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 are just not flower people and would rather have options that would last longer like lanterns or paper flowers. Plus, some brides 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 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," says Fisher.
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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. You can give your bridal party colorful smoke bombs for an exceptional post-ceremony photo shoot, or you can make them hold wreaths, dreamcatchers, or minimal, all-green arrangements to complement a bohemian wedding.
Here are some unique alternatives that your bridesmaids can hold—other than a 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, "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.
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," she adds.
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 line-up."
For weddings with a boho flair, consider wreaths of foliage instead. Have your bridesmaids carry oversized ones for an unexpected, gorgeous accessory to walk down the aisle with. Aside from it being more affordable than traditional floral arrangements, they use it as a home accent post-ceremony.
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, give guests a glimpse of what's to come via pinwheels, bubbles, or ribbons. If your reception is themed or love-story centric, consider arming your bridesmaids with items meaningful to you, like books you bonded over as a couple.
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 non-profit organization that rescues pups, it was only natural for her to highlight adorable rescue dogs in her photos."