When planning an elopement, it’s important to keep in mind the impact that your celebration will have on the environment. For many folks, it might not even be a thought that crosses their minds. As a Leave No Trace wedding and elopement photographer, I make sure to practice responsible outdoor recreation and encourage my couples to do so as well. The organization is set on principles that help minimize human impact on natural landscapes. After all, don’t we want generations to come to also be able to enjoy this beautiful planet when we are long gone? By following these basic principles, you can ensure that your elopement is not only beautiful + meaningful, but also sustainable. You might be wondering, “Syd, how the heck do I have a sustainable wedding?!” No worries, friend. I’m here to share with you how to have a ‘Leave No Trace’ elopement.
When selecting a location for your elopement, choose an area that is already impacted or designated for recreational use. Avoid fragile habitats, such as wetlands or alpine tundra, and stay on established trails or paths. Do some research beforehand to find out about any regulations or restrictions in the area you plan to elope in. It is important to stick to the trail to avoid damaging ecosystems or fragile plants. Parks have closed areas in the past due to too much human impact on trails or areas. Let’s do our part to make sure your elopement location is able to be visited for years and years!
Consider alternatives to campfires, such as a camp stove. If you do build a campfire, use established fire rings or fire pans, and keep the fire small. Use only small sticks and twigs, and never cut or damage live vegetation for firewood. Lots of my couples love to end their day with a campfire. This is AMAZING, and it is just important we are responsible, especially in dry areas during wildfire season! Another way to be responsible with fire is to avoid using fireworks, sparklers, etc during your celebration. Other alternatives that are similar are glow sticks, fun lights, headlamps, and more.
Bring all of your waste out with you, including food scraps and toilet paper. If you plan on hiking into the backcountry for your elopement, count me in! Just be conscious of what you are bringing in, because it will all need to leave with you. This includes flowers, confetti, and even wine corks.
Try to choose flowers that do not have dried seeds or pieces of florals that could fall off into the habitat. Faux flowers are always a great option, or contact a local florist to see if they use native wildflowers or plants! Although confetti and rice tossing can be fun, leave it at home. Using confetti, even if it is biodegradable, can cause a lot of damage and takes a long time to decompose. Be respectful and leave the forest better than you found it.
This is a big one when getting married in national parks and wilderness areas. Keep a safe distance from wildlife, and never feed them. Avoid sensitive wildlife areas, such as nesting or denning sites, and always follow park regulations regarding wildlife viewing.
Although it is fun to have a momento, I promise I will be taking plenty of photos! Avoid picking flowers or plants, moving rocks, or disturbing archaeological or cultural sites. This also means no etching “X + X” into a tree! Leave natural and cultural resources as you found them for future generations to enjoy.
By choosing to have a Leave No Trace elopement, you are making a commitment to leaving the Earth better than you found it. And I can assure you that your elopement will be even better knowing that you didn’t have a negative impact on the land. Looking for more information on Leave No Trace? CLICK HERE to head directly to their website + to find out more. I’d love to be friends over on the ‘Gram, too! You can find me @sydneybreannphoto. Are you ready to wander?
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