asked me the other day what my biggest wedding nightmare
was, based on my eight year experience in the industry.
I hesitated and thought. No obvious mishaps came to mind
until I remembered my own wedding. I created all my own
wedding florals and took extra care to include in each of
the bridesmaids' bouquets, the same flowers and the same
number of flowers - there had been a few issues between
the gals during the weeks before the wedding. Upon finishing
up the flowers that evening, my Mother turned to me and
asked where my bouquet was - there were only three bouquets
made. I realized with dread that in all the concern with
my bridesmaids, I had forgotten my own bouquet! Yikes! Thank
goodness I was being married in my Mother-in-law's garden,
whereby I roamed with clippers in hand and had a fresh cut
I meet with Brides for the first time, I cringe if they
say that Aunt Bunny will be creating the corsages and that
cousins John & Hal will be doing the centerpieces. I remember
my mistake on my big day, and know that the more responsibility
you give your family and friends (as well as yourself),
the more difficulties you open yourself to. Friends and
family are not necessarily the best equipped to handle problems
which may occur, such as fixing tired flowers before they
are to be placed on the tables or touching up the water
level in a vase due to "spillage en route". If you are going
to recruit friends and family to make your wedding flowers,
chose the people who have a green thumb or "eye" for decor/design.
They can probably give you some good ideas, too.
can probably tell by now, I am not an advocate of "doing
it yourself" with regards to the florals at your own wedding,
but if this is your only option, then I have a few considerations
Remember that wedding days can be particularly emotional
for the women in the family (usually the people you have
helping out with the flowers), and you have no idea what
your Mother or Aunt will be capable of the few days before
- they may be too emotional and/or they may have existing
duties playing hostess to out of town guests.
The same goes for you, the Bride. Almost every Bride I speak
with after their big day, says that they were emotionally
different than what they expected to be - calm woman can
be tear ridden with joy and emotional women can be stoic
and quiet. Also, have you considered the fact that working
with flowers the night before the wedding can leave green
stains on your hands? Not to mention the havoc that wiring
stems and stripping roses can wreak on your nice manicure.
Things take much longer than expected. When I am doing a
big wedding, a standard floral centerpiece can take 20 -
30 minutes just to green. If you have say, 20 tables then
you should budget one person seven hours just to prep the
oasis and trays and arrange the greenery.
Overnight storage of the finished (or partially) finished
product is not a last minute consideration. Bouquets should
not be kept in the fridge unless it is almost completely
empty and has been recently cleaned - food smells can be
invasive and some smells may become embedded in the petals.
Things in fridges also drip - make sure you place the flowers
on the top shelf. Never put the flowers at the back of the
fridge. A Bride I once knew did this and awoke the day of
her wedding to frozen flowers! All flowers should be stored
in a cool, dry place with minimal light, like a basement
or enclosed garage.
Animals and small children should be kept away from the
flowers during prepping and assembly. Many a stray rose
thorn can be bothersome to tiny feet and paws. Dogs can
be particularly hairy at certain times of the year which
means that the flowers are like magnets to air borne hair.
Prep and condition your flowers before you begin working.
Some flowers may need to be bought several days in advance
to open - freesia, lily, alstromeria, some roses, peonies
and tulips to name a few. While some flowers have particular
conditioning requirements, most need to be cut on a sharp
angle with a clean knife as soon as you get them home and
placed immediately in tepid water for 4 - 6 hours or longer.
Roses should be stripped of their thorns and leaves, especially
the bottom half. Hand rose strippers are found at florist
supply stores for around $3.00 - $5.00+ (this is a wise
investment if you are planning to use a lot of roses). Other
flowers should be picked clean of any dead stem or leaf
bits, as well, the bottom leaves should be removed in order
to keep the water clean.
Depending on what you are creating, generally anything that
sits in oasis can be made up to 2 days in advance, or you
can have the arrangements "greened" well in advance and
add the flower blooms last minute. Bouquets and corsages
should not be made until the morning of your wedding. Or,
you could do the bouquets the night before and sit them
in water overnight, then finish them (tie or wrap the stems)
in the morning.
A good way to make a basic hand held bouquet is to assembly
small, "mini" bouquets, each with 3 to 5 blooms, held together
with floral tape. Then take 5 or 7 of the "mini" bouquets
and place them together as if they were individual flowers.
Once you have them arranged, you can decide whether or not
to add more "minis" or take some away. Tie them together
first with floral tape, then again with wire. You will have
to hide the tape & wire with a ribbon.
One of my favorite things to see at weddings is a bouquet
put together as the bride walks down the aisle. This is
an excellent consideration if you are on a strict budget,
but it does take some time to plan ahead. Ask each significant
friend or family member (about 10 - 15 people total) to
bring a fresh cut bloom from their garden, or their favorite
flower to the ceremony. Supply each with a floral plug a
few days before the wedding (this is readily available at
craft stores, or floral supply shops and is an individual
tiny vase for a single stem). Have them bring their bloom
of choice in the water filled plug and sit right on the
aisle at the ceremony. As the Bride (that's you) walks down
the aisle, she collects the blooms and as the bundle of
flowers grows, the Mom(s) can add the last bloom(s) and
tie it off with a nice ribbon. Voila! - a group bouquet
which doesn't leave a dry eye in the house. You can request
that they remove the flower plugs just before they hand
you the bloom. You may also want to put someone in charge
of organizing this - phoning to remind them the day before,
suggesting a standard length of the flower and finding out
what flowers people are bringing so that nothing outrageous
like half a rose tree is handed to you while heading down
Think about the age-old trade off between time and money.
If you save money on wedding flowers by doing them yourself,
are you okay with the fact that the last few days before
the wedding will be extra busy, leaving limited time with
family and friends?
A great (seasonal) centerpiece idea - a bunch of smaller
terra cotta pots (painted or not) with bedding plants in
them. If you are having 10 guests at each table, plant up
the same number of pots (10) with nice plants like geraniums,
Johnny jump-ups, miniature roses, herbs or impatience to
name a few. They don't all have to be the same. All are
readily available in the spring & summer. Each pot can be
taken home by the individual guests after the wedding, but
during the reception they are bunched together on the middle
of the guest tables as the centerpieces. You are using them
twice. These should be planted up about 3 weeks before the
wedding so they settle in. depending where you live, keep
them moist and out of too much sun or shade (depends on
the plant). Also ask your local nursery about deadheading
- this is the removal of spent blooms in order to encourage
new growth. Tell the nursery you would like the plants in
full bloom in three weeks - should you deadhead now, or