Doing your own wedding flowers may seem like a daunting task, but if you plan out a good strategy, set aside some time the day before the wedding and have a team of happy helpers, you can save a lot on floral arrangements that you’re likely to throw away afterwards anyways.
Every good plan starts with research. I found Blooms by the Box to be the most helpful resource (particularly their tips on flower storage) and almost purchased from them, but found a local wholesale vendor that would sell to DIY brides. I also found this article from A Practical Wedding to be particularly helpful. (On a side note, APW is a wonderful resource for planning articles, specifically timelines and run of show tips. No need to buy the book, just use the interwebs.) From my research I discovered that all bouquets and centerpieces are composed of focal flowers, secondary flowers, greens and filler. Flowers were also usually positioned in sets of three to get an even, spherical shape.
The next step was to scour the internet for photos and litter my Pinterest board with ideas and flowers/greens/filler that I fancied. I then created a flower palette as the base of my selection & purchasing process (many of these flowers got traded out for cheaper alternatives, but the colors and overall feel remained the same).
Then it was on to my first recon mission to the wholesale flower shop to take a look at the flowers I liked. I looked at how voluminous they were and how many stems came in a bundle. I also talked with the staff there, as they were very helpful and gave good tips on storage and seasonality. For those of you who are worried about flowers being in season, I found that is wasn’t really an issue because flowers are sourced from all over the world and chances are, something you like is growing somewhere. The earlier you go, the better — flowers get purchased by retailers very early in the morning and they might be sold out of a lot of items if you go too late. Also, don’t forget to bring your camera/phone to take photos & a jacket because it’s cold in there! Excuse the blurriness of the photos, it was really cold.
This recon mission allowed me to see what I liked, didn’t like, what was too dark or too small or didn’t fit the color scheme. And helped me move onto the next step in planning you own flowers: how much to buy? For that, I used this helpful spreadsheet that a lady at the flower shop showed me:
In the left column, I made a list of all the flowers I wanted to purchase. Across the top, I made a list of everything that I would need flowers for. Be sure to use excel or a pencil, because I changed this chart a gazillion times before I was happy with the final order. I ended up ordering white hydrangeas, mini green hydrangeas, chablis spray roses, thistle, delphinium, queen anne’s lace, limonium in misty blue, solidego, seeded eucalyptus, high and arena roses, green carnations and white fuji mums. While I had pre-ordered for pick-up, the cottage yarrow I ordered didn’t look very healthy that day, so I grabbed a bunch of peach statice instead. In order to reduce costs, I ordered fewer spray roses and opted to get high and area roses, which came in bunches of 25 at $1.25 each and fewer mini green hydrangeas (which were $1.50 each) in favor of green carnations (which were $0.48 each). Mixing in cheaper flowers gave our centerpieces more volume at a lower cost, but still looked good visually next to some of the more striking flowers like the fuji mums.
I picked up the flowers 2 days before the wedding and prepped them according to the tips I got from Blooms by the Box. We assembled everything the morning before the wedding (with the exception of the boutonnieres which we did the morning of the wedding so that they wouldn’t wilt) and kept everything in a cool place before taking them to the venue the next day. For things like the bouquets, we worked in teams of two, so one person could hold everything together and the other could cut and add flowers, and wrap the finished product tightly in floral tape.
In total, we made 1 bride’s bouquet, 4 bridesmaids bouquets, 3 boutonnieres for moms and grandmothers, 1 boutonniere for my dad, 5 boutonnieres for the groom and his groomsmen, centerpieces for 10 tables which were a mix of large and small vases, and accent pieces for the guestbook table, escort and dessert tables and one large centerpiece for the sweetheart table. The total cost of my flowers was $480 (including 4 pairs of flower sheers). Vases were a collection of mason jars, drinking glasses from estate sales that I frequented with my mother-in-law and baby food jars with the labels peeled off. Other supplies included floral tape, floral pins and burlap to wrap the bouquets once we put them together. I also had decent amount of leftover flowers, which were used to decorate our wedding cake (made by the wonderful pastry chef at Empire State South).
All in all, our wedding flowers was probably my favorite DIY project and it saved us quiet a bit of money as bouquets themselves can be almost $100 each!