When Amber Marcoux and Tyler Wilcox of Ormond Beach, Florida, started planning their wedding, they wanted to make the event a celebration of love with a light footprint on the earth and local wildlife. They took the time to research and plan so that no single-use plastic was used during the event. We spoke with Amber to find out how they did it.
PPC: Why and how did you decide to have a wedding with no single-use plastic?
Amber: This is something that gradually took shape for us. My husband is a HUGE Jack Johnson fan, and we recently attended a few of his shows. Jack made his events more than just the music and celebration, he made it about how gathering a group of people together is the perfect audience for talking about issues in our world.
Part of our inspiration came from that belief, and the other half came from my EXTREME love of turtles. I used to work for a non-profit humane society in the area, so animals are a BIG part of our lives. During my time at the humane society, I took a group of camp students to a local marine science center. During my FIRST visit to the Marine Science Center I watched a volunteer teach a group of 5-year-olds about the impact a plastic bag has on a sea turtle. She talked about how a sea turtle can't see the difference from a plastic bag and a jelly fish and how the bags can make the turtles very sick. That was my moment. I went home that day, and vowed NEVER to use plastic bags again. Since then, I've been able to convince my friends and family about stopping the use of single-use plastic bags and either bringing their own, using paper, or just skipping the bag all together.
When we started planning our wedding, both Tyler and I began to think of ways that we can make an impact on the audience we had in front of us on our special day. So we did! One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the art we created from our beach cleanups. Jack Johnson had done something similar for his tour, and we were inspired. We did regular beach cleanups leading up until the big day, and I took only a small portion of what we collected and used it to make an art piece to display to our guests on our big day.
What was the hardest part of planning this type of wedding? What was the best part?
This sounds silly, but the hardest part was getting people to understand what we were doing and why. I can't tell you how many conversations I had to have with my venue about what "single-use" plastic and how going "plastic-free" meant NO plastic. My wedding coordinator asked once if plastic cups counted as single-use plastic. Yes, that happened.
I just don't think our culture understands what it means. I think that they get it when you're saying "no plastic" but they don't really understand what and why. I had this conversation MANY times. I guess this would also be the best part. I did A LOT of Googling to see if others had "plastic-free" wedding ceremonies. It was sad, but I didn't see it being a common thing. So we had to make it our own, and we had to ask A LOT of questions. They weren't hard, but you have to stay more on top of your vendors, and really be in control of your ceremony.
Plastic came up in unexpected places. We had gifted our guests cookies in addition to our favor donation to a local marine science center. The cookies, of course, would have been wrapped in plastic. So we had to find an alternative. They're out there, you just have to do your own research and look.
Can you share about some of the ways you saved money or spent more money going plastic-free?
We didn't necessarily "save" money when it came to the plastic-free initiative. We took the angle with our vendors of: do you use this? and if so, I'd like to provide an alternative. This way, we weren't causing a conflict, but rather, letting the vendor or venue know that we would not accept something at our ceremony. We replaced A LOT like trash bags, straws, coffee stirrers, etc.
In the aspect of "saving money" we did a lot on our own. Tyler is incredibly handy and loves to spend time in the garage wood-working. So together, we created some really cool pieces for the big day. All of the signs and decor we had were made from upcycled wood from a local shop. A local succulent artist dedicated to conservation of the beach helped me create beautiful succulent pieces. To purchase things of this nature would have probably been more expensive, and they wouldn't have any underlying meaning to them.
We did save money when we said no to things like balloons, fake flowers, etc. It's crazy, but during our beach cleanups we found SO many fake rose petals cluttering the beach. Do I think this event cost more from going plastic-free? Yes. Do I think it was worth it? Yes, I didn't spend an unheard of amount of money, a few dollars here and there to know we're making a bigger impact.
Tyler and I REALLY loved making this day the way it was. We reached out to A LOT of fantastic organizations like Plastic Pollution Coalition that helped support us in making our day so special.
We were sponsored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Naked Turtle Rum company in our efforts for the sea turtles and going plastic-free. Naked Turtle Rum provided our guests with custom cocktails and items for use in our recyclable bag favors, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy set up the partnership with Naked Turtle Rum and provided us resources for our guests to learn more about their efforts. In addition to favors, we adopted a sea turtle from the Marine Science Center.
Tyler and I want to help more couples by empowering them to challenge their venues to rid of single-use plastics. For us, weddings while they are about the incredible love we have for one another, we sometimes forget the simple things. You spend so much money for things YOU want, but don't stop to think about how it might be effecting the environment.
Congratulations Amber and Tyler!