DIY weddings are not for the faint of heart. It's one thing to take on a craft or two in the process of making your wedding more personal. It's quite another to cut out an entire line item in the budget on a (potentially misguided) quest to save money, replacing the role of a talented, qualified professional with... yourself. This is exactly what happened when I, girl-who-kills-succulents, decided to become my own wedding florist.
I'm happy to report that things went well! I managed to do the flowers for my entire wedding – bouquets and all – for $500. And now I'm here to share exactly how we made it happen.
Step one of this whole process, I'm afraid, is genuinely acknowledging that you really don't care what the flowers at your wedding ultimately look like, or that they even exist. Picture your wedding day (as much as you've planned it so far), and imagine that everything about your DIY flower plan goes horribly wrong. Will you be OK if the tables sit empty? If you walk down the aisle without anything in your hands? If you can confidently answer "I will" to both your spouse and to those questions on your wedding day, you're a perfect candidate to try out this whole be-your-own-florist-and-save-a-ton-of-dough thing.
As someone who didn't care about wedding day flowers, it can be hard to turn over $2000 (or sometimes much, much more) to a florist. So I decided pretty early on in our planning process that I'd do the flowers myself. I'm pretty crafty and I spent many years in art school, so I like to think I have a good eye for arrangements and styling in general. That was not enough to convince my friends or my wedding coordinator that taking on flowers myself was a good idea. I ignored them. That's the step two to step one above.
The plan was thus: Order a bunch of flowers from a mail-order florist, have them delivered a few days before the wedding. Then I'd make the bridal party bouquets and centerpieces for all the tables with the help of my three bridesmaids on the day of the wedding.
I ordered the flowers and greenery from Blooms by the Box. I was really pleased with the order and with customer service. It was invaluable to be able to call somebody up and ask, "What day should I have these delivered for a Saturday Wedding?" (Thursday.) And "What do I do with them once they get here?" (Put them into buckets of water and keep them in the coolest place in your apartment with the A/C on constantly.)
Here's what I ordered:
Eucalyptus, 1 bunch: $21.90
Plumosus Fern, 1 bunch: $13.05
Israeli Ruscus Green, 1 bunch: $35.67
Italian Ruscus Green, 2 bunches: $32.78
White Ranunculus, 2 bunches: $77.74
White Stock, 2 bunches : $56.94*
White Lisianthus, 3 bunches: $100.23*
DIY Starter Kit†: $40.38
Total after tax and shipping‡: $447.76
* The Stock and Lisianthus look like they cost a lot, comparatively, but you get SO MUCH of those. Wherever you decide to buy your flowers should have the details about how many stems usually come to a bunch.
† The Starter kit came with stuff you'd need, like floral scissors, wire and tape.
‡ Shipping was a not-insignificant 78 dollars. Do not forget to factor this in.
In hindsight, I kind of lucked out with how well everything worked, since I was mostly eyeballing the amount of flowers and everything else we'd need. But I do have the benefit of retrospect to be able to tell you why my arbitrary choices seemed to be mostly smart ones in regards to our budget:
- I ended up with an 80/20 ratio of filler flowers to splurges. The bouquets all featured Ranunculus as the star flowers, which aren't the cheapest when your whole budget is $500, but we filled in the bouquets with lots of greenery and less expensive flowers.
- I ordered lots of greenery. Things like eucalyptus and ferns and two different bunches of ruscus. These leafy things are cheaper than the actual flowers and come in huge bunches. You can afford to over-buy them, which will make your flower budget go further than you expected and your bouquet as lush as you'd ever imagined it could be.
- I chose centerpieces that didn't need many flowers. Since we were getting married in a brewery, I opted to use beer bottles and beer growlers as the vessels for the flowers. This meant I only needed one or two stems of the Lisianthus and the Stock flowers to fill each one.
Once you've placed the order, all that's left to do is sit and wait (and plan the rest of the wedding). You can check "flowers" off your list and just hope you don't screw it up from here.
The flowers arrived on the Thursday before the wedding, as expected, and I immediately trimmed them under water at an angle (just like you do with your grocery flowers) and placed them into buckets filled part of the way with water and flower food. The Friday night before the wedding, we took the buckets up to our hotel room on bell carts. Then the morning of the wedding, my bridesmaids arrived to start putting bouquets together while we got ready. (I am a writer and not a florist, so I do not feel qualified to teach you how to make a bouquet, but there's a great post right here on A Practical Wedding about it.)
Whatever was left of the flowers after we made the five bouquets was carried off to the venue by friends and family, who stepped up to get everything at the brewery together while I got my makeup done and had a professional photoshoot. For that, I'll forever be thankful. I do not lie when I say that DIY weddings do not happen without amazing support from the people who care about you. It takes a village to "Pinterest" a wedding.
Like I said at the beginning of this whole journey, to take on a gargantuan task like being your own (completely inexperienced) wedding florist, you have to be OK with botching the whole thing. But I was actually so delighted at the outcome. My bridal bouquet was enormously lush, just the way I'd wanted it. The beer bottle arrangements on the tables were simple – just enough for the eclectic brewery space after we accented them with candles and a few potted kale plants and succulents from home. It was all more beautiful than I could have imagined.
The goal for DIY'ing the wedding flowers was to save money, but my little project became something much, much bigger than a budget. Our wedding flowers weren't just an order in a computer somewhere. They were personal. Wrapped with ribbon I'd picked out and carried home. Adorned with charms that were borrowed from family and friends. Crafted together with some of my closest friends over too many mimosas on one of the greatest mornings of my life.
I can say confidently that, besides choosing my husband, DIY'ing the flowers was the second-best wedding-related decision I made.