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.

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 will be reusing my ceremony decorations for the reception. How do I make this happen?

how to re-use your ceremony decorations for the reception

Reusing decorations from your wedding ceremony for your reception is a great way to save resources — both environmental and monetary.

It can, however, be a bit of a logistical nightmare to get your decorations from place to place if you aren’t organized. Which is why, of course, we suggest:

  • You and your partner should not be responsible for setting up the ceremony or reception. Your job is to get married and enjoy the day. Delegate these tasks to a Day of Coordinator or a trusted family member or friend. You may also be able to pay your florist to help, for a small fee.
  • Create a checklist of items that need to be moved, along with their location at the ceremony and their destination at the reception. Make sure this checklist is in the hands of at least two of your helpers. Store back-up copies in an easily accessible place in case the originals are misplaced (if you have a smart phone, try storing it in your email).
  • If you have a lot of items to reuse, delegate specific tasks: two people to pack up items at the ceremony, two people to move them, and two people to set up the reception, for example. Think about having an “understudy” for each function, just in case someone is unable to help you on the day of.
  • Consider whether you will need large vehicles, a dolly, or multiple people to transport the items.
  • Take photos of each decoration that needs to be set up or moved. If possible, take photos of each item as it should be displayed in each location.
  • Create a timeline. At what time do things need to be set up in each location? When should the items be moved? How long do you estimate it will take to do the setup?
  • Make sure that all items are well organized. Provide tupperware bins and anything needed to protect the items during the move from location to location.

Remember, the key to a well-run wedding is organization. Try to anticipate the issues that may arise, and make alternate plans in case they’re necessary.

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.

I would like to donate the leftover food from my wedding reception. How do I do that?

how to donate leftover wedding food to the homeless

It depends on your state’s policies, actually; many states prohibit the donation of leftover food because its safety can’t be regulated (donations of labeled or packaged food is always okay, though). The best way to find out if you are able to donate your leftover wedding fare is to find your local food bank and ask.

If your state won’t allow donation, consider the possibility of providing chic “to go” bags for your guests to take home leftovers. Your caterer may even be willing to fill them for you!

I am doing DIY for most of my wedding. Should I get a Day of Coordinator (DOC)?

should i hire a day of coordinator?

Unfortunately, your carefully laid plans mean nothing if they aren’t well-executed. And if you’re getting married and—we’d hope—enjoying yourself, you don’t want to be running around like a madwoman (or man) trying to make sure that your ceremony decorations make it to the reception, or that the attendants are all where they need to be.

A Day of Coordinator (or DOC) will make sure that your wedding day runs smoothly. You do all the planning, then hand your plans over to your DOC. Usually, a DOC will help you before the wedding, too—checking your timeline, helping you with the order of your ceremony, and making sure that all your loose ends are tied up. At the end of the reception, he or she will also likely help organize the people who have promised to take things home for you—such as leftover food, flowers, gifts and the like.

You could ask a friend to perform a DOC’s duties, but it’s much nicer if all of your guests can enjoy the wedding day. Plus, there’s no substitution for experience. A DOC will have an “emergency kit” on hand to take care of anything from a torn bustle to a red wine stain. In short, a DOC is highly recommended!