choosing your wedding flowers

contributed by Scentiment Flowers

How do you choose wedding flowers? Where do you start? What if you know nothing about flowers?

Inspiration for your wedding flowers can be drawn from a huge variety of places. Maybe you have a favourite colour, a flower that evokes childhood memories, a nod to your place of birth, or just simply a photo of a bouquet you found on the internet! Whatever your inspiration, there is no right or wrong way to choose your wedding flower but you should always start with a chat to your chosen florist.

It’s important to begin with a meeting (or a phone conversation or email if you can’t meet in person). Bring as many photos, fabric swatches, pieces of lace or sequins etc that you have accumulated. If you have a Pinterest page (and let’s face it this is one of THE BEST TOOLS available for anyone planning a wedding today) bring your smart phone or iPad so you can scroll through the images you like and just as importantly the images you don’t like!

Your florist can then advise which flowers will be in season at the time of your wedding and therefore what the best quality and best priced flowers will be. She (or he) will also discuss with you the best combinations of colours and textures; flowers and foliage; bouquet size and weight; ribbon colours and lengths; table vase styles and sizes; flowers for your ceremony, signing table, cake table, gift table … the list can go on and on … but this is where budget will most definitely come into play, so have a figure in mind, but be prepared to be flexible!

Inevitably your budget will not go as far as your ‘wish list’ so be sure to identify your flower priorities and your florist will do their very best to stretch your dollar as far as it can possibly go. For example, did you know that you can re-use flowers during different parts of your day? One idea I suggest to all my brides is that once your ceremony is over, ask a friend or relative to move your aisle chair flowers inside to your reception venue. Another is to use your bouquets on your bridal table – your florist can place empty vases with just enough water in the bottom to refresh your bouquets – giving you instant colour at no extra cost!

What things do you need to consider?

There are many things that need to be considered when planning your wedding flowers. But no-one expects you to be a flower genius when you start your journey, so a professional florist’s advice is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of your wedding flowers.

So how do you find the perfect florist for you?

I suggest you do your research first! Every good florist should have a website, Facebook page or Pinterest page where you can see examples of their work. Also look out for previous client reviews or testimonies. Have a chat, either in person or by phone or email, to see how you get along, and whether or not you are both ‘on the same page’ about your ideas. It’s no good banging heads at the very beginning of the process! You need to be comfortable that your florist understands your ideas and is full of helpful suggestions about how to turn your wedding flower dreams into reality.

Once you have chosen the person you want to work side-by-side with to create the perfect visual flower feast, then the real fun begins!

But if there’s one thing I can’t stress enough it’s that you need to be FLEXIBLE! It’s all well and good wanting a specific flower variety, but not if that flower isn’t in season on your wedding date! I have had many a disappointing conversation with brides who insist on peonies in January (FYI they are produced in Australia in November/ early December only and although they are being imported at some other times of the year, the quality isn’t there because of the increased travel distances and/or the price is prohibitive). But if you are flexible and willing to listen to your florist’s advice, they will be able to provide some really exciting and interesting alternatives!

I also like to work with brides who have a preferred colour palette, but not a list of specific flowers. This means I can work with my wholesalers to secure the best quality, in-season flowers at the best price. Rather than purchasing specific flowers (even in poor condition) because I don’t have that flexibility. This is particularly important in the heat of an Australian summer, because you want flowers that are going to cope with the stress!

How do you choose your bouquet?

The most important consideration when designing the all-important bridal bouquet is the colour and style of your dress! This should be used as a guide when deciding:

  • the colour of the flowers featured in the bouquet (your colours should complement your dress, not fight against it)
  • the shape of the bouquet (ie: tall, slim dress shapes suit long, trailing bouquets; whereas a petite bride in a full-skirted, tea-length dress may prefer a smaller ‘posie’ of flowers
  •  the overall size of the bouquet (this should never overwhelm or hide a bride because after all, the dress should always be the highlight! However larger, more free-form bouquets are the hottest trend out of the USA at the moment!)

What flowers do I need for my wedding?

When planning your wedding flowers consider the number of people in your bridal party. If you want bouquets and buttonholes for multiple bridesmaids and groomsmen, flower girls, page boys, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents etc, you need to ensure you have the budget to match! Something to think about BEFORE you ask everyone to be involved!

Same goes for your ceremony and reception venue the bigger the guest list, the more aisle chairs or church pews you will need, and the more guest tables you will need arrangements for. Your florist will need to know how many chairs/tables you are planning to provide an accurate quote, so be prepared with this kind of information early in the planning process (it can always be revised later when RSVP’s are in). Table centrepieces should be under 20cm or over 50cm high. This is the ‘window’ which your guests will have to talk to each other across the table!

The volume of flowers featured at your wedding is entirely up to you and your budget, but to start you thinking, here are a few areas you may wish to consider:

  • Bridal party
    • Bride & bridesmaid’s bouquets
    • Hair flowers
    • Flower girl’s posies, pomanders, handbags, basket petals etc
    • Groom & groomsmen’s boutonnieres
    • Other family members/VIP’s boutonnieres or corsages (eg: ushers, parents, grandparents, siblings etc)
  • Ceremony
    • arch/arbour/entry doors, aisle chairs, petals etc (for an outdoor wedding)
    • entry doors, pew ends, altar flowers etc (for a church wedding)
    • signing table flowers
  • Reception
    • bridal table flowers (including flowers for bride & groom’s chairs or place settings)
    • guest table flower arrangements
    • cake or dessert table, gift table flowers
    • other focal points at your reception venue, eg: dance floor, bar, MC’s podium

Any Do’s and Don’ts?

I like to think of every wedding I work on as a blank slate and every bride has her own unique ideas about what will make her wedding extra special to her. Therefore, there are never any strict rules about what you should or shouldn’t do at your wedding!

In saying that though, here are my key thoughts about how to make the best of your wedding flower experience:

Make it personal. Work with your florist to choose flowers, colours, textures and little treasures that will make your special day just that little bit more memorable. For example, if your dearest grandmother has passed, include a photo of her in a locket that can be pinned to the wrap of your bouquet – that way she can still be with you as you walk down the aisle. Your bouquet wrap could also incorporate a piece of lace from your mother’s wedding dress. And if the scent of eucalyptus reminds you of a childhood spent foraging in the bush, ask for it to be incorporated into your wedding flower order.

Be flexible! You can have a colour palette and a few favourite flowers, but if you give your florist the freedom to work with the best quality, in-season flowers you will achieve a much better result than if you dictate exactly what must and must not be included (allergies excluded – I’d hate to make someone sneeze all night long!!!)

Choose appropriate flowers for the season, and look after them throughout the day. Make sure your florist will keep your flowers refrigerated and in preservative-enhanced water for as long as possible before delivery. Don’t leave them out of water for long periods of time in the heat of the day. Spritz them with water as you are having your photos taken. And once the formalities are over and you have arrived at your reception, but them back in water again!

Don’t leave your flower planning too late. I am always so disappointed when I have to turn a bride away because I was booked by someone else for their wedding date 12 months (or more) earlier.

Be realistic with your budget! Beautiful, fresh flowers are (unfortunately) not cheap, so be sure to leave sufficient funds in your budget. It’s sad when a bride & groom have spent all their money on a reception venue but left nothing in the kitty to make it pretty.

Don’t try to micro-manage your wedding flower set-up. Sure, put the time into planning things early in the process, but as your big day approaches, you will have a much more enjoyable, stress-free experience if you put your trust in your experienced, valuable suppliers to do the job for you.

Trust your florist, after all, they have years of training and experience and will be able to truthfully tell you what will and won’t work.

Courtesy of Bianca Kate Photography