5 WAYS SUSTAINABLE FLORAL AND DECOR CAN MAKE FOR A DREAMY ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING
When bringing a wedding vision to life, sustainable floral and decor ideas probably don’t make the top of the checklist. For many, “going green” is something easily done at home or in the office, but can seem like an overwhelmingly daunting task while planning a single celebration.
On the bright side, many Pacific Northwest wedding professionals today have already adopted eco-friendly practices (or are at least in the process of doing so), especially when it comes to providing sustainable floral and decor options that meet every couples’ expectations. Rest assured, setting a sustainable stage for big weddings and intimate elopements alike can be creative, fun and surprisingly simple.
Ditch the foam
There are several ways to include sustainable floral ideas into your wedding. One way that is often noted by PNW wedding professionals is to greatly reduce the use of foam. Foam products are regularly used as props in floral displays and are usually wrapped in plastic to prevent water loss in cut flowers. Unfortunately, the petroleum-based plastics that make up these products (i.e. Styrofoam) are non-biodegradable and are typically thrown away after the wedding.
Choose Potted Plants
A sustainable solution to this common issue is to go with potted plants instead of cut flowers for decorative purposes. A few flowery examples of these are hydrangeas, roses, and orchids which can be taken home or given away once the ceremony and reception have concluded. Opting for potted arrangements also allows for the inclusion of plants that aren’t typically used for cut flowers (think petunias, chrysanthemums, and cyclamen).
A great way to incorporate sustainable florals without giving up live plants is by seeking out florists in close proximity to where the wedding celebration will be taking place.
Sourcing plant materials and decorative pieces from nearby providers not only supports the local economy, but it helps to reduce carbon emissions that are made during transport. Seasonal blooms sourced from local flower farms are also more likely to be grown organically or without the use of chemical pesticides, as many small farms in the PNW practice sustainable growing methods year-round.
Creative Use of Herbs
Another unconventional option for sustainable florals and decor is the creative use of herbs. Florists and nurseries may offer small ornamental trees and fragrant herbs that can be incorporated into wedding decor or table settings, and then re-planted later to continue growing in honor of the couples’ union.
In the spirit of recycling, requests can be made to florists and wedding planners for any compostable materials to be handled accordingly after the wedding. Depending on the venue, this may even be an on-site option!
During the initial (or even final) walk-throughs with planners and coordinators, explore the wedding venue in detail for unique ways to incorporate surrounding landscapes and architecture into the decor theme.
Depending on the season, flowering shrubs and trees may be in full bloom and can offer a natural, sustainable floral addition to the setting at no extra cost. Gardens, greenhouses, and old homes are popular PNW wedding venues that often have beautifully manicured flowers and greenery already at hand.
Some venues, particularly those featuring outdoor settings, may require the use of their own decor options or limit the amount of items brought in for the occasion. “We keep a selection of decor items, mostly left from other weddings, for clients to use and return,” says Lesley Wise of Lavender Owl Farm. “We do not want disposable decor that can only be used one time and needs to be trashed.”
Gaining in popularity among PNW couples, minimalist weddings and intimate elopements are two growing trends that actually support sustainability with their “less is more” approach. For example, the use of many decorative items or multiple floral arrangements can be substituted for one or two statement pieces that embody the celebration’s theme.
If preferred decor items can’t be borrowed or rented, consider donating, selling, or repurposing them later– a fresh coat of paint can go a long way! Stack-able wood crates and thrifted furniture also make excellent budget-friendly decor pieces that are perfect for furnishing a new home or redecorating an older one.
While decisions are being made about what to include on the big day, don’t hesitate to ask vendors which of their options are least likely to have an impact on the environment and ask them about their sustainable floral ideas. Expanding on this idea, consider the socioeconomic impacts of any items or goods that may be imported from outside the country.
“If [sustainability] is an important facet that your vendors uphold/possess, I really encourage you to ask those questions during your initial consultations with them. You might be surprised to learn that your caterer is LEED Gold certified and hear about the processes they have in place to ensure sustainability is at the forefront of their minds,” Ashley Lachney, Alston Mayger Events urges.
For more sustainability ideas, check out our third issue.