Top 3 Things to Know About Donating Your Wedding Flowers

As we become ever more mindful about the environment and the toll our modern existence is taking on it, more and more couples are looking for ways to repurpose or reuse their wedding flowers after the big day. Here are the top three things you will want to keep in mind when asking your florist this question.

Photo by Emily Alyssa Photography

Photo by Emily Alyssa Photography

1) Your flowers will probably not live longer than a day or two after your event.

From a young age, we are taught to value longevity in flowers over their ephemeral beauty. This leads to some confusion when it comes to the process of event flowers.

Unlike retail flowers, where the goal is to sell the blooms as soon as they come in the door to maximize enjoyment, event flowers are timed so that each blossom will be at its absolute peak perfection for the day of your wedding. For most florists, this means that roses on average will start arriving the Tuesday before a Saturday wedding with the remainder trickling in on Wednesday and Thursday.

After being transported to the venue and surviving untold abuses from your guests and those hot little tea lights that get nestled so close (seriously I see at least one charred centerpiece at every pick up), your flowers are tired and thirsty!

By Sunday, they are almost a week old and really have very little left to give.

Photo By Emily Alyssa Photography

Photo By Emily Alyssa Photography

2) Delivering and re-delivering costs time and money.

Most clients don’t know (and don’t need to know) how much time, people power, and money it takes to get flowers from point A to point B and that’s ok. Unless of course you want them to redeliver your leftover flowers to a charity after the event.

Can it be done? Of course, but this is what is involved. Before anything can happen prior coordination needs to take place. This usually involves an email chain of no fewer than eight back and fourths discussing what is to be donated, getting permission from higher-ups and scheduling a time when delivery is convenient.

I have yet to find anywhere that will accept a delivery at 12am on a Sunday morning. This means that the next available time is probably Monday morning and that in order to keep the flowers alive, they will have to be unloaded from the truck, re-cut, re-watered, re-worked and babied until Monday morning.

They will then need to be re-loaded onto the truck and un-loaded again at the final destination. By this time, they are a full week old and holding on for dear life. All of this will take between 5 and 10 hours and your florist will need to charge you for the time and van rental. At a minimum if you ask your florist to provide this service you are looking at between $600 and $1,500.

Photo by  Tracey Salazar

3) You have options.

Ok, so you have read this far but you’re not feeling great - please don’t fret you still have some good options.

A) Flowers are meant to be enjoyed, so encourage your guests to take them home. Most florists use rental vases with plastic dishes nestled inside that lift up so they are easy to transport. Now your family can enjoy the moment just a little longer every time they glance at your centerpiece.

B) Ask your florist what happens to your flowers afterwards if the guests don’t take them.

Personally, I will play flower fairy on my way home from a late night pickup, leaving random centerpieces at my neighbor’s doors. When they wake up in the morning they get a fun surprise! I have also been known to display them outside my front door for everyone to enjoy while out walking their dogs or taking a jog.

Maybe you can take some comfort in knowing that your wedding has brought some unexpected joy and pleasure to people you don’t even know. Call it a pay-it-forward moment.

C) There are companies designed to help you with just this quandary - they can transform your flowers into bouquets for hospitals or other charities. Repeat Roses made headlines when Meghan Markle did just that for her New York baby shower. Just like any business they will need to charge you a fee for their service, but since they have infrastructure and relationships already in place it is likely going to be less than your florist will charge. Here are a few to consider:

Repeat Roses

Random Acts of Flowers

Petals with Purpose - Florida Based

Floranthopy - Texas Based

4) Hire someone (possibly your florist) to make a keepsake potpourri. Again this is going to take some coordination, time and money, but wouldn’t it be fun to send little sachets to your parents and bridal party as a way of saying thank you!

Children’s National Hospital and Light Up The Season on December 16, 2018 at The Four Seasons Hotel, Washington

The holidays are fast approaching and I wanted to take a minute to shine a light on a cause near and dear to my heart. It’s called Light Up the Season and it benefits Children’s National Hospital. The event (formerly known as The Georgetown Jingle) raises money to support the Hospital and is held every year at The Four Seasons Hotel. Each year, 12-15 of Washington’s top interior designers and florists are invited to decorate a tree or holiday item, like a wreath, menorah or mantle piece, that is then auctioned off at a fun family-friendly afternoon event (buy tickets here). Last summer, I was excited and honored to receive an email from the event’s organizers asking me to participate for the second year in a row.

Atelier Ashley Flowers -Light-up-the-seasons-+ Four Seasons Washington DC+ DIY + Craft Project + Felt Flowers + Blue Flowers + Purple Flowers + Community Over Competition + Charity + Children's National Hospital

The process works like this: Every designer is partnered with a Children’s National Hospital patient and together the patient “artist” and designer work to come up with a fantasy holiday theme. This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting a sweet young lady named Annabelle.

As I talked to Annabelle about what she would like to see on her tree, she drew the small picture below. Her favorite color is blue, her sister’s favorite color is lavender, and, of course, mine is purple. Naturally, we were already in harmony!

Annabelle very much liked the idea of woodland animals and an enchanted snowy forest. We also agreed there should be some bells on the tree as a nod to her name. After combining Annabelle’s ideas and my vision, I decided the theme of our tree would be “Over The River and Through The Woods.”


The next step was to begin the work of decorating a tree. In recent years, I have found myself missing the camaraderie and aesthetic kismet that comes from working with a large group of volunteer designers. Heavily influenced by my time in the White House Floral Shop under Former Chief Florist Laura Dowling, I wanted to recreate this experience and feeling. So I reached out to all my creative friends and asked them to help me #craftforacause. The response was incredible; I am so warmed by the generous people in my creative community!

I hosted the first #craftforacause party at my home in mid September. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work” and the attendees produced dozens of floral hoop wreaths made out of yarn and felt. Thanks to Anne Kelley, Carleigh Smith, Emily Alyssa, Jasmine Ellesse, Maria Kessel and Vicky Choy for kicking off #craftforacause!

Photo by Marie Windsor Photography

Photo by Marie Windsor Photography

The second #craftforacause party was held on a beautiful late September day at Periwinkle, a lovely clothing boutique in Old Town, Alexandria. Marie Windsor Photography joined us and took lots of detailed photos. Pamela Vetrini of Cheats and Meeses brought us a delicious cheese board extravaganza to fuel our designs. The designers for our second party included Elizabeth from Periwinkle, Kelley Cannon, Janice Carnevale, Lindsay Kidwell, Jasmine Ellesse and Nicole Nespor. It was fun to see how unique everyone’s designs were and how different they were from the first party.

There was one more #craftforacause party this weekend and I can’t wait to show you those designs too!


The finishing touch on my tree comes from Accent Decor who generously donated dozens of beautiful glass and felt ornaments. These handcrafted ornaments are just what I needed to complete the tree’s wintery woodlands theme. While it is not guaranteed that Annabelle can attend the event, I sure hope she can because I think she will love what we have created.

Atelier Ashley Flowers -Light-up-the-seasons-+ Four Seasons Washington DC+ DIY + Craft Project + Felt Flowers + Blue Flowers + Purple Flowers + Community Over Competition + Charity + Children's National Hospital + Craft Party + Accent Decor Inc

Thank you to everyone who came out to #craftforacause. And thanks in advance to those will help set-up and decorate the tree in preparation for the big event on December 16. I’ll make sure to share pictures of the finished product once it is complete!

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