Recycled Bride: Floral Alternatives for Eco-Chic Brides

By Azure Nelson, Published Apr 6, 2011

About Recycled Bride Couples typically spend up to 20 percent of their wedding budget on cut flowers. From bouquets and boutonnieres to centerpieces and aisle decorations, many weddings are awash in mountains of roses, lilies, hydrangeas and orchids. But aside from being terribly expensive, conventionally produced flowers also leave a giant carbon footprint, are grown with tons of pesticides, and are tended by workers who aren't protected under Fair Trade guidelines. It's a little bit ironic that something that represents natural beauty comes to us through such...well, unnatural production means. Luckily, the times are a-changing, and there are plenty of eco-friendly wedding decorating options that don't include the use of cut flowers. The even-better news is that many of these floral alternatives are also super hip and trendy! So forget the old-school rose bouquets, and try out these modern and beautiful ways to green and beautify your wedding decor. Brooch bouquets These bridal bouquets made of vintage brooches were originally created by Fantasy Florals, and have now spawned a trend that's got brides from coast to coast creating their own brooch bouquets. It's fun to search for beautiful brooches that match your wedding colors, and most vintage brooches are affordable. The bouquet lasts forever and can be kept as a treasured piece of beautiful home decor. Succulents I really can't say enough about using succulents as wedding and home decor. These sustainable plants are just as beautiful (or even prettier, if you ask me) as typical cut wedding flowers, and come in a variety of unusual colors, shapes and sizes. Succulents can live for years and years with very little care, so it's easy to arrange them well in advance of your wedding day and keep them afterwards to live in your home or garden. More and more florists are learning to create beautiful succulent bouquets, centerpieces and favors. And some, like LA-based plant design studio Succulent Love, specialize in fresh, hip, modern succulent arrangements and event design. Recycled magazine, book and newspaper flowers You don't have to be a pro to fashion floral arrangements and decor from paper. I've met several brides who've made bouquets and boutonierres from repurposed paper -- including Erin, pictured below, who fashioned her bouquet from the pages of Homer's The Odyssey (priceless!) If you're less DIY-inclined, order your paper decorations from Simple Joys Paperie on Etsy, who makes romantic wreaths and art objects from the pages of vintage books, or find pretty paper flowers and bouquets in custom colors from Paper Platypus on Etsy. Nature's Bounty Seashells, stones, fruit, fragrant herbs, and pinecones are all natural and free (or almost-free) ways to beautify a reception table. Collect vintage mason jars, vases or fishbowls and fill them with these objects for a warm, organic, colorful tablescape. Add vintage wine carafes for an old European touch. Fire and Light Candles are one of the best ways to beautify and light up a ceremony or reception with warmth. Use long-burning soy candles -- you can even make your own using pretty vintage teacups like wedding planner Katy Carrier! Scent your candles with fragrant essential oils to set a mood, then turn the lights down low. You'll save on electricity, and add a beautiful glow to the festivities! Balloons I'm not talking about the helium clusters you'd find at a kid's birthday party, or a silver balloon arc like the ones from '90s Bar Mitzvahs. Wedding balloon decor is chic, clean and sophisticated. Try placing one jumbo balloon above each table, anchored by a small bed of moss and some tea lights. What other eco-chic wedding decor alternatives have you considered for your wedding?? Helpful Links: Wedding Flowers Green Wedding Ideas

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