“I want to do my own wedding flowers.” *A hush falls over the crowd. The trepidation and doubt are palpable. Will she prevail or will she fold like a garage sale card table?*
YES YOU CAN! (And without tears or tantrums!)
Doing your own wedding flowers IS possible and can even be enjoyable. (An enjoyable wedding DIY? Say whaaat?) No really, I promise that with a bit of preparation and planning, you can get a beautiful floral look for your wedding or special event on a more reasonable budget.
I want to take a moment and say that DIYing floral arrangements and bouquets is not necessarily for everyone – and that’s ok! There’s no shame in seeking a professional’s services if you’re completely overwhelmed by the thought of arranging your own flowers. I am in no way diminishing the job that a professional florist does! 🙂 I’m just here to share some tips and to provide you with a most cost-effective alternative. (And working with flowers can be SUPER therapeutic during event planning craziness.) But if you are considering (even just maybe) doing your own floral arrangements, read on!
So here we go. My top 5 tips for doing your own wedding flowers (or special event flowers) without losing your mind, having a meltdown, or calling off your event.
Doing Your Own Wedding Flowers (without tears!)
Search for inspiration but look past colour scheme or specific types of flowers.
So you pinned a gorgeous bouquet of dahlias for your March wedding? Hate to break it to you, but dahlias are a summer/fall flower and unless you have some major moolah to fork over, those babies aren’t available. But don’t despair: there are SO many other flowers that are a) cheaper, b) beautiful, and c) SUPER similar from which to choose. Large chrysanthemums or large-bloom roses will give you a really similar look and are available year-round.
“I love that bouquet – I just wish it wasn’t purple/pink/blush/cream/green/red/tie-dyed!” OMGeeeeee stop saying this! Just because it’s pictured in a certain palette doesn’t mean that those flowers ONLY come in that palette. If you love the wild look of an arrangement, or the single-bloom simplicity of a centrepiece but it isn’t pictured in the right colour… Just don’t do it in that colour. It’s kinda like people passing up an amazing house because they don’t like that the kitchen is painted blue. You can change it!
Find a wholesaler that will sell to the public (if possible).
Some floral wholesalers will only sell to those in the business (and that’s ok), but some will sell to the public! Call around and see if you can find one in your area that will sell you your flowers. They likely won’t give you wholesale prices, but the flowers will still be MUCH less expensive (and more plentiful) than if you go to a florist. For our July 2013 wedding we went through a wholesaler in Ottawa and got beautiful blooms at a much more budget-friendly rate.
My cousin put together my bouquet – I was still a total floral newbie then! – with our wholesale flowers.
If you don’t have a local wholesaler who will sell you your flowers, see if there’s a grocery store with a good floral section. A lot of stores sell what they call “market bunches” and you can get some great blooms if you aren’t too constrained by flower type or specific colour. If you have your heart set on coral peonies in February, please refer back to tip #1.
Big-box stores like Costco also have a floral department. You can usually order things, but you may have less choice of specific variety than with a wholesaler. (You can order white roses. You cannot order white “Sugar Doll” roses.) Same deal with the grocery store. You can often order through them, but you have less choice in the specifics.
Don’t forget to order greenery, too! (Or cut it from your yard.) You can save a LOT of money by adding more greenery to your arrangements.
Don’t try to overdo it – know your limits!
If you are having a wedding with 25 centrepieces, 8 bridesmaids, 10 groomsmen, 6 altar arrangements, and a partridge in a pear tree etc. etc… Maybe consider hiring a pro. Those arrangements take time and if you’ve never DIYed flowers before, it will probably go south pretty quickly. DIY flowers are best for a smaller, simpler wedding. (Which doesn’t mean you can’t have a “fancy” wedding and still do your own flowers – we did! – but just keep the floral design simple.)
Make sure to pick up some flowers ahead of time (and PLEASE refer back to tip #1 – they don’t HAVE to be exactly your colour palette) to play around with and to practice. See how long it takes before you go whole-hog and DIY everything.
And PLEASE do solicit some help from a few (read: no more than 3) friends or family members. Get them together the day before the wedding, feed them (possibly ply them with some wine) and make your arrangements.
Find some tutorials and REALLY read them. I mean REALLY REALLY read them.
Incidentally, I have a whole bunch of DIY floral tutorials right HERE! 🙂
Do your homework. Scour the internet for good tutorials and make sure you’ve read them carefully so that there are no surprises. Make notes. Make a list of the supplies they use (no, you cannot forgo the floral tape on your centerpieces or they WILL slide away when you transport them). Make sure your helpers have read them and know what to do. Make a PLAN.
Don’t forget that you will need buckets and shears (or really sharp scissors) to prepare and store your flowers before they are arranged. Leave time for that step!
If you order your flowers wholesale, they will likely arrive looking less than perfect. This is normal: you need to remove the outer petals of some flowers, and properly re-cut and hydrate them all. Make sure you have help for this because it is A LOT OF WORK.
Some of the basic tools and supplies I recommend are:
- Large, clean buckets (ideally at least 4, depending on the amount of flowers you are using, so that the flowers can open up without being crowded)
- Floral shears, a sharp knife, or a pair of sharp scissors
- Flower food
- A cool place to store them!
- Waterproof floral tape (for securing your floral foam in your containers)
- Floral foam (the good stuff, not the dollar store kind – trust me!)
- Containers for your arrangements (vases, compotes, whatever you’re using)
- Ribbon, pins, and a glue gun (for bouquets and boutonnières)
Logistically, don’t forget that you will need to transport both your unarranged and assembled flowers. Pick them up a few days before your event so that they have time to fully open and look gorgeous when it comes time to arrange them.
In short, have a plan.
Follow the (basic) rules of aesthetics and floral design.
Even if you aren’t a florist, you can still get a beautiful result by observing a few basic rules:
- Things look good in odd numbers.
- Each arrangement should have a few focal (“ka-pow!”) blooms, a few filler blooms with varying bloom sizes, 2-3 types of greenery, and some taller “line” flowers (unless you are doing a really low, round centrepiece). Go look at grocery store bouquets – even they follow these principles, generally.
- Add greenery for interest and cost-effectiveness.
- Use different textures. (Not all ruffly flowers or spiky flowers or velvety flowers.)
It all sounds a little daunting but I promise you that with the right preparation and attitude, you can get gorgeous floral arrangements for your wedding or event. Let me know in the comments if you have a specific question or fear about doing your own flowers. I can help!
Still want to DIY your flowers… but need a little extra guidance?
I offer DIY wedding and event consultation! I can help you figure out what style of arrangements will work for your event, how much help you’ll need, create custom tutorials or give workshops, and help you decide what to order.
I’m now off to put in my floral order for a friend’s upcoming wedding… Have a wonderful weekend!