Sustainable Weddings: Making A Change

Weddings are so personal. They are about celebrating a union, a special union between two specific people.

So when we create a wedding, our focus is always on making it personal and customized to the couple.

But, there’s a cost to that.

There’s a cost to having a wedding at all really.

I’ve been planning destination weddings for over 14 years now. Over time, some things have changed, others much less so.

But there’s one thing that has grown over time… my struggle with the climate impact of weddings.

Elegant destination wedding ceremony at Calistoga Ranch by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

Climate change and the impact of weddings on the planet is not a subject that’s discussed much. At least, not in the US (which is a sad thing all by itself).

Because people just want to see the pretty.

The lush floral arrangements, fancy meals, beautiful table settings and bespoke attire. And all the unique touches and details that are special to that wedding.

It’s what all the wedding media thrives on and in turn, what couples want and expect.

And I’m not going to lie, I like all of that stuff too!

Weddings are beautiful events! Both emotionally and aesthetically.

But weddings have evolved and have a much more aesthetic focus than ever before.

Everything is personalized and customized. With details up the wazoo!

But that means many things purchased or created for a wedding are made for one time only use.

Which means that weddings produce so much waste! When you really think about it, the amount of one time use items is ridiculous.

Flowers, food, stationery, decor, attire, etc…

But it’s not even just the physical waste that’s a problem.

It’s the decisions and actions that add to the climate crisis on behalf of both couples and vendors, that most aren’t even thinking about.

Supply chain, energy usage, travel, shipping, equipment, waste management…

Because there is so much more stuff associated with a wedding than ever before!

Everything from the engagement through the wedding day has stuff.

Props, backdrops, destination bachelor/bachelorette parties, matching outfits, over the top floral arrangements, custom made design fixtures, stationery and signage, multiple outfits, getting ready tchotchkes, week long events, etc…

It’s A LOT.

Too much if I’m being honest.

And this is coming from a wedding planner, who in theory should love it and be all for it.

But what about the cost of all of that?

I can’t help but think about that.

I can’t help but think about how every item and every decision made for a wedding affects our planet.

Couple holding hands at their destination wedding in Hawaii reflected in water
(Photo What A Day Photography)

I’ve never been the planner who did a wedding every weekend because I always cared about the experience for my clients. I never wanted them to feel like just one of many.

And I’ve never wanted to be a big company with multiple wedding planners. That just never felt right for me.

I wanted a business that was more personal and boutique.

So because of this, I haven’t done thousands of weddings. But even with my smaller, but still hefty number of weddings, I can see the impact.

And it weighs on me. A lot.

And sure, there are lots of small ways to make a difference, which I’ve worked on with my clients and talked about for years.

And those small ways matter!

But it’s time to talk about the big ways.

Because I’ve decided that I can no longer keep going as I have been.

I can’t in good conscience keep adding to the problem.

Because let’s be honest, I have been.

Even with eco-conscious couples who care about the planet (which mine are), there’s still so much more we can do.

And when I say we, I mean myself, my couples and the weddings I touch, and also the wedding industry as whole.

Because I think we collectively can make a difference.

According to the Knot in 2022 there were 2.6 million weddings in the US. 2.6 million!

Now imagine if we could reduce the climate impact of just some of those?

According to research done by Edge Environment for Less Stuff, More Meaning, if 10% of US weddings were eco-friendly it would be the equivalent of taking 1,983,657 cars off the road for 1 year.

Imagine that!

Brown bottle bud vases with wildflowers served as centerpieces for a Stanley Idaho wedding
(Photo credit: Christine Marie Photo)

Now I want to be upfront that I’m not the poster child for green initiatives. I’m not perfect in my everyday life, not even close.

But, knowledge is power.

And the more you know, the more you can do.

And so I’m learning.

Climate change and sustainability is a complex and complicated subject in and of itself.

And let’s be honest, it’s also confusing.

There’s the science, the solutions, the hurdles, the supply chain, the costs, the political side, climate justice and so much more. There’s the high level concepts, the intricacies and the reality.

But because it’s complicated and confusing, the easiest thing to do is nothing.

To keep going on our merrily way and not change a thing.

Especially when there’s not much info with regards to weddings. And weddings specifically in the US (the UK and Australia are much more forward thinking).

So, I want to be a part of helping to bring about that change.

And I think it starts with knowledge.

So this is the start of what will likely be many posts as I learn, digest, disseminate and translate that information to weddings.

Because the wedding industry also has many conflicting issues standing in the way of true sustainable weddings.

There’s so much that’s not even being discussed that I want to discuss and explore.

That I want to try to find solutions for. Or at least ideas.

Because I think the most important piece is understanding what we can do NOW.

And to make change easy. To make choosing a sustainable wedding an easy choice.

So the real question I want to answer at the end of this (and help you with) is…

How do you create an amazing, personal, unique wedding experience that’s also sustainable?

I think there’s a way to balance the beautiful, unique and personal with a goal of a net zero wedding. Being able to have all the fun and awesomeness without adding to the climate crisis.

So, please join me on my journey and let’s discover a wonderful new way to planning a destination wedding, the sustainable way.

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