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Alternative Wedding Flowers


By Tracy DiNunzio of Recycled Bride

Traditional cut flowers can be beautiful, but they often come at a high cost to you and to the environment. Grown with pesticides, tended by underpaid workers, and shipped internationally, many of the pretty blooms used in weddings aren’t all that kind to people and the planet. Instead of cut flowers, choose one of these alternatives for your centerpieces, bouquets, and accessories. They’re not just greener, they’re affordable, unique, and most importantly – gorgeous!

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Paper flowers are a modern, chic alternative to living blooms. They can be made from recycled paper in any color or style your heart desires. Scatter matching paper blooms across banquet tables, arrange in vases (no water needed!), and pin to the lapels of grooms and groomsmen. 

Paper flowers can be constructed at home using nothing more than some recycled paper and your own creativity. Or, you can purchase kits or pre-assembled floral bouquets online at shops like Etsy’s Paper Platypus. And since paper flowers can be arranged weeks in advance, you can save money by creating bouquets and centerpieces yourself, making them a practical and perfectly chic DIY addition to your wedding.

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A summer wedding is even lovelier when adorned with creative arrangements of local fruits. A bushel of apples or a bag of oranges can be converted into organic wedding décor that’s good enough to eat! 

Filling tall vases with fruit adds dramatic effect to a simple arrangement that uses local greenery and tree branches. If you’re a bride on a budget who loves lavish, over-the-top décor, using large containers  for centerpieces is a great way to achieve the look you love.  Make it affordable by renting the large clear vases or containers, or make them yourself out of plexiglass. Fill with lemons, limes, or oranges, and use local vegetation in place of flowers.

Prefer something fragrant for your big day? Try potted herbs. Affordable and chic, herbs will fill your ceremony and reception with natural, relaxing aromas. Mini rosemary plants make great wedding favors that green the lives of your guests. Lavendar, marjoram, mint, lemongrass and sage can be arranged to create fantastic centerpieces and bridal bouquets.

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Local wildflowers are often overlooked because most varieties in the U.S. don’t have long stems, making them difficult to arrange. But these flowers are often the least expensive and most eco-friendly you’ll find. So how to make them work? In a bridal bouquet, wildflowers can be mixed with fresh herbs and branches. For centerpieces, use distinctive vintage carafes, pitchers, and teacups to hold them in loose bunches. Find lovely and affordable containers at thrift shops and flea markets.

Another use for those recycled vintage teacups and china is to create long-burning teacup soy candles to scatter on guest tables. A simple DIY project using store-bought soy wax and candle wicks, these candles cost next-to-nothing and work as an energy-saving light sources that will bathe your wedding reception in a warm, natural glow.

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Succulents are all the rage among eco-chic trendsetters. For your home, garden, or wedding, these hearty plants are beautifully shaped and come in a dazzling array of colors. Many succulent plants even grow flowers! Combined with stones, moss, and local blossoms, succulents make modern and elegant centerpieces.

Because they’re hearty and easy to care for, succulents make great wedding favors and souvenirs for you and your guests. Any succulent can be taken home and replanted, and will live for years with minimal care.

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Vintage jewels aren’t just for wearing! These brooch bouquets show how gorgeous bouquets can be when they’re made from vintage sparklers. Make your own using family heirlooms and flea market finds.

Consider combining some of the brooch bouquet elements into simple-yet-elegant arrangements. You could use a jewel base and add some wild grasses, herbs, or succulents to complete the look.

Once you open your eyes to the world of possibilities beyond flowers, you’ll see opportunities to create unique wedding décor absolutely everywhere. Beach brides can use coral, shells, and sea stones in their centerpieces. You can even use favorite items from your home, like stacks of books and keepsake boxes. Try repurposing things you’d otherwise throw away, like wine bottles and corks.

What’s your favorite floral alternative? Do you have any great ideas for using organic or recycled materials in centerpieces and bouquets? 


Green Wedding Expert: Tracy DiNunzio of Recycled Bride

Before becoming a wedding recycling superhero, Tracy worked as an artist and writer, and spent many years traveling the world in search of adventure and great chocolate ice cream. When Tracy met Robert, she finally decided to settle down, and so they celebrated with an extravagant wedding that left them up to their ears in once-worn dresses and ties, spare decorations, and heart-stopping credit card bills. Tracy knew that there had to be a better way for women to plan beautiful weddings without the waste—and so Recycled Bride was born. Her blog naturally followed, giving Tracy and the Recycled Bride community a place to sound off and share ideas for creating a smarter, greener lifestyle, on their wedding day and every day. 



Last Updated: August 4, 2013 at 12:41 am
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