5 Tips to DIY Wedding Flowers Like a Pro

A woman arranging flowers in a bouquet for a wedding.

Wedding industry professionals say that the average couple will spend at least 10 percent of their total budget on florals. While this number does include many pieces (bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, etc.), it’s important to remember that the average cost of a modern wedding is $30,000—and if you ask me, spending $3,000 on flowers is much too much!

Of course, there are a few ways to cut costs on those wedding flowers. You can limit your selection to seasonal florals, decorate with larger blooms and fewer flowers overall, or you can even cut out florist costs by making your own arrangements.

That last option tends to make brides a little anxious (after all, many think their DIY arrangements won’t look as nice as the professional ones) but you can create beautiful flower arrangements to rival the pros. All you need are a few helpful hints—and we’ve got them right here!

1. Prep Your Flowers Well

A woman cutting flowers in a bridal bouquet.

Even the best-looking arrangements on the planet will fall flat if the flowers aren’t fresh. This is why it’s critically important to make sure you properly prepare your flowers before (and during) the arrangement process. If you’re totally new to the world of florals, the very thought of “prep work” may seem daunting, but fear not! There are three main rules you need to follow for beautiful arrangements.

Firstly, make sure you trim your flower stems at a 45-degree angle. This will expose more surface area of the stem to the water in your vase (or mason jar, or whatever you’re using for centerpieces) and give your flowers more opportunity to soak up nutrients. Secondly, make sure that the water you use is full of those essential nutrients; many flower markets also sell flower food you can mix into the water. Finally, make sure to grab some gardening shears and prune away any leaves that sit below the waterline; these can breed bacteria over time.

2. Keep the Flowers Cool

Every bunch of cut flowers, from your wedding centerpieces to the bouquet your sweetheart snagged at the grocery store, has one common enemy: the sun. While sunlight is essential for helping living plants thrive and flourish, it only causes cut flowers to wilt faster (remember that the next time you stick a vase on the windowsill). In fact, cut flowers thrive best in cool environments with indirect sunlight, which is why you should take care to keep your wedding flowers nice and chilly.

While you’re working on your wedding flower arrangements, make sure you’re working in a room that won’t expose the flowers to too much light. Then, once everything is ready to go, place your flowers somewhere cool. Even inside your refrigerator would suffice! This will ensure that your arrangements look their best throughout your big day.

3. Invest in Arrangers

A woman arranging flowers for a wedding.

When you’re creating a floral arrangement, be it a wedding reception centerpiece or a bridal bouquet, the “flow” is very important. You want your flowers to sit naturally in the vase (or in your hand), holding the desired shape while still giving each blossom room to shine. For an experienced pro this may be a easy task, but it took a lot of practice for them to get there. If you don’t have years to dedicate to the art of flower arrangements (and I’m guessing you don’t, because the average engagement is only 14 months), you can cut corners with a little DIY hack.

There are several tools you can use to arrange your wedding flowers expertly. Some gardening stores offer arrangers (either in wire frame or stretchy plastic form), which can help you keep your arrangement evenly distributed. Simply lay the tool over the mouth of the vase to create a grid. Then, put flowers in each space the grid provides and move them around to suit your liking. Voila! You have a lovely, natural-looking arrangement, and you didn’t even have to go to floral design school!

4. Stick to One Focal Point

Most of us are used to seeing large, glorious floral arrangements overflowing with so much beauty that we hardly know where to look. While these kinds of arrangements are undoubtedly lovely, they’re also expensive—and a lot of work. Creating a stunning bouquet for a bridesmaid or a centerpiece for the reception requires a firm understanding of flowers (i.e., how they naturally fall) and a keen eye for color and design. For the average DIYer, it can be a lot to take on.

So, how do you make a great centerpiece if you don’t know all the intricacies? Easy: just center your design around one focal point! Start by choosing a nice, oversized blossom—your sunflowers, your peonies, your Casablanca lilies. Place this flower in your vase as the “center” of your centerpiece (keep in mind that it doesn’t have to sit in the middle of the vase). This flower will be your primary focal point, so work around it with greenery and smaller blossoms. Just like that, you’ve created something elegant, yet simple.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

It should go without saying that you need a few flower-arranging practice runs before your wedding day. These flowers are an integral part of your wedding decor, so you can’t have them looking rushed or sloppy! Make sure you dedicate some time to making practice arrangements in the weeks (or even months) leading up to your big day. This will ensure that the final product is fabulous!

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