This gorgeous post originally appeared on My Kind Closet, a blog devoted to the sustainable and animal-friendly lifestyle.
I love weddings. They’re an excellent excuse to put on a fancy dress and get together to eat food and party with your nearest and dearest. I’m a bit biased, but my wedding was seriously the best night of my life.
But, let’s face it, weddings can be super wasteful and not so eco-friendly.
Imagine this: You walk into the reception of a wedding and the tables are adorned with beautiful and elaborate floral centerpieces in which some of the stems appear to be suspended at angles that seem to defy gravity…. In this centerpiece, it’s more than likely the florist used floral foam to secure the stems firmly in place, or to achieve a more sculptural look or geometric shape.
Sounds innocuous enough, but not only is floral foam forever (it’s not biodegradable), it contains at least two potential carcinogens: carbon black and formaldehyde. Dry blocks of floral foam are especially dangerous to the florist as they risk inhaling floral foam dust before it is soaked in water for use.
Marriage is forever — but you don’t want the waste from your wedding to be.
This is just one example of something that could easily be omitted at your wedding if you know to be mindful about it.
When I look back on my day about three years ago, just as I was in the process going vegan and being more “aware”, if you will, of taking a more active role in my own personal environmental responsibility, I think of things I may have done differently- especially this day in age as we contend with environmental issues like global warming and water scarcity.
So, as you plan your big, beautiful day, consider being greener with the following sustainable ideas:
Use Local In-Season Flowers
As I mentioned above, the use of floral foam really sucks the beauty out of an otherwise lovely floral arrangement. So, be sure to work with a floral designer who doesn’t use it. Or, just ask that it not be used.
Another easy way to reduce the carbon footprint of your day while also supporting the local economy, is to make use of in-season, organic, locally grown flowers in your bouquet and arrangements. From Debra Prinzing’s book The 50 Mile Bouquet, “As the demand for green flowers increases, the sources of chemical-free crops will also expand, allowing the local flower farmer to earn a living wage supplying designers, florists and consumers in his or her own community.” Prinzing’s books are great resources for anyone who wants sustainable flowers at their wedding or just in general.
This also has the happy consequence of being nicer to your wallet! You’re going to spend a lot less on flowers that weren’t shipped in from other parts of the globe. For example, if you see plumeria or protea at a New England wedding, they traveled very far to get there and were doused in preservatives to help them look “fresh” despite being a week or two off the farm. Sourcing flowers in this way adds to your cost and also to the overall carbon footprint of your wedding.
Another bonus of using local flowers is that you may even have the opportunity to visit the farm where they’re grown, which is a fun way to feel more connected to the entire process and the people involved. Before my wedding, my floral designer, Polly of Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island, invited me to her farm where I was able to see rows upon rows of flowers, some of which were used on my wedding day. It was great to learn about the farm, their growing methods, and just have the opportunity to see the process from farm to vase.
If you really have your heart set on a specific flower, then consider planning your wedding to fall within its growing season. For example, I really love dahlia’s and it just so happened that my wedding fell within their growing season where I live. I also really love lavender, but since my wedding fell outside of the lavender blooming season, we opted for dried lavender instead.
Prinzing is a proponent of using what is available in season and notes in The 50 Mile Bouquet, “Seasonality does not mean giving up on our floral traditions.” You just may need to refocus your concept or vision to account for what is seasonally available; you’ll likely be happily surprised by the beauty that can be found in local flowers that are perhaps less popularly used in conventional wedding bouquets.
Waste Free Decor
Instead of using additional decor that will ultimately go to waste, consider renting decor from your floral designer if it’s available, or repurpose things you already have at home. For example, my husband and I used vintage bins and boxes to hold flowers, cards for guests to write to us, etc.
We also collected old/vintage jars and bottles in the months leading up to our wedding to use as part of the centerpieces. We still have the jars and use them at home for fresh flowers. Potted plants as part of the centerpieces can also be repotted or planted.
See Stephanie’s other three tips at My Kind Closet!