By: Gretchen Pahia
Love is in the air, and it’s officially wedding season in Arizona. And whether these celebrated unions take place in large banquet halls, fancy resort surrounds, or quaint backyards across our fine state, many brides and grooms will be planning a wedding that celebrates their love with Mother Earth in mind.
Planning a sustainable wedding can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! According to Arizona-based wedding and event planner Paris Semple, there are some easy things couples can do to help make their day a little eco-friendlier.
“All it really takes is having a goal in mind and a little extra foresight. For example, I’ve worked with great florists that create sustainable floral designs by only working with flowers that grow locally and are in season,” she notes. “Also, we partner with organizations that will, after the wedding day, accept donations of flowers to create unique arrangements for local hospitals and nursing homes. Another way to reduce your footprint is to ditch the favors and goodies at the table – it cuts back on waste and allows couples to spend money on other upgrades.”
Semple suggests that an easy way to reduce food waste is to opt for a plated dinner format instead of a buffet-style reception. Additionally, working with local rental companies to provide linens and table settings can easily be one of the best ways to reduce waste. As many items from a wedding are rarely reused, employing a rental company allows couples to procure necessary reception items without having to purchase them and potentially throw them in the trash after the event is complete.
Around Arizona, when it comes to wedding venues that can host a sustainable wedding, Semple shares that almost all venues can help clients meet their eco-friendly goals and be adaptable to client requests.
Valley resident Madeline Dolgin recently planned her own sustainable wedding, saying it was important for both her and her partner. “When planning our wedding, we looked at each crucial or trendy element of this special event with a critical eye. We determined what impact it would have on the environment, whether it had a purpose – and then researched how to reduce the environmental impact for the things we chose to do with our choice of vendors and sustainable products.”
Dolgin shares that for her, sustainability became a passion while studying fashion in college. She was horrified to learn about human rights abuses within the industry and how fashion manufacturing pollutes the environment. The wedding industry can also have detrimental impacts on the environment, so when she got engaged while pursuing her master’s in natural resources, she knew she wanted to start her marriage in a sustainable way. Dolgin wanted to make a commitment not only to her partner but also to their shared dedication to the environment and creating a sustainable life. According to her, their wedding goals included “supporting local, supporting diverse or minority-owned businesses, and reducing the environmental impact.”
For her bridesmaid dresses, Dolgin turned to a Los Angeles-area designer for sustainable fabrics, but she used Valley-based vendors for other elements, such as a local flower farmer, digital photo booth in lieu of wasteful photo booth prints, and even a vegan caterer. The entire event was held at the Icehouse in Downtown Phoenix, a preserved historic building dating back to 1920.
For wedding rings, Dolgin wore a family heirloom and her husband wore a fair trade ring from carbon-negative company Aether. Final touches included renting compost bins from Recycle City to ensure food and other materials were composted at the end of the event.
Dolgin says while it wasn’t the easiest of processes to make her wedding sustainable, it was worth it. “It sometimes meant sacrificing the perfect vision, but it also meant connecting with incredible people and vendors whose values aligned with ours. We felt good knowing we made steps to reduce our environmental impact, so our planning process felt more intentional and spiritual.”