What Happens to Flowers After a Wedding?

Wedding flowers are often essential to creating the beautiful space that marks the start of the rest of your life.

But it’s tragic, really.

You spend weeks poring over flower arrangements, hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars purchasing them, and watch in awe as they transform your wedding venue into the wonderland of your dreams.

Then the ceremony ends, and... wait, what, they’re just going to be dumped in the trash?

It’s an agonizing thought, because of the ecological waste of uprooting and then quickly disposing of so many flowers, but also because nothing so beautiful should be chucked into a landfill. We’re here to help. Below is your guide on what to do with the leftover flowers and floral arrangements after your wedding ceremony.

Re-Use Leftover Flowers

To save a bit of cash and cut back on waste, many couples are reusing the flowers from their ceremony at their reception. This works particularly well if there is a time gap in between, allowing a couple friends (ideally ones handy with arrangements) to deliver the flowers to the second location -- where they can be rearranged into new bouquets, centerpieces, or other floral arrangements that create an aesthetic cohesion between the two events, while allowing you to get the most out of your investment. Talk to the florist or floral designer involved on how to make this possible.

And if you yourself want a floral keepsake to hang upside down in your home, why not save some of the flowers and dry them? Some of the flower breeds that dry best include: Strawflower, Cornflower, Lavender, Statice, Roses, Eucalyptus, and many more (here).

Have Guests Take Them Home

We’ve seen this accomplished elegantly in a number of ways. For one, if there are neatly clustered (and therefore easily transported) bouquets or centerpieces at your ceremony or reception, have a friend make an announcement towards the end of the night that wedding guests are welcome to take these flowers home with them. You can even provide small packs of flower food, so that as soon as they’re home, guests can plop them back into water and enjoy a days-long reminder of your beautiful milestone.

And if you’re planning a multi-day wedding, why not make it an activity? As everyone is drifting down to brunch the next morning before getting back on the road, have a couple friends set up a table with loose ceremony flowers along with colorful twine and patterned paper of your choosing. Large arrangements can be broken down into smaller components. Then have guests make their own custom arrangements to take home. Turning it into a fun, low-effort (remember: we have hangovers to keep in mind) next day activity is a brilliant way to get a second bang, or bloom, out of your buck.

Donate Them

This is growing in popularity among couples who want to be ethically and environmentally responsible about their wedding day consumption. Even though the shelf-life of cut flowers post-wedding isn’t very long, why not allow them to give someone else joy. A number of different organizations (depending on location) will come to your venue and pick up flowers for re-use on bedsides in hospitals, at hospice centers, women’s shelters, and nursing homes. Below are a few of our favorites:

Petals for Hope  is a nation-wide non-profit, working to disrupt the single use to landfill pipeline by restyling “twice loved flowers” into bedside arrangements for use in “infusion centers, nursing homes, cancer treatment facilities, homeless shelters, schools, and more.” They also use these donated flowers for floral arrangement workshops in nursing homes, and at schools for at-risk youth. In keeping with an ecological and people-driven mission, they compost any blooms that aren’t fit for second use, and even return to the donation sites to compost them after their “second life” -- allowing you to rest easy knowing that your beautiful flowers lived a full cycle and brought joy to many.

For New York City based folks, BloomAgainBrooklyn is the only local non-profit offering wedding day flower breakdown services, wherein they will pick up and refurbish donated flowers -- creating smaller arrangements to be donated to local health care centers and community nursing homes around Brooklyn. Their seamless service will even provide all the paperwork necessary to allow you to claim the donation as a tax deduction, thereby helping out your bottom line even as you bring joy to others. You can contact them here.

If the above options aren’t right for you, research options in your own city. Organizations like Random Acts of Flowers, serving Knoxville, Tampa Bay, and Indianapolis, and The Flower Shuttle in Raleigh, NC, provide similar services. You can see here for a number of other local nonprofits providing homes for twice loved flowers.

And, if none of the above service your city, we encourage you (or a member of your wedding party) to reach out to organizations in the community where your wedding is being held -- consider a nursing home, cancer treatment facilities, children’s hospitals, and women’s centers, all of which often have demand for floral donations. Beautiful blooms can make a difference in someone's day. Make sure you organize this before the wedding date so that no bouquets are left behind after all is said and done. Though it’s a bit of extra work, it’s no doubt worth the additional step to give these flowers a second life.

Compost Them

And if all else fails, you can do the environmentally responsible thing by ensuring all blooms are composted after the wedding. If you aren’t hosting your wedding in a city with a clear composting protocol, you can search in your area for “local compost drop-off sites,” which may include farmer’s markets or local farms. A return to the Earth to feed a new generation of real flowers is a more honorable fate for the bridal bouquet and other wedding flowers post wedding.

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