what is an elopement

It’s a new era, you don’t have to run away in secret anymore to be with the one you love! That sounds fun, and you can if you want to, but elopements now hold an entirely different meaning. Eloping is a day full of intentional choices that are made with the purpose of bringing you together, celebrating your love, and having fun. Creating a safe space that is free from expectation where the day is truly about you and the way that you love each other.

Eloping is solely about you as a couple and the activities, choices, and experiences that mean the most to you. What is introduced and included in your day is intentional. Eloping is an alternative that is fun, save, and sustainable. Read on to learn how to plan a sustainable elopement.

what makes an elopement sustainable

Eloping produces substantially less waste compared to a wedding. There are less people traveling, and a lower “single use item” count with no invitations, menus, disposable dinnerware, etc. We practive Leave No Trace (read more below), and it is easier to make eco-friendly choices when considering how to plan a sustainable elopement.

When it is just you and your partner, you can take responsibility for yourselves to respect and care for your environment.

wedding industry waste

Unfortunately, much of the wedding industry profits from wastefulness. The larger the wedding, the larger the scale of single use items like favors, plastic dinnerware, balloons, confetti, invitations, menus, decor, etc. Here are some staggering wedding statistics:

  • Each wedding on average produces 40+ lbs of plastic waste and over 400 lbs of total garbage. There are an average of 2 million weddings per year in the US alone. That’s a harrowing total of 80,000,000+ lbs of plastic waste.
  • The average wedding in the US produces 62 tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivelant to burning 65,000 lbs of coal. 
  • One wedding day on average produces the same emissions as 3-4 people per year (average yearly carbon footprint in the US per person is 16 tons, average per person globally is 4 tons). 
  • 10% of wedding food gets wasted. Many couples “over cater” out of fear that guests will be hungry. 

Sources: The Nature Conservancy  |  The World Bank  |  Huffington Post  |  Terra Pass  |  Syracuse University  |  Sustainable Wedding Alliance  |  Zippia  |  77 Diamonds

how to plan a sustainable elopement

Did your jaw drop reading those stats like ours did? We care deeply for our planet, and we believe that a day that is super important and intentional can also purposefully stand for environmental consciousness. Elopements are innately a more sustainable choice when it comes to getting married, but there are still choices you can make to ensure that your environmental footprint is as minimal as possible.

  • Source items for your elopement locally (and seasonally if applicable) to reduce fuel emissions from transporting goods.
  • Use vendors that source organically grown, local ingredients for food.
  • Do your research and purchase conflict free rings.
  • Support companies that pay living wages, strive for a low carbon footprint, and treat their employees well.
  • Locally source your flowers to care for the fragile ecosystems.
  • Be sure your attire won’t shed glitter or sequins.
  • When you can, buy used.
  • Make sure your vendors strive for sustainability as well. We can help with this! We have a great list of vendor referrals that practice LNT and do everything they can to operate as sustainable organizations. We even know caterers that grow their own food and compost your leftovers! 
  • Do your research. Some of the popular elopement photos you might see on Pinterest were actually taken in areas that harm the environment by going off trail. Don’t set your heart on photos that are harmful. You want the beautiful landscape to be cared for so you can come back on your anniversary and enjoy the area just as it was! It takes all of us making responsible choices and caring for our environment to lessen our impact.

We love to make it easy for you to make eco-friendly choices when you elope with us. To help, we have a variety of resouces in our 100+ page client guide that will give you a ton of idea for how to plan a sustainable elopement. This includes tips, sustainable vendors, and education. 

eco-friendly choices

Here are some of our favorite eco-friendly choices for your adventure elopement:

  • Grab your flowers from the local farmer’s market.
  • Purchase a used dress from Brides Against Breast Cancer or Brides For a Cause, or research the company you are using to see if they operate ethically.
  • Choose a makeup artist that uses cruelty free makeup.
  • Make sure nothing you wear or include will shed or litter as it’s used or worn.
  • Instead of confetti, use flower petals (still needs to be picked up), leaves, or bubbles.
  • Find a chef that will compost your leftovers and/or grows their own ingredients, like Forage Sisters.
  • This one isn’t necessarily eco-friendly, but it could be– choose vendors that align with your personal values and what you believe in. If you care for the environment, your vendors should too! Of course, we all have our own passions, but it can really help you connect with your team (and even support a cause you believe in) if your vendors share some of your values.

leave no trace

When you work with us, we provide plentiful education to help you Leave No Trace. It is important that we care for and respect the space around us. The environment is fragile, and sometimes damage is permanent. As a guiding principal, we believe in sustainability at the forefront of everything we do. eloping with us is a chance to act on environmental stewardship and philanthropy.

the seven principals of LNT

These seven principals exist to guide all of us in how to respect the outdoors and explore nature with minimal impact. These principals are always applicable, whether you are visitng your local park or you are backcountry camping in expansive wilderness. These principals are frequently updated, but even without that, we can all take responsibility to make respectful choices when we are in nature.

plan ahead + prepare

We will help with this! You want to make sure you are following local regulations with necessary permits, pet policies, fire bans, and everything in between! It’s also important to check the trails in case restoration is occuring. You should have the gear necessary to protect you and the environment. Doing research and being prepared protects everyone, including you and the earth.

travel + camp on durable surfaces

All travel, even acceptable trail travel, leaves an impact. It’s important to understand this impact to leave as little damage as possible. There is certain terrain that is more fragile to traffic and damage is more extreme, like cryptobiotic soil. Having an understanding of the terrain will help you treck and camp in areas that are safe and produce a lower impact.

dispose of waste properly

This includes human waste and hygiene products in addition to food, wrappers, soaps/lotions, the cork from your champagne, and anything else that you brought into the wilderness with you. Sometimes you can dig a cat hole if you have to do your business, but there is no shame in carrying it out with you (in fact, it’s highly respected and appreciated for protecting local water sources and ecosystems). Have the gear necessary to pack out what you pack in.

leave what you find

We know, sometimes this one is so hard. So many people love to collect sand from every beach they visit, a rock for their collection, or a flower to remember their day. Think of the joy nature is bringing you. We want to leave that joy for others, and we want to leave the landscape as spectacular as we found it. Every small piece of nature contributes to that. Additionally, some items like leaves provide nutrients to pregnant deer. Leave nature how you found it. This also includes tree carving or other forms of graffiti.

minimize campfire impacts

This is another area where research is really important. Is there a fire ban? One tiny spark or ember can, and has, burnt down entire forests. People and animals lose their homes. Wildfires are devastating, so it’s really important that we don’t cause them! When fires are regulated, use existing fire rings, clean up after yourself, and make sure your fire is totally extinguished. We can still share s’mores over the fire (or cinnamon bread s’mores in a pie iron, my personal fav), but we just need to be stewards as we do it.

respect wildlife

This one is really important for the animal’s safety, and yours! You’re having an epic day full of joy, fun, and love. You definitely don’t want to finish it off by squaring up with a moose. Check out wildlife from a distance, and be sure not to feed any animals. If they learn to depend on humans for food, this becomes dangerous for everyone. It’s also important to properly store your food when camping and know the local policies for pets, bear spray, and animal viewing.

be considerate of others

We are all in nature to soak up the beauty. When you’re full of nature vibes, it’s not hard to be kind, but it’s good to remember that we aren’t the only ones out there enjoying the wilderness. A few things you can do to be kind on the trail is to not play music when you’re around other hikers, let the uphill hikers have the right of way, and let groups larger than you pass first. Another part of being considerate for others is just following all of the other principals. When we lower our impact, we keep nature in great condition for everyone to enjoy.

We will help you learn about how to respectfully explore the backcountry, the dangers of spreading non-native seeds with florals, and so much more. As a recap, here are our biggest tips:

  • Be sure to stay on the trail. Don’t create a wider path, and don’t cut the switchbacks.
  • Don’t litter. Pack in what you pack out.
  • Don’t bring invasive flower seeds into fragile ecosystems.
  • Give wildlife space.
  • Wear reef-friendly sunscreen.
  • Instead of confetti or balloons, opt for local flowers and flower petals or leaves.
  • This one is tricky for a lot of people, but don’t take. Leave the wildflowers, rocks, sand, and nature right where you found it.

giving back

When you elope with us, you can feel good knowing your investment directly supports the growth and foundation of our nonprofit; MB’s Trailhead. With a portion of profits in conjunction with federal grants, this nonprofit is on the way to being fully funded and will break ground the summer of 2024. 

Together, we are advocating and providing resources to children in foster care as well as children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We strive to make adventure and nature’s healing accessible to everyone. Through outdoor recreation activities, dance, music, art, mentors, and therapy, these children can become their best authentic selves and discover how much potential they hold. 

I believe in safety, love, a welcoming/loving environment, sustaibability, and epic adventures for all. Nature is healing for everyone and what better place to love and be loved? By working with us, you will be a steward for the outdoors as well as a philanthropist for individuals who really need a loving hand. When you join your adventure with ours, you get to love each other, the environment, and those in need.

your sustainable elopement could look like this

let’s hang out

We would love to go on an adventure with you! Michael and I are a traveling adventure elopement photo, video, + planning team. We chase loving souls and deep emotion, and we go wherever the wind takes us. Check out our blogs below for recent work, or reach out to plan your epic day. We can’t wait to get you in front of our lens!

Home » Blog » How To Plan A Sustainable Elopement – Leave No Trace + Eco-Friendly Choices

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How To Plan A Sustainable Elopement – Leave No Trace + Eco-Friendly Choices

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