What I Wish I Knew Before My DIY Wedding Flowers
When I was planning my wedding I knew I wanted to do my own flowers. My main motivation was saving money, but ultimately the flowers became one of my favorite parts of the wedding. Even with minimal flower experience I had plenty of time and was willing to learn and practice. It wasn’t perfect but I was able to pull it off with help from sisters, parents and friends (key to the process!). So if you have a do-it-yourself mind, time to research and learn about flower arranging, you can totally do your own wedding flowers.
DIY Wedding Flower Tips and Advice
Do Your Research
- Get inspiration! This is fun because wedding flowers are beautiful. You could spend hours on Pinterest browsing bouquets and centerpieces. Start saving ideas early and periodically go through and “clean up” anything that no longer appeals to you. You’ll probably start noticing some patterns and trends you like that show up again and again.
- What flowers are in season? Before you get your heart set on a certain bloom, make sure you know what is actually available when your event will take place.
- What flowers complement your color palette? Your flowers don’t have to match your wedding colors exactly but they should work together with the rest of the decor or attire. Pink and red were not part of my color scheme but in the end I loved the way they added color to the white and peach arrangements.
- What flowers are difficult to work with? What flowers are most sturdy and forgiving? Not everything you see on Pinterest or in wedding magazines will work in real life. A fresh, alive version of your second choice will look much better than your dead, crumpled first choice.
Set a Budget
- Doing your own wedding flowers can save you thousands of dollars, but that doesn’t mean it will be cheap. What is realistic will really depend on the size of your wedding and venue space. I spent about $1500 total for flowers and vases for a 140 person wedding and 2 large floors of space to decorate. This included 20 larger centerpieces, 15 medium arrangements, 50 bud vases and 1 bridal bouquet. A friend I helped later had about the same number of people and event space but spent a lot less, about $1000 total. This included 20 medium centerpieces, 40 bud vases, 5 bouquets and 10 boutonnieres. Live ferns were used in between arrangements to stretch the flowers a bit further.
- Include all supplies and floral containers in your budget. Vases, sheers, floral foam, flower food, etc. Expect this to be about 1/3 of your total budget.
- In love with an expensive flower? Decide if there’s a way to incorporate this bloom in a cost-effective way. Maybe you use it in just your bouquets to save money on centerpieces. Or less flowers and more cheaper greens. If it’s out of budget completely just keep it in perspective and ask yourself – will this flower make or break my wedding?
- Use a spreadsheet to help calculate expenses. Here’s a Flower Planning Google Doc to get you started. The first tab is helpful for comparing pricing from different sites. The second tab is for when you’re further into planning figuring out how many flowers you need per piece.
Pick Vessels or Vases
- You’ll need an idea of what types of arrangements you like before you choose containers. Loose and organic arrangements can be done in glass with natural stems showing. Something more structured may need an opaque container to hide floral foam. Low arrangements may hide the container altogether so plastic can be used.
- Check out IKEA. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, IKEA has great prices on glass vases. The 3 below are $4, $5 and $10 from left to right. The more expensive $10 vase does look nicer but once it’s full of flowers it’s very hard to tell the difference between the $4 vase.
Practice – With Your Vases
- Buy cheap flowers and greens from the grocery store or farmers market and try out some of those arrangements you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest. Check out the many online resources and follow along with tutorial videos to practice. Hands on practice will give you the best idea of what you and your helpers will be able to handle the day of arranging.
Order Early From Multiple Sources
- If you’re ordering online you might be able to order as late as 1 week prior to your delivery, but don’t wait that long! Certain flowers may have limited availability which means the price may go up as more people order, or it can sell out completely. Ordering 1 month before your event will give you enough time for a backup plan just in case.
- If you want to get the best prices you’ll need to shop around and order from multiple places. You don’t have to be concerned with shipping since it’s typically free for fresh flowers. Here are some of the places I ordered from – with the exception of #5, all these sources delivered great quality flowers, on time:
- Whole Blossoms – garden roses and ranunculus
- Global Rose – roses
- Sam’s Club – roses, spray roses, greens
- Fifty Flowers – spray roses
- Fabulous Florals – amaranthus, eucalyptus, riceflower. I found this site to have the best prices for smaller quantities, but quality was a bit lower than the other sources. I was still able to use most or all that I ordered but it was not quite as fresh.
- Space to prep and arrange. The ideal place would be somewhere near your venue, where someone will be home to receive shipments a few days before, with space to make a mess, and somewhere cool (or with AC) to store everything. You can process and arrange somewhere outside or in a garage, but you’ll need somewhere cooler (if spring/summer) to store the flowers while they hydrate.
- Transportation. Obviously you’ll need a way to get your beautiful flowers to the event! It’s a good idea to save the boxes your flowers arrive in to use as vase carriers. Otherwise any short, wide box will work. Find a couple of volunteers with a large SUV who can transport the arrangements to the venue.. ideally not you since you will be busy with a million other things the day before and day of the wedding.
- Follow recommended delivery dates and process flowers as soon as possible for best results. Flowers need to fully hydrate after their stressful shipping journey. Most sites will give a recommended date 2-3 days prior to your event depending on the flower.
- The day before your wedding (not the day of!) is the best time to arrange. Expect that this will take about half a day. If you’ve processed your flowers properly everything will still be looking beautiful the next day, and probably several days after.
- Have a back up plan for flowers that show up DOA. Since you will likely receive your orders 2-3 days in advance, that should leave a bit of a cushion in case you need to grab some extra stems somewhere local. It’s not a bad idea to send an idle family member to Costco or the grocery store for a few extra bunches of filler flowers just in case.
- Family and friends already in town for your wedding will be happy to help! You really don’t need a huge army – about 4-6 people helping is perfect. It’s really not necessary for anyone to have experience with flowers as long as they can follow directions, but it is nice if you have some friends with design experience or a “good eye” for what looks good. A good portion of the work is just manual labor anyway – cutting stems, removing foliage and thorns. Anyone with a good attitude can do it!
Have Fun and Let it Go
- The day of arranging, enjoy the process! You’re surrounded by buckets of fresh flowers with friends and family who love you. Make an example or two of each piece and give everyone a list of how many and which flowers go where (refer to the spreadsheet!). Understand that every arrangement will not be EXACTLY the same, and that’s ok. Your wedding will go on, and truly no one will even notice 🙂