Offsetting Your Wedding Carbon Footprint

Regular readers of ‘Wedding Planning Tips’ may know that I also write for the blog ‘Greener Me’.  ‘Greener Me’ is a record of my personal journey not only to live a greener life but also run a greener photography business.


Many of my wedding couples are not only sharing my concern for the environment but also share my desire to actively do something about it.  I have been impressed and inspired by many couple’s knowledge, actions and decisions in regards to having a ‘green wedding’.


I mentioned in a recent post ‘A Green Wedding’ a couple I photographed last year at Balmoral Sydney.  Instead of paying money for guest bomboniere, they donated the money to ‘Climate Change’.


On my personal journey to live a greener life, I have been investigating the carbon offsetting scheme that many companies offer.  From my basic understanding, the scheme works by honestly answering a number of questions about your life i.e. how much petrol you spend each week, what is your power bill etc etc etc.  Then these companies calculate how much carbon emissions per year your lifestyle and business are creating.


This emission figure then translates to a money figure that you can pay.  These companies will then plant the number of trees needed to cover the amount of carbon emissions being emitted from your lifestyle / business.


I have to admit my knowledge on these schemes is at present limited (still researching), however even though my current personal opinion is that the idea isn’t bad, I feel I could do better.


I would rather try to eliminate the carbon emissions in the first place rather than simply offsetting them.  Therefore instead of paying $200 a year because I run a heater all day during winter, I would rather put on another jumper and turn the heater off.


However in saying that I have decided to do both.  My goal is to pay less money each year for offsetting because I am not having a lifestyle that is emitting as much carbon as the previous year.


So for couples trying to organise a ‘green’ wedding, perhaps their thinking may be the same.  In my post ‘A Green Wedding’ has some more information, links and ideas about how to have a wedding that will create less carbon emissions.  To be fair it is probably highly unlikely that couples will be able to have a wedding that is totally carbon natural without offsetting (unless you plan to stand naked in the forest and forage amongst the trees for berries to eat at the reception).


It is my great pleasure now to direct you to a website that I stumbled across only recently.  Sally Miles, is a Sydney lady who recently held her own carbon neutral wedding.  She has created a website dedicated to couples wanting to do the same.  She named her website the Green Wedding Guide.


She offers ideas and also the option to calculate your wedding’s carbon emission and even offsetting them.


I will be personally contacting Sally to congratulate and encourage her new green wedding venture.



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A Green Wedding

As a wedding photographer, I have noticed the subject of planning a green wedding is becoming a concern with many more couples.  Ali who is getting married at the end of the year and who has been reading both my blogs emailed me about her green wedding concerns:

“Oh I found something you might be interested in this. I can’t afford to hire china plates etc for our wedding (and can’t be arsed washing them up after) and I didn’t want plastic ones as they are so bad for the environment… so I found a cool alternative – I love them!!! :)”


Check out ‘Non Toxic Life’. 


I did check out this website Ali – thank you so much for emailing me the link.  I am going to add them to my Australian website blog roll (on my Greener Me blog).  My only concern was they used palm leaves to make the disposable plates.


I knew from my friend Laura that you need to be careful on where palm leaves and palm oil comes from.  We don’t want to destroy any more orangutan forest or habitat. 


See Laura’s email in my post


Laura emailed them on my behalf to ask the question of where the palm leaves comes from.  Here is their response back: 


“Hi Laura


The bioplates are made from the fallen palm fronds of the Betel Nut tree. In the village where they are made, the trees are everywhere naturally, they are not harvested at all. 


We are simply finding a use for the fronds that just create a mess as there are so many trees in the area.

The wooden cutlery is made from fast growing plantation timber, grown on a four year rotational cycle, especially for their manufacture.


Kind Regards

Melissa Kerr


Thanks Laura for your help on this post.  Please leave a comment about any more information you would like to add about saving the organgutan.


Here are some links to other blogs, posts or websites talking about green weddings for your reference:


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Family Wedding Photography



Your actual wedding day is not the time to start thinking about what family groups you would like a photograph with.  It is not just Murphy’s Law but common sense that dictates you will forget someone.


Can I say this is especially true if either the bride or groom (or sometimes both) have step parents and or step families.


It is imperative not only for a happy wedding day but also many years of happiness after your wedding, to make sure the topic ‘family photographs’ is discussed before the wedding.  Then write a list!


Firstly sit down together with your fiancé privately, to talk about which family groups are important to have photographed.  Discuss if some of these groups are to be photographed with just the bride or groom or both?


Once you both have agreed upon the family group list then I would strongly recommend for all couples to show this list to their photographer.  Discuss the time needed for the amount of family group photos required with your photographer.


Now that you have an idea of how much time it will take and when during the wedding these photographs will be taken, then it is a very good idea for most couples to discuss this list with their parents (I say most couples as this is not the case for everyone – you decide for yourself).


This way you’ll have a better chance of avoiding this statement after your wedding “we didn’t get a photograph of Auntie Betty and her family with the bride & groom”!


Don’t ever assume that the photographer will know which family group photographs are important to you.  Make sure you tell your photographer. I would even go further and recommend emailing the list to the photographer.  It is always a good idea to have proof of what you have asked for.



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Family Members Behaving Badly at Weddings

I can still recall many years ago, one of my very first weddings as a photographer.  The bride and groom were excited to have me photograph their wedding however they neglected to share that the bride’s mother was not.


Actually it wasn’t until their wedding day that the couple revelled their fears to me.  Apparently the bride’s mother wanted her brother (keen amateur photographer) to photograph the wedding and not a stranger.


Talk about feeling unwanted!  From the moment I arrived, there was no doubt in my mind the mother was unhappy with my presence.  Figuring it was too late to problem solve this with the happy couple, I decided to do my best to avoid any confrontation with the mother.


With five minutes before the bride was due to arrive at the church, I walked outside to find a good vantage spot from where I would photograph the cars as they drove down the road.  In finding my spot I crouched down ready for the cars arrival.  Not long had I squatted did I feel a hard thump on the back of my head.  I span around quickly to find the mother standing behind me yelling “move away, I want to take a photograph from this spot”.


Nursing my head with one hand while holding my camera in the other, I responded relatively calmly “Mrs Robinson that is assault and if you do that again I will have no other option than to call the police after this wedding is over”.


I don’t remember ever hearing or seeing the bride’s mother for the rest of the wedding and the bride and groom never mentioned the incident to me after the wedding.  I assumed the mother realised she was being a bit neurotic and thought it best not to mention the incident to anyone so not to increase the already strained relationship she had with her daughter.


Weddings bring out the very best and the absolute worst behaviour in people.  I think after 17 years of being a wedding photographer, that family are the worst offenders in regards to bad behaviour.


I will write a lot more about dealing with problem family members (and sometimes friends) in future posts.


For now I think you may enjoy a little lighter side of this topic.  This video captures a family celebrating a wedding in Russia.


Enjoy with the knowledge your family is not this bad





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A Winter Wedding in Sydney?

Leaving the city for the country to get married!

Winter is now upon us, which means summer’s harsh light has been replaced with the softest light of the year!!  I believe we are lucky in Sydney, Australia to have so much sunlight in winter.  Just think of poor Norway being cold and dark the whole time in winter.

Softer light in winter is one reason why I would recommend anyone to think about having their wedding in winter (in Sydney and most of Australia).  Softer light is merciful & kind, making it a fantastic light source for wedding photography.

Another reason to consider hosting your wedding in winter is the possible financial savings.  Many suppliers (including myself) offer large discounts for ‘off peak’ weddings.  ‘Off peak’ being weddings held in the winter months and or held Monday through to Thursday.  Friday weddings held outside of winter is still considered by many suppliers to be peak period, as there are so many weddings held on Fridays.

I don’t know……… maybe it is the romantic in me but I love winter weddings.  I remember a winter wedding held on the Southern Highlands (about 2 hours south of Sydney) in the country area.  Picture the guests gathering around the glow of log fires in this gorgeous restored homestead.  Large double glazed windows keeping the warmth in while show casing the roving hills and country side beyond.

Sure this may not be everyone’s dream wedding but if nothing else it is worth considering.

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Caring for your Unframed Photographs

A little ‘add on’ from my post, ‘what to think about when comparing wedding photographers’.


You have received your photographs back from your wedding photographer or you have been given photographs that your friends took on your wedding day – what now??


Of course you would like to protect and care for the professional photographs but I would encourage you to also consider the future well being of all your wedding photographs (even the ones Auntie Bessie lovingly captured).  Often it isn’t until many years later, when viewing damaged, wedding photographs that people regret they didn’t take better care of them.


Here are the golden rules of care for all your treasured wedding photographs……………


Avoid touching the photograph on the image side. Instead hold and pick photographs from the side edges.


Direct sunlight, high humidity, UV light, cleaning products will damage your photographs.


If you have chosen to frame your photographs yourself:


Select a glass that will give the highest protection against UV light. 


Select matting that is acid free (make sure it is not just acid buffed i.e. there is still acid in the inner core). I always use pure ‘rag cotton matting’.  Do not put a photograph straight onto the glass as in years to come you will find that the photograph will have stuck to the glass.


Avoid hanging your frame on a wall that direct sunlight hits. 


Try to hang on an internal wall if possible instead of an external wall.  An internal wall has fewer changes in temperature.


Avoid areas of raising damp or high humidity when hanging your frame.


If you have chosen to place your photographs in an album yourself:


Unfortunately for couples that apart from ‘dry mounting’ albums, (albums that you stick or mount the photographs to the page without matting) most professional albums can only be purchased through a professional photographer.  The reason for this, is album companies don’t want to sell ‘one off albums’ as it takes them a while to teach the buyer to assemble the albums, ready images for the albums and how to place the album order.  Album companies know that once a photographer is up to speed with their process that they will continually order from them, while a wedding couple will most likely only order once.


There are some great dry mount albums out there that are 100% acid free (check out ‘corban & blair’ albums). Be careful as some tapes used for securing photographs to albums will actually harm your photographs so check before using.  Read the album manufacture’s notes before purchasing the album and purchasing the tape.  When attaching your photographs to an album, use a small amount of tape (i.e. do not secure the whole photograph to the page).  This will allow the photograph to contract and expand with temperature changes.


If however you were wanting a more professional album (like a matted, digital or library bound album) then I would strongly suggest you select a photographer that offers these types of albums (please read my notes on what to think about when comparing wedding photographers, as this post has more information about this).


One last thought on albums, if you have your digital negatives then your options just got wider with the new world of ‘coffee table’ albums.  Many of these coffee table album manufactures offer web based software that you can design your own album online and the company will print your album for you (but this a whole other blog topic for another day).


Hoping you enjoy your photographs forever.


Sarhn McArthur

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A Church Wedding Ceremony and Photographers

If a church ceremony is what you have your heart set on, then you will want to read on.

What I recommend couples do, is to discuss with the church minister about his or her views on  photographers taking photographs during the ceremony.

Will the minister allow flash in the church? If the church was built in the last thirty years there is a good chance it has fluorescent lighting (which is not a great light source for photography). If the church is illuminated by fluorescent lighting and the minister doesn’t allow flash inside the church, then you need to check if this will be a problem for your photographer.

I suggest you confirm these questions with your minister too:

1) Are there areas inside the church the photographer is not allowed to take photographs?

2) Are there any times during the ceremony that the photographer is not allowed to take photographs?

Confirming these questions with your minister will give you information to share with your photographer. Chat with your photographer about the church’s policies to see if they will affect what you had visualised your wedding photography inside the church to look like.

Do this before you walk down the aisle and you won’t have to worry about the minister getting annoyed at the photographer during the ceremony.

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