How to have sustainable wedding flowers: from UK grown to faux blooms

Published by Claire Gould on

We’re breaking down the pros and cons of artificial wedding flowers vs home grown florals on English Wedding today! Lots of you are looking for the most sustainable options for your wedding floral styling, and we’re here to help. I’ve included expert advice from Blooming Artificial, faux flower specialists, and Jess from Darcey Styling, a talented Lake District wedding florist and stylist with a passion for working with and sourcing blooms from Cumbria’s local flower growers.

The history of wedding flowers: why do we carry bouquets?

Jess explains, “The history of a bridal bouquet is believed to date back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans where they carried fresh herbs. Even ancient Egyptian brides are thought to have carried herbs and spices down the aisle. The tradition is now so prevalent that wedding bouquets have become a beautiful accompaniment and in some cases, a statement to couples and their whole wedding aesthetic.”

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling // Dress from Julia Tasker Bridal Couture

The look of real wedding flowers vs artificial bouquets

If you’re considering artificial flowers, Alick at Blooming Artificial advises you to “opt for high-quality flowers like silk wedding bouquets as these can look so lifelike, your guests might do a double take. “One of the telltale signs of artificial flowers is that they can sometimes look a bit too perfect. To combat this, mix it up by incorporating different textures into your bouquet. Choose blooms with varying petal shapes and sizes, and don’t forget about foliage – a little greenery can go a long way in adding authenticity.

“Fresh-cut flowers also often have subtle variations in hue that can be hard to replicate with artificial blooms. To make your bouquet look more lifelike, consider mixing shades of the same colour or adding in a few accent blooms with slightly different tones. This will create depth and dimension, just like a real bouquet.”

A florist working with real wedding flowers will of course arrange your bouquet for you, giving a wider choice of home grown flower varieties and expertly placing each stem to create a stunning design. Make no mistake: a good wedding florist is creating a piece of art with flowers!

You’ll have input into the colours and key blooms for your floral arrangements and bouquets, and an expert to perfect them for you! And it’s not just the look of your flowers which will wow your guests, but the scent as well.

If you’re looking for statement floral design on your wedding day (such as meadow-like flowers lining a staircase, or flowers on the walls or hanging from beams) then a florist can create all of those for you. Without a professional wedding florist, it’s impossible to create a show stopping arrangement like a floral arch, so you’d need to focus on simpler table flowers and bouquets.

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling

The cost of artificial and real wedding flowers

There’s a spectrum here! You can pay a fortune for either faux blooms or real flowers for your wedding. The best piece of advice I can give is choose quality over quantity, whichever type of flowers you choose! Never buy artificial wedding flowers from a cheap superstore, and never let price be the main reason you choose a florist. Artificial blooms can be delicately crafted or cheap and nasty. Florists range from artisans working sustainably through to old school flower shops or online retailers packing stems into floral foam (which is really bad for the environment).

If you’re working to a budget, go for smaller bouquets and arrangements, and place them carefully and sparingly around your venue. Be honest about your budget when talking to your wedding floral stylist.

A common misconception is that artificial flowers are cheaper than real ones. This isn’t true!

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling

Which is more sustainable: artificial or real wedding flowers?

Jess at Darcey Styling told me, “Here in the Lake District, I work with sustainable local flower farmers and grow some of my own blooms and foliage too. Sustainable meaning no pesticides or harmful chemicals, only natural methods and I only use sustainable methods of floral mechanics in my designs which means, no floral foam.

This makes the whole process of choosing your locally grown seasonal flowers really really special! Being guided through the wedding flower process by a professional florist or grower means everything is taken into consideration for you. For example, the season and climate, colour palette, textural elements, scents giving you a holistic experience and delving into the special meaning behind the flowers. This carries with it the such excitement and trust in your flower professional, and can elevate your whole wedding vision and experience.”

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling // Stationery By Moon & Tide

Asked if it’s OK to use fake flowers at your wedding, Alick from Blooming Artificial told me, “Absolutely! Artificial wedding bouquets are more popular than ever.” Most lovers and buyers of hand-picked flowers will not be aware that 90% of real flowers sold in the UK have travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles to get here. They are either cultivated in vast heated glasshouses in Holland, or flown from farms in Africa and South America after being treated with ethylene blocking chemicals to delay ripening. The environmental impact as a result of airfreight, artificial light and temperature control is surprising.

Compare this to the artificial equivalent. Although it travels a long way from a factory in China where it is made, indefinite shelf-life means it can be transported by sea which requires considerably less energy than airfreight.”
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Keeping your wedding flowers after the big day

The best thing about choosing artificial floristry for your wedding is that it can continue to provide joy after the ceremony, acting as a special recognition of your wedding day when displayed in your home. Alick notes, “There are a variety of ways to display your bouquets – vases are the classic choice, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Go for something unique and eye-catching, like a vintage jar, an elegant crystal vase, or even a quirky teapot for a whimsical touch. You could also consider getting the stems from your wedding bouquet professionally framed or displayed in a shadow box.”

Source: Blooming Artificial

“You can keep your artificial bouquet looking fresh by regularly giving it a gentle dusting with a soft brush or some compressed air. Make sure to store your bouquet in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight to keep its colours popping for years to come.”

Preservation is the secret to everlasting, real wedding flowers. Jess offers this advice: “As you and your now husband or wife bask in your wedding day memories and are sitting staring at your wedding flowers on your table top, you mutter, “I wish our flowers could last forever!” But they can last forever, really! Preserving your flowers is a real thing! A floral preservation professional can do this for you and you can even choose the frame, then pop your flowers on your wall or above the mantelpiece, pride of place!”

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling 

Other considerations: faux or real wedding flowers?

Real wedding flowers, organically grown, provide an important resource for wildlife. Pollinators (e.g. bees, butterflies) need all the help they can get, as the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.

Hayfever sufferers may prefer faux to real blooms to avoid sniffly, itchy symptoms! (Often though, hay fever is caused by grass pollen rather than flowers.)

Speaking of scent, there’s something magical about incorporating herbs and fragrant blooms into your day. Sprigs of lavender, rosemary or mint look beautiful and smell incredible!

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury

Remember, flowers are optional on your wedding day. You don’t need to carry a bouquet at all! (They’re quite heavy!) Wedding tables styled with terracotta potted plants (again, herbs look fabulous!) look gorgeous – and you can give the growing plants away as gifts too! Alternatively use candles instead of flowers for a stunning evening wedding (especially in winter).

With huge thanks to Jess at Darcey Styling, to Jo Bradbury Photography, and to Blooming Artificial for their contributions to this article. 

Explore Blooming Artificial’s curated wedding collection, featuring timeless hand-tied bouquets, artificial wedding plants, and single stems perfect for designing your own unique bridal arrangement.

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury

Image credits: Venue: Hundhowe // Photos: Jo Bradbury // Dresses: Julia Tasker Bridal Couture // MUA: Make-up by Polly Winder // Hair: Hair by Emma Brennan // Cake: Wren Cake Design // Film: Jura Wedding Films // Florals: Darcey Styling // Styling & Concept: Darcey Styling // Accessories: Debbie Carlisle // Jewellery: JUNI // Stationery: By Moon and Tide // Models: Connor and Jessica // Shoes: Badgley Mischka // Tuxedo: Slaters Menswear // Artisan Basket: Phil Bradley // Crockery: Options Greathire.

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury

Photographer credit: Jo Bradbury // Florals by Darcey Styling

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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