A bride holding a bouquet of flowers.

Slow Flowers for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

PHOTO BY TWO CARTERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

Flowers play a large role in the overall look and feel of a wedding, so if you are considering buying local to save on budget and waste, here are some tips for you.

The slow flower movement refers to the support and purchase of American-grown flowers in the United States. The top three flower exporters in the world are the Netherlands, Columbia, and Ecuador, with the United States importing 82 percent of its flowers. It takes a bit of extra planning to curate a more sustainable wedding, but with the help of a florist, it is an admirable and attainable goal. At Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the owner, Althea Wiles, has spent years researching this topic, working with local flower farmers, and implementing the movement into her design process. Wiles also owns J Althea Creative, a consulting and mentoring program that teaches budding florists a myriad of business techniques, including what she has learned about the slow flower movement and how anyone can achieve the field-to-vase concept with some forethought.

Althea Wiles of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio says:

Given that most of the flowers used in the United States are imported, the floral industry has a pretty high carbon footprint. Sustainable flowers are a move toward lowering that footprint. One of the main ways this can be accomplished is by using flowers grown close to home.

PHOTO BY TWO CARTERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

With the farm-to-table trend progressing, couples are seeking ways to plan their weddings as sustainably as possible by utilizing locally produced items with an aesthetic that mirrors these ideals. Many small flower farmers focus on flowers that the large commercial farms don’t handle. This means you can obtain truly unique flowers for your design. If you are unable to find exactly what you want and you like gardening, you may have the option to work with a local greenhouse to pot your own live flowers and plants at their facility until the wedding. After your beautiful day, you could have some potted arrangements to take home or give away to guests.

Within the US, 75 percent of cut flowers are grown in California. Much of the foliage is grown in Florida. Depending on where you live, shipping from California or Florida can mean your flora will spend several days on a boat, plane, or truck. These commercially-grown flowers from large production farms are also wrapped in plastic, which is then thrown away.

In contrast, locally-grown flowers have minimal shipping associated with them, usually less than fifty miles. They are rarely packaged in bunches or wrapped in plastic, which really adds up quickly. Locally-grown flowers are exceedingly fresher. These flowers are generally harvested and sold within just a few days. Flowers from elsewhere can be harvested up to three or more weeks before you or your florist receives them.

You certainly will not have to sacrifice style by choosing this option, but you should still be flexible. There may be color limitations, and the outcome may look more organic or bohemian than you had originally envisioned. Additionally, when buying commercially produced flowers, you do not usually need to consider the season. However, when buying local flowers, the season does matter, and weather patterns may lead to last-minute changes. Slow flowers are not necessarily cheaper, either, which is a common misconception. This is where a floral designer comes in handy. Working with someone you trust who will manage the entire process from beginning to end using their vast knowledge of the industry will prove indispensable.

Wiles of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio also states:

Recognize that the flower farmer may not be a trained florist. These are two different professions, and they don’t always cross over. Look at photos of their work and make sure it’s a style you like before going for the cheapest option. You may want to have a professional floral designer use locally grown flowers—my favorite option.

PHOTO BY TWO CARTERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

PHOTO BY TWO CARTERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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Althea Wiles

Althea Wiles is the owner and creative director of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is also the founder and education director of J Althea Creative, a floral design course and florist consulting program. Althea earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College, then completed her Arkansas Master Florist Certification. Her design studio takes part in 75 to 100 weddings and events annually and has been recognized by publications such as Arkansas Bride. She has also been a featured artist for the Art in Bloom gallery exhibit, chosen and hosted by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. @roseofsharonfloral
August 17, 2021

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