The DIY Wedding: Why flowers shouldn't be on the DIY list. / by Alexsandria Vaughan

I recently read a true story on an online wedding magazine, about a woman who had planned to DIY her flowers. She had ordered a bunch of pre-made hydrangea arrangements online. When her arrangements arrive 48 hours before the wedding, the flowers were too small and too few. She called the vendor who offered no help and in the end she solved the issue by running around her neighborhood snipping every hydrangea she could find from window boxes and local cafe hedges. 

Now, before I get into why you should not do your own flowers I want to make it super clear that I'm not anti-DIY. If fact I'm all for it, but flowers are usually not worth the stress, and later in this post I'll give some examples of centerpiece solutions that are more DIY friendly.

The above story is a primary example of why ordering flowers from a wholesaler and doing them yourself is one of the riskiest and most stressful things you can do. Flower wholesalers are usually very unscrupulous people and they’re completely unconcerned with customer service. They don’t need to be concerned. They know you'll never buy from them again and they know that they’ll always have business from the retail shops that use them. The occasional bride is just a bonus and an opportunity to charge an unwitting bride more money for less, or undesirable product. And by the time the bride gets the flowers it’s usually too late to fix any problems. You may end up saving a small amount of money. And for some brides, that small amount of savings is absolutely essential. I can understand that.

However, the stress of working with a highly perishable product in the already high stress 48 hours before a wedding is usually not worth the savings. Flowers are not an easy medium to work with. Every type of flower has a specific type of care required. For instance, most people don't know that hydrangea have woody stems and therefore must be scraped before being put in water, otherwise they wilt. Also peculiar about hydrangea, is that the flowers are actually super tiny and located in the center of what we normally perceive the "flower" to be. What we think of as hydrangea flowers are actually bracts, or modified leaves and these leaves have the ability to absorb water. So when a hydrangea wilts, or starts to wilt, there is a good chance of saving it by spraying the heads with water or dunking the whole head.  

Florists learn these things and therefore how to avert or solve any floral related crisis. And when all else fails and the dahlias just won't stop shedding their petals, a florist know where to go to get a suitable substitute. And because it's the reputation of their business that is on the line (unlike the wholesaler) they go to great lengths to solve these crises including spending their own profit margin to make sure your event goes off smoothly and everyone is happy.

And the worst part is, after all the stress of dealing with these delicate beauties your DIY flowers are bound to look like DIY flowers. And even when you're going for backyard chic, the arrangements you get after all that stress and hassle and work aren't much to look at. Because it takes a long time to learn how to work with flowers and years to actually be good at it. 

But please don't mistake me! I'm not against DIY weddings in general. In fact, I love that more and more brides are getting involved in the creative aspect of their weddings. We should all have the opportunity to flex our creative muscles and get a little crafty every once in a while. One of the weddings featured on my site was partially DIY. Eric and Julia had a wonderful time making hundreds of little yarn pompoms for their guests to throw in lieu of birdseed or rice. They also made all their table numbers using pretty printed fabric.

Eric and Julia made the little yarn pompoms that guests threw as they walked off as husband and wife for the first time.

Eric and Julia made the little yarn pompoms that guests threw as they walked off as husband and wife for the first time.

If you must DIY the flowers I recommend coming up with a creative alternative to floral arrangements for your centerpieces instead. Here is a photo of a very simple and creative design I made for a hotel a few years back. 

A sandblasted grapevine with succulent and reindeer moss accents make a great DIY alternative to traditional florals.

A sandblasted grapevine with succulent and reindeer moss accents make a great DIY alternative to traditional florals.

With a little hot glue and some creativity you can come up with all kinds of vastly less stressful solutions to doing your own flowers. 

And you can always lean on the magic of candle light like this gorgeous design that's floating all over the internet lately. 

 

photography by Tom Mannion for elle decoration december 2009

photography by Tom Mannion for elle decoration december 2009

You know it's a great design when you're angry at yourself for not having thought of it first!