sustainable wedding decorThe floral décor can be enjoyed on your special day, and longer, by decorating with living flowers and plants.

Using plants as décor at your wedding is sustainable and a great way to stay within your floral budget. You can plant them together ahead of time with your friends, family, or future spouse.

Live plants can create great keepsakes for you and your spouse, your guests, and your family members that last for years. Everyone can plant them in their yards and display them fondly in their homes.

Local greenhouses and nurseries can offer great ideas for making container gardens. Some plants will be hardier and easier to grow than others. Container gardens come in all shapes and sizes. Be creative! Recycled glass, colored ceramic pots, large shells, terra cotta pots, decorative urns, hanging floral baskets just to name a few. These arrangements can be used in multiple locations for all the wedding festivities and will last longer than cut flowers as long as they are cared for.

Remember to give them a lot of tender loving care and they will create memories for years to come.

Investing in eco-friendly décor adds extended life to your wedding budget and a healthier environment when planted. Well cared for plants live a long time as a reminder of that special day.

Here are some ideas for decorating with plants.


The ceremony site has great significance as it is the main backdrop of your wedding photos and vow exchange.

Consider the beauty and colors of the location when choosing your live foliage. Hawai‘i has phenomenal natural scenery. Use your living floral décor to compliment that exotic beauty.
To decorate at a church, you can place colorful potted plants at the entry, such as red crotons. Hang small, potted fuchsia plants with matching sheer fuchsia bows at the end of the pews.

Decorate the altar with glass container gardens or beautiful lauhala baskets overflowing with live orchid plants.

Blooming flowers or foliage will compliment your natural background scenery and leave lasting memories for you and your guests.

If you choose to use an archway, live plants can create the aisle. Embellish the top and sides of the arch with hanging baskets of long draping plants such as ivy, ferns, or string bean plants.
Locally available, Areca palms are beautiful and come in different sizes to create a consistent design theme. These can be easily dressed up with lights, fabric, or ribbon ties.

Large container gardens in a decorative urn add elegance to any ceremony site.

“Lemon lime” dracaena mixed with colorful coleus leaves make a beautiful statement.

Red Abyssinian banana plants make a stunning tropical display as well.

You can even choose to decorate all white with white vinca, snow princess, or dusty miller plants.

Bridal Party

Bridal party floral may be a bit challenging to incorporate live floral. If you wish to use a live orchid or other foliage the roots can be tied up nicely by the florist so they can be planted in a pot or the ground after the wedding is over.

I suggest using local, eco-friendly, organic cut flowers and maile for the bridal party.


After the ceremony your guests celebrate your marriage, seated at tables decorated with floral gardens that serve as centerpieces.

These can be a large container garden or several smaller container gardens at each table. Mix in candles, glassware, bamboo plates, a wooden charger, and customized place cards to create a beautiful, memorable table display.

You can create live floral arrangements that include anthuriums, white dendrobium, or cymbidium orchids.

Terrarium or recycled glass planters can include succulents, herbs, small perennials, baby bushes, mums, or daisies.

Planting these living gardens is a great activity shared by bridesmaids or other family members. The same plants that you use for the reception can also be used for the rehearsal dinner or other ‘ohana (family) functions.

Small potted plants labeled with a wooden stick or printed tag can be incorporated into functional items that designate table names, individual seating assignments, favors, and directions to the ceremony.

Lavender, basil, or rosemary can add a beautiful scent to the table. As a gift to take home, your guests will be able to enjoy them for a long time.

Larger container gardens can serve as the décor for the buffet table. Edible arrangements on the buffet such as herbs, chives or peppermint can add to the experience by allowing guests to garnish or season the cuisine with live plants.

Possible Plants

In Hawai‘i plants are readily available and the many colors and varieties offer endless design possibilities.

Matching your wedding colors with local plants can be simple with the help of a knowledgeable nursery owner or avid gardener.

Other seasonal living flower plants:

Black Eyed Susan
Lily of the Valley
Water Hyacinth

When deciding on your flowers, choose local plants that will be in bloom at the time of your wedding.

There may be plants in your yard or a neighbor’s yard that can be transplanted into a pot with dirt— be sure to give them some time to root.

Remember to nurture, water, and care for them, as in every loving life-cycle. Growing your love may be a process that continues on in your family for generations.

Destination Weddings

In Hawai‘i we host many destination weddings. Everything you create can be shipped home once it passes through the agricultural inspection process.

Or you may want to donate the flowers and plants to local schools or organizations to beautify their environment.

Gifting the officiant, the caterer, or anyone who provides services for your wedding spreads your aloha.

Let your love grow—into your hearts!

Contact photographer Toby Hoogs

Contact writer Kathleen Akaka

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