As the owner of a plant rental and floral design company in the Napa Valley called Garden Party, I have noticed a growing trend toward more organic, green weddings surfacing, especially in regard to the decor. As brides check their budgets and feel concerns about the waste of cut flowers and the hazards to our environment, they are often requesting something to use as an alternative to all cut flowers-something more sustainable and pesticide free, preferably locally grown, as well as organically grown flowers.
Brides, and consumers in general, are starting to question the nursery practices and health hazards of foreign pesticides on imported flowers. The effects of foreign competition and state of the art changes in the American greenhouse flower industry are creating big changes in what the consumer bride has available to her.
Soaring energy costs, greatly improved transportation from even a generation ago, cheap foreign labor without government regulation, and lack of pesticide restrictions in Central and South America have enabled foreign growers to ship flowers to America for much lower costs, in most cases, than can be produced here.
Many of the florists and supermarket floral departments have been importing these flowers from developing countries where most of the labor is supplied by women and children who are exposed to high quantities of these toxic chemicals for very low wages. Brides don’t want pesticides on the flowers of their bouquets or on their wedding cake that will be consumed. Nor do they want their guests sniffing uncontrolled hazardous substances from their dining centerpieces.
With costs usually still an issue for the bride, we have come up with some living, cost-effective alternatives that create the living ambiance of flowers without the danger or waste. Potted plants, trees, topiary, hedges, potted flowering plants and herbs are now growing in demand for weddings.
For example, we created a Tuscan-themed wedding table complete with tall olive topiaries, small rosemary topiaries in decorative Italian terra cotta pots, verdigris copper troughs filled with seasonal, colorful flowering potted plants, and locally grown heirloom tomatoes. For a more formal wedding, we have grown ivy covered candelabras in which we tucked a few locally grown flowers at the base for color or live orchid plants in terrarium-like glass vases tucked with rocks and moss.
The ceremony site can utilize tall ivy or cypress topiaries or flowering hydrangea or gardenia plants in decorative pedestal urns for a simple and environment-friendly decor. Instead of the usual candies for guest favors, we have used small growing herb pots, tiny tree seeds potted in peat pots and ready to be planted, or handmade paper infused with wildflower seeds that can be put directly into the ground that will grow a lovely wild flower display the next Spring.
Plants may be rented for your event or, as an alternative, can be purchased and sent home with family and friends. By using seasonal potted items, costs are usually lower and can be incorporated with minimal cut flowers to create the color pallete if desired.
To help make your wedding an earth-friendly celebration, check out the growing number of resources located throughout America. The following websites may give you ideas and directions as well as provide resources for rentals and eco-friendly suppliers.