Wedding flowers - Planning and budget

Wedding websites and magazines offer a lot of advice to couples about planning wedding flowers. Most of it is not advice written by a person with extensive knowledge about flowers, i.e. a florist. So here are my thoughts on the topic as both a florist and a project manager:

A hand-tied bouquet with luxury flowers: garden roses, mini calla lilies, ranunculus, sedum, amaranth, and greenery

A hand-tied bouquet with luxury flowers: garden roses, mini calla lilies, ranunculus, sedum, amaranth, and greenery

1. Go with the seasons

While there are plenty of flowers available year around (roses, for example), many are not. Lilacs and dahlias are only available in the the spring and autumn respectively. If you must have dahlias in your wedding, then you need to plan your wedding for September or October! Many flowers look better and are less expensive when in season. The widest variety of tulips are available in the spring and cost less than tulips in November. Thanks to air freight, peonies are almost available year around. However the prices are most affordable in the spring which means you can have more peonies for your money than other times of the year. Flower prices also fluctuate based on the crop. In a poor growing year, everything is more expensive.

2. Dates to avoid

A hanging wild garden! Greenery and floral chandelier.

A hanging wild garden! Greenery and floral chandelier.

The two most expensive times to get flowers are Mothers' Day weekend and the weekend before Valentine's Day. This is simple supply and demand. If you must marry on or around Valentine's Day, you can save money by not having all red roses. By avoiding these days, you will have more options at standard seasonal prices.

3. Be flexible about color

Pinterest and Instagram are great for getting ideas, but photos are often doctored through the use of filters and photo editing software. Color also changes with the quality of light. So what you are seeing online may be a good guide but be aware that the pictures may not be the real color of the flowers. Additionally colors vary by grower and season. For example a white majolika spray rose can vary from white with green tints to creamy to champagne depending on the soil where it is grown. Every flower is unique. This is what makes you beautiful and flowers beautiful! The best thing a couple can do is give the florist a color palette and a style or theme, like rustic bohemian, upscale romantic, etc.  and then share fabric samples of the clothing to be worn by the wedding party.

4.  Be flexible about variety

If you want all roses or if you hate hydrangeas, tell the florist. Otherwise let him or her choose the flowers to coordinate with your color palette. This gives your florist the freedom to purchase something really special and fabulous that may be in the flower market the week before your wedding. Additionally if your dream flower shows up and looks terrible, it is a living thing after all, your florist needs the opportunity to swap with something better.

Corsage on a pearl bracelet featuring a single ranunculus, and succulents

Corsage on a pearl bracelet featuring a single ranunculus, and succulents

5. Corsages don't have to look like prom

Corsages get a bad rap, but there are plenty of cool and elegant options available. I love corsages featuring a huge flower on a wrist ribbons or succulents on metal cuffs. They look modern and interesting. Shoulder corsages are also making a comeback. They are 1940s fabulous!

6.  Budget

Wedding flowers are available for all budgets, but it is important to be realistic. $500 will get you a bridal bouquet, a bridesmaid's bouquet and a couple of boutonnières in standard flowers, not garden roses, peonies or tropicals.  If you are on a limited budget, keep the wedding party small and limit the number of reception flowers. Not every table needs flowers. Some could have candles on a mirror or in a lantern.  Be aware that greenery is expensive and a lot is needed if it is to substitute for flowers. You won't necessarily save money by having just greenery. I'd recommend couples plan a budget of $3,000 to $5,000 for flowers to cover the wedding party, parents, ceremony flowers, cake flowers, and centerpieces for the reception. Another guide would be for the flower budget to be 20% to 25% of the overall budget or more depending on how elaborate. Things like floral chandeliers start at $1000 and go up because they require significant labor. Tall centerpieces that hover above guests start at $500 and go up. They are also labor intensive and require a lot of flowers.

In other words, for $1000 you will not get flowers for 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen, a chuppah/arbor, and 20 table centerpieces. Bear all of this in mind when looking at Pinterest.

A naked cake adorned with  simple and elegant garden roses

A naked cake adorned with  simple and elegant garden roses

As an aside, I should also mention that, unlike venues, flowers cost the same regardless of the event. Some websites advise not telling that you are planning for a wedding. This doesn't work for flowers. All florists follow a similar pricing model and it is based on the retail cost of the flowers plus labor. and delivery. I've not met a single florist who charges more just because it is a wedding. Weddings are more expensive because of the labor that goes into them, not because of any special wedding mark up.

7. Trust

Pick a florist whose work you admire. Then give the florist examples of what you like: a color palette, an overall feeling or atmosphere you are aiming for and then let the florist recommend what he or she suggests to bring your vision to a reality. You should have a good rapport with the florist and a good sense of his or her style and competency.  Trust your florist to make good decisions, select the right flowers and design your dreams. No two floral designs are ever a like. A good florist will not replicate another florists work but will look at a design you like and get inspiration from it. Do not ask a florist to replicate something exactly from another florist. That's like plagarism!

Your wedding may be the only time in your life when you can be surrounded by beautiful flowers to create the ambiance of your dreams. Find a florist you trust and be flexible. You will have a wonderful day!