After the party, consider donating flowers instead
When Candice Milliard of North Branford-based Candi’s Floral Creations designed a destination wedding in Newport last year, her client approached her about a feel-good day-after task.
“My bride wanted to donate the flowers somewhere since she and her guests were leaving the next day to go back home,” Milliard said. “She wanted them to be appreciated after the wedding. I found a local hospice, an elderly home and a children’s hospital and delivered all of the flowers the following morning. I loved the idea of my creations being used not only as decor for a wedding but then to make people — strangers — smile.”
Many couples have traditionally saved their wedding centerpieces for a formal brunch the following morning and then tossed them, or sent them home with a guest from each table.
Preserving the bridal bouquet as a cherished memento is another common after-wedding to-do. But a growing number of couples are choosing to let their forget-me-nots do double duty as pick-me-ups.
There are even nonprofits such as Knoxville, Tenn.-based Random Acts of Flowers that are dedicated to recycling and repurposing flowers from weddings and other events. The organization was founded in 2008 by Larsen Jay, who had been in a near-fatal accident the year prior. The dozens of floral arrangements that adorned his hospital room, he believes, aided greatly in his long recovery.
Although it depends on the time of year, he estimates that 25 percent of the flowers donated to Random Acts of Flowers are from weddings — and about half of those are donated in the summer. Jay said the idea of recycling flowers “is definitely blooming.” There are at least 18 mission-similar organizations and each year hundreds of people inquire about starting something like it.
Hospitals, particularly children’s wards, are a popular donation destination for wedding flowers, said Barbara Nelson of Confetti, a Redding-based floral and event decorator. She also suggests nurses’ stations at hospitals. “They truly appreciate having something beautiful to enjoy for a few days,” she said. Other ideas include nursing homes and area churches (the latter being best for flowers that will last the week).
Sound like a worthy plan? Here are tips for arranging a second life for your wedding flowers:
Ask your florist or wedding planner for help. “It does take some coordinating and organizing,” Milliard said. Your florist may even have the planning already worked out. “If Confetti is responsible for picking up at the end of the night and the client has informed us to take whatever centerpieces are left,” Nelson explained, “we will handle dispersing them to locations we know love to receive them.
If you must or prefer to work it out on your own, make some calls to local places to see who would accept them, and specifically take them the day after the wedding.
Ask your venue to keep them in the refrigerator for the following day so they’ll look their best. “Depending on weather, it won’t be clear as to how the flowers will look the day after,” Milliard said.
If a service provider isn’t handling delivery, delegate the task to someone close to you. After all, Milliard said, “you will most likely be getting ready for your honeymoon.”
While the sentiment does take some extra planning, Jay believes it’s well worth it. “There’s so much time, energy and financial resources dedicated to flowers for a wedding,” he said. “The purpose of using these flowers is to celebrate love and the starting of a life together. By recycling or repurposing of those flowers, brides and grooms are passing that purpose onto others who need the love, need the emotional boost of happiness. What better way to honor your life together than to positively impact another life in your community?”