Weddings in the U.S. produce, on average, 63 tons of CO2 and 400-600 pounds of trash. That's for one wedding! With over 2.5 million weddings per year in this country, that adds up to a crazy amount of pollution and waste.
When Brooke and her fiance Ben got engaged, they knew they wanted no part in the conventional wedding industry and decided to do everything themselves, from the decor to favors to her wedding dress - all of the trappings surrounding their beautiful ceremony and reception were handmade in some way.
Not only was it important to them that everything have a handmade touch, they wanted to pull it off in as eco-friendly a way as possible. Brooke says this was important to her because of:
Our deep personal desire to live as graciously as possible... especially towards the earth. So many of Ben and I's first dates were spent discussing all the cool environmental things we'd like so someday do (like have a gray water system, home insulation made from vegetable protein, countertops made from old rubber tires, etc. etc.). Our wedding could not possibly be an exception, despite the deeply embedded wastefulness that exists in the wedding "industry".
Rather than having flowers shipped from all over the world, Brooke opted to make her bouquets and boutonnieres from recycled sweater material, vintage lace and ribbon, feathers, and local greenery that she purchased from an independent local florist.
Brooke also made her own wedding dress by deconstructing one she scored in a vintage shop. The original dress had a 6' train and her vintage veil was 8' long before she got her hands on it! She took the whole dress apart for the fabric to create the beautiful tea length gown that she wore and added a shock of color with a crinoline that she also made by hand.
The bridesmaids' dresses were not handmade, but they were all vintage. She drew together the different styles of dresses by having a uniform color scheme. The whole wedding was black, white, and teal blue.
Of course, they also wanted eco-friendly rings. Her engagement ring originally belonged to Ben's grandmother, and they purchased their wedding bands from a seller on Etsy! She says that the wedding bands "are made from Titanium, an eco-friendly alternative to gold or sterling."
They made all of the food for the wedding themselves! The day before their wedding, the couple was in the kitchen prepping their "make your own taco or nachos bar."
For decorations, they kept it simple with lovely recycled paper banners and streamers. They constructed the banners by cutting designs out of old book pages and hot gluing them to pieces of yarn. For the streamers, they cut circles from thrifted National Geographic maps. Brooke and her bridesmaids spent an evening stapling the circles onto white yarn.
When they were having a tough time deciding what to give the bridal party for gifts, Ben decided to try his hand at glass cutting. By the time their wedding rolled around, he had crafted handmade, etched wine bottle vases for the whole bridal party.
Of course, all of this recycled handmade goodness took more time, but it saved tons of money and let the couple have a wedding experience that was 100% them. Brooke says:
I think it's worth it in the end because it's more of a personal experience and it becomes more about the "process" of getting married rather than just the end result. My husband and I will always remember the night we hung yarn all over our kitchen and spent hours gluing our handmade paper banners to yards and yards of it. And I'll never forget the nights I spent with bridesmaids cutting and sewing old materials into beautiful fabric bouquets.
Want to see more of Brooke and Ben's wedding? Their local photographer, Andrew Thomas Lee, has even more beautiful photos of their wedding and the reception.
All photos courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee Photography. Used with permission.