Floral-induced psychosis: How big is TOO BIG for a bouquet, and other pressing questions

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Bouquet by Jennie Love with Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. Photo by Allebach Photography

I don't get the whole wedding flowers thing. I want a bouquet (what would I do with my hands during the ceremony without one? I can just picture myself standing their awkwardly), but my head spins whenever I even try to think about the other flower shit I need for the wedding.

I just want the place to look pretty!

Why's it gotta be so hard?


miles.jpgGod, good question Jaq. “Why's it gotta be so hard?” could pretty much be the motto of every Offbeat Bride, but I extra-sympathize with you on the flower thing. I skipped the whole issue by getting married in a garden, but for those who chose a different road, there are answers.

I sat down with Seattle's demigod of blossoms, Fiori Floral Design‘s Miles Johnson and peppered him with questions and got a few tips for the floral-impaired:

Miles, how can brides get the most bang for their buck?
Pick in-season flowers, especially dahlias in summer and peonies in May. You get big bulky flowers, and you're paying low seasonal prices. Dahlias and peonies are also great because they're big flowers that make a big impact. Don't be fooled by inexpensive flowers like lilies of the valley. At a buck or two a stem they may seem like a bargain — but they're so small that it takes a lot of them to make an impact.

Oh, and if you can, for godsake avoid having your wedding in the 10 days before Valentine's Day. Prices on roses are jacked up 40-50%, and you'll have price increases on other flowers, too.

Obviously you're a florist with a vested interest helping brides, but do you have tips for couples who want to do their own flowers?
[related-post align=”right”]Timing can make it difficult for couples to actually arrange flowers themselves, since you need to be working on arrangements the day before the wedding, when couples have their hands very full. If you're not using a florist, make sure you have a friend or family member who's really committed to helping you the day before and day of your wedding.

Also, if you have to pick between which floral elements to get help with, do your centerpieces yourself — but have a professional do your bridal bouquet. Bouquets are the hardest to put together and they're the most photographed. [Editorial aside: if you're feeling brave and want to try making your own bouquet, here's a quick how-to.]

So, centerpieces, hmm? Got any tips about them?
Rocks look great with centerpieces, especially when combined with low bowls to create pond feeling and table-scaping element. [Here, I busted up laughing over the phrase “table-scaping.” Miles very graciously didn't slap me for giggling.] Rocks and table-scaping are a great way to stretch your budget — but don't over do it. There's nothing worse than an over-scaped table. Limit yourself to three elements on the table besides dishes. Mostly, just remember that it doesn't have to look cheap to be inexpensive. Intention is everything.

bigbouquet.jpgWhat about ceremony flowers?
Do it big and well, or just skip it! It's better to intentionally have nothing and go for a minimal look than to have a small, distracting floral element.

How big is too big on a bouquet?
The shorter the bride the smaller the bouquet should be, and in general no bigger than the bride's head. [Here I had to show Miles pictures from my wedding, where my enormous bouquet was twice the size of my skull. We both laughed.] … Well, rules are meant to be broken!

A very special thanks to Miles from Fiori Floral Design for taking the time to answer my silly questions.

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Comments on Floral-induced psychosis: How big is TOO BIG for a bouquet, and other pressing questions

  1. I had no wedding flowers — I stood with my hands clasped in front of me during the ceremony, and for the photos, I mostly was holding my husband’s hand or elbow, or had my arms wrapped around one of my loved ones. It was just one less thing to think about, which made the day just a little easier.

  2. I’m lifting this from the offbeat photo pool:

    world's cheapest flower arrangement
    okay, the square vase was a bit pricey, but the fish gravel was $3.50 and the roses were $8 for 22 (we put the other six in a taller vase in the bedroom). not too shabby. thanks for the idea, malmaison!

    note to ariel: these weren’t our wedding flowers, but i couldn’t comment on your blog post re: arrangements. if i’d arranged our flowers myself (and had thought of this look), i’d have totally have done this for our centerpieces.

  3. Here are some of our centerpieces – we had a moon and stars themed wedding and my husband crafted planet centerpieces for each table. They were more fun (at least to us) than flowers, and guests seemed to enjoy being assigned to planets rather than table numbers.

    • Do you still have these? How did your husband do them? We have a theme for our group as Planet Mom. I would love to do something like this.

    • how did you craft those planets, I need to make centerpieces with different planets, but don't know where to start. I love your idea!!

      • Just an idea – oasis floral foam comes in rounds/different sizes…place short cut fresh flowers covering entire round and place atop an eiffel tower vase….use different color flowers….one larger one for the sun…..red for Mercury, a green/blue combo for the earth…etc. etc. have fun! Marge

    • How did you do those, and how much did it cost you? I want to do something similar, but I have no idea how to go about it. Are those balloons?

  4. Ahem. I would like to ….well, write an entire addition to this post. As a florist-cum-wedding planner, one of THE biggest mistakes I see people (try) and make is “Oh, it’s just flowers,….I can do thaaat.”

    Flowers are, #1: Hell on your nails. For some brides, this isn’t a big deal, but most people are going to have some pictures taken of their hands and they don’t want them to look…icky.

    #2: Having elements that you can break apart/transfer from the ceremony to the reception is another great way to economize.

    #3: Pick one to three varieties of flowers (ie dahlias, roses and stock) that are in season to maximize your budget.
    Don’t forget: Using textural elements such as: branches, metal objects ie birdcages, found objects, wood (boxes for centerpeices, tiki torches, driftwood, slices of a birchtree for a cake stand), recycled or borrowed elements (silver, china or other funky containers from thrift shops) are all wonderful ways to save cash and make a splash.

    When in doubt or where budget is tight, use candles of all shapes and sizes- unless your venue requires they all be in a container. (In that case, go with lots and lots of votives or large dramatic candle ‘vases’ you can get at Target, etc) You can accent them with rocks, glass, moss or grass and a few large, long-lasting dramatic blooms (ie orchids, sunflowers) and plants such as succulents.

    Don’t forget the greens: Textural elements like ferns, ti leaves, grasses, flax, fuzzy verbena leaves, fruited branches, fruit and veg (you wouldn’t believe how cool peaches, limes, eggplants, mangos, heirloom tomatoes or figs look all piled up) etc are usually dramatic and cost-effective.

    Don’t forget the size rules: No taller than from your elbow to your wrist (about 24 inches) or else they must be clear/thin and really tall, to avoid aggravating people.

    And, finally: When in real doubt: Have a florist do the bouquets, and diy your centerpieces if they are simple and elegant.


  5. I felt pretty much like Jaq, and didn’t want the stress of DIY the day before. We met with four or five florists, and two of them asked a lot of questions less specifically about flowers and more about what we liked in terms of visual styles and what else would be going on with the wedding, visually. They both used that to give us a sense of what they could do within a budget that they thought we’d like, and what the general vibe of it would be, which made it way less hard.

    We went with the one who’d done the flowers for a family wedding last year because she inspired the most trust. I really didn’t want to have to think about details related to flowers once we hired her.

    We’re spending more than we thought we would on flowers, due to having the wedding 4 days before Valentine’s Day (we’d already scheduled it then for having-family-there reasons before we started thinking about flowers) but I expect to be pleasantly surprised by whatever she comes up with.

    I did have a brief fit of “the flowers are going to die anyway, what’s the point, I don’t need a bouquet” but my almost-husband pointed out I might appreciate having something to do with my hands during the processional. When I asked what he’d be doing with his, he said “wringing them” which made me laugh and get over the issue.

    Oh, and we’re skipping centrepieces — the meal will be served family style, so there needs to be room for the food!

  6. I’m getting married in February and was lucky enough to be pointed to a fabulous florist by our cake designer. I found that the fact that we were referred she cut us a rate and since we were going with gerberas she was very happy because she was worried we’d be scammed by the feb rose deal. If you stay away from roses you’re good in February though there is an increase just in general unfortunately.

  7. im going through the trenches at the moment of wedding paining, but since i found this site its becoming so much fun!!!!

    were gonna do it in september this year.

    ive decided im going to make the flowers with tissue papers and sticks for the bouquets and centerpieces. i can do this in front of the television which is pretty ace. that way the bouquet can be kept in a glorybox for the future baby (is that cheating?) and also it means no support of the water-wasting cutflower industry. they do better things for us when they stay connected to the earth. yay!

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