I'll use my most recent floral experience making bouquets and boutonnieres for my sister-in-law's wedding.
First up, you've got to know what the bride wants. My SIL and I chatted about what she wanted and shared some photos back and forth on Pinterest. Considering cost, effort, and what's available in the winter, we came up with bouquets like these below. For the most part, they're a mix of white roses, freesia (sprays of soft white blooms), hypericum (green berries), and some lush greens.
|images from Genesee Valley Florist (upper right) and Bill Beers (lower right)|
After gathering inspiration photos, we made a trip to my floral wholesaler, Potomac Floral, just to make sure she liked everything in person, and also because it's just fun to go play in oodles of pretty flowers sometimes!
My next step was to calculate the number of each stem I'd need for the project. I used the inspiration photos to estimate counts for each type of stem. (Looking back, I estimated about 25% too much for my bridal bouquet, and about 50% too much on the hypericum overall.)
Armed with my estimates, I called my guy at Potomac Floral and placed the order. With the wedding on a Saturday, I planned to pick up the flowers on Thursday. I'd clean them on Thursday, assemble bouquets on Friday, and assemble boutonnieres and corsages on Saturday morning.
Everything went as planned with my pickup! I took my parents along on the field trip, and showed them around. Here are some photos of me in the giant cooler where most of the flowers are kept. They keep the temperature about 38 degrees in there, so I've learned to bring my heaviest coat!
The next step is the one where you've got to start budgeting time. Time to clean the flowers!
By "clean", I don't mean with soap or anything, it's more like "process". Basically, you unwrap all the flowers, cut fresh tips, remove extraneous leaves, and remove any ugly petals. I took photos to help describe it.
When you get the flowers, they're tightly packaged into a box, and slightly wilted because they've been out of water for a while.
You separate them one at a time, and remove thorns, leaves, stems, and ugly petals. I use a steak knife and make chopping type motions parallel to the stem, which cuts off the leaves and thorns. Doing all this makes it so you can easily add them to your bouquets as you're assembling them. For plants without thorns, sometimes I can remove the leaves simply by running my fingers down the stem away from the flower. It's quicker and safer than the knife method.
Finally, cut a fresh tip on the stem and put them in fresh water. If you like how open the flower is, use cold water. If you're trying to get them to open up more, like I was with my freesia, put them in warm water. (But not hot, as you run the risk of killing them!)
Altogether, it probably took me two or three hours to clean all these flowers. I got a little lucky because the freesia didn't require much work, and the roses were essentially thornless, so all I had to do was remove leaves.
Once all your flowers are cleaned/processed and in water, you're done for the day! They'll open up a little more overnight. Having them all ready to go makes bouquet assembly move much faster and more smoothly.
See? It's not so bad! Don't be scared of flowers!