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Using your special day to change the world: on ethical weddings with photographer praise santos

Using your special day to change the world: on ethical weddings with photographer praise santos

Aug 15, 2019


On Ethical Weddings with Photographer Praise Santos


This spring, we were lucky enough to spend a whole afternoon with Praise Santos, the go-getting San Franciscan behind photography brand ComePlum and the wedding consultancy Ethical Weddings. We couldn’t be more excited about Praise’s mission to help couples in love plan an impactful (in a good way) and environmentally friendly wedding. She is at once incredibly down to earth and real (so you want a huge cake? Have a huge cake!), but full of great ideas to make these big events come with a little less excess and a little more joy. In this Q&A, we find out about her inspiration behind the mission, her favorite tips for using an event for social and environmental good, and some challenges she has faced in the industry.

 In the Hideaway Cableknit Turtleneck

Praise, you run a photography business that has an interesting twist. Can you tell us about it? 

My studio ComePlum works with go-getter women who are impacting the world. If they are starting a business, I take their headshot, if they are creating content, I collaborate on creative direction, and if they are a bride getting married, I help them make their wedding socially and environmentally impactful. 

In the Cottonwood Button Down (Dusty Blue) and 5 Pocket Twill Pant

You’re driving the ethical wedding movement—what a fantastic idea. What’s the story behind the concept? What inspired you to focus on this in particular?

I was doing a photojournalistic project in Guatemala, telling the story of a cocoa farmer who was trying to make enough money to send his son to college, and not long after I flew back to the United States and was getting ready to photograph a wedding (which averages $30-$40k) when the contrast hit me; the divide didn't sit right with me. I felt uninspired and conflicted. But then I stumbled on a blog called Less Stuff, More Meaning based out of Australia which encouraged couples to focus on what really matters on a wedding day. EUREKA! I felt inspired to resource couples with solutions (like buying fair trade chocolate for their guests that would support farmers like Pedro!) that would catalyze their special day for positive impact.

In The Responsible Flannel and Offtrail Pant 

Ethical Weddings encourages couples to use their wedding day for social and environmental good and encourages wedding vendors to do the same. Can you give me some practical examples of how that plays out?

For sure! So it’s ideas such as putting your favorite charity on your wedding registry, working with your caterer and wedding planner to donate any leftover food to a homeless shelter, working with your florist to donate centerpieces and bouquets to a nursing home after the event, trying to go as zero waste as possible by opting for rentals or reusable things instead of plastic, renting apparel online, selling or giving away decor to the next couple ...the ideas are endless! You can find more resources like our Ethical Weddings: Getting Started guide at


We recently kicked off a company-wide initiative to cut out all single-use plastics by summer 2020, so we were very excited to discover your similar mission. What have been some challenges you’ve faced?

Yay for fellow eco-warriors! So glad to be doing this work with you all at United By Blue. We are DIGGING the excitement around the ethical wedding movement but some challenges we face are the lack of infrastructures that make doing social and environmental good an easy choice. For example, say a couple wants to compost any food waste at their wedding but their venue and/or their city doesn’t provide compost bins. What are they to do? Or perhaps the couple wants to hire vendors with ethical & sustainable practices but can’t find a hub to find them and instead has to do deep internet searching into each vendor’s credentials. We are working to address both these challenges by doing a certification for vendors to know how to make their businesses more ethical as well as being in the preliminary stages of putting together a directory of vendors we know who do incredible work that has positive social and environmental effects. 

In the Fireside V-Neck Sweater and Offtrail Pant, with a Bluff Utility Pack

Can you tell us about some of the more rewarding moments?

As we are doing a series of webinars to train vendors to do good with businesses, these vendors can donate to our social impact partner, Kurandza which helps train young women in Mozambique to start their own social enterprises. The full circleness of it makes me so happy.

In the Fireside V-Neck Sweater and Offtrail Pant

What’s your first piece of advice when a couple asks you how they can minimize their wedding day impact?

Really take the time to discuss as a couple what’s important to you both. Marie Kondo through the whole event - what brings you joy? Don’t have a 3-tier cake if you don’t want it. Don’t have a bridal party if you don’t want it. But are you really into floral installations and that brings you joy? Then go for it!


What is typically the most wasteful part, or aspect, of a wedding?

Food waste or excess traditions that don’t click with the couple (party favors - are they still necessary? Like, will people actually use that magnet? Or eat those Jordan almonds?)


One is one of your favorite brands that supports an eco-friendly wedding?

The fashion brand Reformation not only uses textiles that would have been discarded or are sustainable but they also provides carbon credits on their website to offset an average wedding. 

In the Fireside V-Neck Sweater and Offtrail Pant, with a Bluff Utility Pack

Do you think the wedding industry, as a whole, is smarting up to the waste it creates? Do you see a lot of positive movement in this arena?

Events in general are shaping up. Different organizations in the event/meeting space are putting together action items as part of their submission to the United Nations call for commitments in their Sustainable Development Goals which will be discussed at their summit in September. The movement is happening!

 In the Sunrise Somewhere Graphic Crewneck and Offtrail Pant

What’s your favorite part about photographing weddings?

Portraits are still my favorite. I work with a lot of introverts so it’s also a fun time to steal the couple away from the crowd a bit and give them some alone time while I third wheel, haha.


Follow the link below to learn more about how to pull off an ethical wedding and check out ComePlum studios (we guarantee it'll take about 2 minutes to fall in love with Praise's work): 


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