How to make a recycled paper flower wedding bouquet

whether paperworks bouquetwhether paperworks boutMy quest for an eco-friendly wedding is quickly becoming an all-encompassing DIY adventure. I’m designing and printing my own invitations, working with an Etsy vendor to create custom-made bridesmaid dresses, and scouring thrift shops and flea markets for vintage pieces, like antique blue Mason jars to use as centerpieces.

But the most time-consuming project so far has got to be the flowers. The origami paper flowers, that is.

From early on in our planning process, I knew I wanted to handle our wedding party’s bouquet and boutonnieres as green-ly — and inexpensively — as possible. There were a few ways I could do this: I could use all in-season, locally grown, organic flowers. (Not such an easy task in March.) I could reduce packaging by ordering flowers wholesale and having my friends arrange them, like my sister and I did for a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago. Or I could find an alternative to real flowers that would last longer and use less new materials.

music paper flowersIt was my mom’s brilliant idea to not only use paper flowers, but to use old sheet music from our high school marching band days (where my fiance and I met almost 15 years ago!). Sure enough, we called up the band director and he had stacks and stacks of old, slightly yellowing music that he was happy to get rid of. Here’s a shot of the first flower we made with it!

I did a lot of research to find paper flowers that I really loved. There are so many options out there — several templates courtesy of Martha Stewart, kits you can buy at Paper Source, and lots of vendors selling them on Etsy.

Alas, I fell in love with the creations from one Etsy vendor who is taking some time off and is not currently taking orders. (Her photos are still up on her Whether Paperworks Facebook page, though, and there are two posted above. You can see why I’m so smitten!)

Luckily, a little Googling helped me find instructions on how to make these very flowers, and soon I was experimenting with all different colors and sizes of paper squares. The execution is actually pretty easy so far — it’s simple origami folding held together with some glue and attached to wooden dowels as stems. (We’ll probably stick them all into a styrofoam ball to create the actual bouquets. Still experimenting with that!)

I’m definitely in the early stages, and I’ve lots of work still to do, but I’m so excited to see how the final products — which we’ll be able to keep forever as mementos of my special day — turn out. And hey, I’ve got plenty of help if I need it: Some brides-to-be go to strip clubs for their bachelorette weekends, some go to spas … and some have flower folding parties!

Here’s a quick overview on how to fold the pedals, and a look at a finished product. (You can also see more photos and detailed instructions at FoldingTrees.com.)

Start with a square (this one is four inches by four inches) and fold it diagonally into a triangle.

 Fold the two top corners down to meet the bottom point.

Now fold the two top flaps back across themselves, lining them up with the diamond edges.

Open the top folds back up and turn the inside folds out, then lay the paper flat again.

Fold the two top points back so that the top edges line up with the bottom edges.

Now fold the top flaps over themselves one more time, so that the flattened shape forms a diamond once more.

To form the pedal, wrap the folded paper so that the you can glue the two top flaps together in the middle.

Here’s the front and back of a finished product, decorated with gold paint around the edges.

[Top two photos: Whether Paperworks Facebook page]

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About Amanda MacMillan

Amanda MacMillan is a health and environmental writer whose work has appeared in Prevention, Health, Whole Living, and National Geographic's The Green Guide. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently chronicling the process of planning her wedding while making sustainable, healthy, and budget-friendly choices on her blog, Lean Green Bride.