First, a caveat – sustainability is super important, but all you *need* to do is the wedding you want to do and the wedding you can comfortably afford. To us, incorporating even just one or two eco-friendly aspects into your wedding vision is a win! If everyone did that, it would make a huge difference. So, to make sure you have lots of ideas to pick from, ThistleBEA’s Breanne and Sonaiya have teamed up to give you their best advice on the easiest ways to work some sustainability into your wedding day!
Photo credit above – Isle + Oak Photography of Jordan and Dorcas, July 2022
Sonaiya, thank you for joining us! How did you get into this line of work?
My interest in it started really young! My mom did these really involved birthday parties for me, she was super creative and it really inspired me. I was also really social and liked bringing people together. Later I worked for one of the leading event rental companies in BC, Lonsdale Event rentals, and that’s how I met Winnie and Breanne and began working for ThistleBEA. I also own Events by Sonaiya, and I am an event planner for a nonprofit named Together We Can, doing community and corporate events and fundraisers. This year is their 7th annual gala raising money to help individuals get access to addiction treatment – check out more info here! Eco-friendly wedding and event planning is a special passion for me as well.
What is a carbon footprint and why is it important to consider it when planning a wedding?
Your carbon footprint includes your emissions from greenhouse gases and how much strain it puts on the environment. We all have one, individuals and businesses alike. It’s important because weddings can be full of waste, and when it’s over all you want left over is happy memories and keepsakes! Again, no wedding is going to be perfect, and you don’t have to go crazy trying to make everything uber eco-friendly. But you can make little tweaks that can save a ton of waste! Here are my top tips, by category:
- Since most caterers won’t let you keep leftover food (it’s a food safety liability issue), find out in advance how they plan to dispose of it i.e. composting and recycling, or donating to organizations like Vancouver Food Runners that provide food to those experiencing food insecurity.
- Using reusable packaging when transporting the food.
- Opt for plated meals over buffets or family style meals as they are less wasteful.
- Source food from local, seasonal or organic suppliers.
- Ask about natural and organic food and wine options.
- Opt for a smaller wedding cake, or skip it entirely in favor of single serve desserts like cupcakes or donuts.
- If you want a showstopping cake for your photos, ask your baker about adding false tiers with a recyclable or compostable material.
- Honestly, they’re not necessary – they’re often left behind and tossed, so feel free to omit them entirely.
- If you really want favors, go for consumables or a self serve option like a candy bar.
- Floral foam is terrible for the environment, it’s full of chemicals and can’t be recycled.
- Companies like Bloomier can help you do a zero-waste floral setup in your eco-friendly wedding. They can also donate the flowers to care facilities afterward so they can be enjoyed over and over again!
- Dry out your flowers and use them for décor at home.
- Fake florals can be super realistic (just pay attention to what they’re made out of).
- Potted plants can be replanted and taken home by you or your guests as favors.
- Use a décor rental service instead of buying new and disposing after.
- Buy secondhand decor – Facebook groups like ThistleBEA Your Community can be great for finding who lots of decor in your chosen theme, and you can trade eco-friendly wedding tips and tricks! Thrift stores can be treasure troves for unique or vintage items.
- Use linen napkins and towels instead of disposable ones.
- Naturally beautiful venues like wineries or botanical gardens need minimal décor.
- Try to find a venue that offer rentals like tables and chairs so you don’t have to truck them in.
- Reuse things from your own home like tins, jars or bottles that you can DIY into cool new décor.
- Ask your ThistleBEA coordinator about string light rental add-ons!
- Allow the wedding party to choose their own on-theme outfits, so it’s more likely they’ll wear them again.
- Renting can be an option, just make sure to ask if items can be tailored.
- Avoid fast fashion, they’re full of chemicals and their manufacturing is super wasteful and unethical!
- Use virtual invites (enter your email at the top of the page to get some exclusive invites you can use!)
- Only send paper copies to family or close friends who would value them as keepsakes and use virtual for the rest of your guests.
- If printed materials fit your vision better, you can source a recycled material or sustainable paper like hemp or bamboo.
- Seed papers are unique and fun. Opt for soy or vegetable based inks to make them truly eco-friendly.
- Print locally to avoid the environmental impact of long distance shipping.
- Your ThistleBEA coordinator can give you access to exclusive invite designs and help arrange printing through Jukebox!
- Venues with sustainable features are often pretty proud of them! Just ask and they’ll usually be happy to share all their innovations!
- Outdoor venues can be a good choice because they use less energy and have natural light and fresh air.
- Try running an extension cord from an onsite structure to avoid a generator if possible.
- Local locales are best for avoiding too much travel time for your guests.
- Encourage carpooling or arrange a shuttle to and from hotels and transit hubs.
Airbnbs can often sleep more people than hotels, but some hotels have great energy conservation initiatives as well. Try arranging hotel blocks for out of town guests at the most eco friendly options.
Across The Universe
You are now offering a full wedding planning package with ThistleBEA, called Across the Universe, which is super exciting! Can you tell me more about it?
I’m super excited to be working with ThistleBEA as a full service planner! I love working with couples from beginning (concept) to end (reality). I act as a coach and help with the majority of the planning process, offering options and choices that fit their vision. Then I take over the booking, management and logistics to keep the stress, deadlines and anxiety away from the couple. Selecting venues, vendor options, creating the design and décor plans, diagrams, floorplans, timelines, all docs for setup and flow, figuring out where people and things go, it’s all part of my job! I recommend 1 year minimum notice to book, we are super busy this year but if you are getting married in the next year to year-and-a-half then please reach out!