DIY Wedding Flowers - A checklist for the Daring and Brave!
If you're considering DIY wedding flowers I thought it might be helpful to give you some tips on how to plan, manage and organise yourself to achieve this mammoth task!
To start, you will need TIME!
We take about 30-40 hours during the week of the wedding to get the florals ordered / delivered / and made up. There's a heck of a lot involved!
So if you have a group of friends and family with about 30-40 hours to spare on the week of your wedding, then it could work for you.... Here's where the TIME part happens:
driving to and from the markets (twice), loading the van at market, unloading the van back at the studio, (allow 8-10 hours just for this part including driving there and back twice).
prepping all the florals - stripping, cleaning, removing dead petals, removing unsightly stems and leaves), cleaning and sorting garbage/wrappers etc
conditioning all the blooms (usually by changing buckets and solutions 2-3 times) to get them looking amazing.
making all the arrangements and preparing all the vases/vessels/materials/structures.
CLEAN UP time for all the mess that has piled up from making all these arrangements.
TIME to pack all the arrangements carefully for transporting to the event. (This takes a lot of skill and packaging materials by the way!). You don't want everything spilling or breaking in the car on the way to the wedding!
Time BEFORE the wedding week where you'll be needing to sort out your vessels, remove stickers, clean everything
TIME to research and plan your wedding floral design/what's in season/how-to videos and workshops etc.
TIME IS OFTEN THE MOST UNDER-ESTIMATED RESOURCE for planning and preparation of wedding flowers. Even the most professional of florists can struggle with time-management for preparation and setting up of wedding flowers - often from outside factors beyond their control - such as a venue not having the tables and tablecloths ready when the florals are delivered! So, if you are DIY'ing, you'll need nerves of steel, great support crew, and some very careful planning of your time in the week before your wedding.
What about Skills?
My top tips for the skills you'll need to bone up on are:
If you want to try to DIY - then I'd recommend you do a practice run (best to do a year out from your wedding date - so you can get the same seasonal flowers and know what to do when the real date arrives).
Like any other skill, floral design takes practice.
Create some arrangements, make up a tablescape, work out how many flowers you'll need for the vases you have available, and take notes on how the flowers last and when they look best... this way you can calculate backwards what you'll need and when to start arranging.
Flower Knowledge, Sourcing and Conditioning:
All flowers require different conditioning methods to get them to the perfect stage for event floral design. This arrangement that I did recently has poppies, blossoms, tulips, and ranunculus that have all been conditioned to perfection so that they are at their best for the event. They didn't arrive from the markets looking like this!
When you bring flowers home from the markets, they are NOWHERE NEAR READY to be used straight away for your event! The blooms are most likely to be closed, they will have thorns, unwanted leaves or prickles, spikey bits, broken bits, dirty stems etc. You need to prepare the flowers in the appropriate ways to remove all the unwanted and unsightly bits, and then trim and clean all stems, separate into various buckets and solutions, and sometimes even soak in boiling water for some blooms.
Do your research - otherwise, you'll end up with blooms that have not lasted, or not opened up to their full beauty for your event.
Equipment and Tools:
Get ready to make some investments in all the tools you'll need to get the job done properly. For a start, you'll need ONE BUCKET PER 2-3 BUNCHES of flowers. So, if you're getting 60 bunches - you'll need at least 20 buckets. And make sure the buckets are the right sizes.... this is REALLY IMPORTANT because if you have the heads of the flowers shoved into a bucket, they will all get squashed and bruised.
You need the right size buckets to be sure your flowers don't get damaged. If you need to you can buy buckets here.
Here is a list of tools that I find most helpful with links to purchase:
General Secateurs - Cyclone Brand
Hire a Mobile CoolRoom (Sydney)
I would estimate you'll need to allocate a budget of around $300- $500 for all your supplies, vases, tapes, secateurs, buckets, ribbons, wires etc.
Workspace and Storage Space & Logistics
I recommend a large table or a few tressle tables to be ready and waiting for you to get going on the flowers.
The work area will soon feel like a wild and freakish storm of leaves, plastic wrappers, stems, mess, and green stains has hit... so you're best off to work on the flowers in a cool, dry, non-carpeted, non-precious space.
You'll need ample garbage bins and waste management, and access to water to fill buckets. Often buckets don't fit into a kitchen sink - so a bath or garden hose is a good option.
Prepare Workspace / tools / buckets / dropsheets etc.
Organise people to help (this may mean doing a pre-wedding flower workshop together so you can learn some skills and they know what to do and don't damage all your flowers!
Lists, Lists, Lists.
Create some recipe lists if necessary - so you know what and how many of each go into each arrangement/bouquet etc.
Set alarms and reminders for rotation of flowers and fresh trim and water every day (week before wedding)
double check with venues for delivery times and set up times
double check floorplans and that the number of arrgmts matches the number of tables, and that your sizing is proportional to the size/width of the tables.
When you get the flowers home, firstly do all your stripping, sorting and conditioning. Leave the flowers in buckets somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight.
Remember, this will all be happening in the few days BEFORE your wedding, so make sure you don't have too many people popping in and risking damage to the flowers!
A day before the wedding, you can make up all the bouquets and arrangements and get them packaged and ready for delivery. (If you make the arrangements too far in advance, the water in the vases will be discoloured, and full of bacteria, and it's a pain to take out all the flowers, clean the vases, and replace the water!) Store somewhere safe and out of the heat/sun.
Good luck! I'd love to hear how you go and if you're game to try DIY wedding flowers!