (eating the remains of the dish), starter containers for seedlings, and as paint holders for art projects.
When checking out wedding venues keep all of these great sustainable options in mind and don’t be afraid to ask them what they do to keep the Earth happy!
Second to the venue in importance for your green wedding are the flowers and decor used for your special day. Most everything in wedding ceremonies winds up in the trash after and the events business is the second largest in terms of waste after the construction industry.
For this shoot we enlisted the help of Gaia Flowers, Las Vegas’ original eco-friendly florist specializing in certified sustainably and locally grown flowers and live plants. They are the experts on eliminating your carbon footprint when planning your wedding day.
“Our commitment is exemplified by our in-house composting and recycling program, and all the power used for your ceremony is produced by the wind. Our shop’s name is taken from the Greek Goddess of Earth and we do all we can to honor her as we make beautiful, sustainable arrangements” says Gaia’s Jessica Huth.
All of the foliage for this shoot was gathered by Jessica by simply foraging the local neighborhoods for overgrown bushes and untamed trees that were in need of a haircut.
Most people are happy to have someone clean up their yard so-to-speak so it’s a win-win all around.
“Repurposing what would otherwise contribute to this problem and making it live again in an artful manner is such a gratifying accomplishment” says Jessica. The PVC used for the hanging arbor was left over from a living wall installation Gaia did this past summer and an old hanger left on the side of the road. These were paired with outdated gardening tools to create a one-of-a-king chandelier!
The Wedding Dress and Tux
Most people don’t even think about the outfits they wear for their I-Do’s contributing to any environmental stress. However, the fashion industry is one of the biggest industries guilty of waste.
The idea behind buying a used dress and repurposing is that you are saving another bundle of fabric from ending up in a landfill.
After the wedding there are also several options of how to give your repurposed dress another life:
- If you are planning to have kids, you can use the dress to make a christening gown.
- You can donate your dress to an organization that makes burial outfits for babies/children.
- You can donate your dress to organizations that help fund weddings for military couples, couples facing a serious illness, or couples facing a life-altering circumstance.
- There are also several bridal gown re-sale shops across the country that will re-sell a dress and donate a portion of the proceeds to various charities.
“For the bridal gown, I wanted to show that you can take a thrift store wedding dress and add some updates to repurpose it. I was fortunate to find a dress at a local Savers for only $20. The beads and sequins were still intact and the main fabric of the dress was still in fairly clean condition. The dress I selected was from late 1980s/early 1990s; it was a satin sheath dress with off the shoulder sleeves. It also had a detachable train. After fitting it on the model, I decided to turn it into a 2-piece dress and add fabric to make a train.” explains Pincushion owner Abby Stroot.
For this shoot we used the company Pincushion to contribute the gown and help create the groom’s attire.
“For the groom, he used his own suit. However I did price out purchasing a suit from Savers as well. The suit jacket, vest, pants, tie, and suspenders would have cost about $70. Alterations to a suit would range up to about $150 (depending on what needed to be done), making the grooms total cost about $220” Stroot says.
At Cactus Collective we don’t shy away from the idea of eco-friendly weddings. The wedding industry in general can be a very discard-happy business but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The biggest problem is that words like “green,” “earthy,” “sustainable,” and “eco” aren’t sexy. They tend to evoke visions of a thrifty, hodgepodge wedding which is the furthest thing from the truth.
A low-footprint wedding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can select the pieces and small things that are of highest importance to you.
You can create less environmental impact by doing even one or two things. Everything from up-cycling a dress, using wedding invitations and paper products made from recycled paper, or even having re-usable straws as gifts makes a difference.
You can even request ethical makeup products or choose from a seasonal farm to table food menu. We also suggest donating left-over food from the reception to local food pantries.
Your wedding day is what you make of it and friends and family will feel great knowing they are taking part in something so Earth-friendly. We here at Cactus Collective are always excited to collaborate and make this dream a reality.