Welcome to “Wedding Week”! You’ve read about my dress but I wanted to share some more details about the day, the ceremony, and the party. Monday was the logistics of it all: planning our backyard wedding reception. Wednesday was all emotions: my play-by-play of the big day. And today is all about FLOWERS! Next week we’ll be back to the regularly scheduled sewing and making.
I decided long ago that I wanted to do my own flowers for my wedding. I envisioned this as a fun girls’ day activity – instead of getting our nails done on the day before the wedding, we’d put together our bouquets! Yes, I was putting them to work, but it also seemed like a perfect way to spend time together on my last day as an “unmarried woman”.
COVID-19 had other ideas, and I ended up making all six bouquets. My mom made the boutonnieres for the men and the corsages for the moms. It was a workout! But it was still so worth it. I LOVED getting to choose all of my own flowers and make exactly what I wanted. I’ve never spent this much money on flowers before and it was so fun to go a little crazy and bring home all of my favorites.
The girls’ dresses were teal/turquoise (David’s Bridal Oasis) and I wanted to offset them with my favorite warm colors: orange and pink with a touch of yellow. These colors contrasted with the dresses exactly how I hoped they would, and I love how bright they were.
I chose the following flowers:
- Orange Dahlias (the huge focal point!)
- Hot pink, peach pink, golden yellow, and white Ranunculus (my favorite flower)
- Orange-to-pink variegated Snapdragons (so tall and gorgeous!)
- White Stock for some fluffy, dramatic filler
- Bupleurum and Israeli Ruscus as the green filler
For the men’s boutonnieres, we chose orange Freesia. David wanted a tropical flower, as a nod to his love of the tropics and our Miami home, so freesia was perfect. I, of course, chose the orange. My mom paired the freesia with a few leaves from the ruscus and, voila! Boutonnieres.
I ordered my flowers a month in advance, with the flowers scheduled to arrive the Tuesday before the wedding (as recommended to give them time to rehydrate and open up after shipping). But sadly, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I ordered from Blooms by the Box, and I only say that because I would not recommend them. I understand that flowers are living things, so there is always some risk in the supply chain. But when they began packing my order, they informed me that they were unable to source more than half of the flowers I had requested, and the substitutions offered weren’t even close. They did refund me for the missing flowers, but suddenly it was 3 days before my wedding and I had a pitifully small box of flowers to work with. Worst of all – none of the flowers were orange!
David and I drove around to every grocery store we could think of in search of ORANGE. Costco really only had roses, and I just did not want roses in my bouquets. And the rest of the grocery store bouquets looked like… grocery store bouquets.
Finally, I started calling every florist I could find on Google Maps to see if someone had some spare inventory or a source. David’s stepmom Deanne did, too, in case there was someone in between Delaware and VA who had orange flowers she could pick up on her way. And the phone plan WORKED. One of the florists said, “Have you tried Metro Flower Market?” I’d never heard of it. “They might have what you need.”
I called them and left a panicked message. Something along the lines of, “I’m looking for orange ranunculus… or really anything orange except roses. Do you have anything?”
Kim at MFM, my guardian angel, returned my message and said “We have lots of ranunculus, but no orange, but we do have gorgeous bright orange dahlias. I think you’ll love them.” She set them aside for me and I regained my sense of hope.
So we set off for Metro Flower Market in Chantilly, VA, a wholesale florist that’s open to the public, and it was a treasure trove.
This place is amazing. It’s like the big walk-in produce section at Costco, but just FILLED with flowers. They had everything. It was beautiful and perfect and we were saved and I was so relieved.
It was so, so much easier to plan bouquets here than online. This is my recommendation for everyone now. It sounds so easy to order flowers online, but unless you know flowers very well, it’s really hard to picture the bouquets. Even if I had received my entire order, I still think I wouldn’t have had enough flowers. When I got to walk around, pick up the flowers, and pair them together, it was so easy to make exactly what I wanted to make. Many cities have “wholesale flower markets” that are open to the public, and I never knew! I can’t wait to go back there again, just to make happy bouquets for myself!
We loaded up a few florists’ boxes and headed home. Finally everything was looking fresh in flower land.
I kept the flowers in buckets of water in the garage. It was October, so the garage was cool, dark, and not too cold. I think the flowers liked it there. Another word of caution for online ordering: I ordered some greenery and didn’t realize the leaves were HUGE! So most of the greens you see in the photo above weren’t even usable for my bouquets.
On Friday, the day before the wedding, I got to work. My mom prepped the kitchen table with a vinyl tablecloth, and that was my domain.
I started by bunching some flowers, one of each, and then I had David take a picture of me so I could gauge the bouquet size. This wasn’t big enough! I added more flowers and we tried again. I was very happy with the colors and the added interest from the varying heights of my flowers, but I clearly needed to work on my bouquet sizing. A good bouquet takes so many more flowers than I expected!
Once I had established the number of flowers for a full bouquet, I laid them out on the table in piles. I made the bridesmaids’ bouquets first because I wanted them to be somewhat even, and then I could just use ALLLL of the leftover flowers for myself!
I knew there was no way to make multiple identical bouquets. But this strategy helped me at least keep the colors and proportions uniform. Each bouquet held the same number of each flower, and then I added greenery as necessary.
The dahlias, with their giant, dramatic heads, were so fragile. The stem could barely support the enormous bloom, so for each dahlia I trimmed some leaves off of a stem of the ruscus and taped the ruscus to the dahlia stem to give it extra support. Each bouquet got one dahlia, except for mine… I got 3 because I’m the bride 🙂
I watched a few YouTube videos (so clearly I’m an expert now) and the key to a bouquet that will last all day is tape, tape, tape. Floral Tape is my nemesis. It only sticks to itself, and it’s only sticky when it’s stretched. It’s a necessary evil, because clearly it’s what works for flowers. It doesn’t actually stick to the stems, which allows the stems to expand and contract slightly depending on how much water they’re holding, which is good! But it’s also really hard to pull the tape enough to stretch it, when you’re stretching it away from a stem that is fragile and bendy.
For a stable bouquet, it’s recommended to tape around every 2-3 flowers you add. So I started with 3 flowers as the bouquet center, and taped around them. Then added 2-3 flowers around that center, and taped again. And again, and again.
After 6 bouquets, I hope you’ll excuse my antipathy for floral tape. It also turned my thumbs all green and sticky.
There was so much art to this. It was fun and challenging to keep the bouquets balanced, to try and add the right flowers at the right time. I had assumed it would be simple and straightforward to just bunch together the pretty flowers, but I had to use a lot more creativity than I expected.
Murphy was an excellent florist’s assistant. Good girl, Murphy, you protect those flowers!
David also helped by trimming the leaves from the flower stems. That was surprisingly time consuming, so having extra hands to take care of that step really helped me focus on taping and arranging.
I just love ranunculus so much. They’re so delicate and feathery, so detailed. This one opened up like a lion once it got water again and it was adorable.
In the end, I was thrilled with the results. Besides, once you’ve sewn a wedding dress, how scary can DIY flowers really be?
I mentioned this in my day-of post: I added a special detail to my bouquet. I wrapped it with my maternal grandmother’s rosary and my paternal grandmother’s pearl cross necklace. It was so wonderful to have them with me in this way on my special day.
Here are the men looking snazzy with their Freesia boutonnieres. I love the splash of orange on their gray suits.
Here are two good shots of our handiwork! I love the corsage my mom made for herself. It’s similar to the boutonnieres but she added an extra freesia and one peach ranunculus bloom. For Deanne’s wrist corsage, my mom put one bloom each of freesia and ranunculus, to make it symmetric, then tied it with a ribbon.
My mom did a beautiful job with the boutonnieres and corsages. They looked so professional!
And, if you read my wedding day post, you’ll know that we wrapped the bouquets with ribbon in the church parking lot before the ceremony. The girls still had to work a little bit for their bouquets.
Writing this post has inspired me – I still want a day of flower arranging with my girls! And I realized it doesn’t have to be a wedding-exclusive event. Sometime in the future, I’m going to go wild at Metro Flower Market again, and we’ll all build arrangements together. Plus, arrangements for vases means NO FLORAL TAPE!!
My recommendation: as long as you have an idea of how you want your flowers to look, and you can set aside the time, you should definitely make your own wedding flowers. It took me 4-5 hours to make the six bouquets, so it’s not quick! But with a buddy or a few, it would go much faster and be way more fun. Table arrangements would also be much faster to make because they don’t require any tape! Highly recommend.
Would you make your own bouquets? Did you? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment below!