If you’re contemplating DIY wedding flowers, it’s important to think about what, exactly, you’re taking on. If you just want to DIY your bouquets, here is a tutorial, go knock it out of the park. But if you’re thinking you’re going to DIY all of your wedding flowers, now is the moment to take a timeout and contemplate the scope of the entire endeavor.
Because for real, putting together a centerpiece isn’t actually all that hard. But the whole picture looks more like this: figuring out your design, buying vases and floral supplies, practicing, buying your wedding flowers right before the wedding, keeping them alive, putting centerpieces together, and having enough space in a vehicle to transport them to the venue. All together it’s a project. It’s a totally doable project (I did it for our wedding), but if you take it on, either minimize it (bouquets only), or make it one of your only major projects.
To help make your DIY florals as successfully as possible (fewer dead flowers, fewer tears), Natalie Marvin, owner of Belle Flower, and Jessica Dixon, owner of The Petal Company, shared their best tips and tricks for making your florals awesome and painless.
1. Come up with designs in advance
Getting in the room with pretty flowers doesn’t mean that inspiration will suddenly strike or that you’ll have any clue how to construct a centerpiece or a bouquet. This is the time to scour the Internet for inspiration pictures of projects you think you could actually create, and ideally you should find tutorials for them (we’ve got a bunch right here). Also, spend some serious time with tutorials on how to put together a bouquet. Then get some flowers from the grocery store and practice.
2. Don’t get too technical
You know all those amazing, lush, complex centerpieces you’ve seen on Pinterest? I say this with great love, but you probably can’t have those if you’re DIYing. You want to pick a design with one or two flowers, and make sure you have a good idea of how to construct it. Not just once, but upward of ten times.
3. Buy your vases
Buying vases can work one of two ways: you can figure out what your concept is and find vases to match, or you can find vases that seem workable and figure out what flowers to put in them. Regardless, be aware of scale. Something that seems huge to you at home may well be dwarfed by a large round table. Great sources for vases are flower markets, craft stores, thrift stores, big-box stores, and Amazon. You can always do some crafting to make your vases cooler (hello, spray paint), but you really don’t have to.
4. Buy floral supplies
You’ll want to pre-buy your supplies, which you can easily do online. You’ll probably want floral scissors, floral tape, pins (for your bouquets as well as any corsages), floral foam (as needed), and floral wire (if you’re doing boutonnières and corsages). Don’t forget ribbon to wrap the bouquets.
5. Pick hardy flowers
When doing it yourself, you don’t want to risk your money on flowers that die if not treated exactly right or that only last twenty-four hours. Research which flowers will last longer (here’s a good place to start), and use those blooms. When you get the flowers, put them directly into clean water and remove leaves and foliage below the water line. Store them in a cool, shady place.
6. Be aware of how the flowers may arrive
If you’re ordering from a wholesale flower company, make sure you know what state the flowers will arrive in. Often they will be delivered a few days early, still closed, and you need to keep them alive while they bloom. Allow time for that, and make sure someone is going to be in charge of keeping them fresh.
7. Arrange for help
Unless you’re only doing simple bouquets, you’re going to need several sets of hands to put the flowers together. Set up a time (probably the day before the wedding) to do the arranging. Remember to have pictures on hand of what the final product is supposed to look like and set up a sample or two to copy. Once all the flowers are done, you may want to do a little quality control to make sure they look the way they’re supposed to. (Granny’s idea of hip centerpieces may be slightly different from yours.)
8. Realistic timelines
Centerpieces can be created two days out. Plan for two to three hours for fifteen centerpieces, with two people working.
Bouquets should be made the day before. Allowing for inexperience, allot forty-five minutes to an hour for a bridal bouquet, and about half that time for each attendant bouquet.
Boutonnières and corsages are tricky little things and have to be made the day before or the day-of to stay alive. Allow two hours for a handful of them, or consider skipping them all together. (Here is a Boutonnière tutorial and a corsage tutorial, for the determined among you.)
9. Don’t refrigerate your flowers
I know, what? But as it turns out, the humidity and temperature of a normal refrigerator is different from that of a floral fridge, and it will dry out your flowers and kill them. Store your flowers in a cool and shady place, and you’ll be fine.
10. Arrange for transportation
Unless you’re one of those lucky people with nearly unlimited access to your venue (maybe it’s your house?), chances are good that you’re going to have to prep your flowers in a different location and transport them to the venue. Transporting centerpieces takes space (you can’t stack them) and careful packing. One option is to use opaque vases and create your centerpieces in floral foam, so they’ll stay in one piece even if they fall over. Another option is to empty the water from the vases, and pack things together compactly so nothing gets knocked around too badly. Regardless, plan in advance for a friend or loved one with truck or van space to transport the flowers.