How to Have an Eco-Friendly Wedding with Sustainable Elements

If I’d have told the angsty, Panic! at the Disco-obsessed teenage version of you that, fifteen-ish years from now, you would be marrying the love of your actual life… do you think you’d have believed me? 

Jennings would have. In fact, if I’d have asked Jennings if he thought there was the slightest chance on this incredible planet of ours that he could land a stunner like Kelly, back when he was trying to win her over in some high school friend’s dinge basement by rolling pool balls at her butt (an interesting tactic, but who am I to judge), I think he’d have replied with an emphatic “No doubt about it.” 

Turns out, he was right.

Groom kisses bride's neck as the sunlight cascades over them in Coeur d'Alene wedding.
Bride looks of camera with ebullient smile while holding a non-alcoholic glass of wine.
Groom grins as he buttons his beige suit.
Groom carries expecting bride through prairie grass in Idaho destination wedding
Groom kisses expecting bride's stomach in stunning golden hour portrait
Bride and groom lay in prairie grass in stunning Idaho destination wedding golden hour

Jennings and Kelly tied the knot at Settlers Creek in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with an eco-friendly wedding celebration that Mother Nature herself couldn’t have planned any better if she tried. They really said, ‘IDGAF about the latest wedding trends on Pinterest” and instead opted to dream up a documentary day that aligned with their values of sustainability and unprecedented love for our planet. 

Indeed, your wedding can be eco-friendly, and I’m here to give you a little crash course, courtesy of Jennings and Kelly’s early autumn destination wedding.

“If you are stressed about whether or not it’s possible to capture stunning and REAL photos of you, your partner and all of your loved ones, look no further. Ali has GOT YOU. Me and my hub aren’t good with posed photos, PDA, etc., but Ali so flawlessly made us feel comfortable ALL DAY LONG and when we got a first look at our photos, we simply could not believe the moments she captured over and over again. We also were hoping to avoid hours of cheesing smiles with our gigantic families and wedding parties – and Ali made that happen AND made the entire process PAINLESS. I simply could not recommend her more. She will take such good care of you and your people and in an efficient manner. AND she will capture the love, joy and authenticity of your day. Thank you Ali <33333” -Kelly, Bride

Source Your Down-to-Earth Decor Straight from Mother Nature

I mean, when you’re getting married at one of the most stunning special event venues in the Pacific Northwest, it’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? With ponderosa pines towering over their makeshift altar (casting the most stunning shadows for a luxury photographer like me to absolutely *gasp* over) and golden prairie grass swaying in the breeze, Jennings and Kelly didn’t really need much else in their decor lineup. Mother Nature was their VIP guest, and she put on one hell of a show. Just look at her.

(Correction: If you didn’t notice in the best shot of the whole day above, the real VIP guest was the sweet babe in Kelly’s tummy that made the couple portraits that much more “captured, not composed,” as Kelly says… a.k.a. what I’m QUITE literally all about as a storytelling sort of wedding photographer. But, I’m dabbling in semantics now.)

Settlers Creek wedding venue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Bride and groom stroll through prairie grass at Settlers Creek wedding venue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Beautiful wedding reception layout at wedding venue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Bride and groom acknowledge their guests in Idaho destination wedding
Settlers Creek wedding venue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Wedding musicians prepare for bride to come down the aisle as they sit among prairie grass at Settlers Creek wedding venue in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Settlers Creek in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Work with Eco-Friendly Wedding Vendors

One of the best ways to plan an eco-friendly wedding day is to collaborate with wedding vendors that share your sustainable values and take care of the little details for you so that you can fully immerse yourself in your luxury experience, in each and every cinematic moment that will play on loop in your memory for decades to come.

In Jennings and Kelly’s case, they chose their venue (Settlers Creek in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) not only because it was an absolute VISION but because they cared deeply about where they sourced their food from. All of the menu items at Settlers Creek came directly from local farms, and any food that was remaining at the end of the evening made its way into the pig feed the next day.

As if the newlyweds hadn’t outdone themselves with eco-friendly elements already, Kelly even went so far as to say ‘yes’ to a dress from a company that shared so many values with the bride-to-be. A match made in heaven, if you will. Grace Loves Lace strongly believes in creating equity for women in business, repurposing 100% of their fabric waste, visiting their production partners frequently to ensure their ethical supply chain remains in tact, and inventing their own GRS-certified lace and lining crafted from 100% recycled materials. Talk about putting in the work.

Don’t only say ‘yes;’ say LESS. Truly an eco-friendly elite.

Mother of the bride buttons bride's dress from Grace Loves Lace
Satin wedding gown hangs near purple petunias
Bride's bare back is exposed as mother of the bride gently buttons wedding gown.
Mother of the bride and maid of honor hold bride's cascading, eco-friendly lace veil while she waits for groom to arrive for first look.
Mother of the bride steams veil.

Vendors: Venue: Settlers Creek | Wedding Planner: af**********@ev************.com" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Alexa Fitzpatrick | DJ: Ryan Gerard with Epic DJ | Videographer: Timo Bentley | Invitations: Minted | Dress: Grace Loves Lace | Jewelry: Family Heirlooms | Bride’s Shoes: Lulu’s | Groom’s Suit: Joseph Abboud | Bride’s Rings: Jen Bellefleur with New Gild Jewelers | Dessert: Crumbl Cookies | Transportation: Alpha Omega Tours and Charters |

Ditch the Florals

Did you know that your wedding florals can have the biggest carbon footprint of anything else included in your day? Because neither did I, until Jennings and Kelly taught me right. Because most flower varieties aren’t available year round, one of two things usually occurs: 1) They have to be grown in artificial conditions with a pretty wild amount of chemicals and/or 2) They have to be transported long distances and typically by air freight, which has a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint.

Instead, Kelly’s bridal bouquet was comprised entirely of colorful ribbons that were later placed on the bride’s hands during the ceremony, while Kelly’s dad and sister sang, “You are the Best Thing.” Not a dry eye in the place… most certainly not mine, anyway! It’s these intentional, double-chinned ugly cry moments that I feel honored to catch with my camera as I shape your story frame by frame.

Bride and groom say their "I do's" with ribbon ceremony.
Wedding guest tells bride and groom what he loves about them as he places ribbon on bride's wrists.
Father of the bride and maid of honor sing 'You are the Best Thing' by Ray LaMontagne
Bride and groom joyfully make their grand exit in Idaho destination wedding

Go Full Eco-Friendly Wedding Mode with Your Bridesmaids

The little things make a HUGE difference, especially when it comes to being kind to our planet. Rather than going all out on hair and makeup (which feeds into sustainability issues in the cosmetic industry like depleting natural resources, wasting packaging resources, and producing harmful microplastics), the wedding party totally DIY-ed their hair and makeup. They also chose to wear pre-owned dresses to avoid shipping in new ones that they would only wear once– or, to take a note from the Holy Grail of wedding movies, 27 Dresses, that they “could always shorten and (never) wear again.”

Bride and bridesmaids dance through Idaho vineyard.
Bride and groom embrace on their wedding morning.
Bridesmaids do bride's makeup
Maid of honor grins as she helps bride put her shoes on
Colorful bridal party looks on as bride and groom kiss.
Bride dances in Idaho field as her bridesmaids cheer her on.

Kelly and Jennings are proof beyond all proof that, not only can you have an eco-friendly wedding with absolute ease, but that the true wonder of a wedding day is how your people– all of the humans that you have picked up along this lovely little life of yours– are all in one place to celebrate YOU and your love story. Which, in Jens and Kelly’s case, was fourteen years in the making. All of the people who taught you how to love and how to celebrate, all in one place. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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