Celestin, who works with 18-20 couples per wedding season, began encouraging brides to donate their flowers to area nursing homes since 2015. She noticed that many brides couldn’t take their flowers home with them because they were staying in a hotel, were heading out of town for their honeymoon, or just didn’t have the space for all the arrangements that adorned their ceremony and reception.
“I hate throwing away flowers when the wedding is over,” Celestin said. “I really thought it was such a big waste at the end of such a beautiful day.”
Her sister, Crystal Casemier, a unit manager at the Sanctuary at the Shore in Grand Haven, suggested that Cassie bring the leftover flowers to the nursing home to share with its residents.
Celestin remembers how her first donation came to be.
“I had a wedding that everybody was from out of town, a destination wedding,” she said. “They really didn’t have a place to take the flowers to when the wedding was done, so I recommended this donation, and it just kind of evolved from there. (Now I) offer it free of charge to the brides.”
When brides decide to donate their flowers, Celestin collects the arrangements after the reception and loads them into her van. She and her family personally deliver the flowers to the nursing home the following morning.
“I try to include a little card, or at least make a mention of who the bride and groom are,” Celestin said. “I take pictures to send to the bride and groom afterward.”
Donating flowers is one way for brides to be environmentally conscious in planning their big day.
“That is such a huge thing now — brides are trying to be a little more ‘green,’ (thinking about) repurposing, refurbishing,” Celestin explained. “I think (donating flowers) really goes hand-in-hand with that, finding a new life for flowers that sometimes can last for over a week.”
More than anything, flowers that have been donated to area nursing homes have made an impact on brides, staff and residents alike.
“In a nursing home, some of the residents don’t get gifts like that as often as maybe another resident might,” Celestin explained, “so just to be able to put a flower on somebody’s nightstand, to let people know that they’re thinking about them … it just feels so good to do.”
Larger arrangements are put in common areas for all to enjoy, while other flowers are placed in smaller vases to brighten up the rooms of residents who are allowed to have them.
Nursing home employees also find joy in the donated flowers.
“The staff, especially when they’re spending so much time with these residents, they truly become like family,” Celestin said. “So to see somebody be paid a little attention (means a lot).”
The Sanctuary at the Shore has been the main recipient of the donations, while flowers have also been donated to Lakeshore Assisted Living, also in Grand Haven. A dozen or more brides have so far donated their flowers through Celestin.
“I feel like there is a need beyond my clients,” she said. “I’m sure there are venues out there (where) brides are throwing flowers away at the end of the night.”
Celestin called the initiative a labor of love.
“If any venues are interested, please contact me,” she said.
If you’re interested in partnering with Celestin in donating flowers, you may contact her at [email protected], or call 616-402-2733.