In 2019, the wedding industry will see many new and familiar trends, including sustainability. Whether you’re looking to have a completely eco-friendly day, or you just want to do your part in reducing waste, hosting a sustainable wedding isn’t as hard as it sounds. Follow along Beehive Floral Co.’s story to learn more about sustainable weddings and what it takes to pull one-off. Beehive Floral Co. specializes in locally sourced floral for weddings, events and botanical styling.
When I first decided to return to floral design, I found myself one early morning in a snow-covered field, under a 100-year-old curly willow looking up at the sky and watching a white barn owl fly by. It was 10 degrees outside. I was in heaven.
This early experience has continued to inform the way I create wedding floral. I design with wild and seasonal flowers. Many of them are grown in the same type of soil on which the event will take place and a series of adventures procuring them inevitably culminates in something simultaneously familiar and altogether new.
What’s even more magical, is the couples who come to me with their weddings often are kindred souls in this love affair I have with nature. So many of them are wild at heart and they come to me because they want this special and singular day to reflect that fire within them as well as their sense of care for the ecosystems that offer them so much joy.
If you’ve had anything to do with the behind-the-scenes of an event on the scale of a wedding, you know first-hand that the impact is no small thing. The aftermath of just one moderate-sized event can fill two dumpsters.
Bearing this in mind, my aim has always been to do my part to minimize the impact of any event for which I design while recognizing it is virtually impossible to eliminate impact altogether.
For me, sustainability is a balancing act. It is not about perfection but about doing what works best for you.
As a florist, I have spent more than a few hours puzzling over all the ways I can incorporate sustainability into my business. I have been lucky enough to meet and get to know many incredible florists, flower farmers, and product developers who share my passion for sustainability, offering me advice, resources, and tools. From my experiences and learned knowledge, I have found new practices to implement every year including bleach-free flower prep, composting, recycling, and foam-free design. And, I’ve also begun partnering with a few local soil scientists who have developed a bacteria that can eliminate toxins and heavy metals from my commercially produced floral compost pile.
I can tell you first-hand that if you’d like to plan a wedding that’s sustainable, whether it’s a little or a lot, it is not only fully possible but there are new resources, vendors and suppliers popping up every day who can help make that possible for you.
The first and simplest step to planning a sustainable wedding is to go local. It not only cuts down on fuel and packaging but it supports your local community and economy. As a florist, there is nothing more meaningful than knowing my creations support small, organic and sustainably-minded family flower farms.
Here are a few practices I engage in to procure locally and sustainably sourced floral.
My very first step in gathering what I need for any event is to go outside and take a look at what the season has brought us. Although certain things are available by predictable seasons, I find every year brings me new surprises. One year the bronze cast of fall foraged Oak might rule my dreams while another will bring seas of tufted golden Rabbit Brush on a blue-lit skyline.
I begin with foraging because it’s the piece that informs everything else I will create for a single event. I find one or two key ingredients and I gather buckets full. Try to be conscious of any floral in your area that is either protected or considered a noxious weed and leave those alone. The list can be overwhelming so just do your best to keep yourself educated.
It took a year or two for my home base of Salt Lake City to catch up to my dreams of seas of locally grown flowers, so I began by growing my own. These days, I recommend every florist make themselves a cutting garden, no matter how small. Because every bouquet feels like a unique gift from me, there’s nothing more special than cutting something I’ve nurtured from seed since the dead of winter to add the finishing touch.
Thanks to Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers, the floral industry has seen a boom of local flower farms worldwide, many of whom are committed to sustainable growing practices. Because far less fuel is used to procure flowers grown just ten to fifteen miles from my studio than those shipped in from South America, I always opt for local before anything else. Every year there is more to be had and local wholesalers like Esprit Raw Flowers are even considering creating a locally grown section in their cooler for the coming season.
With all my finds back at the studio and in buckets, I’ll take a moment to breathe in the spirit of the event. After months and sometimes years of planning, no amount of color wheels, inspirational images or detailed proposals can define what we will end up with more than what has been offered to us by the abundance of this moment.
Out of everything I have gathered from foraged to the farm to the local flower market, I allow myself to be informed by the mood and season of the event for which I am creating.
With this in mind, I carefully select only the color, tone and shape from what I have gathered that best sings together. With this defined set of materials, I can allow each flower, branch and bit of foliage to do what it wants to do within the arrangement for a naturalistic design that appears as an effortless collaboration between designer and nature.
Planning a wedding is a practice in surrender. My first advice to couples is always to think not about how your wedding day looks but how it feels. And make every wedding decision thereafter based on that.
Happy wedding planning!