On Wings of Love: A Butterfly Wedding Primer

Brides who turn to butterflies as a wedding theme (or just a delightful accent) have all kinds of visions when it comes to their special day. Still, there’s a common thread. Most are charmed by this small creature’s fairy wings … not to mention its timeless ties to transformations and happy marriages.

Butterfly Themes in a Nutshell

Butterfly brides are a creative lot, drawing from all kinds of inspirations. Fans of pure white, for example, might combine white nylon butterflies with porcelain placecards and calla lily bouquets. Garden lovers might blend more colorful winged creatures with table lanterns, herbs in terra-cotta pots, and romantic votives that hang from bare-branch centerpieces.

A springtime bride might pair butterflies with blossoming branches and pastel petit fours, while a bride who’s planning a summertime wedding with a funky, modern vibe might weave them in with colorful ribbons and eye-popping Gerber daisies.

High-Flying Attire

Popular accents for a butterfly bride include pretty silver and rhinestone jewelry sets, crystal butterfly hairpins and hair combs. Another popular touch is to pin a Swarovski crystal butterfly brooch to a sash at the waist, or at the base of the neckline in a V-neck or halter top bodice.

A single fabric butterfly is a lovely way to set apart a groom’s boutonnière. As for bridesmaids, try gifting them with crystal butterfly brooches of their own, pinned to lusciously long satin sashes with the ends trailing down near the hem of their gowns. No sashes? Ornament their hand-tied blooms with sparkling crystal bouquet jewels.

MORE: Find Nautical Themed Favors | Guide to Wedding Favors | Buy Wedding Favors

A Fabulous Flower Girl

Have fun with your flower girl! All by herself, she can carry out some of your wedding’s most ooh-and-ahh-worthy moments. Choices that range from adventurous to subtle: dress her in a pair of gauzy wings, or give her a pretty white butterfly net tricked out with flowers and ribbons to walk down the aisle with. Or, have a pair of flower girls carry adorable pink and green pomanders bedecked with butterflies.

Want to stick with the classic? Simply pin a butterfly brooch to a white satin petal basket that’s filled with silk butterfly petals instead of the usual rose petals.

Lighthearted Favors

The most beloved favors for butterfly weddings often reflect a garden theme. Plantable favors, often embedded with no-fuss wildflower seeds that come up a treat, top the list. Romantic crystal butterfly votives are another favorite, especially for brides with a fairytale bent. An elaborate frosted butterfly cookie in a cello bag, placed on each guest’s plate with a smattering of rose petals, looks and tastes divine.

Divinely-Designed Tables

The butterfly’s ephemeral charms are a gorgeous thing to pair with long, fluttery ribbons and sun-kissed garden flowers. Want this lucky little creature to help guide guests to their seats? Pin a nylon butterfly to every escort card for a table full of wings. Or even more dramatically, hang long satin ribbons in your colors from a clothesline, and pin die-cut butterfly cards down the ribbons.

A butterfly-trimmed birdcage makes a classic, feminine container for cards, while pale pink parasols and colorful ribbon wands fill out the scene. For a little animatronic drama, try adding an electric-powered butterfly to photo or guestbook tables.

Butterfly brides with a garden theme find these tiny creatures look smashing with traditional cottage flowers such as ivory hydrangeas and fluffy peonies, anchored with gorgeous green or hot-pink amaranthus. Surround your main florals with small table lanterns, and terra-cotta pots filled with lavender, thyme and other aromatic herbs. You can even wire delicate fabric butterflies to your wine glass stems. And instead of emphasizing your focal points with scattered rose petals, use silk butterfly petals.

Small potted trees and bare branch arrangements make great scaffolding for butterflies, too. Try hanging romantic votive mini-lanterns from the branches of a centerpiece, punctuated by few sweet butterflies. Or instead of votives, combine your winged things with cherry blossoms. Butterfly cards and cherry blossoms make for a gorgeous wishing tree, too.

Even something as small as table napkins can create lasting memories. Emphasize your garden style by tucking herbs or lavender into linen folds. Or use a beaded butterfly napkin ring to dress up rolled napkins. Still not enough drama? Look into Magic Flyers: mechanized wind-up butterflies that flutter out from a folded napkin when your guests prepare to tuck in.

MORE: Find Nautical Themed Favors | Guide to Wedding Favors | Buy Wedding Favors

Butterfly Releases: Yay or Nay?

It may be controversial, but for some brides, a butterfly release is a non-negotiable part of their wedding. While some people say the practice is a bad idea, the reality is probably more nuanced. Still, whenever dealing with live creatures, it’s crucial to choose an educated, reputable supplier who knows butterflies inside and out. Do your homework, get recommendations from people who have actually done it, and avoid suppliers who over-romanticize the process, or instruct you to hand out butterflies in little glassine envelopes, which can easily harm their wings.

While some people feel butterfly releases are insensitive, others point out that butterflies are an important renewable resource in some countries, which give local farmers an alternative to cutting down rain forests. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.