There's no real way to completely do away with flowers at a wedding, because the pictures would look bare without them. Flowers add that last touch, that color in the background that reminds everyone that this is a special day (because people don't lay money out on such beautiful flowers for nothing). When dealing with a resort or cruise line, you'll look at several plans and packages at various prices and make your final choices from there. When planning a destination wedding elsewhere, you'll be able to get more creative with the decorations, and cut costs in the process.
If you're already thinking that there's no way you're going to get creative (just because you've simply never considered yourself a crafty, think-outside-the-box person), think again. All you need is some time and inspiration — and an open mind.
If you're reciting your vows in a church, one way to save money on flowers is to split the cost with another bride who is getting married there the same day. Alternatively, you may be able to take the flowers from the church and use them at the reception site — but be aware that many churches require you to make a “donation” of flowers as part of the cost of the wedding. (It saves them money because they don't have to decorate the altar if you do it, see?)
If you happen to have a really creative friend or family member, don't squander that resource! Get her involved and ask her for ideas. Crafty people love to share their visions and they also like to try new things. But before you give anyone carte blanche to start spending your wedding money and creating centerpieces for you, make sure that you both have similar ideas about how your wedding is going to look. You don't want your aunt to be making down-home accent pieces while you're imagining something more elegant.
Should You Fake It?
You might be tempted to use fake flowers in your wedding décor, reasoning that these phony buds will last forever, so you'll at least get your money's worth when you use them to decorate the house.
If you just love silk floral arrangements and you know for sure that you will use them, then this might be a very wise choice. Just be aware that the more realistic looking the silk, the more expensive it's going to be. If you're going this route just to save money on fresh flowers, you might be completely shocked when you realize how much money you've spent on fake peonies.
This isn't an encouragement to go as cheaply as you can on the fakes, however. There are beautiful silk flowers — but there are also some really bad reproductions that are poor excuses for real flowers. One rule of thumb: If you can't find the flower in nature (for example, a truly blue rose), don't include it in your wedding bouquets or other decorations.
Large potted plants or trees are another reusable non-floral option for your ceremony and reception sites. Ferns are always a classy touch, as are topiaries. Before you go out to purchase real or silk plants, make sure to measure the area where you're going to place them. A too-large plant will look out of place to even the least discerning eye, and a too-small plant is likely to be trampled, knocked over, or otherwise destroyed.
Don't forget to take into consideration your ceremony and reception sites and the plants themselves when purchasing the pots for the plants. A topiary is a fairly expensive and upscale plant, for example. It belongs in a beautiful planter — not in a terra cotta pot. (The planter itself will be another added expense.)
Planters lining the stairway into a reception hall or ceremony site add a nice touch. Again, choose plants of an appropriate size, and planters that match the décor. If you choose plants that are large enough, you can probably even place the planters on every other step.
Filling the corners of an empty reception area with trees is a nice touch, as long as the trees aren't going to look dwarfed and puny, as they will in a room that's wide open (such as a fire hall). Decorate those trees with white or clear lights, and your guests will feel like they're watching the stars come out.
To get ideas for nonfloral decorations for your wedding, look at bridal magazines. Look online. Go to other weddings and study what other brides and grooms have done. Consider the season and the setting. Nothing is really out of the realm of possibility as long as you can transport it.
For example, gourds, pumpkins, and Indian corn make great decorations for fall weddings. Ice sculptures are a nice choice for winter. Colorful fruit baskets are also a fun nonfloral choice, and these can be used year-round.
At a recent autumn wedding, the groom and his ushers carved pumpkins for the table centerpieces. Purchasing twenty-two pumpkins was far cheaper than ordering the same number of floral centerpieces, and each table had a similar — yet different — focal point. Carving the pumpkins also served as a fun bonding activity for the groom and his friends.
Balloons are a popular decorating option, and can be placed here and there around the reception site (large groups of balloons tied to a shiny Mylar base) or as major points of attention (an arch stretching over the entranceway). If you're going with balloons, try to make them as classy as possible. This means don't go balloon crazy. If your reception site is rather large, you'll need more balloons, obviously, but avoid making your reception look like a circus.
Though you might be tempted to use red and black balloons (because your bridesmaids are dressed in red and your groomsmen are in black), the classic wedding colors just look nicer. Stick with white, gold, silver, or a combination of these colors.