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Wedding Flowers and Arrangements—Best Advice from the Experts

Now that you are planning your wedding, you've got to choose bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, church arrangements, and a stunning corsage for one of the most important people who will attend the ceremony—your mother. Somehow, you'll have to make the arrangements for all this, and at a cost that will likely be between 10 and 15 percent of your overall wedding budget.

If you're like most brides-to-be, just thinking about how to manage all of the details required to successfully deck-out the church, reception areas, and the wedding party with the perfect flowers is enough to make you dizzy. So our first words of advice are "Relax, and follow these tips from well-seasoned floral experts."

First Things First

1. Opt for a Pro—Even the savviest bride-to-be should hire a florist. Given the attention to details and pace on your wedding day, you won't want to be worried about wiring each stem for your bouquet when you should be getting dressed and posing for photos. And don't let money be an obstacle. A truly good florist should be able to work within your budget.

2. Picture Perfect—Just as a hairstylist invariably will ask for a picture of what you have in mind, so will a good florist. Be prepared. Flip through bridal magazines, surf the Internet, and peruse books for flowers and different arrangements that appeal to you. Gather as many images as you can, and take them along when you first visit the florist.

3. Color Coordinate—If you're unable to find inspiring floral designs even after all that browsing, begin with a color scheme. You may want to start with the color of the bridesmaids' dresses and choose coordinating hues, says St. Louis floral designer Dale Rohman.

4. Checking It Twice—Before meeting with your florist, carefully make a list of every flower need. Include the obvious (your bouquet and his boutonniere) as well as the nice touches (garland for the staircase).

Visit the Shop

5. Judge by Appearances—Florists are like home decorators; they are paid to pay attention to details and to create inviting as well as interesting spaces. If the shop seems noticeably out-of-date or hopelessly disorganized and strikes you as unimpressive, look for a different florist.

6. Use the B-word—The cost of your flower arrangements will quickly add up, so don't let it overwhelm your budget. If you are really trying to keep expenses low, downsize. Instead of ordering bouquets for your bridesmaids, have them carry one stunning bloom—a long-stem calla lily, for example.

7. Be Open to Different Ideas—When you meet with your florist, let her know what kind of flowers you like, as well as those you don't like. But keep an open mind, suggests New York floral designer Kimberly Wise. "Give us the parameters to work within—a color, for example—then let us be the experts." After you and your florist have made all of the necessary selections, look over the proposal carefully before signing, just to make sure that you are both on the same wavelength.

Designer's Sense

8. Setting the Scene—The flowers you select will go a long way toward setting the mood for your wedding day. Choose blossoms that match the setting and formality, or informality, of your event. For example, daisies or pansies would be far too casual for a white tie and tails wedding. On the other hand, lush garnet roses are too formal for a beach ceremony. Get the idea.

9. Season Sensations—Spring and summer weddings lend themselves to pale colors, citrus tones and, as the weather warms up, bright, vibrant beach-ball colors. If you are planning a fall wedding, begin thinking in terms of rich, earthy colors, such as amber, burgundy, and rust. Winter brides can create an unforgettable, sparkling effect with evergreens, silver, crystal—and, of course, a wonderland of white.

10. Worth a Thousand Words—You may be dresses in white when you walk down the isle, but which white? Wedding gowns come in many shades of pale, from pure white to ecru, so don't just describe you wedding dress. To ensure that your flowers will work well with your dress, take along a swatch of the fabric when you first meet with your florist.

11. Stay in Proportion—The size of the bouquet you choose should be in proportion to your size. If you are petite, have your florist design a bouquet that complements, rather than overpowers, your size. After all, you don't want your bouquet to be the center of attention. Conversely, if you are a tall woman, you may want to opt for something robust.

Memorable Bouquets

12. Mother-of-the-Bride—Well, she may be making you a little crazy right now, but she'll settle down again once all the excitement is over. In the meantime, consider honoring her love and devotion throughout the years by looking to her wedding bouquet for inspiration. Maybe you'll want to carry some of the same kinds of flowers she did.

13. History and Traditions—If there was ever a time to blend the past with the present, this is it. Devote a little time to reading up on wedding traditions—perhaps in different cultures, especially if that will lend something particularly appropriate to the ceremony. Did you know that during the Middle Ages, brides carried fragrant herbs to ward off evil spirits or that Queen Victoria adorned herself with orange blossoms?

14. One Memento, Please—Would you prefer to keep your wedding bouquet as a memento, rather than toss it away? Have your florist design a "toss bouquet" to throw to those eagerly awaiting maidens. It will be smaller and less expensive, as well as easier to lob.

Jean Bachcroft is a former public relations director. Currently she is the owner of Bachcroft and Aloha Labels and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Town and Country Shopping Bargains Magazine. For designer wedding, holiday, and year-round mailing and return address labels, visit Bachcroft Mailing and Return Address Labels and Aloha Return Address Labels.

For bargains and bargain shopping articles, visit Town and Country Shopping Bargains.

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