How to source your wedding’s flowers locally

The Love 'N Fresh flower farm in RoxboroughWhile you’re laying down roots of your own, it doesn’t get more local or sustainable than a backdrop of flowering trees, shrubs or plants that still have roots in the ground. Consider picking an outdoor location for your wedding—like a park or arboretum—and a time of year where you’ll need little to supplement the native foliage and blooms. 

Couples planning to use botanical bouquets and table arrangements can choose to source flowers locally and even organically. When you get your wedding flowers from local farms, you’re reducing environmental impact and helping the local economy to bloom. In places like Philadelphia where vacant land is a problem, there is a growing movement to use that space for flower production, as the owners of hyper-local Jig-Bee and Chicory have done. 

The seeds of a local flower growers co-op are being sown by several local growers, including Kate Sparks from Doylestown’s Laughing Lady Flower Farm, formerly Lilies and Lavender. Her three acres are in full production, she doesn’t want to expand, and she can’t meet current demand on her own; she’s intent on working collaboratively to grow business for others who farm locally. “There is so much business in Philadelphia right now,” says Sparks. “If there are more farmers, there will be more business, and people won’t have to go to New York to get their flowers.” 

Currently, only 20 percent of cut flowers purchased in the United States are grown domestically. The rest are shipped from all over the world at a great cost to the environment, and to the freshness of the flowers. Some shops, like Falls Flowers in East Falls, source both locally and beyond, especially when customers demand specific flowers; their speciality is English and French-style garden flowers. 

Look for farms or other local producers and designers through the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ascfg.org), which has just launched the Flower Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise awareness about locally-grown flowers. 

If a quick trip to City Hall with your two best friends is the extent of your ceremony, check out Market Blooms, just a few blocks away in Reading Terminal Market, where you can grab a bouquet that was locally grown using organic practices. 

If you’re planning far enough ahead, do-it-yourself aficionados can enlist friends or relatives with yards or access to a community garden to each grow a little extra and then offer their harvested flowers as a wedding gift. 

If you want to do your own arrangements and decorations, but would like to use a local provider, you can get bulk flowers from Jig Bee, Love’n Fresh Flowers or Laughing Lady Flower Farm.

If flowers aren’t a detail that you want to attend to yourself, Chicory and Falls Flowers, like most flower

providers listed here, are happy to do all the design work for you.

Photo Courtesy of Love 'N Fresh Flowers

Don’t wilt the week of the wedding!

 While you’re making a decision about which details should be do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, just remember that flowers aren’t something that can be attended to weeks in advance. Jennie Love, the sunny proprietress of Love ’n Fresh flowers, wants couples who are leaning toward doing the flowers themselves to be realistic. “Its seems like such a lovely, wonderful idea on the face of things, until the last week of the wedding, and there are five billion things to do and you’re trying to pick up the flowers, and decide how many you need, trying to make sure you have all your vases ... it’s just a lot of work.” Love says she’s watched too many otherwise spunky brides have a “sad and heartbreaking” meltdown the week of the wedding under the avalanche of emotion and logistics. Her advice? 

“You can DIY your favors, you can DIY your jewelry, or gifts for your bridesmades. You can DIY those things and then pack them away. But DIY-ing the flowers is one of the most stressful things people can do.” She says you need to pick vendors you trust, and let them do their job once the final days are set in motion, and remember that you’re paying not just for the goods themselves, but for a long-term and ongoing relationship during wedding planning that means you get to relax and enjoy your big day.

Flowers:

Chicory

Mantua-based Chicory is a small-scale urban flower farm and design studio that grows in West Philadelphia and Roxborough. chicoryflorals.com

Falls Flowers

This certified Benefit Corporation prides itself in being part of the East Falls community it calls home. They used reclaimed materials when outfitting their shop, and have whittled their waste stream to one kitchen bag of garbage a week. fallsflowers.com

Jig-Bee

Nestled into a quarter-acre lot in Kensington, Jig-Bee farm is home grown option for smaller scale weddings that offers full-service design or bulk flowers purchases, and they’ve also started a flower CSA.jig-bee.com

Love ’n Fresh Flowers

This two-in-one urban flower farm in Upper Roxborough and their Chestnut Hill floral design studio works exclusively with locally grown materials. During the peak season of June through September, they offer a “Bulk Botanicals” option. 

lovenfreshflowers.com

Laughing Lady Flower Farm

(Formerly Lilies and Lavender) 

Located on a farm in Doylestown, this grower offers full-service wedding arrangements, and DIY options. You can also rent their studio if you’d like a place to arrange what you’ve bought in bulk. laughingladyflowerfarm.com

Market Blooms

Amid packed shops at Reading Terminal Market, you can find a flower oasis that gets its organic blooms just across the river in New Jersey. Great for grabbing a quick bouquet for bridal shower or ceremony. marketblooms.com