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?

—Jaq

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 used to work for a florist in college, specially onoe summer doing weddings(which is probably what turned me into and off-beat-bride-to-be) and one thing i realised working with my florist… she’s an artist and she loved to arrange, so the more particular the bride was about the bouquet, the less amazing it was. The best bouquets i saw her design(and she was an incredible florist) was when the bride gave her colors, a price restriction, and maybe a size idea or a favorite flower and let the florist run with it. Often in these cases the florist would go the extra mile to make it perfect(putting more money into it than she charged for or even picking flowers from her personal garden) because it was something that was her artistic vision. I”m not saying you shouldn’t get what you want, but i think that in general knowing a basic flower you love and letting a florist design around it usually works out better than trying to pick out every individual flower, after, they know what’s in season and also…they’re professionals in this field for a reason.

  2. Centerpieces: Flowers that did not go to waste. We donated all our florals to hospitals and nursing homes — each was a location that one of our grandparents had spent time. From the first time we met with our wonderful florist, we warned him that we would be giving our centerpieces away. He planned beautiful containers that he did not expect to get back. Friends help coordinate the day after deliveries and even wrote very nice cards that explained where the flowers had come from and why they were delivered to each location.

    Ceremony decor: Behind us at the ceremony we had a wall of strung flowers. The florist had warned us that stringing all the flowers would be expensive, but if family or friends could make them we would save a lot of $$. At our pre-wedding picnic we asked all our family and friends to string at least one strand, and to think of us as they did. The activity gave everyone something to do while they got to know each other and at our ceremony we were surrounded by the energy all our friends and family had put into the flower strands. (sappy, but sweet.) Not to mention the amazing plumeria fragrance filled the room.

  3. I’ve decided to skip the flowers (there will be flowers growing around us, I’d rather not pick them and kill them just to walk around for 15 minutes).
    Instead? A VEGETABLE BOUQUET! You can do really cool stuff with carrots and leafy greens (and purples!), even carry it all in a hollowed out gourd. And then, you can eat them for dinner! I plan to start snacking on the carrots once our ceremony is over ; )

    • I’m planning a riff off of this: herbs. 🙂 Rosemary, sage, chamomile and lavender are going in there so far, but I’ll get in touch with a local organic greenhouse and another organic farm and ask what they grow and what’ll be harvestable next fall to tie into a bouquet for me and pot for decor. That way if one of the critters (or a guest) gets the munchies, we don’t have to worry about somebody (like the resident cat) getting sick, and everything will smell awesome without the excesses of the hot house flower industry. 🙂

  4. What a great post! As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen way too many bouquets that are so big, they not only dwarf the bride, but the stem is so thick the bride can’t even hold it!

    And then there are those rhinestone wraps around the stems that actually cut into a bride’s fingers and get blood… yes, blood… on her dress.

    Trust me, ladies, simpler and smaller is better. Let YOU and your beauty shine.

  5. As our ceremony was super small and on a beach, we didn’t really do flower arrangements or bouquets. But! What we did do was order felted flowers from Muncle Fred Art (https://www.etsy.com/shop/munclefredart). My husband wore a bright bout and we custom ordered a colorful floral crown for me. As for what to do with our hands… we held each other’s and it was glorious to feel his sweaty palms on mine. Mine were naturally equally gross.

    Pictures!
    http://ambermarlow.com/tag/cape-may/

  6. We had fiascos all around with doing our own flowers.

    My mom was in charge of getting the bouquets we painstakingly arranged the night before the wedding to where we were getting ready for the ceremony the next day. She forgot to add extra water before going to bed and my bridal bouquet died. The morning of the wedding was spent trying to get an emergency bouquet, so any money saved was more than made up for by having to get a second bridal bouquet.

    My mother-in-law was supposed to bring our centerpieces and other flowery decorations for the reception. She decided it was too windy and they would fall over, and we didn’t find out until we arrived that we had zero of the wedding decorations we’d spent so much time and thought on.

    If I had to do it all again, I would either have hired a professional wedding person to be in charge of setting things up/ keeping things alive, or just skipped flowers except my bouquet and had that done professionally.

    Our groomswomen and matriarchs wore crocheted flower pins and they, of all things, turned out great.

  7. Honestly I carried a little book in which I had written my vows. Gave me something to hang onto without doing the flower thing. Also I’d disagree slightly with the no bigger than your head rule. Look at Ariel’s Wedding. It was big and bodacious, cool, fun and particularly outgoing. For something like that? Yeah I don’ t thing there are rules that cover it. If you’ve got yourself a big bodacious theme, the I’d say the sky’s the limit.

  8. What is too big, I’d suggest think of the weight you’re carrying around often one handed and blocking out details like dresses or heads. I made my bouquets the night before, I love flowers so splurged a little bit then wanted to use them all so my bouquet kept getting bigger and bigger… Ended up gorgeous but heavy and the best man often held it for me. I used fake flowers and gum tree branches for the ceremony and reception decorations, all arranged the night before. A bit mad.

    Another suggestion, forage for branches and leaves prior to the sun setting, running around the bush in the dark, with no torch dragging branches on my own in the rain wasn’t the happiest or smartest move.

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