We all know what next Monday is: Valentine’s Day. For some people, February 14 conjures visions of chocolate and romance, for others it is just another holiday created by greeting card companies. I have to admit I fall somewhere in between. While my fiancé and I don’t completely forgo the holiday, we haven’t ever celebrated it traditionally. (My favorite Valentine’s gift was a pair of tickets to Radiohead). Yet I can’t help but notice what the perfect Valentine’s gift normally includes: chocolate, roses, something heart shaped and…you guessed it -FLOWERS.
Flowers have become an essential part of the Valentine’s Day ritual, just as they have taken their place as one of the most important aspects of modern weddings. Flowers line the aisle, decorate the chuppah and make up centerpieces at tables during the reception. From the bouquets to the boutonnières, floral arrangements make up a considerable amount of the wedding budget.
Having your wedding in a botanical garden or arboretum can help take the edge off your flower costs and also help make your wedding more environmentally friendly. These types of venues are also often not-for-profits, so your rental fee can help go toward preserving a beautiful natural space. You can find lists of botanical gardens and arboretums by state.
|The New York Botanical Garden.|
If an outdoor garden wedding doesn’t necessarily mesh with your style, there are other ways that you can make sure your flower choices are socially conscious. One great way to give back with flowers is to buy arrangements that benefit a cause. Flowerpetal.com, a Las Vegas-based e-commerce provider servicing the flower and gift industry, has teamed with The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN) to do just this. Twelve percent of the proceeds go to benefit pancreatic cancer prevention, awareness and research. They offer flowers for any occasion, including centerpieces. While many brides might not be comfortable ordering their flowers online, they can still use this site to buy flowers as thank you gifts for family members or as decoration for the bridesmaid luncheon .
|PANCAN's "Clear Day" arrangement of Asiatic lilies and chrysanthemums benefits a great cause.|
Another important aspect of planning a socially conscious wedding is giving back- to the environment. One of the web’s best resources for eco-friendly weddings, GreenBrideGuide.com, offers Green Weddings 101 to answer all your eco-wedding questions. According to the guide, over 50% of the florists in the U.S. imported flowers that are sprayed with pesticides that could potentially be harmful to your health.
They recommend using local, seasonal and organic flowers, which are not sprayed with toxic chemicals. Shopping locally also helps to lower transportation costs, such as fuel consumption. When you shop local, you also shop seasonal, so your costs are lower because no exotic, out-of-season flowers need to be shipped. GreenBrideGuide also suggests that you work with your florist to design arrangements that use faux flowers or other accoutrements like feathers or seasonal fruits and vegetables. Check out their vendor directory for more information on florists in your area who use sustainable practices.
|Flowers at the Dupont Farmer's Market in Washington, DC.|
Another way to make sure your flower choices are socially conscious is to make sure they have a second life. Before signing a contract with your florist find out if he or she is willing to pick up and deliver the flowers to a worthy cause after the wedding or reception is over. In many cases florists have existing relationships with local charities and can deliver leftover flowers to them.
Asheville, North Carolina based Second Bloom specializes in doing just this - they collect flowers after weddings, holiday parties, and other events featuring fresh flowers, and redistribute them to nursing homes, hospices and other long-term care facilities. The organization is almost entirely run by volunteers who collect the flowers, transport them to the facilities and even sit down with residents to create the bouquets that are distributed.
With so many options to choose from, it is important that you find the best option for you. While we haven’t selected a florist yet, my fiancé and I plan to choose seasonal flowers and use reusable centerpieces that can be donated to local organizations in need. Who says buying flowers can't feel just as great as receiving them?