"It is a privilege and dream-
come-true for me to grow and deliver intoxicating beauty."
- Paula Rice
Paula Rice is a professional cut flower farmer and florist providing intoxicating beauty to North Idaho for 15 years. She loves growing and playing with flowers and seeks ways to keep her passion alive and strong by finding solutions to the complexities of operating a growing and designing business in zone 4. It has been quite the education. When she’s not working the fields, you can find her walking the fields, eating raspberries, and wondering what she should make for dinner.
DIY wedding flowers are an effective way to save money when creating a pleasing and beautiful wedding aesthetic. But it’s a big job. Furthermore, people don’t understand the cost of flowers and often have unrealistic visions for their budget. While Pinterest and the like are fantastic places to see all that is possible, be careful. That bridal bouquet you just pinned could be made with some of the most expensive, delicate, flowers that may not even be available at the time of your wedding.
The Ultimate Guide to Planning and Ordering DIY Wedding Flowers will help you understand “all the things.” Let’s talk wedding flowers and pull this together so that you come to the table with a complete understanding of what you are realistically looking at when buying and designing your own wedding flowers.
You will learn how to:
Create a list of all the places you want flowers.
Understand your vision and be able to share it.
Understand the cost of buying cut flowers.
Know the sources available for buying DIY wedding flowers.
Choose the right flowers for the right place.
Understand the workload of designing DIY flowers and make a week-of plan.
Learn how much do-it-yourself flowers will cost.
Discover some money-saving ideas to repurpose your designs.
Foremost, think of a mix of blooms when creating your color palette and theme, not specific varieties, or precise flowers. In the post covid era, nothing is guaranteed. Not with the grower, not with the wholesaler, and not with the florist. Labor shortages, inflation, gas prices, acquiring seeds, and the like have affected buying patterns and availability.
Orders can be made, but substitutions are often delivered because certain flowers are simply unavailable when the time arrives. If you are flexible with a range of colors and flowers to pull off your general look, this won’t be a problem, and you will remain confident that your flowers will be beautiful.
Think about all the places you would like flowers at your wedding and create a list. This list is your guiding light to understanding your cost, setting your budget, and creating the week-of workflow. Here is an example:
|6||Boutonnieres (Groom, Groomsmen, Father of the Bride FOB)|
|3||Corsages (Mother of the groom (MOG), Mother of the Bride (MOB), Grandmother|
|2||Flower girls (1 Posy & 1 Petals)|
|10||Aisle arrangements hanging in jars (100 guests / 2 sides / 10 guests per row = 5 rows per side)|
|2||Large statement arrangements|
|Reception||100 Guests (This will help you plan reception tables and chairs)|
|10||Reception Tables (A lush tablescape with flowers or keeping it simple with bottles and bud vases)|
|1||Sweetheart table or Head Table|
|1||Cake Table- Cake flowers, one arrangement, and loose foliage|
|1 Bar||Large flower installation – Flower Wall|
When planning your own DIY wedding flowers, you need to have a basic understanding of the look you are going for and be able to share it. This can be done on Pinterest by creating a wedding board (a file) and then having some ‘pins’ (pictures) within that board. You can have boards for each general aspect of your wedding, and it might look something like this:
|Bridal Bouquet Ideas|
You can also copy and paste pictures into a word or google document, or simply have photos saved in a digital file that you can show and share.
Most importantly, do not plan for your wedding florals to be an exact replica. You want your wedding to be unique to you and the season. Gathering inspiration is just that, inspiration.
Your inspiration is helpful to the plan AND reminds you of your vision. It keeps you focused and on track. There are a million great ideas and rabbit holes to go down and you don’t want to go back to square one a month before the wedding.
With the advent of refrigeration and then airplanes, flowers are always available. It’s a worldwide market. Even if you live in the north, where flowers are impossible to grow in the winter without greenhouses, it’s summer somewhere and businesses are growing and shipping flowers.
Here are some basics of flower availability and market demand.
The key to beautiful garden-like designs is that you have a combination of flowers. This helps with the cost too. If you want a bouquet with solid garden roses, that design will be far more expensive than choosing a collection of flowers with some being less expensive like foliage, and filler flowers, to go with those focal flowers. The costly focal flowers like roses, peonies, orchids, dahlias, ranunculus, French tulips, anemones, etc., can be mixed with less expensive flowers like carnations, mums, alstroemeria, statice, and a whole slew of garden-grown-beauties to keep your cost down.
For a good reason, choosing flowers in season will be the most cost-effective. Peonies in August are challenging to get and very expensive ($8 – $10/stem), and if you do get them, they are coming out of storage that is on the tail end of acceptable; they will not be of decent quality.
Even if you put off your wedding so that you can order peonies from South America, they will be expensive for you here in the northern hemisphere. It takes a lot to get them here, which is a giant carbon footprint, but possible.
If you’ve been on Pinterest, you will see bouquet after bouquet of drop-dead gorgeous arrangements filled with ranunculus, anemones, tulips, and other specialty cut flowers from the garden. They are soft, romantic, and over-the-moon heart-stopping.
Because these blooms are so desirable, they receive premium pricing in the wholesale world. That bouquet likely has 25-30 stems of ranunculus alone. At the wholesale cost and in season, they can be $3+/per stem. That’s the wholesale cost! And because they don’t ship well, you will have waste. Not every stem you receive will be premium or even useable.
That floral combo sweeping the internet is the perfect storm of beautiful, luxurious, flowers. And, to be honest, you don’t even have to be a talented floral designer; those flowers work their magic all by themselves. And you’re looking at a $250 – $400 bouquet design.
Heck, even baby’s breath was affected by market demand and popularity. It use to be inexpensive until everyone started using it. The demand increased, and so did the price.
Make sure you set your wedding during a time that is not too close to a major holiday. Across the board, flower prices go up during holidays like Valentine’s and Mother’s Day.
There is usually an acceptable substitution when thinking about the texture, size, and role a particular flower plays in a design. A good substitute for peonies in August is a garden rose or dahlia. And when you go with something in season, you can actually grow and have these flowers available to celebrate your wedding anniversary every year, making the flowers memorable and meaningful.
BE FLEXIBLE. What takes the internet by storm is not realistic for everyone. Every season offers something beautiful and personal to delight in and beautify their wedding.
I’m just going to touch quickly on dried flowers for wedding and event design. The unique, vintage, and timeless beauty of dried flowers is growing in popularity. A quick search of all the possibilities will open your eyes to the options and is an excellent choice for people who are conscious of their carbon footprint and seasonality.
We grow and dry lots of flowers all summer long to capture the beauty of the season and extend our offerings, and we feel that we can bring a fair-priced product to the market as a local supplier. But be informed. There are reality checks here as well.
First, they are timeless and last for years; this increases their value and matches the extra time and careful handling it takes to preserve them. They require particular environments and storage facilities to accommodate their delicate nature, thus increasing the cost.
Second, you likely saw all the boho and shabby-chic designs incorporating preserved and bleached material. This bleached material looks fantastic, and I love it, but bleached and preserved items are different than air-dried flowers; they require special processing and handling to achieve that bleached look and are not an inexpensive choice.
No doubt, as you searched for dried flower arrangements on the internet, you were wildly amazed at the beauty and nostalgia of this rediscovered off-season choice.
Overall, if you are budget conscious and can find a local grower who dries flowers and grasses, you can achieve a similar aesthetic. Only incorporate a few of those costly bleached stems and you can create a perfect Boho look.
Yes, dried flowers are an excellent and exciting choice; just be aware when you’re stepping into the spendier territory.
Small local flower farms are springing up everywhere and are an excellent source for planning your DIY wedding flower. Many sell at farmer’s markets and from their farms. If they have been in business for a while, they will know what flowers will be blooming, and be a solid source.
Here at BeeHaven Flower Farm, we have been growing flowers for 15 years and know the proper harvest stage for all 150 varieties that we grow. Our bunches are bushy and lush, you want all that extra material to design with.
The disadvantages of a local grower are:
Here at BeeHaven Flower Farm, we are a seasonal grower and year-round florist. This is not new. Way back in the day, florists were growers as well.
Yep, they would take an order, go out to their garden, and then harvest, process, and design an original floral arrangement.
When we are not in our growing season, we order flowers to continue our floral services to the community.
Our staff has been trained in certified florist courses, and because an abundance of floral fauna surrounds us, we are constantly creating and refining our floral art.
The grocery store flower system is a vast nationwide conglomerate that depends on massive sales at low margins and low wages.
No small producer, designer, or florist can even compete. If you are looking for white roses, baby’s breath, and carnations, this is a good match and your best pricing. They can usually order flowers for you too.
The disadvantages are:
A florist is connected to many wholesalers and specializes in knowing what is available all year. Their personalized service and expertise, coupled with high-quality, grade-A flowers in pristine condition, are what you are paying for.
Your DIY flowers will be the most expensive here, but they will be just what you want and in perfect condition. They will source and buy your flowers and then oversee and process them for you. That knowledge and service must be paid for.
If your primary concern is particular flowers in a particular color, and desire long-stemmed, grade-A perfection, and you are not budget-conscious, a florist is a perfect choice for planning DIY wedding flowers.
There are many online flower-ordering sources, but be careful, I have had wedding parties show up the morning of their wedding because their flowers did not arrive, and we quickly crashed out something beautiful.
And sometimes the flowers arrive completely shattered and are no good, or they simply won’t hydrate. Something in the system went wrong, whether they were flowers kept in cold storage for too long or something in transit caused a delay or damaged the product, it’s show time now, and you are left scrambling.
But to be honest, more times than not, this works great. It is a perfect place to order flowers, like roses, carnations, alstroemeria, baby’s breath, etc.
This is an excellent choice for someone who enjoys gardening and has experience growing flowers. It’s lovely to have all the textures and variety that garden-grown flowers bring to a design. Gone are the days of just carnations, roses, and baby’s breath.
And, if you choose a colorful wedding palette, it will be less stressful, and something is likely to be blooming.
Know that just because a flower does not ship well does not mean it does not make an excellent cut flower. And on the flip side, not every flower makes a good cut flower. Some will not hydrate and hold in a vase.
We already talked about the seasonality of flowers. If you are a gardener, you know you are looking for flowers that will be blooming at the time of your event.
Be aware that weather may play with the timing of your blooms. A hot spring will speed everything up, and it may be past its prime, or it may be a cool spring, and things may be late blooming.
Bugs may decide to move in, and you will want to be ready for that ahead of time by having safer soap or another type of insecticide ready.
And while I love bees, they are the enemy to someone wanting the perfect bloom at the right time. Once a blossom is pollinated, it moves to the next stage of its life by quickly dropping its petals and making a seed. Ugh!!
But don’t let these truths about growing discourage you. If you grow flowers for your wedding, you will likely have something beautiful to add to your designs.
I highly suggest planting potted flowers for your event. Not only are they moveable, but they also add a lot of beauty to the venue and are multi-purpose for the entire season. Plan them in your wedding colors.
Another area to incorporate garden-grown design is planting your landscape with flowers and keeping it tidy for the wedding day. This is a fantastic way to create a beautiful ceremony and reception area that may not need any arrangements.
Finally, if you focus on growing flowers for the reception tables, you may only need the personal flowers designed. That will save money and eliminate some headaches.
Purchasing a designed wedding package and then tackling the reception flowers with what you grow is doable.
Many flowers are excellent cut flower choices, they just don’t ship well or aren’t as tough to external factors. This is where we see the “industry standards” like roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, baby’s breath, and leather leaf ferns draw a hard line in the sand and are known as super-tough, long-lasting flowers.
The fact that they can be harvested, stored, shipped long distances out of water, and then sit in a cooler or on the floor at the grocery… and still provide beauty for a week in your home is impressive. And it shaped the flower world for the past few generations.
Think about where your flowers will be used at the wedding and choose your flowers appropriately for that location. If you have an outdoor wedding, know where the sun is at the specific time of your ceremony and reception, and plan to place everything so that flowers and guests will survive.
No flower likes direct afternoon sunlight on a hot, dry, summer day, and neither do your guests. If you place an arbor in an open field without shade and the day is 90 degrees or more, your flower choice will matter and it will affect when you can design the installation. It needs to be close to the ceremony time. Furthermore, you will want to choose only the toughest flowers, provide water sources, and spray the flowers with water regularly until the ceremony.
Same with the reception and other focal areas. If everything is in direct sunlight, place the flowers closer to the wedding time and spritz them generously. If you have a somewhat protected area, you’re fine, and all the flowers will perform well.
Thankfully, the industry is shifting back to how it used to be done, reintroducing many of the old garden blooms and experimenting with all the new. There are so many more floral choices now, especially as more growers spring up. Many flowers don’t ship well, but they still provide a good vase life and are the magic of creating something unique and unforgettable. That being said, let’s not take it too far.
I remember a time I supplied DIY flowers for a wedding during an unexpected heat wave. I delivered the flowers on Wednesday so they could get all the design work done.
This is acceptable and doable in a cool place. Dahlias were their main flower. It was an outdoor wedding and that week just happened to be record-breaking topping out at 103◦. I had personally never felt temperatures that high before here in North Idaho.
Upon delivery, their cool place to store the flowers was an uninsulated garage, which probably was a cool place back in April when the wedding was being planned. It was not now. They stored them in the air-conditioned home until the wedding, but when those flowers went outside in that extreme heat, they did not last. And they wouldn’t. Nothing will last in that high of heat, not even the tough flowers…ok maybe a carnation??
I happen to remember that weekend well because it was also my son’s wedding. Luckily, we had a church ceremony and an indoor venue, but the night before rehearsal dinner at a jazzy, local, new restaurant, proved intolerable.
The air conditioning was broken, so they opened the glass garage doors to supply a breeze for relief. There was not a single tree around, we were surrounded by pavement, and no way was it only 103 degrees in that environment.
The flowers and the guests at once started wilting, and neither lasted. Unlucky? Yes. But the food was good.
If your wedding is outdoors, you should look carefully at your setup and place things with the sun in mind, and have a rain plan. The weather can do three different things in one day around here.
When your flowers are ready to be picked up or have arrived in the mail, you will need plenty of ultra-clean, buckets.
Dirty buckets, containers, vases, and dirty water ARE THE #1 KILLER OF FLOWERS!! Let me say that again. BACTERIA KILLS FLOWERS! Knowing that is absolutely THE secret of my entire business. Be extra sure your water is clean, put a capful of bleach into the water. Yes, bleach, you want that first drink to be clean. Also, do not use water with a water softener attached to the system; this may kill your flowers.
Flowers like acidic water and water is naturally alkaline, so a bit of white vinegar can lower the ph.
It would be best if you also planned to add floral preservatives to your finished designs. The floral preservative will meet all the needs of your cut flowers,
For flowers shipped dry in the box, you will need to recut the bottom 2 inches of every stem, strip any foliage so that none is in the water, and place them into your prepared, clean water.
Give your flowers time to take up water and hydrate, you want them fully conditioned before you begin designing. (If you are getting your flowers from us, this all has been done for you. You will only need buckets so that you can transport your flowers home.)
Vessels and vases can be washed and prepped weeks in advance, dropping this task the week of your wedding.
You will need scissors, pruners, garbage cans, florist’s water-proof tape, florists binding tape, chicken wire, floral foam, pearl pins, ribbon for personal flowers, cold glue floral adhesive, and any other items to make everything go smoothly. And have extra pruners and scissors for your helpers.
Keep the flowers as cool as possible and out of direct sunlight until you design them. Then, have plenty of space in a cool area once they are designed. Understandably, the space needed for buckets of flowers is quite different than the space required for designed flowers.
I recommend designing a couple of days before your event because not every flower has the same vase life. A carnation could go for weeks, but a particular dahlia may only go for three days.
You want them all alive and beautiful at showtime. They will continue to bloom and be at their peak for your event.
To understand your workload and get everything done, you will need to estimate how long each floral element will take to design. This is huge and surprising.
Walk down your list and assign an amount of time that you think each piece will take you to create.
For example, let’s say you have 30 tables, and it’s going to take you 30 minutes to create a masterpiece pedestal arrangement for each.
30 minutes x 30 arrangements is 900 minutes. (This does not include prepping the vases and preparing the space and flowers) 900 minutes is 15 hours… with no breaks. Plan for that!
Maybe you’re putting 5 bottles on each table. That is 150 bottles to clean, prep, and design. Each may take you 3 minutes. If you don’t lose any steam in the middle of the project, that is 3 min. x 150 bottles = 450 minutes. That is 7 ½ hours.
Maybe you’re faster; maybe you’re slower; perhaps you have a system for streamlining. It’s all good; just be aware and plan.
That 30th design or 150th bottle is likely not being designed as quickly or with as much enthusiasm as the first one, and sometimes you need to walk away for a bit.
Get friends and family involved to help with the workload and efficiently execute a plan. If you know someone that designs, that’s even better.
If you have a group of friends and want to drink some wine on a Thursday night while designing flowers, that’s a bargain.
Assign someone to transport and place all the flowers at the venue so that you can have a hassle-free wedding day.
Pro Tip: Attend our basic design class with your group of helpers here on the farm this summer. It would be an excellent opportunity to gain experience in designing flowers. You would go into your week-of, do-it-yourself design with a level of comfort and understanding.
Watch these two tutorials:
If this seems overwhelming, consider creating time and space the week of your wedding by designing some simple DIY arrangements for the reception tables and having your personal flowers designed professionally. Any combination of DIY and Designed flowers can be ordered.
It’s important to know what flowers cost so that you have a good understanding of how much your budget can be. The number of bridesmaids and the number of guests are two areas that can quickly multiply a budget.
Think… if you allow a $20 budget per reception table in DIY flowers and you have 300 guests and need 30 tables, that is $600 right there, just in flowers – no design, no vessel.
This is also where you need to think about your vases and containers. The size of your vessels are tied to the number of flowers you will need. Bud vases and bottles use far fewer flowers than a pedestal vase with a 6” opening.
I have a really short blog post precisely on this topic. How many DIY flowers will I need, and how much will they cost? After considering the above information, it has two examples of what an average wedding would cost for a simple vs. lush wedding design.
It further explains the calculations and offers you a wedding flowers list so you can create your wish list, and helps you pull your wedding flower budget together. It is a must-read. I will link it below as well so you can keep reading.
Great ideas, right? But be sure to assign someone the task of moving the flowers while guests are congratulating you and moving towards the reception area.
Encourage them to be “Johnny-on-the-spot” to get it done quickly and smoothly.
Finally, you don’t have to decorate everything, everywhere. You can save money by focusing on a single focal area; this way the eye will be drawn away from areas that are an eyesore by creating a beautiful focal area.
And if you happen to have a venue with a beautiful view, that is perfect, you don’t need to decorate something already beautiful.
Flowers are always the right choice to welcome your guests and transform the space. Only when the flowers arrive does your dream take shape and become what you expected.
You’ve learned that cost and time depend a lot on the size of your wedding and your style. It’s going to take a bit of a plan to pull it all together, and I suggest you gather and team and create a week-of design plan. There is a lot that goes into planning and creating beautiful flowers.
How Many DIY Flowers will I Need and How Much Will They Cost, is a short blog post to help you easily generate a DIY flower budget.
When buying and designing your own DIY wedding flowers, there is a lot to be prepared for. Make this plan ahead and you’ll have no problems.
What to Expect When Ordering Flowers from a Farmer-Florist; How Much They Cost and What You Need to Know Understanding how to order wedding flowers and what to expect when visiting with a florist will empower you to enter the conversation confidently. While it’s impossible to provide all the details for every wedding, walking through […]
It can be challenging to understand how many DIY flowers you will need when designing your wedding flowers. Several factors need to be considered
"My name is Paula Rice and I have been growing and playing with cut flowers in zone 4 for 15 years. I speak many dialects of flower quite fluently and have loved creating a life rooted in growing."
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