When You'd Rather Not… Hire a Florist

If you're not familiar with my "When You'd Rather Not…" series, I encourage you to read the backstory and see which other wedding resources I've covered.

One of the worst parts of my job comes at the end of the reception. The party is winding down, the guests are leaving, and I'm facing a hundred vases filled with still lovely flowers.

I've stuck them in fridges. I've wrapped them in wet paper towels. I've done everything I can to preserve the blooms that my clients labored over picking. But even then, the end of a wedding often finds me throwing out handful after handful of beautiful plants.

This, I realize, is a tired argument: "Why buy flowers? They just die anyway." Of course, that argument leaves out just how gorgeous a well-made bouquet is, how flowers make things feel festive without even trying, and how hard florists work.

So, if you want flowers but not waste — either of your budget or your sanity — consider these options.

Hit the grocery store

Farmers markets get all the love and yes, they can be helpful, but an even more affordable option? Your local grocery store. I’ve worked with clients who got wholesale steals from Safeway. True, what they bought had to be in season (a.k.a. if you want tulips in December, good luck) but the results still wowed.

Another option: Costco. They offer wedding flower packages ($69.99-449.99) that you order a few weeks before the wedding and then pick up closer to the event.

Go green

One bride I know couldn’t have cared less about flowers. (Her focus: photos.) So she opted for all greenery. Think ferns and filler. The result accomplished what she wanted — a little plant life here and there — while allowing her to pay more for the elements of her wedding that she actually cared about.

Try a garden

Miki Maxey has been a florist since 1994 (she’s also one of the top florists whom I recommend). I asked her for advice when it comes to flowers and this tidbit stuck out: "Ask any friends or family if they would be willing to let you cut flowers and greens from their gardens." 

Don't know anyone with a green thumb? Try Nextdoor or Craigslist. "Post that you're looking for anyone willing to let you cut from their garden," she says. You'll be surprised by how many people want to help.

Pick your favorites

I recently Googled "flowers you need at your wedding." Bad idea. One list I found had 33 different flower arrangements that you "needed" for a wedding including "powder room decorations." I don't know about you, but I don't really need to look at flowers while I poo, so here's a tip: Only buy your favorites.

Do you want everyone in your wedding party to have flowers? Great. Boutonnieres and corsages it is for anyone in your processional. Couldn't care less? Skip 'em. Did you buy truly spectacular arrangements for your ceremony? Designate someone to haul them to the reception. Planning to toss your bouquet? Use a bridesmaid's or ask for yours back rather than buy a "tossing bouquet."

Not all florists may like — or accommodate — this "pick your favorites" mentality, but I encourage you to ask for what you want. If the florist insists that they have to do centerpieces and also bouquets but you only want bouquets, keep shopping (and don't hesitate to tell the vendor that you are). A little competition can go a long way to changing the conversation.

Still feeling floral?

Go for it. Flowers are beautiful. They're also one of the quickest ways to make a space feel elegant.

But you don't have to have them. No one's not going to know that's your mom if she doesn't have a matching corsage, and your marriage will still be legal even if you don't carry a bouquet. 

That said, if flowers are a priority for your wedding, plan to invest. Hiring a florist is one of the few situations in wedding planning where I believe you get what you pay for.

The whole order-online-and-do-them-yourself tactic? Let me put it this way: There's a reason florists charge what they do.

Have something to share? Email me at elisabeth@elisabethkramer.com