How To Source Your Wedding Flowers Locally And Sustainably, According To Florists

The best tips for finding wedding flowers that are in season, sustainable, and affordable.

July 17, 2017
rustic bouquet

If you’re a farmstand-loving, digging-in-the-garden kind of bride, consider bringing those sustainable values to your wedding by choosing seasonal flowers, and sourcing them from local growers.

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today.)

A nod to Mother Nature, this means you’ll be reducing pesticide use and the carbon footprint of your cut flowers, which can be high due to refrigerated shipping from around the world, explains Megan Faletra, founder of Well Essentials. (And here are 7 tricks from professional florists to make those cut flowers last for weeks.) 

The benefits keep blooming: Sourcing locally means you get longer life out of your cut flowers and the cost is generally lower than a typically sourced wedding. “My florals were very affordable for a 150 person wedding. They were around $6,000, and I had been quoted by other, less sustainably focused vendors, over $12,000,” Faletra says of her recent Cape Cod wedding. Read on for more on decorating your venue with local, season flowers.

Related: 6 Ways To Save Cash By Making Your Wedding Gorgeous And Green

a woman florist
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Find the right florist

Jacqueline Elfe, floral design instructor at The New York Institute of Art and Design explains the benefits of working with a florist: “They already have relationships with wholesalers and know the prices of blooms. They will educate the bride on seasonal blooms, items needed for the wedding, and alternatives if certain blooms are unavailable.”

Related: Eco-Friendly Engagement Rings That Make Saying Yes Easy

When looking for a florist, ask this question before anything else: "Where do your source your flowers?" This will weed out the florists who are not willing to take on your request for local and sustainable. Some florists double as a flower farm, which is ideal, but rare. Other florists pride themselves on working with local farms, have a lot of insight into what’s in season for your wedding, and how to decorate with the harvest. 

Related: The 7 Worst Flowers Used In Summer Weddings

“I purchase almost exclusively from a local co-op, which ensures the flowers I am selling have not traveled in a box from another country, but have been cut the morning I pick them up, placed in buckets and taken to the market,” explains Makayla Thom, owner of Blossoms Studios and florist on BloomNation

flowers in front of a shop
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Or source from a wholesaler or farm

If you're crafty and have an eye for florals, you can skip the florist and set up your own blooms. (Here's more on how to make your own wedding veil.) Finding a local wholesaler or flower farm is as easy as a quick Internet search. Elfe recommends having an idea of the flowers you want before meeting in person (nod to our long list, below). If you’re a garden guru, and are familiar with seasonal flowers, this won’t be an issue.

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“When you go for a wholesale site visit make sure you request they show you only locally grown blooms. For example, Hydrangea can either be locally grown, South American, or come from Dutch (Holland),” says Elfe. Some wholesalers will happily deliver to your home or a venue, but might request a minimum payment. 

Related: 18 Summer Flowers That Can Take The Heat

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Let the seasons design your wedding

Keep in mind that floral variety is based on season, so it's smart to be flexible with your vision from the beginning. Here are 3 ways to make organic bouquets to get you started with design inspiration. For spring weddings, a pretty purple like lilacs (pictured above) works perfectly. 

Remember, just like produce from a farmers’ market, flowers from local organic farms may be different sizes and colors. Consider going with local blooms an opportunity to give the ground creative control.  “One of our favorite summer florals is the peony,” says Bronwen Smith, lead designer and owner of B Floral. "This delicate and feminine bloom comes in a wide array of colors and will add fullness to any centerpiece or bar arrangement.”

Related: What Happened When I Decided To Grow The Flowers For My Daughter's Wedding

Not sure which flowers are seasonal? Floral and wedding designer Mark Kintzel created a handy seasonal flower guide. 

For spring weddings

Light, delicate flowers pop in the springtime, and you have your pick of some of the most beautiful. For a spring wedding, opt for flowers like: Poppy, Tulip, Peony, Lilac, Succulent, Anemone, Sweet Pea, Hydrangea, Bleeding Heart, Hyacinth, Apple or Cherry Blossoms, Quince, Daffodil, Iris, and Hellebore.

For summer weddings

There's nothing quite like the sun-soaked vibe of an outdoor summer wedding. Good options for florals include: Clematis, Dahlia, Daisy, Astilbe, Scabiosa, Corn Flower, Garden Rose, Succulent, Mountain Laurel, Hydrangea, Feverfew, Sweet pea, Lisianthus, Zinnia, Snap Dragon, Black-Eyed Susan, and Lavender.

For fall weddings

In the fall, warm and golden tones match the autumn leaves. Depending on your color scheme, check out floral options like: Coxcomb, Golden Rod, Queen Anne's Lace, Dahlia, Succulent, Sunflower, Thistle, Zinnia, Gomphrena, Statice, Amaranth, Craspedia, and Black-Eyed Susan.

For winter weddings

Gorgeous winter weddings often feature darker tones. Look into plants like Anemone, Ranunculus, Tulip, Rose, Succulent, and local evergreens like Pine, Christmas Fern, and Holly.

Related: Meet The Family On A Mission To Plant A Billion Flowers

green floral centerpiece
Reuse your cut flowers throughout the day or opt for live arrangements

There are lots of beautiful ways to go green with your decorations like using live plants as centerpieces or gifts (think succulents or air plants) and reusing your cut flowers throughout the day, from your ceremony to the reception. 

“At my wedding, the cut flowers used in vases during our ceremony were then placed on cocktail tables during the cocktail hour, and also used to hang from iron rods as a pathway leading down to our tented reception,” Faletra says.

Related: How To Make A Stunning Bouquet In 5 Minutes

You can work these phases out with your florist, or enlist a close friend or family member to rearrange your flowers. Faletra also opted for locally sourced potted plants instead of large arrangements for decor. “We placed beautiful local grasses and hydrangea bushes in ceramic pots around the venue, which I later replanted in my parent’s yard,” she says. “Every year I get to see those plants bloom and think of my wedding.”