I don’t know about you but my social media feeds have been chock-full of people talking about “shop small”. I’m here first, to break down what that means. I’ll discuss tips on how you can incorporate that into your wedding to help those small businesses out! Links will be provided to some of my favorite small businesses that we invested in to hopefully help you out!
P.S. this post is not just applicable to brides but anyone wanting to shop small and help out some small businesses!
So what does “Shop Small” mean?
Shop small essentially is choosing to shop and spend your money at the little companies sprinkled around the world rather than the big name brands. Some examples may be a local coffee shop or eatery. Vincent and I love discovering local coffee shops and supporting them rather than Starbucks or Panera, etc. It is so important during this time to be supporting those small independent businesses, their livelihood literally depends on consumerism aka us. If they are able to be open and you can afford it, buy from them.
Rather than hitting up chipotle for their burritos head on over to a local burrito joint (If you’re local to the Lehigh Valley area, Cali Burrito is your new friend, you’re welcome!) We personally love a local eatery called Jay’s Local. They are super cool because they try to source all of their food and products from other local businesses making it super easy for us to support our community. We also love to hit up our local farmers’ market for some fresh produce and of course, coffee from a local roastery.
Shop small continues into consumerism other than food. For instance, rather than buying your wall decor from Hobby Lobby (I still love you) try researching local artists that you can support and buy directly from them. My favorite place to find these businesses are of course, Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy.
Now that we’ve kind of established what “shop small” is, lets dive into how you can incorporate this into your wedding!
In regards to weddings, we’ve got to talk about budgeting. I mean Dave Ramsey would be disappointed if I did not talk about budgeting. First off, I 100% agree with you that the wedding industry is ridiculous, it’s almost scammy.
Not cool guys, not cool.
Establishing and sticking to a budget for your wedding is very important. Prioritize what you want and let the rest fall into place. I would have loved to “shopped small” for my whole wedding but that would be expensiveeeee!
So we prioritize.
We spend the money that is non-negotiable like venue, florist, photographer, etc. Then after all that money is budgeted for, then you can see what you have left and shop small with that money.
Tip #1 Jewelry
Now, I am not a big jewelry person, if you asked 14-year-old Gretchen, she would have told you differently but now-Gretchen wears her wedding rings and an occasional necklace but it has to be legit because she won’t take it off to shower.
One aspect of our wedding that I did my best to be mindful of was one, sustainability and usability. I am not one to buy something and use once and be done with it. Like a wedding dress, stunning but really only wearing it once..? I’m brainstorming creative ways to repurpose that… More on that later, maybe! Regarding sustainability it was important for me to choose jewelry that I #1 love but #2 I could wear over and over again and dress up or down if necessary.
My name also means “pearl” so it was fitting! (It’s whatever).
Jewelry is so easy and convenient to shop small for. For example, my bridesmaid’s gift, I gave my girls a bracelet from Pearls by Shari, a local to Jackson Hole jewelry company. (Praise Jesus for online ordering because I did not have time that week to go jewelry shopping). A fun story about those is that I bought my girls each one and myself (duh!), then Vincent got one for free when he bought my mountain ring, and my extended family who lives in Jackson gave me the turquoise one also the week of the wedding. Three Pearls by Shari bracelets in one week, heck yes!
I cannot remember where I found the pearl wrap bracelet but when I do, I’ll link it!
Pictured below you’ll see a stack of the Pearls by Shari bracelets that you can find here!
The second picture shows the freshwater pearl choker I wore on our wedding, you can find that here
I found this stunning gemstone ring from a small shop called “Candles and Confetti” they have such a cute collection of simple and statement pieces!
I found these cute rose gold bracelets for my flower girls to match me with their initials on them, I used those to ask them to be my flower girls, and then we wore them on the wedding day to all match! You can find the link to those here! I also got them these cute reusable cups from this shop that say flower girl!
Tip #2 Accessories
Another tip for shop small for your wedding is Accessories. I found my hair piece from this little shop on Etsy and I was obsessed, I mean they have lavender in them so why wouldn’t I be obsessed?!? I got the flower girls one that kind-of matched mine but was more age appropriate, linked here!
Tip #3 Pre-Wedding Equipment
To save money, we did the invitations ourselves. I found this embosser from Etsy that you can customize and emboss your invitations with the return address. WHAT?!
Tip #4 Wedding Decor
The next shop small/re-purposed decor/my favorite thing is our guest book. I was not about the physical book to remember our guests, only to have it sit on a shelf or in a rubbermaid tote and take up space. No, I wanted to display it somewhere, the names and the people who shared our wedding day with us. They were the people what witnessed our vows and commitment to one another. Hanging this in our home not only is a reminder of that day but an accountability for us. We are responsible to cherish each other and honor each other and these people, the ones that witnessed our union will hold us to that. You can custom make your guestbook sign here!
Since we got married in Wyoming, everything we wanted had to be either shipped directly there or loaded into a van or trailer and drug across the country. This kept our wedding simple and cost-efficient. I mean look at that backdrop!
I purchased this arbor from Etsy and they shipped it directly there and we (well not me) just had to assemble it!
Oh and the fabric, we got that from a large retailer (I forget where) just in white and then dyed it ourselves. While I love this company on Etsy, it was not in our budget to purchase from them the yardage that we needed.
But hey, if you ever need help dying cheesecloth, I’m your girl!
Tip #5 Wedding Memorabilia
I found this months before our wedding and I knew I wanted to invest in this item! That is Wedding Bouquet Embroidery. WHAT? Yes, this girl, Teagan takes a picture of your bouquet and makes an embroidered masterpiece! Not sure how she does it but I was like “TAKE MY MONEY!!” Now, I have a tangible item to decorate with that reminds me of our wedding day.
Tip #6 Re-Purposing
One re-purposing tip, is an item that was not directly supporting small businesses but incorporated re-purposing was our favors. For the favors we decided on “make-it-yourself trail mix” because we were in Wyoming aka mountains aka hiking. So, the little brown paper bags and stickers were purchased from small businesses and the jars were from Amazon or something, they held the treats for the reception but now I use them in my pantry to hold my baking supplies.
Tip #7 The Send-off
With the way our wedding was planned, we were doing a sunset mountain landscape with our photographers and not returning. This meant our send off was while it was still light out. This ruled out sparklers which would have been frown upon anyways because it was late summer in Wyoming aka the dry season aka forest fires can easily happen if you’re not careful. I didn’t want to do rice because well that’s messy and painful and there is controversy about whether it can harm birds. And confetti or glitter, well absolutely not… “lets just throw plastic into the air and have it stick to anything remotely sweaty or wet.”
With permission from the venue, we picked something that is very “on-brand” with Gretchen. We had our guests shower us with dried lavender. Y’ALL… the smell… DIVINE. It literally got everywhere but you just gotta close your eyes and run fast, amiright?
So those are a few of my tips to #1 shop small and #2 make sure your wedding is sustainable not only for small businesses but for the environment.
Could our wedding have been more environmentally friendly? Absolutely heck yes. But, I am a firm believer in implementing small steps now to hopefully create a larger impact later. I am also a firm believer in keeping your budget, in the end your wedding will last hours. Don’t let those hours haunt you with debt for years down the road. The choices and decisions we made for our wedding were perfect for us. I am writing this to hopefully inspire you to implement small changes in your wedding and life to support our small businesses, neighbors, and economy via the wedding industry.
I leave you with some pictures from our day. Feeling a little nostalgic about this day. Also, showing the internet a side of myself when it comes to whipped cream.
Wedding pictures taken by the incredible Benjamin and Joy Clifford