How To Highlight Local Wildlife In Your Wedding

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The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the bees are buzzing, which means it’s time for... flowers! Whether they are arranged in centerpieces or held in bouquets for the happy couple, everyone loves to marvel at wedding florals. The other day, I was participating in a conversation with family about state flowers and started thinking: how can you bring in local flowers to your special day?
Whether it’s the state in which you’re getting married, you or your fiancé’s home state, or just another state that has beautiful wildlife worth highlighting, there are plenty of beautiful options to show off different regions of the United States. Plus, if nothing less, learning about what grows in your area can give you some floral inspiration; after all, when it comes to flowers, sometimes there are too many good options! 

The Northeast

We’ll start with one of my personal favorites: purple lilacs from New Hampshire. As a New England girl myself, I’m a sucker for lilacs, and I think the pop of purple looks incredibly inviting in any wedding color palette. Lilacs have a beautiful wildness to the way they sprawl out in bouquets, and if they are used in centerpieces, you can assure that your guests will love their perfume. Due to the skinnier stalks and lush blooms, you can assure that your flower arrangements will appear to be overflowing with lilacs, and I can’t think of anything else I would rather have overflow at a wedding. 
For another pop of color, we have Black-eyed Susans from Maryland. They’re stunning on their own, but personally, I love them mixed in with other flowers to create a vibrant bouquet. With the black and yellow contrast, they’re perfect against any white or cream background, whether it’s a wedding dress or as a wedding cake topper. The traditional variety is just the deep yellow petals, but the one variety, the Gloriosa Daisy, has a fringe of rust-red around the center, which makes them a wonderful addition to any fall wedding color scheme as well as summer. 
One of my favorite fun facts about my home state of Maine is the state flower, which isn’t so much of a flower at all: it’s the white pine cone. While maybe not as suited for hair arrangements or bridal bouquets, pine cones have a wonderful variety of uses for wedding decor. Spray paint them silver or gold to include in your table centerpieces, turn them into wreaths for the walls or doors of your venue, or (depending on the length of your guest list), make little ornaments with them as a wedding favor. Pine cones may seem like a winter-only addition, but their natural brown-green color will really go with any wedding season look. 

The Midwest

Going back to a more traditional floral choice, peonies from Indiana are a classic and elegant choice. Because of the wide variety in color, from the classic reds and pinks to muted yellows, they can truly fit any wedding aesthetic and look wonderful matched with other full-bloomed flowers. Peonies are believed to bring good luck and prosperity to marriages, so if you’re at all superstitious, peonies may serve as a good-luck charm on your big day. However, peonies can be a bit challenging to source when they aren’t in season, so if you’re set on them, you may want to make sure your wedding date complies. 
Next, we have a two for one: Iowa and North Dakota both have the same state flower in the wild prairie rose. After peonies, we wanted to give you a twist on a classic. These small-species roses are grown as an ornamental plant, which makes them a bit tricker to use as a full bouquet, but with their cluster of yellow stamen in the center of their blooms, they may very well be worth it. Otherwise, if you choose a rural venue, ask whether prairie roses grow nearby. They’d be a wonderful backdrop to photos, and your guests will be able to enjoy them without you having to do any work. 
Yet another flower suited for a photoshoot is the beloved sunflower from Kansas. Instagram has proven time and time again that these flowers have a serious photo appeal, and much like the Black-eyed Susans above, the combination of yellow and white is a timeless favorite. Even if the blooms are a bit too unwieldy for a bouquet or centerpiece, you can certainly include them in other design aspects, whether it’s on your stationery for a save-the-date or a place setting or mixed with other greenery to help decorate your altar. They have a natural rustic feel and will be as breathtaking as you are. 

The Southwest

Yet another plant that might lend itself better to a symbol than an actual guest at your wedding is the saguaro cactus from Arizona. While the bloom of the cactus is the state flower, these cacti bloom so infrequently and for such a short time that it probably isn’t worth trying to incorporate the flowers in anything but wedding art. However, if your heart lies in the Southwest, that doesn’t mean that you can’t highlight these desert flowers in another way. There are some amazing stationary choices out there that include saguaros or you can even build your own out of lights to light up your dance floor. Plus, that way your guests won’t have to watch their backs all night. 
For something a little bit more bouquet-friendly, the Texas bluebonnet is the way to go. Much like purple, blue is one of those colors that is just guaranteed to bring depth and richness to your wedding photos and decor. If your partner is thinking of getting married in a blue suit, bluebonnets will tie the look together beautifully when paired with cream blooms in a boutonniere. Another adorable idea as a floral wedding favor is to include bluebonnet seeds and planting instructions to ensure that everyone is able to nurture and care for their own mini memories of your wedding day. Like many of these wildflowers, though, you have to think about their blooming time and season to make sure that you can have the bluebonnet day of your dreams. 
Oklahoma posed a bit of a problem when writing this list because they actually have three state flowers. It seemed like the obvious choice, however, when we went with mistletoe. While it is currently summer now and people tend to associate fresh flowers with the spring and summer months, we wanted to make this list inclusive for weddings all year round. For a winter wedding, even if it might not be too cold where you are, mistletoe is a fun and romantic addition to your decor plans. It would be a beautiful incorporation above your altar for your first kiss or scattered around your venue so that your guests can share in the love with you. 

The West

One of my new favorite flowers that I’ve discovered by writing this list is the Indian Paintbrush from Wyoming. The tall stalks create a beautiful elegance to bouquets, and the orange-red blooms are the perfect pop of color. They would look gorgeous paired with more greenery and scattered around a venue for a wild and rustic vibe. These are not flowers with full, lush blooms (like peonies), but I think they’re a beautiful wildflower addition to a wedding day. They get their name for looking like they were dipped in paint, and I think there are endless opportunities there to get creative and fun with paint and flowers for a wedding guest activity. 
The Sego Lily from Utah is next up on flowers of the West. Lilies, with their silken petals and elegant structure, are some of the best wedding flowers, and the Sego Lily has touches of purple and yellow that are breathtaking. These flowers seem perfect for some natural hair decorations or in a bouquet where you can tie in other blooms of richer versions of the Sego’s colors. There doesn’t seem to be a better way to tie in the native beauty of the West than in the Sego Lily, even if it is a bit of a nontraditional wedding plant. 
This list would feel incomplete without including the California poppy. Much like the Indian Paintbrush, the fire-red color is hard to resist, and the poppy has much fuller blooms, making them a more versatile wedding flower. Poppy boutonnieres are a great way to tie in the groom, and a mixture of orange and white blooms will give a balanced feel to your bouquet or centerpiece. Honestly, poppies are just fun; they’re bright and colorful and a wonderful way to engage with local wildlife. 

The Southeast

In order to truly honor the Southeast of the United States, we should do just as Old Crow Medicine Show wrote and go “picking me a bouquet of dogwood flowers.” Dogwood flowers are actually the state flower of both Virginia and North Carolina, and if you’re looking for the perfect white flower for your wedding aesthetic, dogwoods may be it. They’re small, but in a large bouquet, their sprawling nature mixed with their green leaves gives them an effortless grace. To me, the blooms are whimsical and can easily be tied in all over your wedding day, depending on how prominent you want the bloom to be. 
Moving a bit further south, the azaleas from Georgia are another favorite of the bunch. Azaleas come in a variety of colors and can even have color variation within the petals themselves to give a rich depth and dimension to your bouquet. Because they have bigger blooms, azaleas can stand alone, and you don’t need too many of them to make a statement. You can make them a centerpiece statement on your tables, and everyone is sure to marvel at their rich and beautiful growth.
Another classic white blossom you can be sure to highlight is the magnolia from Mississippi. While some may favor the dogwood for its smaller and more overgrown appearance, others may prefer the classic and regal appearance of the magnolia. Magnolias are common in bridal bouquets because they have been thought to represent a bride’s purity and nobility. The white blossoms against thick and dark waxy leaves are sure to make a statement however you choose to include them and are sure to add just a little bit of dramatic flair to your floral accompaniment. Magnolias also have a beautiful petal texture, meaning they are a perfect flower to make a confectionary replica of. There are some wonderful magnolia cakes out there, and they look like a truly beautiful way to honor the magnolia flower. 
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways you can use local wildlife on your wedding day. If we forgot your state or if you used any of these flowers on your wedding day, be sure to go over to @loverly on Instagram to let us know!
Gracie Griffin
About The Author
Freelance writer.
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