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I love flowers. One of my favourite things to do when I am back home in Hawaii is to visit botanical gardens and nurseries, and in Victoria, that’s my idea of a fun weekend, to go to a place like the Abkhazi Gardens or the Butterfly Gardens.

When it comes to cut flowers though, I’m not as enthusiastic. Cut flowers are beautiful, of course, and I’ve enjoyed many floral centrepieces my mother took home from her work at a banquet hall, and of course, I’ve put together more lei than I can count. But the price is usually ridiculous for cut floral arrangements compared to potted plants, but there’s a darker reason for my dislike of cut flowers: Many of the workers on flower farms in developing nations are exploited cruelly, underpaid, overworked, and have their human rights trampled upon.

Flowers that aren’t from the area or are out of season travel miles and miles to reach their destination, using up far too much fuel and water along the way for a decoration that will be dead in a couple of weeks, if not days.

I can remember once hearing a story about a rural village in Central Africa, where some volunteers with a charitable organization built the village a well, so that the women who were collecting water wouldn’t have to travel such a long, dangerous distance to obtain water for drinking, cooking, and agriculture. A few months later, when the aid workers returned, the women were still taking the long, risky path to obtain water, even after the well had been dug and water flowed freely from it. Why? Because a florist company had decided to use the well water for their greenhouse, and instead of going to drinking and food, the well water was used for roses.

After that, I never again bought flowers without knowing where they came from and how far they travelled. That brings me to a particular point of anxiety I am having about my far-from now wedding, specifically of course, whether to have flowers or not.

I’ve been looking into flower substitutes for some time, and I’ve found some wonderful ideas. The Little Bouquet Shop has wonderful Goth GlamDestination, and Renaissance collections (I’m personally fond of the Maid Marian, Winter Solstice, Guenevere, Enchanted, Morticia, and Corpse Bride ones) Less expensive options have included battenburg lace fanslacquered paper fans, parasols of both varieties,  lanterns, an old candle holder, a swatch of colourful fabric, and many other creative alternatives.

You can’t please everybody though, and my beloved is saddened by the idea of not having flowers at her wedding. My mother is also miffed at a flower-free wedding, though I hold her opinion to be less important for *our* wedding. One way I’ve considered meeting a happy truce is holding the wedding in a garden, like the Butchart Gardens or Abkhazi Gardens, so that flowers will be included, but they will be an on-site feature.

Or, if flowers in vases are a must, taking advantage of the Farmer’s Markets on Vancouver Island to get our own flowers and make our own arrangements. There are also services which pledge Fair Trade flowers, Rainforest Alliance Certified flowers, and florists offering local flowers. My favourite of these options is using potted flowers as favours for the guests to take home and plant in their own garden.

There’s certainly a lot more in terms of options than there were 20+ years ago when my mother got married, and I’m grateful to live in the age when the wedding is more about what reflects the couple rather than a re-enactment of a traditional ceremony down to every last detail. I just hope I can find the option that best fits my values, my budget, and my dedication to balance between keeping my mother from fainting and being true to myself…

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