"Succulent plants are a very popular trend in weddings right now," says Pennylyn Kaine, owner and floral designer at Blossom and Bee. "They are incredibly hardy and add a lot of interest to floral designs."
Succulents are plants with thickened and fleshy star-shaped parts, like an artichoke or ranunculus hybrid in appearance. The thickness of the "petals" is caused by this plant's natural tendency to hold in water, creating a unique greenery look. With hundreds of individual varieties, both large and small, of this kind of plant, succulents provide plenty of opportunity for innovation. Consider pairing different sizes of plants or even different colors; they come in shades from very light green to deeper green and blue-green to purple.
Since the natural look is in for wedding decor, succulents provide that something new and different in a natural-themed floral spotlight piece. They are a pretty twist on the usual wedding greenery of ferns and banana leaves. With rounded edges, succulents add a soft texture to green arrangements, and the star-shaped arrangement of a succulent's leaves coordinate well with the opening layers of roses and ranunculus.
Another benefit of succulents is that they aren't fragile like other plants. Since they hold so much water, they're not a risk for quick drying on a hot day like hydrangeas; they can wilt if they're not cautiously kept in water at all times. "(Succulents) can hold up well without water, so peace of mind is guaranteed when designing with them," says Kaine.
"They aren't particularly expensive, but when used in bouquets and bouts, they are labor intensive which can slightly add to costs," says Kaine.
Here are some ways to incorporate succulents into your wedding decor and designs:
--As a centerpiece. Kaine recommends creating succulent gardens by grouping together several different varieties of succulents. This is easily done by placing different small, potted succulents together in a deep tray and tightly bunching them so that there is little space between the plants. You can just use succulents or mix them in with other types of green plants, coordinating the colors of the leaves.
--As centerpiece accents. "One of my favorite designs of this season was a minimalistic design where we used black metal lanterns with candles and centered that in a low tray filled with dense rose petals and accented it with succulent varieties," says Kaine.
--In bouquets. They're lighter than you might think, which is why floral designers are embedding small succulent plants into flower-filled bouquet designs, to add a soft but unique green texture and to coordinate with succulents used in other wedding decor.
--As boutonnieres. Tiny succulent plants or sections can be added to a groom's boutonniere for a unique touch.
--As escort and place card table decorations. "They make neat escort card holders by pinning a name tag to each bulb," says Kaine. "Another pretty display is creating a bed of rose petals and scattering some succulent accents about amongst escort cards."
--As guestbook table decor. Place a single succulent plant behind the guestbook to tie in the same plant you've used elsewhere in your wedding venue decor.
--As cocktail party table centerpieces. During the cocktail hour, guests seat themselves at smaller tables where they enjoy your cocktail party fare. Since room is needed on these small tables for multiple dishes and glasses, a small succulent plant set in the center of each table provides the perfect touch without taking up a lot of space.
--As wedding favors. If you're using succulents in grander design pieces as a theme of your wedding, you can offer small potted succulents as your wedding favors, lining up these tiny pots with a note for guests to choose their own and take it home. Add extra visual appeal by selecting slightly different mini succulents in different shades so that guests can have their choices.
Kaine mentions that green is a top color theme for weddings this year, since Pantone, Inc. named emerald their color of the year. Green plants in decor have never been as popular, and it's always fun to depart from the norm to include a trendy plant that guests might not be too familiar with. The succulent is having a big season this year and will remain popular into 2014.
Sharon Naylor is the author of "The Bride's Guide to Freebies" and three dozen additional wedding books.