Tips & Tricks: How to apply the Leave No Trace Principles to your Elopement

This week on our Tips & Tricks post, we welcome guest blogger Halie West! She is a lover of travel and adventure, as well as an amazing elopement photographer. Below she shares her thoughts on how to apply the Leave No Trace principles to your outdoor elopement day. Although these principles tend to be associated with national parks and adventure elopements, they are things that we believe should be applied no matter where your elopement takes you. Your local parks and beaches deserve respect too!

Thanks you to Halie and check out the links to her site and more of her work at the end of the blog post!

Your Elopement Should Leave No Trace

Elopements are pure magic. They are all about you, the one you love most, and an adventure into a place that will have a special spot in your heart forever. Eloping in nature is an incredible experience for the adventurous.

Now, imagine not having these wild and pristine places to venture into because we expect Mother Nature to pick up after us. She can’t. It is our duty to be good stewards to the outdoors and to create positive outdoor experiences that benefit the places we visit.

The 7 Leave No Trace principles were created to help us all ensure the protection of the outdoors. Majority of people are misinformed about the impact we leave. These principles are here to change that. While this guide may be geared towards eloping couples and elopement vendors, we all can learn to live by Leave No Trace principles.

Photo by Halie West Photography

The 7 Leave No Trace Principles

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Every elopement comes with a lot of exciting plans. These plans can include where to hike, what gear to bring, and how to get to the trailhead. When it comes to planning an adventurous wedding day, you must be prepared for whatever Mother Nature may throw at you. Inclement weather, sudden road closures, or unsafe conditions could cause changes to your elopement day- and that’s ok! Being knowledgeable of the area you are planning to elope in is extremely important for a stress free adventure.

It is always good to have a plan B, and even plan C, when it comes to ceremony location. You never know what shift your elopement day can take!

Photo by Julie Haider Photography

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
You wedding day may be full of some pretty amazing hikes or bike rides. It is oh so important to stay on the trail, or on hard rock, at all times. Breaking trail puts you at risk of damaging the often fragile ecosystem.

Your photos will never be epic if you had to crush plants to take them. Stay on the trail and find creative ways to make it look like you are among your surroundings without doing harm.

Photo by Halie West Photography

3. Dispose of Waste Properly
Nature is no place for human waste. Trash can hurt wildlife, contaminate water sources, and isn’t cool to have to look at when venturing into the outdoors. Be prepared to pack out everything you bring with you on your wedding day. This includes all organic material and, yes, even your own poop.

Throwing flower petals or leaf confetti is common at weddings. It you don’t plan on picking it all up, opt for a fun champagne popping instead!

Photo by Halie West Photography

4. Leave What You Find
Memories are all that we should take from the outdoors. Leave the plants, sand, and other parts of nature in their home. Be sure to leave cultural sites as they are so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

A photographer can help you to remember your wedding day much better than a rock from your ceremony site.

Photo by Melodic View Photography

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
A campfire is a great way to wind down after your ceremony. Nothing screams the outdoors more than that smoky scent and a good time making s’mores. Be sure to completely put out your fire by burning all wood in the ring, pouring water over the ashes, and stirring them until they are no longer hot.

No one’s wedding day should make the news because they caused a forest fire.

Photo by Melodic View Photography

6. Wildlife
Seeing wildlife on your wedding day is awesome and definitely is good luck. Remember that you are visiting their home and should admire them from a safe distance. A good rule of thumb (literally) is to hold out your thumb and see if it can cover the animal from your sight. Can you still see them? If you can you are too close and are putting yourself at risk.

Wildlife may wander into the background of your photos- which is super cool! However, you should never try to pose with them. Don’t make your wedding day memorable thanks to an animal attack.

Photo by Halie West Photography

7. Be Considerate of Others
While your wedding day is all about you, your partner, and your love you must be respectful of others. Everyone has the right to a positive outdoor experience that is free of disturbances. We are all getting into nature to come back with good stories to tell.

When getting outside, and in everyday life, it is important to keep others in mind while focusing on your love.

Photo by Halie West Photography

Education Is So Important!

You did it! You have now learned the basis of all 7 of the Leave No Trace principles. There is still some in depth information that you can learn here.

I know that this can be a lot of information to take in. It takes time to learn how to be a better steward for the outdoors much like it takes time to learn and grow to be a better partner to the one you love. We are all in the process of learning to be better stewards.

It can be hard to be perfect at times. If we all try our best we can have a positive impact on the places we love most we can protect them for future generations. The most important thing is that you start the process!

Leaving no trace goes beyond your elopement day. These 7 principles should become part of your daily life. Mother Nature will be better for it, and so will we.

Want to know more about LNT? Check out their website HERE  .

Photo by Halie West Photography

Guest Blogger: Halie West