Thursday, September 10, 2009

DIY Flower Advice

The best advice I can give someone who has decided to DIY their wedding flowers is - MAKE ONE.

We've gotten numerous calls lately from folks who thought they would make their own flowers, centerpieces in particular, and when it gets down to the final weeks of wedding planning, they start to feel a little overwhelmed and decide to call in the professionals.

If you want to avoid the last minute panic of not knowing quite what you're doing or having too many items on your plate, about a month before your wedding, you should get all the materials you think you will need for one arrangement and make one.

The first part of planning a centerpiece is trying to find where what you want intersects with your budget. Then select the materials that fit both those things - flowers, container, tools, tape, floral foam, rocks, marbles, greenery and so on. Write it down so you will remember that you had exactly 3 stems of pittosporum and 1 cup of river rocks.

When you've got all those things together, make your sample arrangement. Don't forget to time yourself from start to finish. Yes, you should pick up a little speed as you make more of them, but honestly, it takes a year of experience to really see a big improvement in speed.

At this point, you'll want to evaluate if this is something you want to be doing multiples of the day before your wedding. Take that time and multiply it by the number of arrangements. Will you have that much time? Can you simplify your plan? Should you reconsider the vase you chose? Would you be better off with two larger flowers or lots of little flowers? Where will you store your flowers? How will you transport them? Can you move them without sloshing or disrupting the flowers? Does baby's breath stink like gym socks? Are rose thorns evil?

(Yes, to the last two!)

After making your sample, take that recipe you wrote down that has everything you used in it and then multiply that by the number of arrangements to create your shopping list. Add 10% more to your list of flowers in case some blooms aren't perfect enough, break, come in small, or if your table count goes up. Make sure you have an extra vase or two. Do you have a list of second choices for flowers in case something is not available?

Still with me here?

Order your flowers, buy your vases.

Now consider where you will put those flowers when you get them - do you have plenty of buckets? A workspace that can get messy? When is trash day? Flowers can make a lot of trash.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it's because it is and is exactly what we go through every time we plan a wedding or party. The main difference being I know how long most things take to do and don't have to time myself. But I still write recipes, have a backup list of flowers, order extra for "just in case", and when planning my work day, I do still multiply the time by the number of centerpieces to give myself some idea of when to start.

Trust me when I say you should do a practice arrangement - you will save yourself many avoidable (mostly) headaches!


Angela Kusek-Schubert said...

AMEN!!! I try to tell all my brides that if they are planning to do their own price it out first!
A lot of times a professional can do something similar that looks better and costs less...

Sprout said...

So true! I'm pretty sure many DIY projects do not end up saving on money and just give everyone agita! (a word I didn't know until floral design school!)

And frankly, and this is not me trying to sell flowers here, of all the things I would consider going the DIY route for a wedding, flowers would be the last thing because they're all done at the last moment.

Almost everything else can be done days in advance at least. Not flowers!

Angela Kusek-Schubert said...

Exactly! I love baking and making desserts but I totally wasn't going to take that on for my wedding because it has to be done at the last minute!

I'm honest to- if you can't afford to really do flowers- candles are beautiful and budget friendly...


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