Weddings are a joyous occasion full of love, laughter, and usually, quite a few florals and decorations. While every couple is different, chances are you’ll have to include a few special pieces of decor—whether it’s flowers, candles, or paper decorations—to elevate your event, ceremony, or celebration space.
If you’re looking to deck out your venue while being environmentally conscious, sustainable flowers are a great way to not only make your space look beautiful, but also make a smart, eco-friendly choice that will help the Earth feel all the love on your special day.
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If you’re looking to plan an eco-conscious wedding—or just want to be aware of all the options available to you—check out sustainable flowers, ethically sourced blooms that will reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint. Since most cut flowers in the US are grown outside of the country (for example, many of the roses you see are flown in from South America), transporting them to your venue requires a lot of resources and creates a lot of waste. While there are a variety of sustainable flowers, they all have one thing in common: They’re way less wasteful.
Before diving in and deciding to incorporate sustainable flowers into your wedding, it’s important to understand what it means to have a sustainable wedding.
A sustainable wedding is a more environmentally conscious event. From your invitations to your favors, to the food you serve to the venue you host the celebration at, there are tons of ways to have a spectacular wedding that’s kinder to the planet. The whole purpose of a sustainable wedding is reducing waste, carbon emissions, and giving back where you can—a beautiful way to start the next love-filled chapter of your life.
Any large-scale event can produce a lot of waste, which isn't kind to the environment. From tossed paper goods to leftover food, to single-use flowers, a lot goes into the day that leaves a mess in its wake.
Luckily, it’s easy to have a celebration that’s a little more eco-conscious without sacrificing style. You might come to find that the environmentally-friendly options not only make you feel better about the event but also look even more stunning while doing good for the world. Talk about a win-win-win.
How Do You Have a Sustainable Wedding? When we say there are endless ways to make your wedding more sustainable, we mean it. Below are a few easy ways to make your event more eco-friendly:
For any couple planning a wedding, being mindful of your budget is always an important component of the process. Thankfully, sustainable weddings don’t necessarily have to cost any extra. If you’re considering a sustainable wedding, be sure to compare prices to find the best value while still doing good for the Earth.
If you choose to have blooms at your celebration, many floral options are more sustainable than the average cut flower. From utilizing potted plants and herbs to incorporating trees you can replant in your yard, to selecting a local florist for your cut flowers (which reduces transportation emissions), to opting for a company that composts your greens after the big day, there are so many ways to enjoy more ethically-sourced flowers.
If you can’t picture your wedding day without flowers, don’t worry: There are plenty of sustainable flower options that will give you all the splendor of blooms while still being kind to the world.
For many couples, florals are a big component of their wedding celebrations. From botanical centerpieces to bouquets, to boutonnieres, to ceremony decor, cut flowers are one of the most popular ways to elevate your celebration. The problem: Many cut flowers are sourced from afar, so they’re not the best for the environment.
Growing these flowers involves the use of harmful pesticides used to kill pests during the growing and transportation process. These chemicals are harmful to the environment, our drinking water, the Earth’s air quality, and many species of animals. Plus, growing these flowers requires excessive water that could be used for human consumption. On top of pollutants and water use, since these flowers are transported long distances, cut flowers generate excessive carbon emissions from refrigeration and long-haul transport.
Luckily, you don’t have to forgo flowers at your wedding to have an ethically- and environmentally responsible celebration still. There are plenty of eco-friendly floral options and alternatives that will give you just as much beauty while reducing your carbon footprint.
Because there are so many different types of sustainable flowers, selecting the best one for you is an important step in the planning process. Consider the season, the venue, the theme, and the budget of your celebration to determine the best type of sustainable flowers to incorporate in your nuptials.
Potted flowers—such as orchids, spray roses, or petunia—add the same color and floral beauty as cut stems, but don’t produce the same amount of waste since they can be planted after the big day. Whether you purchase potted flowers or get wed in a garden or greenhouse (which reduces the number of flowers you need to buy but gives you just as many beautiful blooms), living flowers will give you a stunning and vibrant celebration, especially during spring or summer weddings.
There are so many reasons we (not to mention the Earth) love dried flowers for weddings. They’re the perfect way to incorporate seasonal blooms out of season since they don’t involve all the extra work, resources, and care that goes into growing out-of-season blooms. Additionally, if you shop for dried flowers from places like Zero Waste Flowers, you’re getting auctioned blooms leftover from local flower markets that would have otherwise been thrown out.
If that’s not enough to convince you, since these flowers are already dried and preserved, you can keep them long after the big day is done as a beautiful memento of the special occasion. We love seeing dried flowers utilized during fall or winter weddings as a unique, seasonal touch.
If you still dream of having cut flowers included in your wedding, there are responsible ways to go about it. By shopping for in-season blooms, you can cut back on the extra resources needed to grow your specialty flowers. Additionally, many wedding florists grow their blooms.
By selecting flowers grown locally (and seasonally), you’ll be cutting back on the need for the long-distance transportation of blooms grown afar. Some florists can even composite or donate your florals after the wedding, so be sure to get all the details about how they can help your flowers live on the post-wedding day. If you’re looking for the perfect local vendor, check out Local Flowers or Zola to find a vendor in your area who’s on board with your green mission.
If you live in a locale where wildflowers are a-plenty (looking at you, Texas), why not incorporate the natural beauty of your area in your wedding celebrations? Wildflowers make for spectacular rustic and boho floral bouquets and arrangements, and they’re the perfect representation of where you say “I do.” Bonus: Other than the materials to put your arrangements together (think vases, ribbon, and pins), it’s a very cost-effective way to have beautiful blooms on a budget, especially in the springtime. If you don’t want to DIY your wildflower decorations yourself, chat with a local florist to see if they can utilize wildflowers in professionally arranged decor.
Fabric flowers—such as cotton and burlap—are an eco- and budget-friendly floral alternative. Whether you DIY your fabric arrangement or order them online, fabric flowers are temperature resistant and perfect for any outdoor wedding, rustic or elegant. Cotton bouquets in their raw form look at home in barn or country chic weddings, but cotton can also be turned into flowers, resulting in big, beautiful blooms. Either way, you can keep these flowers long after the big day, so you can relive the celebration for years to come.
In the past few years, paper flowers have made a real name for themselves. Not only do they look realistic and make for stunning backdrops and decor, but they last forever. You have options, too. Select styles that look life-like, or lean into the medium and have blooms created with things like maps, sheet music, or pages from your favorite books. You can opt to either make the blooms yourself or order them, but either way, utilizing recycled or seed paper will make your flowers even more eco-friendly. If you choose not to keep your florals after the wedding, they can be recycled.
While silk flowers aren’t as eco-friendly as other options (since the silk is spun from silkworks, which makes them not vegan), they’re still a great alternative, because they can be sustainably sourced and reused. Not only do high-end silk flowers look pretty much identical to the real thing, but because they’re faux, they also have a much longer lifespan—especially if they don’t come in contact with direct sunlight. This means they can easily be rented. Plus, since they don’t need to be refrigerated, they’re much better for the environment in the long term.
Now that you know about some of the most popular sustainable flower options, you might be wondering what else you can use to spruce up your venue or ceremony space. There are an
endless amount of flower alternatives that can elevate your decor just as much—if not more so—than traditional blooms.
Luckily, there are plenty of different types of flower alternatives to consider when planning your wedding. From greenery to broaches, here are a few of our favorite ways to decorate sans blooms:
Instead of out-of-season or imported flowers, sourcing in-season, locally-grown greenery is a great way to liven up your space without the use of cut, imported blooms. Evergreens, eucalyptus, and palms will add a romantic, on-theme, and elevated feel without the negative impact of blooms, and they look just as stunning. Another option to consider is the use of herbs for bouquets, centerpieces, and other decors. Not only do they look great, but guests can also take them home as edible favors.
Trees are a great way to not only add some color and whimsy to your space but also bring a touch of nature to the event. We love the use of trees—from oaks to pines—for fall and winter weddings. If you’re planning an outdoor celebration, a space with lots of leafy trees will make for stunning pictures (especially if it’s the season for foliage).
Not only are succulents gorgeous and on-trend, but since they need much less water and refrigeration than cut flowers, they’re also much more ethical and eco-friendly. Coming in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, succulents are an amazing wedding flower alternative and can be used for virtually anything from bouquets to centerpieces, to favors.
Instead of flowers or greenery, why not go vintage or full glam with broaches or feathers? Feathers in vases, centerpieces, and bouquets add an ethereal and timeless vibe, whereas utilizing old broaches or jewelry is a great way to recycle heirloom pieces for stunning decor that can be displayed after your wedding day. Whether you DIY or order these pieces online, these are smart, ethical, and stunning alternatives to flowers that’ll provide plenty of drama and elegance.
Why have flowers at all? We’ve found that candles are just as romantic as blooms but often much cheaper. Opt for tea lights, tiered candles in candelabras, or lanterns to dress up the venue and add a gorgeous glow to space. Be sure to select organic and eco-friendly candles with cotton or wood wicks made from natural, vegetable ingredients for the most eco-friendly decor.
Whatever type of sustainable flower or alternative you choose to utilize, it’s important to skip out on the floral foam. The seemingly innocent foam used to hold bouquets and arrangements together contains tons of chemicals and more often than not, isn’t biodegradable. Even when the foam is biodegradable, there are often toxic chemicals in its waste, making it not-so-great for the Earth. Chat with your florist or designer about non-foam options to pull your wedding decor together.
Now that you know what type of sustainable flowers or flower alternatives you want to utilize in your wedding, the next step is figuring out where and how to incorporate it all.
It doesn’t matter if your centerpieces are made from faux flowers, succulents, or candles—as long as they decorate your space, adhere to your theme and color palette, and feel true to your event, you can be sure they’ll wow your guests. Remember that sometimes less is more, so don’t feel like you have to have sky-high flowers for a memorable centerpiece. Even things like childhood photos or favorite books can double as lovely—and meaningful—decor.
Ditch the traditional flower bouquets, and opt for a more sustainable option. Perhaps you get bouquets made from each of your bridesmaids’ favorite songs to carry down the aisle or you switch out the usual stems for potted flowers attendants can take home after the big day.
Instead of flowers lining the aisle or surrounding your alter, switch out the cut blooms for sustainable options. Potted plants make for gorgeous aisle runners and candles lining your alter will provide the perfect amount of subtle beauty without taking away from the moment.
While you might think the planning is over after your grand exit, it’s important to think about what you’ll do with your leftovers and decor after the celebration. Consider donating everything you can, from your food to your flowers. Companies like Random Acts of Flowers will come to your venue and pick up your flowers post-celebration and deliver them to hospitals and nursing homes (or compost them if they’re no longer decor-worthy).
At the end of the day, your wedding is the day to celebrate your special bond. For some, that means fireworks and cut flowers, but for others, it means reducing waste and giving back where you can. If it’s important to you to reduce the negative effects your big day has on the Earth, sustainable flowers and sustainable flower alternatives are a wonderful way to celebrate in style while doing your part. From finding local florists to ordering faux blooms, Zola has everything you need to throw a wedding that’s as wonderful for your guests as it is for your planet.