Floral arrangements are a key component of any wedding. Bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnieres are lovely to behold, and they also perfume the air with their scent and help unify the wedding's theme and color scheme. By their very nature, flowers seem to be 100 percent "green," or eco-friendly. But not all flowers are equally Earth-friendly in the ways they're grown, harvested and distributed.
A few factors that make flowers eco-friendly is if they're watered efficiently and aren't treated with pesticides. Eco-friendly brides must also consider how far the arrangements will have to travel, as well as the packaging and materials that might be required for the arrangements. In this age of heightened environmental consciousness, many brides are turning to florists that offer eco-friendly flowers or taking on the task themselves. Here are 10 inspirations for creative, lovely and eco-friendly floral arrangements.
Locally Grown Flowers
Often, it's not the flower itself but the gas-guzzling delivery truck or plane that comes with a heavy carbon footprint. Flowers imported from Bali might seem exotic, but they have to be shipped an awfully long way to be center stage at your wedding (unless you're one of the lucky people who lives in Bali, of course). Choose instead to feature locally grown flowers in your bouquet and centerpieces. For example, spring nuptials in Wisconsin can incorporate colorful, elegant options such as tulips, daffodils, cherry blossoms and peonies, according to the experts at Martha Stewart Weddings.
It's nearly impossible to find flowers fresher than those grown in your own backyard. More and more people are discovering the joy of planting and tending a home vegetable garden, so why not take it a step further? Brides who plan well enough in advance can easily (and inexpensively) produce a selection of elegant blooms in time for the big day. Tulips, hydrangeas and even pansies are just a few of the options that look gorgeous and smell divine as part of bouquets or centerpieces.
Novice floral designers should research the best uses for each type of flower. Pansies, for example, are best left to centerpieces since their stems are too short for bouquets and they don't fare well out of water for long periods. It will also be necessary to enlist the help of friends and family prior to the big day, when the arrangements will need to be assembled and transported to the ceremony site. Brides who produce, cut and transport the flowers a short distance have already increased the environmentally-friendly factor of their big day.
Apples don't just keep the doctor away -- they also make for vibrant centerpieces! While we don't advise that you walk down the aisle with a stalk of asparagus, many fruits and vegetables, with their rich, jewel-toned colors, make stylish centerpieces. Fall brides can create vases and urns from hollowed-out pumpkins, then fill them with locally grown, seasonal flowers. For a sunny outdoor wedding, clear glass bowls or vases filled with whole or cut lemons, limes and oranges add some visual and fragrant zest to the affair. Savvy brides will be sure to plan ahead based on seasonal availability. The best-quality citrus is usually available in winter or early springtime, whereas berries and peaches thrive during the summer heat. Best of all, many of the fruits or veggies used in these arrangements can either be eaten (so long as no glue or other treatment has been applied) or turned into Earth-friendly compost.
Lush, green centerpieces made with herbs or a combination of herbs and flowers are an unconventional idea for the bride looking to push the floral envelope. Centerpieces featuring herbs such as sage, rosemary and parsley can channel the aesthetic of the Italian countryside. Not only do herb arrangements look exotic, they smell divine to boot! Be sure to up the eco-ante by either growing the herbs yourself or purchasing them from a local grower.
Silk or Paper Flowers
It's a virtual certainty that bouquets and centerpieces made from paper or silk flowers will feature zero pesticide contaminants. Many of today's silk flowers are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing with the naked eye. Best of all, they can grace your dining room buffet for many years to come. Paper flowers, although they require extra time on the front end, allow the craft-inclined bride the opportunity to custom-select every color and nuance down to the last leaf and petal. Brides interested in exploring this option can experiment with tissue paper and floral wire, or they can get instructions for elegant paper bouquets from craft books and Web sites.
Although they may be out of place at an evening wedding in a candlelit ballroom, wildflowers are the perfect finishing touch for springtime or outdoor ceremonies. The creative possibilities for wildflower arrangements are practically limitless. The bride can simply carry a handful of just-picked wildflowers tied with a satin bow, or she can take the wildflower aesthetic into décor elements, too. A whimsical arrangement of grasses, wildflowers and even some branches from sturdy oak, maple or pine tree can be used for a bold statement at the reception venue. Some popular wildflowers include poppies, Queen Anne's lace, forget-me-nots and cornflowers.
Many brides prefer the less-is-more approach when it comes to wedding floral arrangements. One large, dominant flower, such as a blooming rose, surrounded by a smattering of smaller flowers or light greenery can draw attention to the bride without overwhelming her overall look. Bud vases holding single, long-stemmed roses or other flowers serve as understated, elegant centerpieces. Not only is the single-stem option a cost-effective one, it also eliminates the need for florist's clay, commonly used to hold floral arrangements in place.
Worried about what will happen to your blooms after the wedding? Consider utilizing potted plants rather than traditional floral arrangements, which have a shelf life of only a few days. Plants can easily be potted ahead of time in decorative containers that match your wedding's colors and theme. Miniature potted plants also make memorable wedding favors. Celebrants in Arizona or surrounding desert areas might consider potting succulents like aloe vera and placing them in clusters to serve as eye-catching centerpieces. Potted orchids or zinnias are elegant and colorful options for spring or summer weddings. Although everyone appreciates a nice bag of mints or a box of matches, guests are sure to enjoy a plant much longer.
Anyone who's ever gone shopping for strawberries in the dead of winter knows that they're more expensive and less delicious than those grown in the summer. Berries don't thrive as well in the harsh elements, and they're pricier in the off-season thanks to the gas-guzzling shipping methods necessary to put them on store shelves.
The same principle applies to flowers. Although a selection of lovely blooms can be found in many locations for most of the year, others are relegated to only select seasons for the eco-conscious bride. For example, roses, which are one of the most popular choices for bouquets and centerpieces alike, thrive widely in the summer months, making them more accessible on a local scale and less expensive. Savvy brides can either consult with a professional florist or do a little research independently to determine which varieties are in-season at any given time of year.
Anything but Flowers
You can totally eliminate the risk of pesticide-laden flower arrangements by creating picturesque arrangements out of beautiful, everyday items. The perfect decorative centerpieces for a beach wedding, for example, are glass vases filled with sand and seashells. Garden weddings can take a cue from the same concept, but with colorful stones or fresh lavender instead. And you'll entirely eliminate the problem of centerpieces that make it difficult for dinner guests to see over the table if you trade the traditional arrangement for one with conversation-starter potential. The creative experts at Favor Ideas suggest filling the empty table space with board games, jigsaw puzzles or even a gold fish in its very own bowl. Children and kids-at-heart are sure to enjoy these unique centerpiece options, which can double as party favors.
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- Blackler, Delia. "Unique Floral Arrangements." Good Housekeeping. (2010).http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decor/flower-produce-arrangements-0501
- Favor Ideas. "Eight Incredible Centerpieces for Your Wedding." (2010).http://www.favorideas.com/learn-about/centerpiece-ideas/fantastically-unique-centerpieces-make-a-wedding-memorable/
- Martha Stewart Weddings "Pansies." (2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/pansies
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Crafted Bouquet." (2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/crafted-bouquet
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Garden Favors." (2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/garden-favors
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Favor Centerpieces: Garden to Go." (2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/favor-centerpieces-garden-to-go
- Organic Style. (2010).http://www.organicstyle.com/
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Nurseries & Greenhouses." (2010).http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/nurgreen.html#Best Management Practices