Arranging My Own Wedding Flowers
When planning a wedding, so many soon to be brides and grooms look for ways to save money. Some couples will opt to do DIY projects, some will cut down their guest lists, and some will choose to have a microwedding. While the term "affordability" is relative to your budget, it is no secret the wedding industry is not cheap.
While planning my own wedding, my fiance and I were in a similar position as so many others. We decided one of the areas where we could try to save was with florals. I definitely wanted flowers in my centerpieces and for our wedding party. It was one of those nonnegotiable decorations I had envisioned being part of our big day but we knew they would be pricey. According to The Knot, wedding flowers on average cost around $2,000 depending on the type of flowers you get and how many. This was less than ideal for our budget, so early on I decided we would be creating our own floral arrangements.
*Disclaimer: While this article talks about how to create your own flower arrangements, there are many talented and locally owned floral shops in the Pittsburgh area. So if you have the budget to check them out, go for it! The talent of these local florists is incredible!*
Doing our own flowers led to a lot of google searches on flower arrangement. The first step was trying to decide how to choose which types of flowers to buy. I knew I wanted bright colors and plenty of greenery, but how the hell was I going to know the difference between a spray rose from a garden rose. Why are there so many types of roses? How many stems do I need for a vase? How many for a bridesmaid bouquet? Boutonnieres seemed easy but how the **** do I make a corsage. These are just a few questions that went through my mind and my search bar.
So I got to work. The first thing I did was practice. My fiance and I took a trip to Trader Joe's to grab some flowers and size up our project. At TJs's, we grabbed four types of flowers and some eucalyptus as our greenery. We already had the vases we were using and I had some leftover ribbon and safety pins, so the example cost about $22 to create. This practice step ended up being really important. It allowed me to see what we did not want to use (hydrangeas) and what we did want to (pincushion proteas). It gave me a good idea of how many stems (flowers and greenery) I would need per vase and per bouquet, it allowed me to know what colors I wanted to pair, and it gave me an idea of what not to do when arranging.
So after my Trader Joe's practice arrangement I spent the next few months googling and reading reviews. Brides who made their own flowers shared many tips on what they did such as buying Lowe's hardware buckets to store the flowers when they arrived and how early they had their bulk orders delivered. I spent a lot of time on Costco, Sam's Club, Fifty Flowers, and Flower Moxie websites to compare pricing, variety, and seasonal options. I would save them in my cart and go back in a few weeks to see if I still liked those colors and types together then would switch up as I learned more.
One of the websites I mentioned, Flower Moxie, became a bigger resource than I had expected. The site provides so many resources for arranging your own flowers including video tutorials and step by step guides. The website also has a really awesome feature that allows you to shop by collection. When shopping by collection, you have the ability to choose different "themes" of flowers that you feel best suit the style of your event. From there, you can choose the size of your package and customize it with add ons. I used their vibrant, bright and cheerful collection to help me understand the different types of flowers I should be looking for and buying for my wedding. While they are a good resource for flowers, I did not want to purchase my flowers from Flower Moxie due to their $350 order minimum. I wanted to diversify where I bought from in case something were to run late or arrive wilted and with their order minimum I would have forced me to purchase all my florals from them, so I only used the site for their online resources.
After weeks of research and planning, it was finally time to order. I did save many of the flowers I had wanted already in my cart so when the day came I could review and fix them if needed. I ended up using Sam's Club instead of Costco because they had much more variety. The prices between both warehouses were very comparable that it did not really matter for my budget if I had chosen one over the other. But Sam's offered so much more that I was looking for it just made sense to go with them.
In addition to Sam's, I also ordered from Fifty Flowers. This is another online flower shop that allows you to order in bulk. I had read enough reviews and seen enough promising photos that I felt comfortable ordering from the site. Looking back, I wish I would have done a test order of some of their less expensive flowers to make sure they would arrive in good shape and proper timing but it worked out just fine.
I ordered the flowers about three weeks out from the big day. For some brides, this sounds terrifying. It is. I was slightly anxious that I had to wait until so close to my wedding day to order. Sam's only allows flowers in bulk to be ordered a few weeks in advance but I had trust in the system. If you are worried about ordering so close, Fifty Flowers does allow for orders to be placed up to two years in advance so there are plenty of options for ordering online.
I set my delivery date for the Thursday before the wedding to allow some time for the flowers to open. Overall I spent about $900 total on flowers (including the last minute Sam's run - details coming soon) and about $100 on supplies. What I ordered is below.
48 Stems of Ranunculus, Hot Pink
50 Stems of Mini Carnations, Red
60 Stems of Spray Roses, Orange
36 Stems of Garden Roses, Romantic Antique
36 Stems of Ranunculus, Coral
100 Stems of Craspedia
6 Bunches of Hearts of Fire (Approx. 48 Stems of Pincushion Proteas and Spider Mums)
50 Stems of Blue Thistles
20 Bunches of Assorted California Greens (Approx. 275-300 stems)
Wedding week arrived and I was ready to arrange some flowers! The flowers arrived earlier than anticipated on Thursday morning, which was great because it allowed almost a full 24 hours for the flowers to open up. I counted the boxes and we were missing one, the mini carnations. I received an email saying they were delayed in South America due to a hurricane. There was no time to panic because I knew there was a lot of work to be done and we did not yet know what the flowers in the boxes looked like. We started to open the boxes so we could cut the flowers and get them into buckets of water. Everything looked great as we made our way through each box. The only concern I had was that the ranunculuses were smaller than I had expected and it did not look like they would be greatly expanding. I still wanted to include them but I knew we could not fill the vases with those, so my fiance and I decided he would pick up some brightly colored bouquets the next morning to fill in.
The Friday before the wedding, I had enlisted 9 family members and friends to help with the arrangements. We needed 16 vases, 10 boutonnieres, 6 bridesmaids bouquets, 6 wrist corsages, and 2 hearts made of flowers for the flower girls. I had a plan on the order I wanted to work on everything. Four of us worked on the bouquets, while two worked on the boutonnieres and those were done within 50 minutes. When my aunts arrived, we set up an assembly line so two people were cutting flowers and acting as helping hands, three were arranging centerpieces, two were working on boutonnieres, and two were working on the flower girl flowers. All in all, the flower arranging process took about 3.5 hours and we were able to accomplish everything we needed to!
We stored the bridesmaids' bouquets in buckets and in a walk-in refrigerator until the next morning. The hearts, bouts, and corsages went into regular fridges and the centerpieces were stored at the venue in their walk-in refrigerator. We also sent the leftover flowers to the venue in case any centerpieces needed to be touched up the next day. Everything held up really well overnight and looked great the next day.
All in all, I was extremely satisfied with the flowers! We spent just right around $1,000 for everything and the amount we accomplished in just a few hours was like an adrenaline rush. There were small things that could have been better; our pedestal centerpieces did not hide the lomey dish the flowers were arranged on (see picture), and the hearts looked a little bare with so little flowers, so I wish we would have just done greenery on those. For only two things to not go as planned, though, I was still very happy!
Arranging your own flowers is definitely a labor of love. It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of preparation so if it is something you are interested in be sure to know what you are getting into. I would recommend practicing more than once on every arrangement you plan on making, and doing practice orders to make sure the flowers will arrive on time and in good condition.
When it came to having extra hands, you definitely need to trust the people you are asking to help arrange. I was like a hawk watching everyone and, while they understood my anxiety, they were probably not appreciative of me breathing down their necks. In fact, one friend actually explained to us that we needed to pop a wire into the head of every rose and wrap it around the stem to ensure its stability. I would have never known to do that without her help. And if someone wants to help but they do not trust themselves arranging then there are always other jobs for them. They can be the person cutting the stems down to be put into the arrangements. It is also good to have a person or two hanging out ready to run and grab extra flowers or supplies if needed. Any helping hand is beneficial in a situation like this!
I am also really happy that I prepped my prep tools ahead of time. We needed floral tape, shears, vases, wet foam, lomey dishes, wire, pins, wrist corsages, floral wire, scotch tape, and so much more. I ordered stuff weeks in advance and organized it in a "flower prepping" bin so we would have everything together for the big day. When you do your research on flowers, be sure to do research on the tools you will need as well.
If you are looking at an area to save some money in your budget and feel that you are able to do your own flower arrangements, go for it! Overall, I am very satisfied with the way my wedding flowers turned out and we saved upwards of $1,500. If I had the chance to do it over again, I would not change a thing!
TL:DR/You're Here For Instructions
I arranged my own wedding flowers for under $1,000 and I would do it all over again if I could! Below are some basic instructions for how you can arrange your too.
Research colors and arrangements you would want and practice, practice, practice arranging flowers (I recommend flower moxie for color combos and DIY tutorials).
Make a list of everything you need. Build your cart and select a delivery date for at least two days before your wedding or event.
Gather all the supplies you need to prep the arrangements. Here are a basics kit, corsage wristlets, and wet foam to get you started.
Recruit helpers for the day of arranging. You cannot do this by yourself the day before your wedding!
The day the flowers arrive, cut the stems and place them into buckets of water so they can bloom overnight.
Arrangement day! Have a process in your head, have a list of everything you need, and get to arranging.
Step back and take it in once it's over. Be proud of the flowers you arranged!
Bask in the glory as everyone compliments your flowers at your wedding or event!
Photographer: Haley Elizabeth Photography
Brides Bouquet: L & M Flower Shop
Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie and Birdy Grey
Bridal Dress: Bhldn, Willowby By Watters Collection