What is the main reason most people decide to take the ‘Do It Yourself’ approach to their wedding decor? The cost! With the average cost of a wedding for 2020 at $30,433, it’s no wonder couples try to save somewhere, and the decor is one place that typically gets cut by doing the decorating yourself. But, is this a good idea for your wedding? It depends.
In this article, we will specifically focus on DIY wedding flowers, the pros and cons of doing them yourself, and what you should know to be prepared if you are going to tackle the wedding flowers without a florist.
The average cost of wedding flowers in 2020 is $2061 (or 7-8% of your wedding budget). It’s hard to say how much of that average comes from the actual cost of flowers vs a florist’s markup for the cost of running their business and the labor fee. Each florist charges differently. We Curate reports that many in the industry do 3x markup on flowers, 2x markup on hard-goods, and 20% labor. Keep in mind that this is not your florist trying to be greedy and make a killing off your wedding, but that a lot goes into that pricing formula and it is not pure profit for them. However, that does mean that there is room for savings if you order the flowers and do the labor yourself.
Hiring a florist has several benefits:
They have connections with many wholesalers, fellow florists, and farmers to order the best varieties from.
They have expertise and lots of practice to get an arrangement to look like that Pinterest picture you’ve had your eye on.
They have a trained staff to help.
A flower shop, cooler, or area to store the flowers to keep them fresh.
Knowledge of how to prep the flowers so they don’t wilt on the day of.
They spend the time on the arrangements while you enjoy time with your family and friends.
They know how to handle last minute stressful situations (ie the wholesaler called last minute and doesn’t have your roses available).
They have a knack for the principles of design to make beautiful arrangements.
They have worked with many flowers and know what varieties match your wedding colors and will go well with other flowers
Bridal Musings put it best when they said:
Florists train for years, know their blooms inside out, and have lots of experience. They’ll be at the flower market while you’re still fast asleep, they’ll go to lengths to find the perfect hue to match your palette, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll know how to deal with a flower related emergency, without breaking a sweat.
That being said, if you think you have the knack, creativity, and time to do-it-yourself, let's get you prepared on the how.
The first step will be to make a plan and do your research. Here is a list of 10 ways to prepare for doing your own wedding flowers.
Bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, arch flowers, etc.
Brides.com offers a great checklist of all the arrangements you might need to plan for the bridal party, ceremony, and reception. Check it out here.
If you have a lot of people with experience who are willing to help you with the flower prep, you may be able to do many of these items. However, it is generally best to keep things simple. If you have dreams of your ceremony, receptions, and loved ones being decked out in flowers, it may be time to consult with a florist.
There are a lot of tutorials out there to watch for each different kind of arrangement. I would recommend watching several tutorials that go over how to create the style of arrangement you like. It may also be a good idea to spend some time practicing so you do not get frustrated if you turn out not to be the budding florist you thought you were. You can always look for local workshops that teach the basics of flower arranging- these will be skills you can keep with you for life.
Flowers such as roses and carnations come in almost every color. You can read Michael Putnam’s Flower Color Guide, or take a look at a glossary of wedding flowers by color online. Simply searching Pinterest for right flowers may not be helpful as the flower types are often not labeled. Searching for a ‘bouquet breakdown’ or ‘flower recipe’ could be helpful in identifying the flowers in an arrangement. Don’t forget to do research on greenery as well.
There are many places to purchase flowers in bulk. Some common places brides order flowers from are:
There are a lot of other options out there. Many grocery stores are able to help you with ordering flowers in bulk and there are plenty of options online. Just be sure to read up on customer reviews before deciding who to go with. This will also help you know how the flowers will come in- for example, they may be in full bloom, or many need a few days to open up.
There is always the option to mix and match and get different types of flowers from different wholesalers.
After determining how the scale of your arrangements, pick a few flower and greenery types to work with. It is best to keep it simple and have less variety in the flower types if you are doing it yourself. Try to keep an open mind about which flowers you will use. The most popular are not always the cheapest or easiest to work with. Be sure to research to look into hardy flowers (that will not wilt easily) and how to care for the specific flower types you are getting. Some examples of durable flowers are:
Some flowers that require a bit more attention and care:
For example, there are 5 white roses for each centerpiece, 3 for my bouquet, and 10 for the arch focal point.
Again, this would be a good place to do some research on flower recipes for different types of arrangements and watch tutorials to get a feel for how many stems typically go in an arrangement. Centerpieces will vary depending on the look you are going for. A good rule of thumb for a bridal bouquet, according to weddinglovely.com is to have:
10 stems of wedding flowers for a small bouquet, 18-20 stems for medium, and 25-30 stems for large.
This can be done prior to picking the flowers if desired. Cheap vases can be found by looking at thrift stores, a local dollar store, or borrowing from friends and family (many people have a collection under their kitchen sink). If you’re not picky about vase type and are willing to have an assortment, it is a great way to save money. Don’t forget the tools and hard-goods you will need to create your arrangements. You made need to prep the following hard-goods and tools:
Clippers (something to cut thicker stems, regular stems, and separate scissors for ribbon)
A garbage can or tarp and broom, as well as other cleaning supplies (I like to keep Clorox wipes around)
Wire: straight wire to keep stems upright and paddle-wire if you are doing any sort of garland.
Clear floral tape for vase structuring
Corsage and boutonniere pins
A towel to dry off the bouquets so they don’t drip on your dress
A watering can
Floral food or floral spray to keep the flowers fresh
Thorn stripper- to get the thorns and leaves off without hurting your hands
Gloves if desired
Floral foam if necessary
An example timeline would be: Thursday- pick up flowers and prep centerpiece vases, add flowers to centerpieces if in water, Friday- make bouquets that can be kept in water, boutonnieres that can be kept cool, and flower girl crowns, Saturday- set up the ceremony flowers including arch flowers, lay out table arrangements, wrap the bouquets with ribbon and let dry, don’t forget broom to clean up last minute stems.
Floral design is something that has to be done last minute (unless you opt for fake flowers) and you will likely not be able to do it on your own. Make sure you have people willing to help in the days and hours leading up to the wedding, and that they also know what they are doing. You’ll also want to make sure you have someone reliable to transport the flowers. Keep the car they ride in cool, drive slow and cautiously, and take the time to pad the arrangements so they don’t slide around or tip while driving.
Remove leaves from the bottom ⅔ of the stem so they do not sit in the water
Give the stems a fresh cut before placing them in the water with clean sharp clippers at a 45 degree angle. Some types of flowers will require the stems to be cut underwater, seared, or placed in boiling water for the best results for longevity.
Store the flowers in a cool, dry place. Keep this area dark for flowers that experience phototropism (growing toward the sun) such as sunflowers, ranunculus, snapdragons, and anemones.
Keep the stems in water as long as possible.
Doing your wedding flowers yourself can be rewarding for sure. However, it is a big undertaking and many are not up to the amount of work that can be required for it. If this is sounding like it is not for you, know that there are other ways to trim your wedding budget. If you decide to go with a florist, know that they are very capable of working within a budget and can take a lot of stress off your shoulders if you are willing to trust them with your big day.
Of course there are alternatives to having flowers at your wedding, and some people simply choose to go without.
Flowers help create the mood of a wedding. It can turn a room into something classy, elegant, and beautiful, modern, fun, eccentric, whatever your style happens to be. When people walk into your ceremony they will be wow-ed by the atmosphere created by fragrance and enjoy the experience of being around one of the simple joys of nature.
True, wedding flowers may not last forever, but they do make a lasting impression on your guests and are forever in the photographs you will share with your family and friends for many years thereafter.