Fresh-Cut Savings

Want to watch someone’s face truly light up with sticker shock?  Trying taking a friend to the florist when you get a price quote for your wedding.

If you're looking to cut costs at the florist, cutting more expensive varieties of flowers, such as calla lilies, out of your plans may be the way to go.

Let’s see — flowers for the front of the church and the church foyer; aisle decorations; bridal and bridesmaid bouquets;  corsages for moms,  step-moms, grandmothers and possibly aunts and sisters; boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, the dads and step-dads, grandfathers and and possibly uncles and brothers; reception entryway decorations; centerpieces for guest tables, head table or sweetheart table, and the cake and buffet tables.

All told: If you want to pull out all the stops, you’re probably looking at $2,000, bare minimum.  And it’ll only be that cheap if you don’t want some of the pricier blooms, like the ever-popular calla lilies and orchids.

But there are several steps you can take to keep your flower budget from growing like out of control kudzu.

Stick with the season
Instead of paying for flowers that have to be flown in from some exotic locale — and are more expensive, of course — go native.  Ask your florist what will be blooming locally around the time of your wedding.  Shorter traveling distances mean lower prices for you, and as an added benefit, you know you’ll be doing your part to keep your environment clean.

Fill up on fillers
When I had my first planning session at my florist, A Floral Boutique in Ormond Beach, FL, I found out that I wasn’t quite like most brides: Instead of wanting bouquets that burst with blooms, accented by greenery, I was honestly more interested in the greenery being accented with a few gorgeous flowers.  While there was a set base price for bridesmaid bouquets, my preference helped me from going about that by minimizing the number of flowers needed.

Scale down
A six-foot-tall flower spray at the front of the church would be beautiful, but would it really be worth the price?  By cutting down on the size of all your arrangements, from centerpieces to bouquets, you’ll save money on both parts and labor.  Having each bridesmaid carry a simple long-stemmed rose or single hydrangea bloom is one simple, chic way to accomplish this.

A simple bouquet with inexpensive flowers makes a lovely -- yet not-so-pricy -- statement. Bouquet from Flowers by Jenny in Trinity, FL.

Leave the designing to the pros
If you head into a florist with a lot of flexibility built into you flower plans, you can save a lot of money by letting the floral designers do their job — as simply and quickly as they can.  Hand-tied bouquets are cheaper than cascades.  Florists know all the ins and outs of their own business, of course, so leave as much of the designing work to them as you’re comfortable with, and you’ll end up with a lower bill.

Consider alternatives to floral decorations
Knowing that it would be prohibitively expensive to have a florist craft as many decorations as I wanted at my wedding, I turned to potted plants instead.  The look we achieved was absolutely magical — and for a fraction of the price of cut flowers.  Added bonus: My decorations didn’t die a couple of days after the wedding!

DIY when necessary
I’ve watched several brides handle their flowers without ever going to a florist, and the results have rarely been disappointing.  One friend recalled making a run to Sam’s Club to buy roses the day before her wedding.  The bridesmaids tied up their simple bouquets together that afternoon.  Some other friends ordered flowers in bulk from online shops and put together their own centerpieces.  And a few of my friends have even used high-quality silk flowers to create bouquets that will never fade (and until you touched those flowers, they didn’t look the least bit fake).

Whether you have your heart set on a romantic rose-filled wedding, long for a lily-inspired ceremony or just plain don’t have a clue what you want on your big day, spend some time searching florists’ websites, and websites like TheKnot for inspiration.  Then book an appointment with several florists in your area to get more ideas and establish a baseline for local florists’ prices.  Make sure you choose a florist who clearly listens to your desires, someone you feel comfortable working with.

And most of all, keep dreaming of that amazing moment when you get to walk down the aisle carrying your beautiful bouquet.

~ Laura

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