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The Charm of Butterflies at Weddings

Butterflies add a unique charm to a wedding ceremony that you can’t achieve with confetti, rice, birdseed, or balloons. A butterfly wedding theme creates a magical atmosphere perfect for an outdoor wedding.

So where do you get butterflies for weddings? You can purchase wedding butterflies for release online at various websites. The butterflies come in individually packaged envelopes — you can release them one-by-one from each package or at the same time from a large release basket.

The butterflies arrive the day before the wedding in an insulated cooler with a freezer pack. All you have to do is keep the critters in a cool, dark place until the big day — you don’t have to do anything else to prepare them for release. 90 minutes before you plan to set them free, put the release boxes outside to warm up. When the time arrives, simply open the boxes and release the butterflies.

How Many Butterflies Should You Buy?

Wedding planning experts suggest you purchase at least 1 butterfly for every 2 guests. If your wedding is going to have 200 guests, for example, it’s recommended to buy at least 100 butterflies. For individual releases, however, 1 butterfly per guest is more suitable.


The only drawback about releasing live butterflies at a wedding ceremony is that if the temperature dips below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the butterflies will fly more slowly and with less energy. Fortunately, most outdoor weddings take place during the summer months when the weather is more likely to be above 65 degrees, so this isn’t a common concern. It’s important to realize that you can’t release butterflies at night because they require light to fly.

Butterfly Release

Most people prefer to release the butterflies individually, as this allows each guest to participate in the ceremony. Every person is given an envelope containing a butterfly — when it comes time to release the critter to the open skies, a flurry of butterflies pop into view for an unforgettable experience.

If you choose to do a mass release, the butterflies are set free from a large decorated box all at once. The person in charge of the release simply takes off the lid and allows the butterflies to flutter over the ceremony and guests.

Is the Practice of Butterfly Release Inhumane?

This is a myth! Butterflies that can be purchased for weddings are raised by IBBA member breeders who must follow strict standards for raising and shipping the butterflies. The process is completely safe and doesn’t cause harm to the butterflies. In addition, releasing butterflies isn’t harmful to the ecosystem because they are only shipped to native locations, adhering to USDA regulations on the transit of butterflies. For example, Painted Lady, Gulf, Red Admirals, and Monarch butterflies can be safely released in almost every state. Experienced breeders raise the butterflies in captivity — they are not taken from the wild. There is no environmental threat in releasing butterflies in this manner.

Shipping doesn’t pose a problem because the butterflies are placed inside a cardstock box to keep them safe, and fed beforehand. They are enclosed by soft padding and placed in an insulated cooler with a freeze pack. The lack of light and cool temperature keep the butterflies inactive during overnight shipping.

Katie Hoffman has studied garden design and garden decor for over 15 years. She collects garden lanterns and garden plaques.
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Tags: butterfly wedding, suitable weather, temperature dips, freezer pack, wedding butterflies

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