My Low Waste Wedding
Photos by: Jamie Fischer
I did everything in my power to make my wedding as low waste as possible.
I’m sure you’re not surprised considering how obsessed with reducing my personal waste I am. While this was before I really dove completely into plastic free living, looking back, we were able to do so much! I don’t think we produced any trash at all. Everything was either composted or recycled.
Making my wedding low waste was actually much easier than it might seem. Firstly, I am an extremely privileged person in pretty much all the ways a person can be privileged. For my wedding this privilege was an advantage, as privilege is wont to be. I was able to have my wedding on my parents property which is nestled in the countryside north of Boulder, Colorado.
Having it at home made it much easier to control any waste because we had composting on site, and could store things in my parent’s shed. (Also we saved money because we didn’t have to rent a venue).
What we did right –
We were very intentional in the way we chose to have it catered. My husband is from the Dominican Republic, so we chose Spanish food of course. The lovely Colombian gentleman was more than willing to accommodate our need for gluten free and vegan options, and very kindly sourced all meat from a local butcher. I am a conscious omnivore, so assuring the meat I consume is pasture raised is of utmost importance to me.
He delivered the food in reusable heated chafers and no waste was produced.
We didn’t have any trash cans on the premises, only compost bins, so any food scraps were automatically dumped into the compost.
China and linens:
We also chose to rent cutlery, china and linens so that there was no need for single use plastics of any kind. They provided us with an easy busing service. All we had to do was place the dirty cups, plates, cutlery etc. onto racks they provided, and they picked them up the next day.
We rented a tent, which turned out to be the best thing because it started pouring rain about half an hour before the ceremony and the guests were able to stay dry. It was hung underneath with tiny lanterns and fairy lights and not only looked magical, but I am sure is used over and over again for different events. They also provided us with chairs and tables. Again, no waste!
I wore my mother’s wedding dress which my grandmother hand made. It’s covered in intricate, hand beaded flowers, which I’m sure she spent hundreds of hours on, bless her. My mother spent many, many hours altering it to fit me, as I am a bit shorter than her, and have a completely different torso shape.
It was healing for both of us because my grandmother passed away in 2011, and couldn’t be there to share this special time with us. In many ways, I feel as though the time my mom and I worked on the dress together, thinking about my grandma, talking about her, sharing stories, did make her part of it all. I felt her spirit around me constantly, like a guardian angel. But more than that, I feel as though she was able to let go, somehow, through us.
After my wedding, I haven’t felt her in the way that I used to. I think that the ceremony, the intentionality behind using the dress that she so lovingly made, helped her to release any last grasp she may have had on life and the people she left behind.
I do believe we are sometimes tasked with healing our ancestors’ wounds. Somehow, my wedding helped me heal her wound. I felt it. My mother felt it.
On a sustainability note, wearing a second hand dress not only saved us a ton of money, but is so much better for the environment! Zero waste win.
My grandmother’s wedding ring is also my wedding ring. Her marriage to my grandfather was less than peaceful, and they ended up splitting up in the late 1970’s. I choose to believe that through using it in the bonds of my own marriage, that I was able to release any negative energy still lingering from what happened between her and my grandfather, both for them, and for Ricardo and I. I feel so proud every time I look at it. And I feel my grandmother’s love imbued into the silver and diamonds.
Again, I was able to utilize a family heirloom instead of buying new.
What we could have done better –
I was working at Banana Republic at the time, which is a huge reason why I have thus decided to only buy second hand, or from reputable eco friendly brands, because the amount of cheap clothing being bought and sold every day. The blatant addiction of consumerism, was just awful. But this is for another post.
Because I was working there, I got a 50% off discount on all items. I got my Ricardo a lovely – brand new – blue linen suit for the occasion. While he looked incredibly handsome in it, I’m sure we could have found something second hand.
I also got my father a really nice tan suit as well. And my dad already had a ton of suits! Ah well, I know better now.
We did mostly well. We built succulent gardens in glass houses. They turned out great!
Where my parents live, it isn’t a good idea to have a ton of open flames everywhere, so I bought real wax, battery operated candles that came in a ton of plastic packaging. I also bought little plastic fake tea lights.
Not super proud of this decision. But I wasn’t as conscious then as I am now about how what I purchase not only has an effect on the environment but on the consciousness of the collective. The more we make informed, conscious decisions and share with others why we made those decisions, the collective will shift to incorporate that way of thinking and it will become easier and easier for people make better choices.
Just look at what happened with Starbucks and straws! But that is also for another post 🙂
The flowers were incredibly beautiful! We were originally going to try and grow all the flowers on my parents property, but I’m so glad we decided to use a florist. That being said, a lot of them came wrapped in plastic, or in plastic boxes to keep them fresh.
It definitely wasn’t a catastrophe, but the plastic could have been avoidable if we thought ahead a little bit more.
The Ceremony –
The whole day was beautiful. Even though the rain postponed the ceremony slightly and stressed me out. But as soon as the ceremony began in earnest, the sun broke through the clouds and shone on us.
We brought as much intention to it as possible. We wrote our own vows, and the officiant helped us craft a ceremony that fit with our non traditional spirituality. It was an earth honoring ceremony on every level.
We lit a candle. We placed photographs of our dear departed ones on the altar so their presence could be felt. I even sang a song that I wrote especially in honor of the wedding about how I felt in that moment, standing on the edge of the biggest commitment of my life.
We did more right than we did wrong. We created a ceremony that was meaningful for us, and we created as little trash as possible at the same time!
I think the key is mindfulness. Every wedding will be different, but if you come to it with the intention of reducing your waste, that’s exactly what will happen! That’s exactly what happened for us.