If greener weddings are a trend, then floral designers are trend-setters. It makes sense, given their ephemeral product (flowers) and fickle supplier (Mother Nature).
But even amongst this sustainable weddings vanguard, T.J. Montague of Garden Party Design is a pioneer.
Since 1995, the London School of Floristry grad has prioritized eco-friendly business practices as she's transformed countless couples' dreams into "perfect botanical expressions".
Here's a Q&A with self-described "wild formalist," and Emerald Hour Charter Member, T.J. Montague.
Was there a specific point in your business journey when you became inspired to prioritize sustainability?
I think the "Ah-ha!" moment was watching my husband find repurposed construction materials to build my studio. He found windows, doors, contractor overruns on drywall, etc., and then the real highlight — my sink! It came from a restaurant that had a kitchen fire, so it was about $200, and after about a month of elbow grease it stands as a reminder that not all trash is meant for the landfill.
What are some of the main ways you’re already making events more sustainable?
Utilizing rentals instead of always purchasing new items is big, but mainly by recommending to couples that certain things are not really noticed by guests. Maybe you don’t need personalized napkins or glow sticks? Instead, how about applying that money towards making the event carbon neutral, to pay my staff and I to compost everything possible, to redistribute the flowers to folks, or buy locally-made or locally-grown materials?
"My motto of late has been practice over perfection. What I mean by that is, just start. Even if it doesn’t seem BIG enough to make a real change."
T.J. Montague, Founder/Designer Garden Party Design
Are there additional practices you plan to implement this year or in the near future?
I love the word “practice” in this question. My motto of late has been practice over perfection. What I mean by that is, just start. Even if it doesn’t seem BIG enough to make a real change. Maybe little-by-little is better than nothing? Listen, I am guilty of not doing enough, of being too tired to spend another four hours sorting and composting, but I want to figure out a way through this challenge.
What would you tell a fellow vendor in your industry area who is interested in making their business more sustainable? Where should they start?
Start small. Think long term. Try not to buy from Amazon.
What do you want couples to know about sustainability within your industry?
Sustainability is more expensive. It costs a lot to be concerned.
Have you seen any sustainable wedding trends (within your industry, or others) that you’re really excited about?
A Wedding Carbon Footprint Calculator created by the Mindfully Wed eco-friendly wedding blog. The inventor was surprised to see the environmental impact of just one day. It’s eye opening.
What do you think is/are the biggest obstacle/s to making our industry more sustainable?
Old practices die hard, and again, it can be expensive to be carbon neutral.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To other floral designers, don’t get frustrated by the process or the rejection. It takes time and there is a lot to learn!