How to Donate Flowers from your Wedding

Can I donate the flowers from my wedding ceremony and reception?

My friend Amanda had a beautiful wedding. As a close friend, I offered to help her by checking the tables for items left behind at the end of the night. As one of the last to leave, I saw the “tear down” of the event space.

Most everything was packaged up and sent back with the rental company or the wedding planner…but the gorgeous flower arrangements I knew she’d spent hours slaving over? Amanda had asked her guests to take the centerpieces home, but unfortunately, very few did. At the end of the night, most of them were unceremoniously crammed into trash bags and carted off to the dumpster.

When it comes to leftover wedding flowers, just about any option is better than that. If you’re charitably minded, you don’t just want a “better” option – you want the best option. Here are I Do Foundation’s best tips for donating your wedding flowers:

ceremony flowersWhere to donate your flowers
Local hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab, foster care, and hospice centers are all places in need of cheer. Don’t know how to find the closest one? A Google search for “hospice center” (nursing home, foster care center, etc.) and your zip code will give you names and locations of local places.

Call ahead
Some hospitals can’t take flower donations due to allergy-related restrictions.  Call ahead to verify that your chosen hospital or center can accept the donation and receive it the day after your event.

Ask for help
Staying late at your own wedding or having a long list of responsibilities the next day can really kill your post-Big-Day buzz. Ask friends, family members, or members of the bridal party to handle the donation process – or, at the very least, have them pick up the arrangements at the end of the night and load them into a car for you. If you have a wedding planner or day of coordinator, he or she may be willing to handle this for you.

Donating your floral arrangements is another wonderful way to spread your love and happiness to others—just imagine the smiles they’ll create!

PS – Interested in donating other items from your wedding? Check out our previous posts about donating your wedding gown and donating leftover food. Another fun idea? Take leftover cake to your local firemen.

Eco-Friendly Invitations from Bella Figura

I discovered the work of Bella Figura while planning my wedding in 2007, and quickly fell in love. They offer a mix of modern and classic letterpress styles, and every item they print is green. What’s not to love?

Check out some of my favorite styles below, see their offerings on their website, or learn more about their eco-friendly practices (here’s a teaser: in addition to green printing practices, they’re also wind-powered and subsidize both bus passes & CSA boxes for employees. In short, they rock!).

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Plantable Paper Wedding Invitations: the work of Botanical Paperworks

When I was planning my wedding, I came across Botanical Paperworks and fell in love with the idea of flower seed paper. Since then, they’ve come up with a fun line of wedding invitations in addition to their memorial cards (which we got for my grandmother) and plantable confetti. Here are a few of my favorite plantable wedding invitations (click each invitation for more information)!

Leaf plantable wedding invitation

Plantable tropical wedding invitations

Doing DIY? They can do that too!

Wedding Ceremony Confetti Options

The quintessential wedding image: the newly-married couple leaving their ceremony, being pelted with rice.

Why the heck do we do this, anyway? Throwing things at a newly married couple is a very old tradition, and is intended to give newlyweds good luck. Most of the items thrown at the couple represent fertility and abundance.

Although the rumor that rice kills birds is widespread, it’s actually an urban myth. If you’d like to have it thrown at you (and your venue allows), feel free. Looking for a more eco-friendly wedding rice alternative? Check these out:

Seasonal Wedding Flowers

Seasonal Wedding Flowers

Flowers are the go-to decoration for weddings, and for good reason: they’re gorgeous! But wedding flowers can leave a big environmental footprint—countless cut flowers are imported from developing countries with poor environmental and labor regulations. Choosing local—and hopefully organic—flowers helps lower emissions and avoids unwanted pesticide use, while growing your local economy.

We have compiled a collection of beautiful, in-season flowers for each season on Pinterest. Please click below to visit each board.

Wedding Day Florals: the Work of Flora Grubb

When we came across the beautiful work of Flora Grubb, we couldn’t wait to share it with you. We especially love that these centerpieces can be given away as gifts or to your guests at the end of your wedding night, and they will live well beyond your wedding day.

Check out these beautiful succulent centerpieces that won’t be dead in a day:

For more of Flora Grubb’ work, check out her website, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Celebrate Green: Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding

Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding from I Do Foundation

Ten eco-chic ideas for a stylish and sustainable wedding

  1.  Let it Shine – Make informed jewelry decisions by considering their source. Choose a jeweler that uses recycled materials and ask questions that help you feel good about your purchase.
  2.  Be Fashionably Green – Get a unique look with a tailored, vintage wedding dress; use organic fabrics; and choose a bridesmaids dress that they can (actually) wear again.
  3. Location, Location, Location – Select a venue rich in décor. Botanical gardens are lush with foliage and museums have objects d’art. You’ll support a non-profit and save on decorations.
  4. Gifts that Give Back – Raise money for causes you care about by requesting donations to charity as your wedding gifts. Start a charity registry with I Do so guests can conveniently give.
  5.  Eat, Drink, and Be Savvy – When selecting your meal, narrow down the options and insist on an organic caterer, local food choices, and organic wines.
  6. Flower Power – Think organic, seasonal, and potted. Use a local florist and ask your wedding party to help make DIY centerpieces and bouquets that are environmentally friendly.
  7. Do the World a Favor – Thank your guests and share your values with wedding favors that support a meaningful cause, making a difference through charity.
  8. Green your Footprint – Use one of many easy-to-use online tools to calculate your wedding’s carbon footprint, and then offset your emissions.
  9. Eco-Invite – Create your own Wedding Page. Save on printing costs by putting your save the date and RSVPs online, and include maps, lodging suggestions, and even your proposal story! If you do send invites, choose recycled or tree-free paper.
  10. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse – If it can’t be recycled, reduced, or reused . . . Rent! Ask if your vendors have a recycling policy. Plan ahead and find a shelter or retirement home for leftover food or flowers. Creatively use recycled materials throughout your ceremony and reception.

Waste Not, Want Not: Chic Wedding Doggie Bags

chic take home bags for leftover food at your wedding reception

from I Do Foundation: chic take home bags for leftover food at your wedding reception

Wedding receptions often result in a lot of waste: at the end of the night, garbage cans are heaped high with flowers, signage and food.

Many eco-friendly wedding planners recommend donating your leftover goods to homeless shelters or retirement homes. Unfortunately, regulations in many states prohibit the donation of food items—so what can you do with all that leftover food?

What about letting your guests take home your leftovers? Wedding fare is usually delicious. Try providing chic take-home doggie bags for your guests: this is a great way to reduce food waste and treat your guests for an extra day or two.

Check out a few of the great ideas we found online:

Wedge-shaped Pie Box take-home kits

When we found these adorable “doggie bag” alternatives on Etsy, we were thrilled. Can you imagine what a beautiful display you could make with these?

Compostable Take-Out Boxes

Buy fully-compostable take-out boxes and decorate them with fancy ribbon to match your wedding colors. Close with a chic sticker.

Stamp your own kraft bags

Use regular kraft paper lunch bags, and stamp or write on them. You can also print custom stickers featuring your wedding monogram or theme.For more ideas, see our Wedding Reception Pinterest Board.

I have so many DIY projects, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to get it all done! How do I keep myself sane?

how to organize your wedding diy projects

Time management, friend. Get as much done as possible, as far ahead of time as possible, lest you be gluing tiny starfish to your place cards the night before your wedding. Make sure that you aren’t biting off more than you can chew, too: a couple of in-depth, craft-heavy DIY projects are enough for one wedding. You don’t need to have sewn programs made from burlap and twine and hand silk-screened wedding invitations.

Try to estimate how much time each project will take (and how likely you are to get sick of doing it). Projects that will take a long time or frustrate you should be scheduled first—that way, you have plenty of time to complete them (and take breaks as necessary). Some projects, such as place cards, need to be completed closer to the wedding date when your guest list is final—those items will go last on the list.

Other great tips:

  • Make a list of your projects on Google Docs. Include the start date, completion date, estimated time it will take, and list of items you need to purchase for each item. Share this document with anyone who is helping you with your projects.
  • Get Tupperware bins (try freecycle or craigslist!), and label them for projects that are completed, in progress, and upcoming.
  • If you’re getting overwhelmed, don’t order anything for the next project until your current project is completed. This will also benefit you if you think you might throw in the towel on a project: less items to return or repurpose later.

I will be donating food to a homeless shelter and/or flowers to a retirement home after the wedding. How do I make sure this gets done?

how to organize donations of leftover food or decorations after the wedding

This is one of the many logistical issues that must be considered when planning a wedding. You have a great idea, but how do you make sure it actually gets executed? Our suggestion is to ask your Day of Coordinator, or designate a few friends or family members to be responsible for this job.

We suggest more than one person for each job; that way, if someone wants to go home early, the job still gets done. Also, make sure to consider things like the size of a person’s car: if you’re asking them to move large centerpieces for twelve tables, someone with a Smart Car probably isn’t the best choice.