From prudent WWII wedding corsages to the abundance of fake flowers colonizing banquet halls in the decades that followed, brides have always embraced methods of managing their floral costs. The most common technique, in this regard, is, of course, deception: beefing up bouquets with filler, ordering “real touch” silk flowers to trick Great Aunt Gertrude. What happens, though, when brides suddenly don’t want flowers, real or imaginary?
Over the past few years, alternative plant bouquets, boutonnieres and centrepieces have burst onto the wedding scene with gusto, and brides can’t get enough (truthfully, neither can we). Blame a renewed sense of financial restraint triggered by the recession, a heightened concerned for environmentalism nipping the appeal of short-lived floral displays in the bud or the explosion of wedding blogs, Pinterest boards and online connectivity enabling brides to explore entirely new realms of ideas and inspiration. Propelled by affordability, sustainability, creativity, or a combination of the three, brides are now flaunting their alternative arrangements, liberated at last from the thirty pound Princess Diana bouquets of the 80’s and perfectly trimmed long-stemmed roses of the 90’s.
At Weddingbells, we’re absolutely tickled by this new non-floral wedding trend and have rounded up our favourite plant finds, from bouquets to boutonnieres, centrepieces to favours, and everything in between. We’ve also compiled our knowledge on this season’s hottest specimens and where to find them. While such arrangements can include anything from moss to tropical foliage, a few perennial players have emerged as major kingpins:
Succulents — Thick, fleshy plants which often retain water and are native to warmer climates, succulents come in several shades of green and some purple. They began to appear a few years ago on the Los Angeles indie wedding circuit and have proceeded to charm the socks off practically every rebel bride to glance their way. Unlike flowers, which wilt and die shortly after the wedding celebration, succulents can live for years, earning them major points among the DIY set, finally able prepare their own centrepieces months in advance. Due to their popularity, succulent shops seem to be opening every day on Etsy (SANPEDROCACTUS, The Succulent Source and Succulentsplus are some of the biggies, all based in California).
Canadian brides, however, don’t need to resort to international shipping to get their hands on the wedding world’s plant du jour. Sprouts Greenhouse in Winfield, Alberta (a one-hour drive from Edmonton) stocks their own supply of locally-grown succulents, as does Valley Succulents on Vancouver Island, which ships to brides throughout Canada. Solar Gardens in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan grows succulents in on-site greenhouses and also offers workshops in succulent bowl arranging, a fantastic alternative bridal shower or bachelorette activity.
Air Plants — Plentiful in Australia and South Africa, air plants — famous for their soil independence — come in a variety of shapes with a tendency towards striking, even architectural configurations. More elongated and ethereal than their pudgy succulent counterparts, air plants have been gaining understandable popularity among alternative brides, who can’t resist their delightfully whimsical presence. Fortunately, air plants are relatively easy to track down online, with Etsy shops CTSairplants and Twisted Acres both being fantastic resources. JTLCREATIONS, also on Etsy, supplies an eccentric offering of air plant terrariums and mobiles we’d love to see suspended in a funky ceremony or reception space. In Toronto, cult-favourite flower shop Sweetpea’s stocks an abundance of air plants at their quirky West-end mecca for eco-savvy urbanites. Multiple varieties of air plants can also be purchased at Sheriden Nurseries, which operates several locations throughout the GTA including North York, Mississauga, Etobicoke and Scarborough.
Cacti — Cacti are spiny plants generally found in arid regions throughout the United States and Mexico. Cities such as Austin, Texas and Palm Springs, California — both of which boast a vibrant indie wedding scene — have popularized their local response to the succulent. Although difficult to use in bouquets, cacti can make fantastic unexpected additions to centrepieces and other standing arrangements. Cacti are harder to track down in Canada but can be purchased online from various Etsy suppliers, including SANPEDROCACTUS and Succulents Galore.
Whether motivated by budget, ideology or aesthetics, brides continue to power this affordable, alternative, eco-tastic wedding trend, which presently shows no signs of withering. Who says it’s not easy being green?