Choosing flowers for your big day should be an absolute joy and brides and grooms are increasingly looking toward a more environmentally friendly and sustainable option. The easiest way to achieve this is to opt for locally grown, seasonal blooms. Out of season roses and year-round freesias may look fabulous, but come at a cost: it is estimated that the carbon footprint of imported flowers could be as much as 95% more than home grown varieties.
It can be a bit of a minefield navigating your way around this, so first of all, find a florist that you admire, respect, and with whom you know will work with you to achieve this.
Grown Not Flown
The ‘Grown Not Flown’ movement is gaining ground in floristry, and an increasing number of us are connecting with local growers, flowers farms, and independent nurseries across the country for our supplies. It is super to establish relationships with others in the industry who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, eliminating pesticides, and producing some of the freshest and most gorgeous flowers available.
There is something absolutely magical about creating a bouquet or an arrangement that is seasonal and you know each bloom was grown with love and care. I want to be transparent here – I would be lying if I said I only use local blooms, but I am working toward a better balance and part of that process is letting clients know about the choices available.
Ultimately what you choose for your big day will come down to three things: style, season, and budget.
Normally you will choose your wedding flowers once you have an outfit and a venue. This will dictate the theme of your big day and your florals should reflect this. Talk through your vision with your florist, bringing pictures if possible, will give them an idea of what style floats your boat – country manor, urban chic, or wild and romantic. Pinterest is a good place to start, but remember many of the photographs are highly-filtered, photoshopped, and use artificial blooms. So do not expect your florist to be able to create an exact replicate bouquet from a heavily doctored picture.
Most florists get very excited about creating seasonal bouquets. It means working with nature, not against it, and the blooms and foliage will be at their peak. It is easy to fear that your choice will be limited if you go seasonal, but there are so many wonderful blooms out there, I promise you will be spoiled for choice.
In spring look for gorgeous Lily of the Valley, ranunculus, and tulips for a fabulously scented bouquet. Anemones too are reminiscent of a glorious cottage garden and the colours range from light pink to the deepest purple which really make an arrangement pop.
Peonies are always a big hit at weddings, but they have a short window between May and June when they are at their finest, so do not be disappointed if your florist tells you they are a no-no for your September ceremony. There are superb garden roses which look almost identical – especially after a few glass of fizz.
And talking of roses, summer brides will have their pick of these favourites, as well as gloriously scented stock, fabulous cornflowers, Veronica, and astilbe – all the makings of a stunning garden style bouquet. Many of these blooms will move well into autumn when dahlias are absolute showstoppers.
Winter weddings are such a joy, a gorgeous bouquet with warm tones of berried ivy, deep pink hellebores, viburnum, and pussy willow are amazing. Roses too are not to be completely discounted – I have had roses bloom in December some years in my garden, although this is stretching it I grant you.
The most important thing in choosing wedding flowers, is to be flexible. Flowers, by their very nature are unpredictable, so it is best not to be overly specific when it comes to varieties, let your florist choose the best available. If you insist on a pink avalanche rose and only Pink O’Hara is available on the day, will you really be able to tell the difference?
Finally, it comes down to that all important question of budget. Be realistic here. Although blooms which are in season can be cost effective, creating a bridal bouquet and stunning venue installations come at a price. Be as transparent as possible: you may need to compromise your wish list somewhat, but your florist will be able come up with some fabulous ideas if they know in advance the budget they are working with. The last thing you should do is ask them to remove a ‘bloom or two’ from each bouquet hoping to bring the price down. That will compromise the design, make no difference to the cost, and might make your florist grumpy.
If you opt for dried flowers in your bouquet, you can be on the right side of environmentally sound by requesting naturally dried and unbleached or un-coloured products. Again, be aware that anything bespoke, especially with such a niche product, will cost more.
Another option to consider is to grow your own for your big day but this comes with a caution. I would only advise this if,
- you are a seasoned gardener
- you have grown cut flowers before
So there you have it. The easy guide to choosing seasonal, sustainable blooms. I cannot guarantee it will be totally devoid of stress, but compared to arranging the seating plan, it will be a cake-walk. And it is nice to know that when it comes to wedding florals, your bouquet does not need to cost the earth.
Theresa Talbot is a boutique florist and garden consultant based in Glasgow. Following a successful broadcasting career with the BBC, Theresa embarked on a new path, training with some of the best florists in the UK, and launched Willow & Herb at the start of lockdown. Her passion for sustainable floristry, creating natural, rustic style arrangements includes blooms from Scottish flower farms as well as from her own plot.