After writing three parts about the seemingly never-ending drama surrounding our wedding flowers, I thought it might be encouraging for those of you considering the DIY flower route to compile a list of tips.
Coming from the other side, I can't guarantee that it will be easy. In fact, I'd like to guarantee that it won't be easy. Realistic? Yes. Depressing? No.
Despite the drama and difficulties we faced due to our decision to go DIY, I wouldn't change a thing. So, you ambitious amateur florists, here's some things to keep in mind:
- Don't be intimidated. People make such a big deal about flowers but they're not scary. If you've done your research, it's nothing to panic about. Everyone has a florist hidden inside them somewhere. So don't listen to all the people that will tell you that "doing your own flowers will stress you out like crazy. And who wants stress the day before their wedding?" No one. Good thing flowers aren't that stressful.
- Do them the day before. Unless your wedding is at 9 pm, chances are you won't have enough time to arrange on the big day. Plus, it's good for the flowers to be freshly cut and soaked overnight before the wedding because it keeps them looking fresh.
- Have help. Lots of it. Your hands will thank you. If I'd had to hold that bouquet for 40 minutes by myself, my fingers may have fallen off. Plus, without help, it would likely take upwards of 5 hours.
- Use your help. If you're anything like me, you'll think you can do it all yourself. There's no point in having helpers if you're going to insist upon arranging each and every bouquet personally. Have the final say before the bouquets get taped if you want, but let your helpers divide the brunt of the work amongst themselves.
(all photos by our wedding photographer; click images to enlarge)
- Step away. Get one of your helpers to hold the bouquet a few feet away from you so you can see what it really looks like. I held my bouquet for 30 minutes straight but it wasn't until one of the girls took it from me and stood back that I could really see what it looked like. After that, I was able to better judge where flowers needed to be added to fill holes.
- Have tons of rubber bands on hand. I mentioned before how most people insist upon taping the bouquets as each flower or two is added, but as an indecisive person, this never would have works for me. It took me about 10 minutes to get the bouquet together and I spend the next 40 picking out certain stems to move them here or there, adding different types or colors, and just a whole lot of general rearranging. If you rubber band the bouquet when you think you might be done, you can step back and take a look without it falling apart but it also gives you the chance to make changes.
- It doesn't have to be perfect from all sides. No matter what I did, there was one side of my bouquet that didn't look quite right. Instead of trying to add more flowers to the already full bouquet, I just decided to hold it from a different angle. (Adding a brooch or pin of some sort will help you remember which side is the front on the wedding day.)
- I said it before and I'll say it again: be flexible with your flower selection. If you're depending on grocery stores or Farmer's markets like I did, you'll want to have a few different ideas lined up. I didn't get the wildflower bouquet I was thinking of, but I'd seen so many other bouquets that I knew peonies and spider mums would work. Typically, grocery stores don't stock certain sought after flowers like Calla Lillies or peonies, so be prepared for that. If you have your heart set on something, make sure you pre-order. You can still arrange them yourself, but at least you'll have the guarantee that your favorites will be there.
- Buy floral tape. Lots of it. Normal tape probably won't cut it. And if you want things to be extra secure, buy floral wire and corsage pins from a place like Michaels or Wal-Mart.
- When in doubt, add foliage. Even if its stuff you collect from your backyard (like we did), it'll add some dimension to the bouquets and provides a cheap way to fill out a bouquet if you're on a strict budget. And hell, even if you're not on a budget, it looks cool.
- Most importantly, stay calm and do what feels right regardless of your preconceived notions about what kind of flowers you'd have or what shape the bouquets would be. Remember that, despite all your careful planning, DIY projects don't always turn out exactly how you think they will. But keep in mind that this doesn't mean your flowers will be any less amazing than you were hoping they'd be.
(I say this, specifically, because I would have loved for someone to remind me of this very fact when I was freaking out at the grocery store...)