I went into planning my wedding knowing a few things: we wanted to have it at my parents' house, which meant the decor was going to reflect the rustic quality of the farm, and we had a relatively limited budget. With these constraints, Ari and I had two top priorities when it came to using that budget: 1) food and 2) photography (no surprise there, right?)Thus, when it came time to decide on decor, we knew we weren't going to have much to spend there—plus, we wanted to let the natural beauty of the farm shine through. Since many professional florists charge upwards of $3,000 for a wedding (and even if you're just doing bouquets, the bride's bouquet alone can cost $500 or more), it seemed like DIY was the best way to go.
Now before we get started, let me say one thing: research. You may have a vision of peony-filled centerpieces, but if you're getting married in February (or August, like me), that's just not going to happen without spending exorbitant amounts of money. The best thing that I found was to look for floral designs that you like online, then speak to a florist about how you would recreate that on a budget. Even if you don't end up working with them, they can often give you an idea of other similar flowers you could use that would be less expensive. Case in point: I love peonies. But to get them for our August wedding, they would have had to be flown in from the Netherlands for something like $15 a stem (which adds up very quickly). So we ordered garden roses instead, which had a similar look but for a lower price.
Another note: to keep costs down further, we opted to make simple eucalyptus garlands for our tables instead of floral centerpieces (unsurprisingly, greens are much cheaper than flowers.) So my bridesmaids and I only made a total of seven bouquets (five for each of us, two for extra table decor for the bar and gift table.) This helped us keep our budget much lower—centerpieces, even if they're small, get very expensive for 20+ tables!
We worked with the wonderful The Flower Shoppe in Blaine, Minnesota—I couldn't recommend them enough. Their owner worked with me to come up with the best combination of flowers, kept me updated on supply, and provided us with buckets and rose strippers (which, if you're working with roses at all, you will want—trust me.) If you don't live in Minnesota, I'd recommend reaching out to different wholesale flower vendors to check on their prices and availability—one of the reasons we went with The Flower Shoppe was because I knew we could order eucalyptus and garden roses ahead of time, rather than relying on what was in the market.
Here's how I DIYed my wedding flowers for less than $750:
24 garden roses, $216
50 California Avalanche roses, $147.50
8 bunches seeded eucalyptus, $89.70
6 bunches silver dollar eucalyptus, $89.70
10 bunches white freesia, $55
1 bunch white astilbe, $30
Rose stripper, $6.95
Total: $728.18 (for seven bouquets and 22 table garlands.)
If we had outsourced this to a florist, each of our bouquets would have likely cost more than $150 apiece, and the garlands would have been upwards of $30 each. As far as the actual process of creating your bouquets goes, don't wait until the day before your wedding. Practice! Buy similar flowers at grocery stores, and try different combinations. This also helps you get a feel for how many blooms you'll actually need for your bouquets. Don't be afraid to experiment, and use floral tape to get a feel for how to make a bouquet. I found thesetutorialsinvaluable.
For the garlands, we kept things very simple: 5-6 branches of eucalyptus, wired together. (This is a great tutorial, especially if you like the look of fuller garlands.) Unfortunately, flowers can't be done too far in advance of the wedding, so make sure to budget time in your schedule to put them together. Since I had already practiced making the garlands and the bouquets myself, it only took a couple of hours with the help of my bridesmaids. We had some champagne, stripped some roses and were able to put everything together two days before the wedding—and even though the results were not at the same level as they would have been if we had a professional do them, I'll always treasure that time, and how personal our wedding felt.
All photos by the fantastic Dave Puente.