Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wedding Flowers Practice

I'm making 16 centerpieces, 6 bouquets, and 18 boutonnieres/corsages for my friend's wedding!  Eek!  Given that I've never done such a thing before, I've been having some anxiety about my skills and what kind of time this is going to require.  To calm my nerves, I decided to do a trial run.

My training in the floral arts consists of two YouTube videos on hand-tied bouquets, a continuing ed class in floral arranging offered by Arlington County, and an article on boutonnieres.  I've also talked to a few friends and family who claim it's not all that difficult.  See?  Already an expert!  Practice makes perfect though!

I bought two mixed bouquets at Trader Joe's, one in red and one in white.  I didn't really like any of their other flowers, but needed a few more stems, so I collected some blue hydrangeas from my neighbor's yard.  Thanks neighbor!  Don't worry, the real wedding flowers won't include red and won't look so 4th of July!

The first thing I did was prepare the flowers.  I removed all the leaves and thorns from the flowers, as well as any damaged petals.  Then I cut fresh tips on all the stems and put them in water to rehydrate.  I'm anticipating that this portion of the project, when I do it for real, is going to take considerable time.  I'm getting 32 bunches in the mail!!!

I used the same bunch of flowers for all three projects, so I started with the bouquet because it required the longest stems.  It's easy to clump flowers together securely, but challenging to get them into a rounded aesthetic shape.  There are two schools of thought on securing the flowers - start with a few stems and secure each additional stem to the bunch with floral tape, OR just hold the entire bouquet in your hand and secure it all at once at the end.  I tried both, and the second option was easier and looked prettier.  Covering the floral tape with ribbon was super easy, and only used about 1.5 yards of 1" satin ribbon. 

The flowers I had ended up making a bouquet that would be a good size for a bridesmaid.  It took about 20 minutes to make, but that includes doing it twice, as well as not really knowing what I was doing. 

I recorded the height, width, length of stems, and length of ribbon handle so I'll have a good idea of what worked before when I do them for real.  I'm definitely going to start with the bridesmaid bouquets, and do the bridal bouquet last so I've honed my skills.

Then I disassembled the bouquet so I could use the flowers to make a centerpiece.  The flowers I bought didn't come with any greenery, so I had to make do without.  The flowers didn't want to stay in the vase very well, and I'm definitely going to need ferns to create a stable base when I do this for real. 

The centerpiece came together in about 15 minutes.  The reception tables are small, only seating 4-6 people, so I was pretty happy with the size of the arrangement.  It'll look fuller with greenery, too.  Again, I recorded measurements.  Yes, I am a statistician in real life!

Then I disassembled the centerpiece and got to work on the boutonnieres.  The idea here is a focal flower, a "bed" to go behind it, and maybe a few other interesting tidbits.  I didn't have many matching flowers, so I just played around and made a wide variety.  It was really fun to mix and match everything!  Boutonnieres allow for far more creativity than the other projects.  As an added bonus, it only takes about 2 minutes to make one!  Since I have 18 boutonnieres/corsages to make, this discovery was particularly important.

In summary, I've convinced myself that I am capable of doing this project.  I'm going to allow myself about 3 hours to prep the flowers, 3 hours to do the bouquets, 5 hours for the centerpieces, and 2 hours for the boutonnieres/corsages, just to be safe!  Wish me luck!

Lessons Learned:
  • The sale flowers at Trader Joe's are on sale for a reason.  Let's hope the flowers we ordered for the big day are fresher!
  • Floral tape is STICKY!!!
  • You need ferns to really make a centerpiece work
  • Boutonnieres aren't put in water, and wilt easily!  For this reason, I've decided to make the boutonnieres the morning of the wedding just to make sure they're fresh.  I'm also going to try to devise a way to put them in water.

What do you think of the products?  I'd love any suggestions for making them prettier, or any suggestions on making this project easier or more streamlined.  Feel free to share any horror stories so I'll know what to watch out for!


    1. Not sure if the stems are exposed on the boutonnieres at all...but a quick/neat way for them to get water is to wrap the stem in a soaking paper towel and keep it neat by wrapping it again in tin/aluminium foil...but I'm not sure how exposed those stems are so not sure if that will work...

    2. I wrapped them completely, but I don't have to. Thanks for the tip!


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