Hank's Blog

How to Plan a Carbon-Neutral Wedding

When I was a kid, my school spent a lot of time teaching me and my classmates about looking after the environment. We had a weekly Bokashi rotation (kind of like composting), we went on excursions to the recycling centre, and we had an annual “Clean Up Australia” competition for who could pick up the most rubbish in the neighbourhood.

Millennials are the most climate-conscious generation, so it’s no wonder more and more engaged couples are opting for greener weddings. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what is achievable. It would be almost impossible to plan a wedding that emits close to zero carbon. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in…

Carbon offsetting is a way for you to invest financially in a project that sequesters CO₂ out of the atmosphere to counterbalance (or offset) your own carbon emissions. Every purchase of carbon offsets goes to fund activities such as planting trees or building renewable energy infrastructure.

In this article, you’ll see how easy it can be to plan a carbon-neutral wedding.

Step One: Making Conscious Choices

The first step in planning an environmentally friendly wedding is to continually and actively make conscious consumer choices. This means doing research on how sustainable your wedding products and services are. For example, when choosing a wedding venue, find out what energy sources the venue uses or how far away it is from public transportation. Buying pre-loved items such as wedding gowns or shoes will also lower your upfront carbon footprint. When picking vendors for your wedding day, speak to them about your sustainable values, and ask what they do in order to reduce their own business carbon footprint.

Step Two: Wedding Footprint Calculator

Once you have chosen the perfect wedding vendors and locked in all the details of the day, the next step is to calculate your wedding’s carbon footprint. Usually, you’ll want to do this about 3 or 4 weeks before the wedding itself. This can be done with Wedding Footprint Calculator, from Less Stuff More Meaning, which estimates how much CO₂ will be released into the atmosphere based on a variety of wedding-specific factors like travel and the number of guests you have.

This calculator can take a bit of time to get exactly right, but if you get stuck then it is generally safer to overestimate than underestimate.

I am a proud Ambassador for Less Stuff More Meaning. To learn more about how LSMM can support you on your eco-conscious journey, please visit their website.

Step Three: Purchase Your Carbon Offsets

Once you have completed the calculator, you will be given an overall carbon footprint, which is the amount you need to purchase in offsets. There are many ways to do this, but I recommend CarbonNeutral.com.au or Green Fleet because they let you go “shopping” for which projects you want to support. You could pick to plant trees through reforestation, build wind farms, or replace cookstoves.

I hope this article has been both informative and inspiring. If you’re looking to plan a carbon-neutral wedding, I encourage you to take these three steps: make conscious consumer choices; calculate your Wedding Footprint with the help of an easy calculator; and purchase offsets for your wedding emissions. These tips will ensure that your efforts towards sustainability are successful!

Hank Paul is a carbon-neutral wedding photographer. He specialises in sustainable and inclusive weddings. Visit the contact page to hire him for your wedding day.

 

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What is your Wedding Planning Archetype?

Planning a wedding is like creating a piece of art. It’s not just about the final product, but also about enjoying the process. With enough time and creative planning, you and your fiance can create something beautiful that captures your personalities and represents what it means for you to be married.

Every wedding is different and the creative process begins on a blank canvas. The medium, tools and techniques used are unique to each couple. However, most weddings and couples share a few things in common, in their approach and style I have called these the Wedding Planning Archetypes.

 

The Sketch Artist – no frills

The Sketch Artist wedding planning archetype refers to couples that want a quick, no-frills wedding planning experience. Many Sketch Artists choose to elope or have a micro-wedding with a select few guests attending. These types of weddings are often extremely affordable, intimate, and don’t come with a lot of stress.

 

The Woodworker – DIY 

The Woodworker archetype refers to the casual, cool and comfortable wedding planners. They are very hands-on with their wedding plans and incorporate a lot of creative projects into the day. Woodworkers are often budget-conscious and typically choose to have their weddings at venues such as vineyards, country manors or even their own backyard.

 

The Painter – traditional

The Painter archetype is for the couple who draw their wedding inspiration from generations past. They usually like to stick to traditional formats for their wedding and incorporate religious or cultural elements into their celebrations. Painters often have weddings in a church, mosque or other significant locations.

 

The Architect – formal, highly detailed

The Architect archetype is for the couple with big dreams, but little time. Architects are often time-poor and choose to outsource some of the planning to wedding professionals in order to see their grand ideas come to life. Many Architects will hire out lavish wedding venues in the city or with exceptional views.

 

The Sculptor – extravagant

The Sculptor archetype is for the elaborate, multi-day wedding festival. Sculptors work with three dimensions to make a dynamic masterpiece. Sculptor weddings often have several key events taking place over the course of a few days and are known for getting loud and boozy. Many Sculptor weddings include glamping, or booking out adjoining rooms of a hotel.

 

The Photographer – destination, memory maker

The Photographer archetype is for destination and luxurious weddings. We’re talking all-out-over-the-top-no-expense-spared. This type of wedding was born to be photographed. Budget is no problem, and the most important thing is that everyone is having a blast!

 

 

 

You might fit one of these archetypes neatly. Perhaps there’s some crossover between 2 or 3 of them. There are no rules with wedding planning, but choosing which archetype you fit will help you make faster, less stressful decisions about the wedding moving forward.

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The 3 Most Common Mistakes in Wedding Planning

Imagine going into a job interview and telling the interviewer that you have zero experience! Suffice to say, that would be pretty daunting. When it comes to planning your own wedding, experience is not a common qualifier. For most couples, this is the first and last time they have to plan an event of such significance with a big price tag. Sometimes this lack of experience can lead to stress or disappointment as a result of some easily avoidable mistakes. Here are some tips on what common mistakes I have seen people make, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #01: Not Aligning Your Wedding to Personal Values

People often make the mistake of not aligning their wedding to their personal values and beliefs. This can ultimately lead to disappointment on what should be one of the most special days in life. Don’t discount the significance of how your values can shape your wedding to be unique and utterly memorable.

Personal values come in many different forms, but at their core, they are guiding principles that make you who you are. Things such as cultural background, family traditions or sexual orientation all influence what your values are and how you may choose to express them on your wedding day.

A vegan bride might want to cater their menu accordingly; a socialist groom might ask for gifts to be made in the form of donations to their favourite charity. Think about any and all ways you want your values to shine through. This could include what you wear, who you invite to speak in the ceremony, or how the day/weekend is structured.

Personally, I encourage everyone to consider the importance of incorporating a Welcome To- or Acknowledgement of Country in their ceremony. You can read more about that in my blog post, How to do an Acknowledgement of Country at Your Wedding.

Mistake #02: Not Planning Around ‘Golden Hour’

The second mistake I often see from couples planning their wedding is not fully grasping how crucial sunset is for the portrait photo session. In the industry, we speak about something called ‘Golden Hour’. Golden Hour is typically the hour prior to the sun going down. (Pro tip: there’s an equally beautiful golden hour at sunrise. This is totally an option for those brave enough to have their portrait photos taken at the start of the day!)

Golden hour is the best time to take wedding photos because of a few reasons:

  • Number one, it is the most flattering sunlight for your skin. Harsh sunlight often amplifies imperfections. It also casts dark shadows in your eye sockets that make it look like you’ve got a black eye!
  • Number two, the low angle of the sun lends itself to beautiful backlighting and lens flares. There are some fun lighting conditions for an experienced photographer to play with!
  • Number three, golden hour lights you and your surroundings evenly. Consider if you’re wanting photos on top of a mountain, on the beach or in a whimsical forest… Sunset will allow for all aspects of the background scenery to be lit as beautifully as you are, thus providing your photos with a gorgeous palette of colour and light.

Practically, what this means is that couples need to know exactly what time the sun is setting on their chosen wedding date and plan their whole wedding around it. I wrote about this at length in another blog article, Your Wedding Timeline – A When-To Guide.

Mistake #03: Not Investing In Exceptional Wedding Photography

henry paul photography

Of all the things you spend money on for your big day, the photos are the only things that gain value the older they get. And no, I’m not suggesting you’ll be able to sell them in 20 years for twice as much as you paid for them! I mean sentimental value. Shared by you, your spouse and your family. Generations from now, these images will form a part of your legacy and the family narrative.

By not investing in an exceptional wedding photographer, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to potentially being disappointed with the photos you have received. Remember this: In 20 years from now you want to love how you looked and remember how you felt. That’s what good wedding photography can do. It is a window into the activities and the emotions from the day, so you can hold on to all of the romantic feelings, even when your spouse leaves their underwear on the floor for the millionth time.

In summary, the three most common wedding planning mistakes are as follows:

  • #01: Not Aligning Your Wedding to Personal Values.
  • #02: Not Planning Around ‘Golden Hour’.
  • #03: Not Investing In Exceptional Wedding Photography

Hopefully, this list has given you some insight into what not to do and instead give you peace of mind as you embark on some of the most exciting days ahead! One of the most important aspects of planning a wedding is finding someone who can capture these memories in a relaxed and romantic way. If you are looking for an experienced photographer with a keen eye, I would love to be there on your big day – please head to my contact page and get in touch!

Writing Your Wedding Speech

Wedding Speech tips

Giving a speech at your own wedding can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but it is especially challenging if you’ve been so focused on the wedding planning that you haven’t had time to sit down and formulate your words. Here are my tips on writing the perfect speech that will give everyone the warms and fuzzies without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Humour.

The best way to start a speech the first time is by telling an amusing story or joke. Humour can help lighten up the mood and make your speech more enjoyable for everyone in attendance, so no one feels uncomfortable.

  • What’s the funniest thing your spouse does in the mornings when they wake up?
  • Was there ever a time they did something so hilarious you couldn’t stop laughing?

Memories.

Share one of your fondest memories with your spouse. Give your guests an insight into the love story that brought you this far.

  • When was the moment you realised you were falling in love?
  • Where were you when you shared your first kiss?
  • What is something your spouse has done that made you feel proud of them?

Thank yous.

Okay, you’ve shared some heartfelt stuff. Now you can dring your wedding speech to a close with some gratitude. As the host of this big party, it’s your job to let everyone know that their presence is appreciated.

  • Thank your parents, thank your families, thank your wedding party. No exceptions.
  • Shout out anybody who gave up their time and/or skills for your wedding.
  • You can also make your wedding vendors feel special by acknowledging their contributions to the big day.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Whilst it can be very sweet to thank every person individually by name, there’s no need to let it drag on.
  • A final thank you to your brand new spouse! Say “I love you” and you’re done 🙂

A few extra thoughts:

 

Short and sweet.

Keep it short and sweet. An average speech should last for only about two to five minutes. Keeping your speech concise ensures that you will be able to logically address all of your points without rambling or going off-topic.

  • If you don’t like public speaking, simply say a few kind words, raise your glass for a toast and hand back the microphone.
  • It’s easy to talk too fast when you are nervous. Slow down your speaking in order to allow your guests to hear you more clearly.

Be sincere.

Show your family and guests much you care for your friendship with them and express your gratitude for their participation in the event.

  • Take a moment after the speech to give a hug to your parents or your spouse. Physical touch helps reaffirm the things you’ve just said about them.
  • It’s common for people to get a little choked up while giving a speech. If you have prepared enough in advance, you will be able to push through the tears.
  • Don’t be embarrassed if you do cry, this shows that you care deeply for the person or people who are being honoured.

There are many ways to end a wedding speech, but the most important thing is that you be heartfelt and sincere. I hope these tips will help you on your journey to create something special that expresses how much joy and meaning this day holds for you. Now it’s time to take out those notes on paper and go practice! If this has all been so helpful, please consider sharing this article with others who might need help writing their wedding speech too.

Henry Paul Photography acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

 

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