Advice for DIY brides

At the last bridal fair I participated in I was asked a unique question. One of the Dad’s that was walking through with his daughter asked me what my approach to DIY brides was. To be honest I have never received a question like that before so I was not entirely sure on how to answer it. The more that I have thought about it the more I feel it is a topic that is ignored by a lot people. Especially being in Southern California, since the Flower Market is available for non-trade shoppers there are many brides who choice to do DIY flowers.

First I would like to give a little insight to what goes into “wedding flowers”. Flowers are a living thing and they do have a proper way to care and handle them. Each type of flower has a specific life length and it is the job of the florist to know exactly how long it takes each type of flower to open and when the best day to get them is. This may sound strange however I will get some flowers the Monday prior to a wedding if they need that long to open. Lilies are a perfect example! Depending on the weather, if it is sunny I will get them on a Tuesday prior to the wedding, process them (clean the leaves off, cut at a sharp angle, hydrate them) and baby them for the entire week! Multiple times a day I clean of any pollen as each bloom opens, I change the water every two days or so and give them a fresh cut and I move them multiple times a day to prevent them from sitting in the sun. Not all flowers need to be babied like lilies but how long does it take for a rose to open? Okay, that is a trick question! Voodoo roses (an amazing orange rose) opens very quickly but a Freedom rose (my favorite bright red rose) takes an extra day or two to open.

Let’s take a step back, the months and weeks prior to a wedding also bring a lot of work for a florist. There is more planning then you would think that goes into purchasing the flowers. For each type of arrangement (centerpiece, arch piece, aisle décor, bridesmaid bouquet) a recipe is created. This helps to determine how many bunches of flowers you need to purchase. BUT not all flower varieties come in the same size bunch. For instance, roses come packed 25 (in most cases, specialty colors sometimes come in 20 stems) while calla lilies come packed with 10 stems. This is a very important piece of info since you do not want to under order or over order any flowers.

There are also many small things to consider, do you know the best way to use floral tape for when making boutonnieres and corsages? This REALLY is something people do not consider, it takes getting used to and it look really bad if it is not done right! Do you know what type of flowers work well for flowers to wear? Not all flowers can be used as boutonnieres since some will wilt very quickly without a water source.  What about all the random tools and supplies you need? Do you need a bridal bouquet holder for the flowers you are going to use? Or do you have the wire, container tape, floral tape, floral foam, floral glue or “glue dots” used behind the scenes?  Also what about set-up? Will you have to place all the centerpieces, decorate an arch AND don’t forget most venues do have a limited time that they allow people to use the area. I really do not want to scare any brides but these are all stresses that can come up while getting your flowers the days leading up to your wedding.

So what is my advice? Make a sample a few months prior to your wedding. This is a great way to see if you want to invest the time in making 15 centerpieces or 5 bridesmaid bouquets. Be sure to make a sample of the centerpiece, one bouquet (to see how large it will be and if it looks like you want it to), and don’t forget the boutonniere. You may think all this is overkill BUT it will take the pressure off you the days prior to your wedding.  This also allows for time to consider hiring a florist to make your vision come to life. If you still want to create your own centerpieces consider ordering your personal flowers from a florist. The bouquets and boutonnieres are in most of the pictures and nobody wants them to be an eyesore! You will have many last minute things to do the days leading up to your wedding and do you really want to stress about the flowers or have them appear the day of all perfect and ready to be enjoyed?

Really quickly… I am a trained floral designer, have worked on countless weddings, worked many valentines days and other holidays and I am also a newlywed (okay, not quite still a newlywed since I just had my 1 year anniversary, but still!). I DID MY OWN WEDDING FLOWERS AND I WAS STRESSED ABOUT IT! I have all the supplies, know how long flowers take to open, knew what to order and still the day before the wedding came and I had SO much work to do… thankfully I had some amazing helpers otherwise I do not know how I would have pulled it off! Luckily our reception was at our home so I was able to set up the day prior but this also meant the house need to be cleaned, my “floral mess” I created had to be cleaned very well AND I have to sleep at least a little right?! It was a lot of work and I had my dream wedding.

This was my “sample” centerpiece…

And what I did after deciding to make a  few changes…. at the end of the night the tables were messy, but in a great way!

Sorry for the long post! 🙂


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