When planning the florals for your wedding, you’ll probably ask yourself questions like, ‘which varieties are my favourite?’, ‘what’s in season?’, and ‘what aesthetic do I want to achieve?’.

Most of us don’t stop to question, ‘is it illegal to use these flowers?’

As we allow ourselves to be swept up in a sea of Pinterest boards, inspirational images and Instagram screenshots, it’s easy to forget about the broader consequences of our stylistic decisions.

Recent wedding flower trends have seen a huge increase in the popularity of Pampas Grass. We’ve seen it popping up in weddings right across the globe—and if you keep up with our real wedding features, you would have seen the incredible Pampas Grass installation enveloping Emma and Matt’s ceremony setting.Illegal-to-use-pampas-grass-in-a-wedding-Byron-Bay_10

Since publishing the feature, together with the kind folk over at Byron Bay Weddings, we’ve uncovered some seriously scary insights about the use of Pampas Grass and the threat it poses to our natural environment.

To learn more, we teamed up with Jaala and Kelley of Bower Botanicals, the talented botanical artists behind Emma and Matt’s wedding florals.

Tell us about the problems associated with using Pampas Grass in Byron Bay.

Jaala explains, “Cortaderia Selloana, or ‘Pampas Grass’, is an aggressive noxious weed that was eradicated from the Northern Rivers area in Australia. Agriculture and ecology bodies are very conscious of ensuring the area isn’t re-infected with this introduced species as it could cause major damage to the ecosystem—as are we.”

“As the Pampas Grass trend has really taken off in the floral—namely wedding—scene in Australia, it’s extremely important that we are using only product that has been imported or treated by way of irradiation, so that we continue to protect and preserve our beautiful natural environment.”Illegal-to-use-pampas-grass-in-a-wedding-Byron-Bay_07

As Jaala and Kelley can attest, while Pampas Grass offers a beautiful addition to floral installations, there’s a lot more to consider. It’s not just a pretty plant; it’s a potential threat to our environment.

There are up to 100,000 seeds per flower head. These seeds are easily picked up by the wind and can travel up to 25 kilometres away. If seeds are accidentally introduced and a weed establishes, the plant becomes super competitive and restricts the growth of native plants. It’s also a fire hazard and helps to harbour vermin (eek!). Because of these reasons, Pampas Grass poses a huge threat to Australian forestry operations.

Plus, there are big fines associated with using untreated Pampas Grass—not only for the florist or company using the product, but also for the client. So, if you’re the one getting married, that’s you!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom—as we saw in Emma and Matt’s wedding, there are sustainable ways to source this controversial botanical specimen. 

Talk us through the process for sourcing Pampas Grass for Emma and Matt’s wedding.

“Initially, back in Dec 2016 when we were planning with Emma and Matt, we couldn’t easily locate any Australian-grown Pampas Grass as it really wasn’t all that popular for weddings at the time. This led us to research suppliers internationally and finally finding one in the USA who specialised in dried floral supplies,” explains Jaala.

“It was a little stressful, as we were cutting it fine to get the product to Australia in time. As luck would have it, Cyclone Debbie coincided with when the product was scheduled to arrive, causing just a little bit of associated anxiety!”

“Then, as we guessed would happen, the product was stopped in customs and The Department of Agriculture notified us that the product would require irradiation treatment before it could be released. After a payment of around $80.00, the treatment was conducted and two weeks later, the product was released—just in time for Emma and Matt’s big day!”Illegal-to-use-pampas-grass-in-a-wedding-Byron-Bay_09

So, there you have it! It is possible to achieve this wedding trend in Australia—all it takes is a little determination and a partnership with a well-informed florist or wedding planner.

Jaala adds, “we know that Byron Bay Weddings have backed this passionately, asking all practitioners and people involved in the creation of weddings in the area, that all Pampas Grass being used comes accompanied with a treatment certificate. It’s great to see such an influential local company doing their bit to spread the word and make a stand on environmental issues that affect us all.”

Given the threat posed by this plant, we thought we’d dig a little deeper to look at how couples can source florals sustainably.

How can couples ensure their wedding flowers are sourced sustainably?

Kelley explains, “Upon choosing your wedding florist—or, even in the research phase—you can absolutely ask your florist where they generally source their flowers from, or specific varieties you’re partial to for your wedding.”

“If sustainability is of the utmost importance to you, ask your florist what is available to them locally to create the style you are wanting for your wedding—work with your florist to create this outcome, and use organic florals where possible.”

How can couples limit their ‘flower miles’?

Jaala says, “by incorporating as many locally grown and sourced flowers and foliage. Also by using our beautiful seasonal blooms available rather than out-of-season varieties that need to be imported.”

“Obviously, using Australian-grown botanicals and foliage will dramatically reduce flower miles as well, and we have so many stunning varieties to be incorporated into floral designs. We are very passionate about using these varieties in our work and draw much of our inspiration from our natural environment; both from our front door step and what Australia has to offer in general.”Illegal-to-use-pampas-grass-in-a-wedding-Byron-Bay_11

In addition to the environmental wins, there are also a bunch of other perks when using local floral varieties.

1. Fresher flowers, due to less time out of water.

2. Supporting local farmers and growers. When you buy from a local grower, their business flourishes and it creates more local business opportunities. The support also enables them to increase crops and supply more varieties in the future.

3. More cost-effective for the couple as it cuts down on the delivery process from interstate or overseas—and, of course, flower miles.

4. Florals and foliage that works in with the natural beauty surrounding us, creating a seamless unity between the designs and the environment.

So, not only do locally sourced varieties look beautiful in the context of their setting; but they can save costs and support the local community—talk about a double-win! We’re sold.

Big thanks to Jaala and Kelley of Bower Botanicals for sharing their knowledge with us, and to Che and the team at Byron Bay Weddings for spreading the word about this important environmental message.

Photography by Ivy Road Photography + Lara Hotz