One traditional wedding ceremony detail that more and more contemporary brides are updating is the bridesmaids' bouquets. Floral arrangements are expensive and can cause budgets to swell. Also, some brides-to-be just aren't flower people and would rather have options that would last longer like lanterns or paper flowers. And a few are thinking of the comfort of their bridal party and how they'll fare with the weather, for instance.
"While tradition definitely has its place, seeing couples incorporate out-of-the-box ideas into their wedding day is a welcome change of pace," says wedding planner Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. "Couples want their wedding to reflect their personality, and adding fresh and unique details, such as swapping bouquets for something unexpected like puppies, is the perfect way to do that."
Don't worry, there are tons of more affordable, fresher alternatives without using furry creatures—though we certainly encourage you to incorporate pets into your big day! Take this opportunity for your bridesmaids to carry items meaningful to you as a couple or useful to the bridesmaids, like weather-appropriate fans or winter muffs. Your bouquet alternatives could also be added design elements. Give your bridal party colorful smoke bombs for an exceptional post-ceremony photo shoot or have them hold wreaths or all-green arrangements to complement a bohemian wedding.
Here are some unique alternatives that your bridesmaids can hold—other than a fresh flower bouquet.
Want to make a statement? According to Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events and co-founder of The Poppy Group, paper flowers are trending. And not only are they a Pinterest-worthy accent but also "they're something your bridesmaids can keep long after the wedding, with no wilting," says Nichols.
If you still want to inject florals in your wedding, why not let your bridesmaids wear them on their wrists? Corsages are a more modest floral counterpart and an affordable (not to mention much more comfortable!) bouquet alternative. Plus, they look contemporary especially when paired with sleek jumpsuits.
Flower crowns are a fashionable and comfortable alternative for any outdoor wedding with a feminine, bohemian touch. Smaller floral options are great for spring weddings while bigger, darker blooms are perfect for woodsy fall bashes.
Hosting a winter wedding? You can keep your bridesmaids cozy and warm with fur winter muffs. "They will look adorable in photos and keep your bridesmaids' hands warm during an outdoor photo session," says Fisher.
If you still want to be a bit traditional and have your bridesmaids carry some sort of foliage arrangement, craft gorgeous bouquets of lush greens. A mélange of eucalyptus, fern, and even palm stems is a great alternative to flowers. It's a more affordable and fresher take on bouquets!
Lanterns aren't just for reception decoration. "They're a romantic replacement for the traditional bridesmaid bouquet that also adds a pretty glow to an evening ceremony," says Fisher. Then, once the photos are snapped, "they can be repurposed into your cocktail and reception décor or gifted to your bridesmaids," she says.
Much like parasols, "fans are a functional alternative to bridesmaids' bouquets that keep your gals cool and well-accessorized at the same time," says Fisher. "Fans come in different shapes, colors, and materials, so you'll have no problem finding the right one to fit your wedding-day style."
If you don't want to give your bridesmaids something that will wilt, consider building arrangements from baubles that have already lasted through the years. "Talented crafters are using a wide combination of vintage jewels, often from the family's own collection, to create gorgeous and collectible jeweled bouquets," says Nichols. "They are classic and add a perfect shine to the wedding-party lineup."
Have your bridesmaids carry oversized wreaths for an unexpected, gorgeous accessory to walk down the aisle with. Aside from it being more affordable than traditional floral arrangements, it can be used as a home accent post-ceremony.
Fisher suggests having your bridesmaids hold oversized balloons "for a fun, non-floral pop of color," she says. "Be sure to have extra balloons and helium on hand, and don't forget to check the forecast for wind." A whimsical option for fun-loving brides.
Music lovers, this one's for you. Consider having your bridal party carry bedecked tambourines. They're not just pretty; they're also functional. Your bridal party can start shaking the instrument as part of your festive ceremony send-off. Plus, it could be used as a prompt for reception smooches!
Consider letting your bridesmaids carry some of your and your partner's favorite novels. A great idea for bookworm couples or that book-based meet-cute that sparked your romance! You can even use some passages from the books for non-traditional ceremony readings.
Use your bridesmaids' accessories to give a preview of the reception. If you're going for a whimsical wedding, have them carry pinwheels, bubbles, or ribbons.
Finally, remember: "It's important to make it your wedding day by incorporating details that make sense for you as a couple," says Fisher. "Since the puppy-carrying bride, Sarah Mallouk Crain, works for a nonprofit organization that rescues pups, it was only natural for her to highlight adorable rescue dogs in her photos."