Roses are so last-century. If you're looking for wedding décor that doesn't wilt, here are some non-floral ideas to make your guests sit up and take notice. Not only are reusable flowers easier on the environment; they can also decorate your home as an ever-present reminder of your beautiful wedding day.
You're Out of the Woods
Sticks and branches can be sculptural and striking, whether used as bouquets, centerpieces, or room décor. Manzanita branches are famous for their vibrant red textures and swirls, while moss-covered branches evoke lush fairytale images. Try looking through pictures of different types of trees to explore all of your options.
Bare branches can be painted in your wedding colors, coated in glitter or flocking, or even swathed in form-fitting sheaths of knitting (ask a friend about "knit bombing"). Twisty willow branches in vases make classic centerpieces.
If you're using branches as room décor, you can hang decorations from the branch tips. Try hanging glass globes with candles in them. You can perch cute felt birds or other creatures in the branches, or decorate the branches with fabric or jeweled "flowers." Wrapping strings of lights tightly around large branches and hanging them from the ceiling creates unconventional mood lighting.
If you're having a fall wedding, autumn leaves are a free and colorful resource that can be woven into garlands for your venue, bridesmaids, or bouquet. Pinecones, whether painted with gloss, dipped into gold, or left bare, make striking additions to fall or winter bouquets.
You Have That "Glow"
Having a nighttime wedding? Take advantage of the darkness to create your own glow. Fiber-optic lighting comes in nearly every shape, from glowing flowers to long strands of hair-like fibers that can be woven into anything. Your bouquet can glow in your wedding colors specifically, or it can cycle through the whole rainbow throughout the evening.
EL wire is another way to glow. Its easily-customizable form leaves potential for any shape and combination of colors you desire. Want a glowing hummingbird perched on the edge of your bouquet? Want each flower to flash in a different hue? You can buy pre-made forms
or, for the crafty couple, have fun sculpting your own. Hide battery packs in the base of any "flower" arrangement and the glow should last for multiple nights.
Fabric flowers are a classic way of creating immortal bouquets. When silk or other petal-like material is gathered and spiraled together, it makes an elegant flower to match any dress or tie. You can also go funky and create flowers of gingham, corduroy, or even denim, depending on your wedding's tone. Making good cloth flowers isn't simple, but they can be bought from vendors or commissioned especially for you.
Spice up your bouquets with accents like interesting buttons and trim. Forget tying a ribbon around your bouquet; how about using ribbon as the bouquet? Colorful ribbons can be made into flowers, as well. Is there a stash of crocheted doilies gathering dust in your grandmother's attic? Gather the lacy edges into blossoms and turn clutter into a meaningful memento.
Felted flowers are gaining in popularity, with their cozy texture and charming look. You can buy them or make them easily in any color and shape you like with a felting set and a few spare evenings. Let your imagination soar and stick a few non-flower items (like cute butterflies or bumblebees) into your bouquet, as well.
The Knickknack Bouquet
Set aside a day to scour vintage stores for antique floral brooches. When bound together, these make for a stunning (if heavy) bouquet. Jeweled brooch bouquets are appearing more and more often in offbeat weddings.
You don't have to copy nature, either. Your bouquet can draw inspiration from anything that matches your wedding theme or your life. If you love your job at a toy store, make a bouquet of action figures or tiny stuffed animals. Just make your bouquet reflect you.
Get it on Paper
Because of paper's relative inexpensiveness and versatility, it is a favorite in non-floral bouquets. Paper can be cut and folded into any flower shape. If you're worried about crushing your delicate paper bouquet, you can spray it with a clear enamel to harden it in place. Try using wallpaper if you want to find unusual patterns in a thicker format, or ask your card vendor to lend you surplus inventory. It's so rare that the bouquets get to exactly match the invitations!
Origami adds a delicate touch to bouquets or décor. You can have your friends over for a paper crane-making party, or buy them in bulk already made. Paper can be sculpted into any flower; play with colors and textures for different effects. You can dot the paper bouquet with essential oils, like rose or lavender, to add a real floral scent. If you want to continue the paper theme, you can add some origami accents to your hair and bridal gown. (It adds a whole new meaning to "paper training!")
For true bibliophiles, you can create bouquets or "flower" arrangements from the folded pages from meaningful books … or even romance novels. (But make sure you have more than one copy!)
Good Enough to Eat
Although edible bouquets don’t last longer than traditional flowers, they can beat floral arrangements in sheer deliciousness. Get playful with candy bouquets (everyone will line up for that toss!) or arrangements that include fruits and veggies. Rich, red pomegranates, shiny glazed berries, and alternating-colored bell peppers are especially striking. As you stroll down the produce aisle, think of strolling down the other aisle; which items most catch your eye? Get creative. For example, you can wrap asparagus around any container for a unique, textured vase.
Ruffle Your Feathers
Feather bouquets are a popular flower alternative, especially at vintage-inspired weddings. Call up images of flapper girls and Roaring 20s panache by wrapping different textures of all-white feathers into one light and airy bouquet, and don’t skimp on the pearls. Peacock feathers also make a striking addition to any arrangement or boutonniere, especially if they echo feathers on your gown or in your hair.
Even if you decide your wedding needs traditional blooms as well, you can still work in non-floral ideas to give your arrangements that little extra push. Every wedding needs some unique touch that will stand out in your guests' minds. What will yours be?