Ways to make your wedding more environmentally friendly

These days, I’m a wedding photographer and a painter.

A long time ago (in a galaxy far far away?) I was an environmental geochemist ***more on that in a footnote at the bottom. It wasn’t that long ago, actually.

Why do you care? What does this have to do with weddings, anyway?

Well…I used to be a geochemist…I’m now a photographer who is deeply committed to the environment.

Weddings are a one day event where a lot of stuff is specially made to use on that day…and then what?

So how can we make your wedding greener?

There are a few big picture things to think about. Where did the stuff come from? What is its purpose? Where will it go after you’re done with it?

Anything can be thought about just a little more to make it more environmentally friendly in some way. Making thoughtful choices in any of those big picture areas can help a lot. Here are some ideas:

Paper items? They can be made from recycled paper, or cotton paper, or hemp paper. There are soy-based and other environmentally friendly inks. Recycle the paper after. Compost it.

Flowers? You can … use a local company that uses a local flower grower. This helps the local economy but it also saves on carbon costs related to shipping/travel. There are also florists who forage and make arrangements based on season…so they might use more dried elements during winter. Give the flowers a second life of some kind after … Donate them. Compost them. Dry them and save them.

Clothing? You can … buy from environmentally conscious designers. Wear vintage. Buy used. Know where your dress was made. Keep or donate.

Decorations? You can … make them. Repurpose things and use them. Choose things made without plastic. Give them a second life. Buy them from someone who already used them. Donate them after. Join a wedding board and sell them. Use a planner who makes things…sometimes they keep them to use again or re-purpose.

Jewelry? Know where your jewelry comes from. What kind of stone are you buying? Use a local jeweler. Buy from a smaller scale artist. Wear vintage.

Photographer? Yep. Even my category. As an artist who values print, how do I maintain my commitment to the environment? I make sure the albums I make for people are of the highest quality and will last. Same for printing of photos. Everything is made to last. I choose companies for printing based on that quality and I make sure they have animal friendly options for covers, they use environmentally friendly packaging, they pack things efficiently, etc. In addition, instead of printing a huge amount of paper to be tossed, like postcards, flyers, magazine guides, welcome packets, business cards, etc…I do everything else digitally. The art is amazing and high quality. Everything else is digital.

Food? Choose local. Choose quality ingredients made by local farms. Choose things with less packaging or without plastic. If you’re having a less formal backyard wedding, use compostable or reusable plates/flatware. We went to Il Vicino the other night and they have paper straws! So cool. Use paper straws. Use no straws. Go for options other than plastic.

Ok. Let’s be real. Some of these options are definitely going to be more expensive. If budget isn’t a concern for you, then choosing environmentally friendly options across the board is easy. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re concerned about the environment, you can pick and choose. If the environment doesn’t matter to you at all, then I’m not sure why you’re still reading this. 😉

For me, I choose quality over quantity most of the time. In my business and in my personal life. I want something that will last and not be tossed out next week because it’s already breaking down. I don’t shop a lot, but when I do, I go to local as much as I can. When we dine out, we go to local places. I do shop at a chain for body products, but they use very little packaging and they do a lot of charity work around the world (Lush). We try to buy as little plastic as possible. We recycle and take bags to the store most times. haha Sometimes we forget. We’re human.

Even making one or two changes can go a long way to help.

If you’re really interested in this and you want to make your wedding more environmentally friendly, but you have no idea where to start … I’m happy to help if I can. Send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them or find you someone who can.


***The footnote from above 🙂
As an undergraduate student, I did a senior thesis about travel of acid mine drainage chemicals via river sediment. As a masters student I did a masters thesis about fast travel of uranium and strontium in the ground above the water table when when flushed with water (like during a large rain). As a PhD student (I passed my exams, completed my coursework, and left midway through a project that was too big for one person), my dissertation was about faster water flowpaths through channels of smaller and more even grain size in sediment. I taught lectures, I taught lab classes, I worked as a chemist at a national lab for several years, and then I worked as an environmental consultant doing environmental remediation.

I have so many friends who are scientists. We met in school and now they work all over the world. A lot of them study climate change.

We’re not going to have a climate change lesson in this post, though that will be coming in another series of blog posts. The way I see it, most of my scientist friends are on social media and they post a lot about climate change science…which is then read by other scientists in their circle. But are regular folks who aren’t scientists and don’t know what to think about climate change or don’t get science at all reading any of that stuff? Probably not. I’m really good at speaking to regular folks about science in a way that isn’t confusing to people who might not already be great at science. I think I have a duty to do that.

So stay tuned for a series of blog posts about climate science. For anyone who thinks “stay in your lane”… Welp. I’m a former scientist who has a reach to people outside the science community. I have knowledge to share and I’m able to answer questions about science in an approachable way. Nobody will ever be made to feel like an idiot asking me a question about science. I’m not too proud to say “I don’t know the answer to this” and find someone who does. And frankly, we’re in a place now, as humans, where this is our lane. All of us. Now is the time for concern.

We’re moving back to Albuquerque, NM!

Well, Corrales, really.

If you know me, you know that I went to college here in Missoula and I met my awesome husband here. He’s from Montana and he went to high school here in Missoula. In 2003, we moved to Albuquerque together. We went to grad school, made a bunch of friends, got married, and had both of our boys there. We were there for nearly 12 years. We made it our home.

We love Albuquerque. So much. But my husband missed his family too. We always kind of talked about coming back to Montana to be closer to his mom. Then, in 2014, I don’t know why, but I felt like it was more urgent…we needed to come back. Sometimes I just feel things and know to trust it. So we came back to Montana and not long after, we found out his mom was sick. We were here, and the boys got to be with their grandma for a while. Both grandma and her mom have passed since we came back. We are so grateful we were here to be with them. And we have loved being with our other family here too.

We needed to be here and now we need to go home. We love our family and friends here so much and Montana is a wonderful place. We will visit and we’ll love Montana forever. But the desert calls us back…we made a life and home for ourselves in NM and we miss it so much.

So a while ago I said that I didn’t renew my studio lease here and that I had an announcement. We’re moving back to NM!!! Yaaaayyyyy!

We will be in Missoula until about the middle of June. If you’ve been wanting to schedule a session, I will be available for limited sessions until we leave. We’re also packing, wrapping things up, and selling our house here and closing on the new one in Corrales…

I will be back for a couple of weddings in 2019. I do love travel and Montana. So if you wanted me to photograph your wedding and you’re super sad I’m leaving, send me a message and we can chat about that.

We bought a bit of a fixer-upper under asking price. It needs work, but we see what it can be. There is a studio space attached and I will keep you updated on the progress. It will be a combined art and photography space, because I’m going to be doing some different things there, which I’ll tell you about in a different post. Look at the awesomeness of this place though! I’m so excited!

To schedule a session here in Missoula until June, in Albuquerque/Corrales/Rio Rancho/Santa Fe starting in July, or to chat about your wedding in any of those locations or anywhere in between, send me a message here: contact me

Emily + Ron – Hamilton, Montana Wedding July 2017

Are you ready for some wedding blogs? The software I use to make albums has a blog collage feature! What an awesome thing! This is a fraction of the photos, but I can post so many more this way!

Ok. Enough about me…

Emily and Ron’s wedding, you guys! Not only are they completely adorable with each other, their wedding was super. It was on private property in the Bitterroot with a glorious view of the mountains and a private little field. They couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous sunny day (we could have turned the heat down a little…100 degrees most of the day) and during the ceremony we got some clouds which made for really nice light.

They had this RZR driving around that was super fun, and they had a horse and carriage! The guys rolled up on the RZR for the ceremony and the ladies were brought over in the carriage. So many cool details at the reception area too. There was a big sitting area with hay bales and a chandelier next to the dance floor and there was a sweet little family memory area.

And the most important part. All the love going around all day. So much love from friends and family and for each other.  Everyone should have someone who looks at them the way Emily and Ron look at each other. <3 <3 <3

Vendor information for their wedding:
Planner/Coordinator: Erika’s Event Planning
Catering: Caffe Firenze
Flowers: Flower Happy Florals & Gifts
Cake/Cupcakes: Petals & Pastries (Red Rooster Artesian Bakery)
Music: RMF Entertainment DJ Services (Jordan Waldo)
Horse/Carriage: Pioneer Carriage Services  (I don’t think they have a website, but they’re in Corvallis 😉
Rentals: Hamilton Party Rentals