If you've followed my wedding photography at all, then you know how important it is to me to not only work on sustainable weddings, but to share other businesses and vendors who prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly wedding alternatives!
Well, this inspiration session is a brilliant gathering of so many wonderful businesses who share my values! Carianne and Ashley reached out to me over the winter about photographing their Earth Day inspired wedding, and they had heard that I was the go-to green wedding photography gal!
That felt good :)
We gathered at the Tannery Loft, a beautiful and huge event space in Norwood, MA, and spent the day making beautiful music, photos, video, and all of the amazing product you will see.
Sustainable weddings don't have to be rustic and they certainly don't have to be low quality. Sustainability is about choosing products that are ethically sourced, that are waste and carbon conscious, and that are designed to last, be reused, and then to be low or zero waste in the end. For this wedding, that included a preserved moss wall that can become a piece of your home afterward, or reused at another event! It also included hand-made pottery that can be used as guest gifts, or to use again for generations. The dresses are made with eco friendly materials or recycled vintage dresses that were made anew and dyed to make them something special.
Take a look through the photos and read about all of the amazing businesses who created this inspiration session. Book them for your own wedding, they won't disappoint!
Events by Carianne is a New England and Upstate New York wedding planner. She offers lifelong event planning for the confiding, kind hearted and adventurous soul.
"When Ashley asked me to come alongside and help plan + design this eco friendly styled shoot I was 100% on board. I’ve been trying to incorporate being less wasteful living a more natural and environmentally friendly lifestyle in not only my personal life but business as well. I believe plastic is a huge issue in our world and we need to start thinking about how much we dispose of. It is not only bad for the environment but bad for our bodies as well. Most Plastics now have chemicals that can seep into our food and cause harmful things to happen. One way I reduce my use of plastics is by swapping out all my plastic storage containers and baggies for glass ones and reusable bags, bringing a tote to the grocery store and using silicone lids to save food. I also like to encourage my clients to use all glass or china plates And glassware in there wedding rather than choosing disposable. There are so many little steps we can all take to improving our environment and life!"
I totally second Carianne's recommendation to skip the plastic at weddings, there's just no good reason to use and dispose of plastic when you can rent china, silverware, and other food/drink necessities!
Hair and Makeup - Ashley Melanson:
Top Knot Beauty is Ashley's newest venture that sparked the whole idea for this shoot! It's difficult to find hair and makeup artists who use low waste products, so when she reached out to me for this session, I was beyond excited!
"My company, Top Knot Beauty specializes in effortless and romantic beauty for the free spirited souls. We also strive for eco friendly beauty. We use only the cleanest of products and focus on cutting down waste by using bamboo disposables instead of the standard plastic. Our product arsenal consists of products like Glo skin beauty, AG hair, & Amika.
Glo skin beauty, AG hair, and Amika all are free of parabens, phthalates, MIT, MCI & artificial colors. They are also cruelty free and never test on animals!
I came up with the idea of an eco friendly shoot because I think especially in my industry it is so overlooked how much waste we can produce. Sanitation is my number one priority which means using only disposable products for my clients. That being said, It is so hard to find disposable mascara wands, lip stick wands, etc that aren’t made of plastic! At the end of a wedding you can have piles of used implements that need to be thrown away, and then what happens?!? This was so eye opening to me!! I love collaborating with other creatives and creating beautiful things, but what I love more is beauty with a message! I want people to know that there is an eco-friendly way to have these special events!"
Ashley's totally right, the waste at the end of a wedding can be huge, especially from the makeup application. If your makeup artist can't avoid the plastic disposables, check out TerraCycle and get them the beauty product bag so you can be assured that waste will be recycled by a company who can handle it. Small pieces of plastic like that can't be handed by most municipal recyclers, which is why paying someone like TerraCycle is necessary. If you're a makeup artist looking for a solution, buy one of the beauty product boxes! I have one in my studio and collect plastic whenever I can. It's been a year and still isn't full. Learn about more solutions in our green-wedding guide and learn about some of the very makeup brands that Ashley uses!
Kadeema is a boutique design studio and rental company based in Boston, Massachusetts catering to clients looking for unique items for any type of celebration, event, or living space.
"We cross-pollinate and collect the best items from the grandest eras, decades, and design periods for short or long term use.
Several of our products for the eco-friendly shoot such as our Tweetie settee were unique vintage items that were refurbished or in original condition. Using existing furniture pieces instead of buying new is a great way to help the environment by decreasing material waste production and carbon emissions from fabrication and delivery. We also used several of our rattan or wicker tables that are made from renewable resources without any chemical adhesives or finish products."
Renting items is in itself eco-friendly because the items are at least going to be used many times and they'll likely be sold at the end of their life to a family who will use them even longer. It's on the rental company to make sure their sourcing is eco friendly, which includes refurbishing vintage items, or sourcing items that are built with natural materials and that are strong enough to withstand a long life of use. Reducing the demand for new items means investing in items built to last! I'm in love with Kadeema's emphasis on this, and I can attest to the quality of their products.
Silviyana Bridal Boutique is one that I work with frequently, because she's taken the time to source independent and ethical designers that you may not have heard of otherwise. Silviyana has a dress box option where you can chose a gown you' like to try on, and they'll send it right to your door! Custom wedding gown service doesn't have to be brick and mortar, sometimes it can be remote and just as wonderful! I've tried some on myself and I'm not even getting married ;)
This gown is the Poppy from Pure Magnolia. "Everyone at Pure Magnolia is passionate about what they do; not just about making pretty wedding dresses, it is easy to be passionate about that. They are passionate about creating a fashion industry that is good for our society, rather than one that profits from harming people and the earth. They stand for Ethical values in the fashion industry, fabric production, labor wages and conditions and responsible utilization of raw materials. They think that every fashion company, big or small, had a responsibility to society to make ethical choices that don’t just reflect the bottom line."
Check out Silviyana, I promise you won't be disappointed in the one on one service and the gown options that you won't find at a box store.
AMLN_designs caters to eco-friendly and free spirited women with an appreciation for handmade clothing, accessories, vintage finds, and up-cycled pieces. Their Boston based clothing designs are beautiful!
"Our initiative as a design company is to enhance a woman’s confidence, femininity, and spirit. Quality and affordability is of utmost concern here at AMLN. We strive to use at least 90% recycled or repurposed materials in our creations. We find this gives our buyers peace of mind knowing they are contributing to the cutdown of waste in our communities.
We offer a variety of sustainable options including custom made pieces for your next event or big day. The featured piece is an up-cycled bridesmaid gown made from two vintage white dresses that were sewn together and then hand dyed a golden yellow color."
I was stunned when I saw this gown! Not only is it a custom color that I know couples love when designing their weddings and wedding party looks, but it's also made from other pieces that would have otherwise been trashed. The fashion industry is the second most wasteful industry on the planet, and it's because most of our clothing can't be properly recycled (it needs to be only one fiber to be recyclable, not a blend). AMLN has found a way to help reduce that waste for a few more decades!
Carol Hudson Designs is a Massachusetts florist creating sustainable pieces that will last for a really long time.
"I am a Wellesley, MA based floral designer and Master Gardener serving the Boston area and beyond. When I visit special places, I always collect interesting bits of nature and work them into my arrangements... Seed pods, pine cones wisteria vine, bark, plants and unusual wood pieces. Wood turning is one way I am able to repurpose trees that come down in my area and turn them into terrariums that can be enjoyed indoors all year long. Last year I took on a new challenge by experimenting with preserving plant material to bring the beauty of some of my favorite outdoor spaces to live on indoors in a way that they could be enjoyed all year long. My moss pieces are a fun way to combine my love of plants and nature with my love of creating unique personalized creations. The 7' x 7' moss backdrop used in shoot comes apart in the sections so that I am able to use them again and again for events (place card holder, welcome sign, photo backdrop, flower wall).
Some of the the repurposed materials used in this photo shoot:
-7' preserved moss wall (backdrop)
-preserved umbrella fern (bridal bouquet)
-dried and preserved cotton seed pods (on table scape)
-dried Nigella pods (bridesmaids bouquet)
-succulent hanging plant (used to decorate many spaces)
-Preserved maidenhair fern (flat lay display with invitation)
-Dried umbrella fern (cake styling)
-succulent shoots (cake styling)"
I am super impressed with Carol's floral designs, and mostly with the preserved pieces. The fact that they can be reused over and over cuts down significantly on carbon from shipping and also on the consumption of the pieces in the first place. Preserved real flowers are the best method of creating a long lasting floral piece because it's completely, naturally biodegradable at the end of its life. It doesn't need acrylic paint (not biodegradable), it doesn't need a plastic stem (obviously not recyclable at all), and it doesn't need any other thing that's not totally natural to make it beautiful. See more of our wedding day flower tips in the plastic-free wedding guide!
"SHRH Designs started after I needed a change. After recovering from two strokes, I found myself craving more beauty in my days. I needed color. I needed whimsy. So, I began to focus on creating my own. I love adding all the little details to my work to make them come to life and literally pop off the paper. And, I would be lying if I didn’t admit I also have a love for glitter. I pride myself in the uniqueness of my work. We all know certain themes are popular, but they don’t all have to look the same. I want to bring my clients' ideas to life. I believe every event, from small to epic, can be special with the right touches.
There could be quite a bit of paper waste doing what I do. But I recycle and reuse as much as possible! My confetti for party packs and packaging are made from scraps of paper that are used for other projects. My scrap paper bin is just as big as my new paper supplies. Envelope liners and small accents can always be made from smaller section of paper to minimize waste. I use wood sticks for all my toppers instead of plastic and try to buy supplies local and from small businesses.
For the invitation suite, seating cards and menus I used a mix of recycled white card stock from CutCardStock, recycled envelopes from LCI paper, as well as Of The Earth seed paper. The happy couple can receive the rsvp’s back from their guests, plant them, and have a wildflower garden to remember this time in their lives by. I wanted rich textures so I added hand dyed silk velvet ribbon from Lino & Co. and made wax seals with pressed flowers from Of the Earth. Hand applied paint circles add that extra bit of texture to each piece of this suite. I believe presentation is everything, so being able to send these invites to guests in recycled kraft paper boxes lines with fresh moss is an amazing touch."
Seed paper is one of my favorite recommendations for eco friendly wedding paper products! Check it out in the eco-friendly wedding guide. One of the important things to remember when using seed paper is to make sure the ink is soy based and toxin free so that when it gets planted, the ink isn't running off into the ground and harming the plant life. My favorite papers are basil seeds or wildflowers! I love basil, so I'll grow it anywhere, but wildflowers help give a habitat for local wild bees, and that's a super great thing to do for your local environment.
"The e. scott originals team makes all our jewelry in our little brick and mortar shop located at 199b Highland Ave. in Somerville, MA. e. scott originals specializes in handmade, original jewelry inspired by urban life and mother nature. Collections range from everyday staples to artistic adornments, but all pieces are meant to be worn daily and loved forever. With training from the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA owner and designer Emily Scott Surette blends a mix of strong technical, old-world skills with a creative brain to create collections full of interest and intrigue, made to last a lifetime and beyond. The precious metals used in the shop are recycled and Emily seeks to use antique stones whenever possible, so as not to promote new mining. When not possible, she makes sure the stones are ethically sourced and of great quality, from reputable dealers who follow the Kimberly Process. Every piece is made in her studio, by hand, giving each one a truly unique look and feel so no two items are exactly the same."
e.scott original's wedding rings were made in Boston and were custom for this session, and the green stone and hand etched men's band were perfection! If you're looking for a new heirloom for your wedding day, something that no one else will ever have, then check out Emily's work because I think you'll really like it. You can learn more about ways to find eco-friendly and ethical rings in the sustainable wedding guide, but Emily did a great job of pointing it out in her description above!
The Running Mates band in Boston, MA is a contemporary acoustic duo made up of Julie and Spencer Broschard. The pair met in 2008 while attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Their strong musical chemistry soon became apparent and they began writing and performing together. While attending Berklee, they performed at various weddings and corporate events in and around New England for clients such as Dunkin' Donuts, The American Ireland Fund and Bank of America. After graduating with degrees in Songwriting, Julie moved to Florida for a one-year contract where she performed in The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show at Disney World. The pair then relocated to Los Angeles, where they began performing original music as The Running Mates. While in Los Angeles, the pair cultivated a large youtube following with their acoustic covers (with over thirty thousand subscribers and more than two million views), performed at iconic venues such as The House of Blues, The Viper Room, etc. and recorded several original studio albums and EP's. Most recently, the duo combined their passion for travel with music, sailing around Australia for four months on the P&O cruise lines and just finishing up a residency at the St. Regis Resort in Bora, Bora. The Running Mates show features a beautiful blend of harmonies and a wide repertoire of songs, ranging from jazz standards all the way to top 40 pop hits of today.
Julie and Spencer modeled for this session and were a dream! I only wish it was their real wedding I was photographing, because their connection is incredible. Julie is also an AMAZING singer, check her out on their website and in the feature length film from the shoot!
Candace Elizabeth Photography is a Boston based photographer and did the videography for this shoot and I'm in love with it! She was a joy to work with, was quiet, polite, and her work speaks volumes about her talent. She's focused on the narrative of you and your wedding day, which she shows seamlessly in her videography. Check her out!
I have to say, my favorite part of this wedding was the unique integration of ceramics. Michelle Barrett is a ceramic artist in Boston and did an amazing job creating a dynamic and new tables cape for this wedding. She even created custom plates for the shoot and now I need to buy some custom ceramic plates for my own home! Check out her website and join one of her workshops to create some magic yourself!
"My name is Lizzie Lin Johnson and I’m originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. I started Lizzie’s Bakery in my teeny, tiny apartment in Provo, Utah while my husband was finishing school at BYU. I am a self-taught baker and learned all of my skills from Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest (I read a lot of cake blogs and watch a TON of cake videos).
Time to get personal – I started baking cakes during the Summer of 2015 for my own bridal shower party and for close friends and family. I immediately stopped because I kept thinking – “who will eat all of this cake if I just make it for fun?” Fast forward to February of 2016, I was on Pinterest and a cake caught my eye. I bought all of the ingredients for it and made this almond cake for my 5 year old niece (who didn’t even like the taste ha!) I continued looking on Pinterest for more cake ideas and that’s when I got hooked. At that time, I was working full-time doing social media for a tech company in Provo and literally 2 weeks after I decided that I wanted to get back into baking cakes, a TON of people got laid off… including ME! I couldn’t believe it. I had never been unemployed before and I was freaking out. Steven (my husband) and I were fine financially but my life was always go-go-go and everything was routine for me. He told me to calm down and just relax because I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. If you know me – I can’t sit still….EVER. That’s when a lightbulb came on and I thought “I’m going to bake cakes and sell them!” I made an Instagram account dedicated to my cakes and desserts – @lizzies_bakery and it went uphill from there! A couple weeks after starting @lizzies_bakery account, I had about 6-8 cake orders a week! That’s when I knew Lizzie’s Bakery could be something big."
Lizzie made a delicious vegan and natural cake for this shoot and we tried it, it was amazing! More and more clients are finding that they need vegan or gluten free cakes, so the fact that Lizzie can cater to all of those needs with delicious recipes is an amazing feature of her bakery. Stop by and get yourself a cake!
Antea Amoroso Designs is a calligraphy and signage business in Reading, MA.
"What started out as planning my dream wedding quickly turned into a stay-at-home mom/DIY craft business (I just couldn't get enough of it!) I started out opening an online storefront on ETSY and quickly built up my shop full of custom hand painted wedding/event signage & decor, working with clients & brides from all over the world. As my business started growing, I noticed a niche market that really has not been tapped into yet. So many of the same item going out to all these weddings, and some of them even asking if I wanted to buy them back after they were finished using them...why not rent them out!?After my wedding, I was left over with many signs and decor pieces that I didn't know what to do with and felt pretty bad just throwing away after all that time and effort spent making them! I started getting requests from friends and family asking to borrow some of the items I had made. It made me happy that someone else could use them too! I have found many people out there see these inspirational pictures on pinterest and just don't have the time to make them or search for them online (let's be honest - after Venue, DJ, Photographer, Videographer, Florist, DRESS, etc. there's sometimes not much or very little $$ left to work with for the little details!)
This is why I find renting the most cost effective way to achieve the look you want for your event without being left over with all these table numbers, signs, props, decor etc. afterwards. My signs and decor are unique-everything is hand painted and crafted by myself. These are items that you would not find in your average store, and items selling for a pretty penny (plus shipping!) on most websites. My rentals are divided into packages based on what I find most clients are looking for, including but not limited to the seating chart, table numbers, card box, signature drink sign etc. Each package is designed and geared towards your unique style and taste, customized to you!"
Follow the group on Instagram!
Sustainable Wedding Inspiration Shoot
Planning + Design @eventsbycarianne
Rentals + Venue @kadeeemarentals @thetanneryloft
Hair+ Makeup @topknotbeauty
Bridesmaid dress Designer @amln_designs
Wedding Gown @silviyana_weddings
Calligraphy + Signage @anteaamoroso
Bride + Groom Models + Musicians @therunningates_band
Bridesmaid Model @linds_goode
Elusive Photography is a wedding photographer based in Maine, serving all of New England including Vermont, Boston, and Cape Cod. We also photograph weddings in Florida all year round! We really value eco-friendly and sustainable steps that couples take for their wedding, so we incentivize going plastic-free by giving our couples free wall art! Check out our intensive guide and the program in the Plastic-Free Wedding Guide.