7 Ideas for a Zero Waste Wedding Day

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If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, you know that our family took a leap into the world of “zero waste” at the beginning of 2019. That means we’re doing everything we can to reduce what we send to the landfill, and we’re trying to be careful about limiting our single use plastic usage after reading reports that a lot of plastic that used to get recycled is now being burned or ending up sitting in piles with nowhere to go.

In our personal lives, we’ve changed the way we shop for groceries, and we’re checking ourselves when it comes to Amazon purchases (my mom used to joke that there was a new Amazon box in our entryway every time she came over).

We buy our groceries with tare bags (bags with their weights printed on them), we shop the bulk section, and we’ve started making more at home (bread, cookies, even carbonated water—I was crazy enough to set up a refillable Co2 tank under the sink to put bubbles into my water).

zero waste groceries with tare bags

As I’ve been spending more time diving into the world of zero waste, I started to see more and more discussions online around how couples can take conscious steps to cut their waste on their wedding days. Here are seven simple ideas that I’ve come up with.

7 Simple Ideas to Cut Waste on Your Wedding Day

1. Buy Plantable Wedding Invitations

Botanical Paper Works offers invitations printed on seed paper, so they can be planted. The seeds add a great texture to the paper, to boot.

2. Hire a Caterer Who Uses Washable Tableware

zero waste wedding day ideas - hire a caterer who uses reusable plates

Many caterers will provide you with reusable glasses, plates, silverware, and even napkins. Ask the bartender if you can skip the straws, or use paper straws instead.

Linens can also be rented, which is an easy win.

3. Compost Your Flowers After the Wedding Day

zero waste wedding ideas - compost your flowers

See if you can get table arrangements that don’t involve foam for structural support, and talk to your florist about what happens to the flowers after the wedding day is over. Hammond Farms in Lansing has a yard waste drop off composting program. If you really want to go all out, you could use living potted plants on your tables and send them home with guests.

4. Buy Some of Your Pieces Secondhand

zero waste wedding ideas - buy secondhand or rent

There’s an active Facebook group in Lansing called Bride to Bride Mid-Michigan where married couples sell their wedding pieces to couples who are planning their weddings. Between this and Facebook Marketplace, you’re sure to come across some great finds to save money and reuse items that have only been used once.

There are also some great vintage rental companies in the area.

5. Have Your Wedding Party Rent Their Outfits

zero waste wedding ideas - have your wedding party rent their outfits

I’m a huge fan of Rent the Runway for bridesmaid dresses. Your bridesmaids can wear incredible gowns without having to worry about what they’ll do with them after the wedding.

6. Choose Eco-friendly Gifts
zero waste wedding ideas - create edible gifts or experiences
Loft310 lets its couples use their donut board to share donuts with guests

Rather than giving each guest something packaged in plastic, consider donating to a cause, letting them take home the potted plants that you’ve used as centerpieces, or giving them something tasty (I’m always a fan of donuts in paper bags as a wedding favor—let them choose their favorite donut from a special dessert table).

zero waste wedding day ideas - zero waste gifts

For the wedding party, can you think of an experiential gift instead of a physical gift? Maybe you treat all of the bridesmaids to a little something at the spa (make it a girl’s day). Maybe you treat your groomsmen to a sporting event, or give them gift certificates to their favorite restaurants.

If you really want to give the members of your wedding party a physical gift, consider giving them something low waste or something that they can use regularly, like a stasher bag filled with their favorite sweet treat (Horrocks has a crazy assortment of package-free goodies, or you could order cookies from a local bakery), a package-free lush bath bomb, or anything from the website packagefreeshop.com. Need a bag to put it all in? These cute tare bags can be used to buy produce or bulk items at the grocery store instead of using plastic.

Now that Marie Kondo is all the rage, they’ll appreciate that they don’t have to add any more physical items to their lives. And thoughtful experiences always bring joy.

7. Use Leaves to Create Confetti for Your Big Exit

zero waste wedding ideas - use leaves for confetti

Use a heart or circle punch to punch out confetti from leaves for your guests to throw during your exit (thanks to Kait for this amazing idea). They’re biodegradable, and they won’t produce plastic waste like tiny bubble containers. You can find cute baskets at secondhand shops to put them in, and then donate or sell the baskets when you’re done, or create little paper pouches that can be recycled.

zero waste wedding ideas - use leaves for confetti

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Learn more about Allie & Co. Wedding Photography

For more tips, check out The Guide to Sustainable, Zero-Waste, Ethical Weddings from 77Diamonds.

What happens after I take your photos?

I don’t just want to send you a link and have you click through all of your images for the first time while you’re at work. I want it to be an experience—I want you to dedicate an evening to being together at home to see your images for the first time.

After each session, I’ll have you choose a date a few weeks out to block off an evening or day together to see the photos for the first time. For weddings, I’ll let you know when I’m almost done editing, and then you can choose your date. Plan to spend an hour or two together. Pop some popcorn, pour some wine, put on your home pants, and then open my email.

The Slideshow

You’ll start by watching a slideshow of all of your photos together. If you can connect your computer screen to your television, even better.

The Digital Files

After you watch the slideshow, you’ll get a download pin to download your photos. Be sure to put them in a few places so they’re backed up.

Keepsakes & Art

From there, you’ll have a chance to order print products through your online gallery at your own pace with a one day 20% discount. I’ll use the wall photos that you sent me before your session or wedding to include a few recommended wall designs in my email to you. You’ll be able to use my interactive designer to swap out images to decide what look you like the best, and then you’ll order the prints to frame yourself or order ready-to-hang professionally framed fine art prints.

wall mockups of framed photos
If you order loose or mounted prints (lustre or fine art) or an individual framed print, you’ll have five days to request image swaps, retouching, and your frame style (if relevant) before the images go to print.

If you order a custom product like a frame collection or a folio box with multiple images, you’ll have 30 days to request your images, your cover options, and any retouching.

Custom frame styles


If you order an album, I’ll put together the initial design for you, and then you’ll have 30 days to request photo swaps through your online album proofer. Click here to see a sample album design to give you a feel for the process (your actual album proofer will have a button to request changes).

online album proofing

You’ll choose your cover fabric and any add-ons (cameo cutout with your favorite image or text), and once we have everything approved, it will head to print and be on its way to your home. And don’t worry—my digital style guide magazine will guide you through exactly how to style your album and other products into your home so it gets the styling it deserves.

album cover colors

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Every Session and Wedding from 2018 in 30 Seconds

Thanks to the literally thousands of people who stepped in front of my camera this year—whether you were there as a part of a portrait session, on your wedding day, or as a wedding guest. Here’s a quick little peek at everything I was up to throughout the year. It’s fun to see how the style adapts to each season.

Video: 2018 in Review

For the past five years, I’ve been using the One Second Everyday app to capture quick little memories from the year. I’m still planning to create a 365 second video to recap the year, but we ended up with quite a few other clips on our new video camera that were sitting on a hard drive unused and unwatched.

I finally sat down with the girls and a microphone and had them narrate some of the highlights of the year, and then I edited together quick clips from our videos to create a “highlights reel” of our favorite moments. Here’s what we ended up with:

What do you do with all of the photos and videos on your phone? Have you ever edited them together or tried an app like One Second Everyday?

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