Zero Waste Wedding Part 1
May 16, 2017 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on November 4, 2021
I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I took an extended three-week break. It’s been odd being away from writing. I haven’t taken more than half a week off before.
I missed chatting with y’all, but the extended break was lovely! And, at least it was for a good reason. 😉 I got married and went on a wonderful vacation. It was so nice to unplug and take a break from routine.
On Saturday, we had a big backyard bbq party. On Sunday we ferried into SF and spent the night. We were married on Monday morning and had a huge wonderful brunch to celebrate. On Tuesday we flew to Portland, Maine.
I’m breaking this into three posts. Part one will focus on the backyard bbq. Part two will focus on the ceremony and brunch reception. Then there will be a third part focusing on the honeymoon, but honestly, that might be broken into more parts.
I also owe you a post on my amazing, plastic free hen party! There’s going to be lots of wedding posts coming up soon. I’m going to try and pepper them in with other posts to avoid wedding burnout.
But I’m so excited, and I hope you’re excited to read them too!
The backyard bbq was always meant to be an informal affair. We invited friends via facebook. It was just a party and was never going to be a “wedding” party. However, it morphed into more of a wedding party as we grew closer to our nuptials.
We pulled every chair and table we had out of the house. On the facebook group, I asked if anyone had a couple of tables we could borrow. Of course, they did!
My friends dropped them off the morning of the party. The tablecloths we used were white sheets I picked up for $3 a piece at the thrift store. In fact, I’ve already dropped the sheets off at the thrift store again.
We pulled out every cloth napkin, plate, and cup we had! Most all of them were used, but they definitely, weren’t uniform. It’s a backyard BBQ, so I can’t imagine people minded that much.
The centerpieces were made of in-season flowers I got at the farmers market that morning. I got them completely plastic free and placed them in spare mason jars I had from my kitchen.
related: 13 Unexpected Uses for a Mason Jar
My mom arranged them and I think they turned out beautiful!
The decor was kept pretty simple. Mostly the flowers and scattered with some photos. I have the huge benefit of working at a print shop.
I made a scrapbook of our first year together. We went on lots of adventures, including moving out to California. I placed that book on the coffee table in the house for people to flip through.
I haven’t scrapbooked since going zero waste. It was a hobby that didn’t really align with zero waste. Beyond that, blogging has become its own digital scrapbook.
I also printed 10 easel backed photos on cardstock. The whole things can be composted or recycled. But, I’m going to keep them. I thought I would compost them, but I’m going to hold onto them.
I also rented an 22″ x 28″ sign holder. You can see it in the first photo. I’m going to keep that photo of us as well.
We made a playlist on spotify to play during the party and rented cornhole boards with bean bags and a beer pong table. Justin wanted a beer pong table. Me, not so much.
I was hoping that we could use real cups instead of red solo cups but I was vetoed. The board had holes in it and 16oz mason jars just didn’t fit.
But, hey, everything else was waste-free and I washed those cups and gave them to a friend who would definitely use them (and would buy them anyways). So, no trash wound up being created from the event.
Remember, life and relationships are about compromise. Not everything is going to go 100% your way 100% of the time. And, that’s OK. Have fun and find creative solutions.
related: Dating with Lifestyle Differences
In fact, when Justin and I first started dating we stumbled upon a box of disposable cameras that were being thrown away. The cameras were kept inside of a big rigs glove box.
They were to be used for photos after an accident, but with the invention of camera phones holding on to the disposable cameras were pointless.
All of those cameras were being thrown out with full film! We saved around 15 and we put them out for everyone to use this weekend.
I’m not sure how well the photos are going to turn out, but it was a lot of fun! Only three wound up being full. So, we’re just going to hang onto the rest until they’re full.
I have NO idea how well these photos are going to turn out, but that’s kind of the fun with a disposable camera. You have no idea until it’s finished.
It also means I don’t have many photos to share with you.
The whole event was potluck. It was AWESOME. I made a batch of sangria, the same one I made at my 4th of July party last year. I kept it in a two-gallon drink dispenser I picked up at the thrift store.
I also lugged my crockpot down to the butcher. They placed it on the scale, pressed the tare button, filled it up with brisket, and then I paid. People were complimenting me for bringing the crockpot left and right. It’s a great way to guarantee that everything will fit plus it’s completely plastic free. My mom made the brisket, and I made the jackfruit.
The jackfruit was completely demolished, btw. You have got to make it, it’s delicious.
I popped down to the tortilleria while at the farmers market and got 40 fresh tortillas to go in my own container for $3!!!
I also stopped by the bakery to buy some rolls. Then I left it for everyone else to bring the sides. Man, oh man, I was not disappointed! There was a huge array of snacks, and no one went home hungry or thirsty. We wound up having a lot of liquor roll through the doors too.
We partied for 6-8 hours and it was an absolute blast!
On the invite, I requested that all of the party food come in a reusable dish. I was so happy, because there wasn’t a disposable in sight!
This wasn’t my wedding dress, just a dress I’ve had in my closet for 5 years. It was a Gunne Sax dress I bought at a vintage store in Pensacola, FL.
I’ve always loved that dress, and couldn’t think of a more fitting dress to wear at the party. And, I also wore the crown from my hen party, because – WHY NOT!?
Every time I walked into the room someone shouted, “All rise for Kathryn of house Kellogg first of her name.” And, a girl could get used to that.
I specifically stated that we did not want gifts. We just wanted to hang out with our friends and we wanted them to bring food to share. I did say if you felt really, really compelled to give something we would accept cash for the honeymoon.
I was absolutely blown away by everyone’s generosity. We wound up with a nice little chunk of change that we blew on drinks and fun in Maine! I cannot thank everyone enough. (But, now I have to write thank you cards. 😉
This whole party cost less than $150.
My biggest advice would be to ask friends for what you’re missing. You’d be amazed as to what you can borrow.
The only thing I wanted was to spend time with friends and family. I just wanted to have a fun afternoon, and it was definitely a huge success!
Check our zero waste wedding part two!
A big congratulations on a wonderful wedding party, Kathryn! It is marvelously refreshing to see someone execute and enjoy a simple, down-to-earth yet super fun wedding without spending a limb and generating a ton of waste. This takes guts and I salute you! So much common sense here and I hope others will gain confidence from seeing your success in bucking the oppressive societal norm of going big and crazy with weddings. Looking forward to part 2!
Thanks so much Natalie! We had such an amazing time. When we started planning our wedding, everyone we knew told us to elope. I’m glad we followed their advice.
Congratulations! I also applaud you having the courage to do things your way. We had a lovely wedding (many, many years ago), but when I think of how much money we spent I get a little ill…. Can’t wait to see parts 2 and 3!
Thank you so much! Weddings can definitely be pricey. I think sticker shock is what made me want to elope. 😉
Congratulations 🙂 what a wonderful party…the part with the flowers reminded me of my wedding. I love flowers but I couldn’t bare that so many would be killed for one day. So I found another way – I collected mason jars for weeks and made my own flowers from paper (I used old damaged books). It was beautiful and what’s more…our guests liked so much the jars with the flowers that took them home for decoration.
I admit, this was not entirely my idea…I work for a rubbish removal company and one of my colleagues mentioned paper flowers when I told her about my dilemma 🙂
WOW!! That sounds amazing. What a wonderful way to upcycle those old books! I really, really love that. Also, your patience to make that many right before you wedding is exceedingly admirable.
Kathryn, I love it! There is such excess in weddings, especially over the last 20 years. AND such waste. I applaud your use of non-disposables.
That is so great!!
"All rise for Kathryn of house Kellogg first of her name." I saw this and laughed so much! And thought "I want that too!"
Hey! I live in Pensacola. What store did you go to for your dress?
I volunteer sometimes for a local non-profit that takes flowers from weddings and funerals and then creates mini bouquets to distribute to local nursing homes and meals on wheels recipients. We use paper cups and floral foam. The people that donate their flowers for an additional special cause are so thankful they will live in and be loved again for several more days.
Looks eclectic and super cool! Wish we had a house… We’ve started talking about getting married the-alternative-way lately. Since we’re paying for everything ourselves, it would be good to go cheap. On the other hand we know we don’t want plastic plates and stuff… We’re following this book by George Holmes like step-by-step and talking numbers and what we can cut off. Maybe we could rent a house? Still much cheaper than a venue!
If anyone need a well-organized guide – I can recommend this one we’re using: https://www.net-boss.org/shop/how-to-prepare-a-perfect-wedding-by-george-holmes