Flowers With (Re)Purpose

The same flower arrangements can serve multiple purposes throughout a wedding weekend.

At Maeve Morrison’s October 2022 wedding to Connor Coldwater, flowers played an important role. “I kind of wanted more of a garden party,” Morrison said. To that end, she worked with Morrice Florist to have flowers bordering the aisle during the ceremony at her family home in Edgartown.

Those flowers were invited to the reception too. Following the ceremony, wedding planner and designer Sandy Brooks-Kovacs, owner of Timeless Event Planning, and her team moved the arrangements into their new places: in front of the band and framing the cake table and champagne tower.

“We kind of went crazy with all the extra [flowers]…and moved them anywhere where I knew there was going to be a really good photo opportunity,” Brooks-Kovacs said. “One of my favorite photos from [the wedding] was when they were popping the champagne, because all the flowers looked like they were growing up the table.”

Wedding flowers can have multiple acts. With an eye toward sustainability and thrift, florists, couples, and planners repurpose flowers throughout a wedding weekend, moving them from one event to another. Some flowers even continue on to new homes after the big day.

Brooks-Kovacs said she often suggests reusing flowers at weddings, especially when couples have them lining the aisles, which is expensive. Couples can speak with their planner or florist about this option, though Brooks-Kovacs said this is standard practice for her. “I create floral orders intending to repurpose most of the flowers from the ceremony and cocktail hour to the reception,” she said. “You’re just constantly reusing things and you’re not being wasteful of the environment, and, of course, wasting your money.”

Isabella Chimes

Plus, “If we can keep moving them, it looks like we have more flowers,” she said.

While the flowers were rearranged so they looked like new, using the same blooms at the ceremony and reception made everything look seamless and not like two separate venues, Morrison said. “There was such a flow.”

The flowers had a third act too – the table centerpieces were used to decorate the bar and the food truck brunch at the Morrison home the following day, after Brooks-Kovacs removed any wilted flowers.

“I always tell people, ‘Review all of your orders, because chances are we’re going to be able to repurpose them,’” Brooks-Kovacs said. Ideas from her include moving the flowers from the ceremony to reception to fill out the area where the band or DJ plays, placing them on tables during cocktail hour, or even putting flowers in restrooms.

Emily Coulter, owner and art director of Morrice Florist in Vineyard Haven, echoed Brooks-Kovacs’s ideas and offered up more suggestions: moving urns used at the ceremony to a tent entrance and placing bridesmaid bouquets in jars to be used at the reception. For many of her weddings, Coulter said she often brings extra jars in case the couple or the wedding planner decide to repurpose on the day-of. “There are a lot of creative ways to use the same flowers over and over,” Coulter said.

Isabella Chimes

Another regular practice at Morrice Florist includes donating flowers after a wedding weekend. “Our couples are always concerned [with] what happens to all the flowers afterwards and so we tell them that we repurpose them that way,” Coulter said. She and her team take apart the wedding arrangements and make new ones with flowers that will last another week, using jam and Ball jars, before giving them to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard or the infusion center at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

But there’s not always a lot leftover, Coulter cautioned. “Depending on how hot it’s been…not everything can be reused,” she said. Roses of all types generally do well, she noted, as do the smaller pompom dahlias. “I only want to use the flowers that are going to last another week.”

Repurposed flowers were on display during the June 2022 wedding weekend of Shalei Holway and Adam Stein as the same blooms made appearances at the rehearsal dinner and reception.

The couple had tapped Louise Sweet, owner and designer of Flowers on the Vineyard, for their wedding day, but Sweet also created arrangements in light blue and deep pink – featuring hydrangeas, beach roses, and snap dragons – for the rehearsal dinner. “We were thinking, ‘How might we be able to repurpose those for the wedding?’” Holway said. “We thought that this could be a really great opportunity to add in some…additional arrangements.”

As a personal touch, Holway’s aunt picked up the flowers after the rehearsal dinner, put them into different jars, did some rearranging, and brought them to the Vose Family Boathouse property in Edgartown to be used at the reception. It was a special way to include her aunt, who is skilled at flower arranging, Holway said, and the repurposed blooms, which graced the guestbook table, bathrooms, bar, and tables during cocktail hour, added extra decoration at no additional cost.

“We wanted to make sure we were doing everything as sustainably as possible,” Holway said. “And thinking about how we can use something – like the sustainable concept of reusing the flowers – as a way to add an extra something special that the wedding wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Jocelyn Filley

And some of the flowers from the wedding are still in use today – two large hydrangea bushes that were placed in front of the restroom trailer were later planted at Holway’s mothers’ house, where they can be enjoyed year after year.

Sweet said she often repurposes flowers for an additional service fee. The most practical and interesting way to do this is moving flowers from a welcome party or rehearsal dinner to the wedding and reception, and then to any third event, such as a brunch, she said. In between events, Sweet and her team pick up the flowers and store them in coolers before re-delivering them. Sometimes the flowers remain in the same vases or containers, and other times they are “fluffed and buffed” and put in other vessels to create a fresh look.

For weddings without an additional event, some couples opt to leave the flowers at the venue for the business to use in the following days, said Sweet. Other times couples will take them home for themselves or give them away to others. When clients want to let the guests know they are welcome to take flowers home, the caterer will wrap them up. (Sweet makes sure to get her collection of vintage vases and containers back.)

But, Sweet cautioned, some flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, and lilacs, don’t last too long beyond the event. “It makes me sad to just toss flowers,” Sweet said. “I buy for each event, so they’re completely fresh. They last and hold up beautifully. If the client doesn’t want anything, we let all the caterers or the staff or my staff [bring them home],” she said.

“Most people have awareness and mindfulness about waste, and most people do want to talk about repurposing,” Sweet said. “And most people have more than one event.”
But at the same time, wedding flowers don’t need to have multiple acts.

“I think people forget that these flowers are actually grown for a purpose, like somebody’s wedding,” Coulter said. “That is their purpose. And it’s such a beautiful way for these flowers to live out their life. An extra bonus is that we can repurpose some and make other people super happy with them – brighten someone’s day.”