DIY Flowers for a Summer Wedding
If you’re planning a wedding or event during the summertime, you might be thinking “look at all the beautiful flowers available! I have so many choices!” and you’d be right. Summer in Canada is the perfect time for gorgeous floral arrangements because so many beautiful blooms are available locally. One of my favourite places to shop is at farmers’ markets! You can get everything you need to create stunning DIY flowers for a summer wedding, and have a more personalized (and cheaper!) event. Let me walk you through how to make your own hand-tied bouquet, boutonniere, corsages, and arrangement.
Erick and I spent the weekend with my parents in Ottawa. On Sunday morning we took a tour through the Carp Farmers’ Market. Our visit co-incided with the Garlic Festival, so it made for a – how shall we say it – fragrant tour? 🙂 The sweet garden flowers at the Donaldson’s Flower booth caught my eye, and my husband being the generous, thoughtful man he is, had me pick out some of my favourite bunches to make into an arrangement. Erick knows that the best way to buy me flowers is unarranged!
I chose four small bunches of flowers: bachelor’s button, zinnias, sweet peas, and astilbe.
But what to do for my lovely F&K readers? I’d just done a DIY table centrepiece for our anniversary, so that was out. Since you guys seemed to have gone wild for my DIY wedding posts, I thought I’d keep the wedding love flowing with a little imagined farmers’ market floral “ensemble”.
You will not find these at your local FTD, I promise! 🙂 And because I strongly, and in the most certain terms, advocate doing your own wedding or event flowers, here is a little how-to.
*As an aside: gentlemen, you should also learn to make a bouquet. How many brownie points will you score if you come home with a hand-tied bouquet on your wife’s/girlfriend’s/mother’s/sister’s/mother-in-law’s/daughter’s birthday? 100 000 000 brownie points to you! Am I right?*
The first step in creating any arrangement is to prep and sort your flowers properly. I like to cut the ends of the flowers with sharp scissors under room-temperature running water. I put them back in clean water, and I generally sort them by variety and stem length. Invariably, when you buy a bunch of flowers, there will be some stems that are shorter. Use these for your corsages and boutonnieres and the longer stems for your bouquets and arrangements. Reserve the best blooms for your bouquet (which is the most photographed floral element of a wedding).
I started by making the boutonniere. In it, I used two small sprigs of rosemary, one stem of astilbe, and one blue bachelor’s button. Once I had and arrangement I liked, I tied the stems together with a tiny elastic. *I needed to be able to take it apart – for an event, I recommend tying the stems together using floral tape. Floral tape will allow you to get a thinner “stem” on your corsage or boutonniere, too.
You can cover the elastic/floral tape with a ribbon of your choice, but for bouts and corsages, it needs to be fairly thin. I chose a simple white satin ribbon, which would stand out nicely on a darker suit, but wouldn’t be too feminine.
I’ll talk a little more about how to wrap the ribbon when we get to the bouquet.
The corsage is made almost the same way, but with a different choice of flowers. In mine, I used sweet peas, astilbe, and bachelor’s buttons. I wanted it to tie in with the boutonniere, without feeling too matchy.
You want to create a little arrangement and then repeat the same tying process as for the bout. I used another small elastic and some slightly larger gros-grain ribbon, just to show you how different finishes look. I would probably use the satin if I were to do these “for real”.
Here’s a little extra wrapping idea, if you are making the same corsage for all your special ladies and want one (maybe a guest of honour or the mother of the bride) to stand out in particular. I wrapped a smaller rose satin ribbon in a criss-cross pattern over top of the gros-grain.
Here’s a shot of the boutonniere and corsage together. You can see how they tie together but aren’t overly similar.
Next up was the bouquet! Here’s the really fun part! I added in the zinnias for the bouquet. The idea was to have the “wedding’s” flowers referenced in all the smaller details, and bring them together in the “bride’s” bouquet.
The first step is to select your blooms. You want to make sure the stems are long enough to hold once wrapped and cut. The flowers I used had really short stems, and I would definitely buy something longer if I were doing this for real.
Everyone has a different way of building a bouquet. Go with your gut, and turn your bouquet frequently. I like to start with some of my focal (largest and showiest) flowers and some line flowers (in this case, the astilbe) for height. I try to cross my stems in the same direction all the time. This keeps things together more, and allows me to easily play with the fullness of the bouquet. Oh and if you don’t like how it’s looking, just start again!
Keep adding flowers circularly, turning your bouquet frequently and checking it for holes from all angles. A bouquet needs a “front”, but should look great from all sides!
Because the astilbe is pretty droopy, I used it mainly around the outside of the bouquet, so that it would trail down. I didn’t want the bouquet to feel too formal, since this is a famers’ market-inspired wedding!
If you find holes in your arrangement, you can also shuffle the flowers a little, or even add in a bloom. Yes, flowers are delicate, but they can also take a bit more handling than we think!
Once I had the arrangement I liked, I secured it with an elastic band. If you were making this a day ahead, I would put it in water leave it at this step until just before the event. While the floral tape can take submersion in water (that’s kind of the point), it’s a real hassle to undo the tape in the event of a bloom needing replacement.
I wrapped my bouquet using the same white gros-grain ribbon I used for the corsage. You definitely want a wider ribbon for bouquets.
Start at the back of the “handle” of your bouquet, covering the elastic. I pinned my ribbon in place, but for my actual wedding, I pinned it AND hot-glued it. Wrap the ribbon down the handle, keeping the ribbon as even as possible. When you reach the bottom (leave a bit of the stems showing!), secure it at the back with another pin/hot-glue.
You can add sweet little accessories to the front like coloured pins, or even brooches. But wait! Remember that criss-cross detail on the corsage? It looks even more splendid on a bouquet!
Start from the back of the handle and pin or glue your contrasting ribbon in place. Wrap the two ends around to the front and criss-cross them. Pin the criss-cross in place.
Do this all the way down the handle. The great thing about it is that if you don’t like it, you can just re-wrap! Finish it off at the back of the handle with another pin or some more hot-glue. It should look something like this:
C’est beau, non?
Cut the stems of your bouquet so that you can still put it in an inch or so of water. You don’t want it wilting before you walk down the aisle!
Yes, I had Erick take photos of me in our driveway à la bridal portraits. Yes, the neighbours slowed down as they drove by. #weirdneighbours
The last part of this floral “ensemble” is the table centrepiece. I re-used a votive holder (from Ikea), with a small clear drinking glass inside.
First I draped the astilbe over the sides of the vase. Then I layered in my sweet peas, zinnias, and bachelor’s buttons. This is the kind of super-simple arrangement that could be done by 2 or 3 helping hands on-site in about 1 hour. Be aware that this style of arrangement will not travel well!
Make sure when you’re arranging, that you turn the vase frequently (like you did with the bouquet). With a centrepiece, it’s really important that it be visually interesting from all sides!
So there you have it, DIYers! A whole floral ensemble for the intrepid DIY florist!
Here’s some more floral eye-candy, in case your day needs a little more bloom in it!
If you have questions or suggestions about DIY flowers, please don’t hesitate. I love receiving comments!
These arrangements were featured in the Sunday Brunch Magazine!
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