Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Our Wedding: The flowers (and how they almost ruined everything)

When we were planning our wedding, the flowers gave me a huge headache. We've all read those articles that tell you how to "Buy ALL The flowers for your wedding for just $100!" and things like that. Like a fool, I believed that. I think when we first did our wedding budget I planned that we would spend $500 on ALL of the flowers, and while that could be done for some weddings, it couldn't be for ours.

Here's how you can ACTUALLY spend less than $500 total on flowers:

1) Don't live in California.
2) Don't buy anyone corsages.
3) Make all the bouquets and centerpieces yourself.
4) Only use baby's breath and a few clearance grocery store roses.
5) Don't plan on lining the aisle with rose petals.

We used a florist that my family has known for about 30 years. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled about using her, but I felt like I had to. Side note: you really don't have to do anything for your wedding. It's your wedding. I learned this the hard way. I first met with her about 6 weeks before the wedding. My dad and I went to her shop on a Saturday morning when I was in town for some family occasion and she asked me what I was thinking for the wedding. Here's what I told her I wanted:

-My bouquet to have English roses, ranunculus, succulents, gerber daisies, and baby's breath.
-White and pink rose petals lining the aisle.
-7 boutonnieres and 12 corsages.
-6 bridesmaids bouquests with English roses, ranunculus, gerber daisies, and baby's breath.
-20 small bouquets of baby's breath and white stock to line the aisles and go on tables.
-Assorted white and pink flowers to decorate the cake.

She gave me some great ideas and when I left that meeting I was super encouraged and excited. When Keith asked me the price I said, "Oh... we didn't talk about that... but I bet it will be cheap since we've known her for so long! Don't worry."

I'm an idiot.

Two weeks before the wedding my mom and I went to her house to discuss more details and talk pricing. We were sitting at her dining room table and she went over everything I wanted and then when I asked her how much she thought everything would be, she said,

"Well, if you pay cash and I don't have to charge you tax, and I get everything at cost, you're looking at about $1875.00."

You guys, I almost fell out of my chair. I think I was speechless for a full minute (which is a long time when somebody is waiting for you to respond) before I finally asked her how we could cut the cost. She went over a few scenarios and finally got everything down to about $1200 before finally asking the question she should have asked and I should have stated the very first time we spoke: What's your flower budget? I told her that honestly, we were planning to spend less than $500. I don't know how she didn't laugh.

She then went on to tell me that she frequently meets with brides who have a similar budget to mine, and that she had to explain countless times why flowers are so expensive:

1) California is in a drought so any plants are expensive.
2) Florists have to charge for their time.
3) Flowers are effing expensive.

Okay, number 3 is just mine but the first two were valid points. She seemed to understand why I had no idea about this sad truth about weddings, and we finally worked out a plan. I ended up paying her less than $500 for the flowers and her services. Keith and I had a lot of talks about the flowers and the florist and I went back and forth about a lot of things before we finally decided on a plan:

1) She would order baby's breath and white stock and we would make the centerpieces and bridesmaid bouquets ourselves.
2) We would not have any flower petals lining the aisles (the bags of rose petals were close to $90/bag and she estimated that we would need at least 4 bags).
3) She would make my bouquet since I wanted that to be nice (if I were to do this again, I would have made it myself).
4) She would only make corsages for the moms and two grandmothers and only 4 boutonnieres total.

In the end, I was pretty happy with most of it. I was really glad we didn't spend a fortune on flowers, but let me just tell you:

The corsages almost ruined my wedding.

We'll get to that in a minute. First let's discuss other things. The Thursday before the wedding we picked up like, 4 giant bunches of baby's breath and 48 individual stock flowers (if you don't know what those are just keep reading and I'll show you; I didn't know either). My mom and I and some angel friends from Arizona put them into individual vases which looked like this:

"Stock" is the flower that is in the vases. The bottles are empty bottles of Statbucks iced coffee that my mom collected, covered in burlap and a piece of twine, and put a a paper flower that SHE MADE onto. The wooden piece the vases are on is called a "wood cookie" and Keith's parents MADE them. We live in a forest so they found a bunch of sliced wood and sanded and varnished it. I LOVED our centerpieces and they were basically free!

Some of the vases had baby's breath instead of stock, like so:

Below is a picture of the aisle. I sort of wish we had done flower petals along the aisle, but it wasn't worth the $360 (at least) it would have cost us.

For the flowers Baby Kate dropped, I used what I think it a very original idea: she dropped the dried petals of some roses Keith had given me while we dated. 

We had some of Keith's roses in a little basket with some baby's breath by the guestbook (also made by my mom... I have to do a whole post on how my mom made all this stuff).

We also had the florist provide the flowers for the cake. The frosting for the cake is what the bakery called "messy icing." Our florist gave us the flowers and our amazing baker put the flowers on the cake. The cake stand is another wood cookie that Keith's parents MADE. The cake is by far one of my favorite parts of our wedding! (That cake stand is going to be an end table in Keith's parents house, eventually.)

Now, let's get to how our florist almost ruined our wedding: the corsages. When she and I discussed the corsages I told her, "very simple and small, preferably white or light pink roses. VERY SMALL AND UNDERSTATED AND SIMPLE." I said "small and simple" many times before my mom said, "Juel, I think she knows how to make corsages" and the florist assured me that "she's done this a lot so just trust her."

The morning of the wedding I drove to her house to pick up my bouquet and the corsages and she told me, "I have a surprise for you: I changed the corsages a little from what you wanted! You'll love it." Of course I pretended to love it and my sister and sister-in-law who were with me really thought I loved them until we got in the car, began driving, and I started shouting expletives because THE CORSAGES LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING THAT BELONGED AT THE MAD HATTER'S TEA PARTY. Unfortunately this is the only picture I have of the travesty that was the 4 corsages that I paid $100 total for:

For reasons I will never understand, she stuck those metal neon spirals onto all four of the corsages and I about had a cow in the car. I was driving (stupid) and during the 15 minutes I shouted things like,


And my sisters, the angels, just listened to me and promised they would fix them. My sister in law Amy is truly an angel from heaven because she turned the above photo into THIS:

They're beautiful and I love them!! Thankfully we had ordered the rest of the corsages and boutonnieres from a place I googled and then discussed pricing while in a Smart and Final in Redlands, and they were only $12 each and they were exactly what I wanted.

Below, my mom is wearing a botched corsage and my dad is wearing a perfect boutonniere.

I don't know why anybody had wire cutters on the day of my wedding but I'm forever grateful to whomever it was and I really couldn't care less about the why.

We made the bridesmaids bouquets the night before the wedding with baby's breath we'd ordered from the florist and roses we got from Ralph's the night before the wedding. We had the maid and matron of honor use pink roses, and the other four girls had white roses. They did this all on their own. I tried being in charge but all that happened was I held a half bouquet in my hand and ran back and forth from the kitchen to the living room to the parking lot and finally Cortney (far right) took them from me and said, "We're doing the flowers, go deal with whatever you need to."

And that's when my dad and I took a drive to pick up the keys to the hotel the bridesmaids were staying at that night, and I sobbed in the car. He was confused at first and asked me what was wrong and I just said, "Nothing is wrong I'm just getting married tomorrow!" Smart man that he is just replied, "Okay," and put his hand on my shoulder and let me cry.

The bouquets turned out perfectly.

My bouquet cost us about $200 I think, and I'm half happy with it and half not. I feel like I could have just done it myself. It had pieces of it just hanging off, which I had specifically said I did NOT want so I shoved them up into the bouquet, and it just didn't look as uniform as I wanted. But when I see pictures like this, I don't really see the mistakes in my bouquet... do you?

I love the succulents.
So, four months later, how do I feel about the flowers? I feel that I may never forgive our florist for what she did to the corsages. Those caused me so much stress and anger on a day that shouldn't have been filled with that. I absolutely LOVE how everything else turned out, especially the cake. And I love how our photographer Kristina Adams took so many fantastic shots and incorporated our simple flowers:

Here's what I learned:

1) ALWAYS discuss your budget first. Literally before anything else.
2) Have a plan, a backup plan, and another backup plan.
3) Don't have specific flowers you want. Instead, have a specific type of flower you want. I told our florist I loved ranunculus but since those weren't in season, we used dahlias and I loved them.
4) Don't be afraid to buy some stems at a grocery store.
5) Don't be afraid of doing anything yourself.

So there you have it: how the flowers almost ruined my wedding. Seriously, we still discuss those atrocious flowers and I live in fear of running into the florist when I'm at my parents house one day when I'm home... she'll know I'm mad at her. I won't be able to play it off, I'm sure.

So there you have it. How much we spent on our flowers, why, and how they turned out.

Do you think our flowers were worth it?
Would you have spent more or less (or did you) yourself?
Would you do the flowers yourself?
Did I overreact?
love you all.


  1. So basically what info from this post is 1.Move out of California 2.Never hire your florist 3. Budget, budget, budget. You looked amazing and both you and Keith look so happy. The flowers might not have turned out perfect, but seems like the wedding did!!

  2. Your flowers turned out beautifully! I'm so nervous to hire a florist for these exact reasons. Plus, you don't know what anything will look like until you receive the final product. We're doing all of our floral arrangements (minus the corsages and boutonnieres) by ourselves.

  3. I would have reacted the exact same way you did, because it's your wedding and homegirl shouldn't have tried to make it how she thought you would like it! lol I like how you did a lot yourself, you go girl!

  4. know how much I adore your writing. I'm just playing catch up on some of your blog posts and OH MY GOSH you made the most beautiful bride! I'm so sorry about all the stress associated with the flowers...but everything really looks like it turned out flawlessly! xoxo

  5. Do you think our flowers were worth it? I think your flowers turned out gorgeous and I loved your centerpieces. I had never heard of stock flowers before my wedding and they are quite beautiful themselves.
    Would you have spent more or less (or did you) yourself? I spent more than you did on flowers, but I always had a vision and we were right under our flower budget. I was lucky because a family friend's mom co-owned a florist business so we received some very nice prices. My bouquet was out of a dream and I loved every other aspect of our flower arrangements. I LOVE flowers on cakes, my favorite look!
    Would you do the flowers yourself? NO, I'm not crafty enough and would stress out.
    Did I overreact? No, if you had a vision and she changed it that's on her. I would have flipped out too!

  6. Her "surprise" is more like a nightmare... I mean those spiral things look like something that belong at a child's birthday party, so yes... you had every right to freak out! I still think the looked beautiful though :)

  7. Oh flowers were such an issue at my wedding too!!! I had a very specific idea for my bouquet. I wanted Calla lilies (in OHIO.), and deep red roses. They added greenery and some like Christmas ball thing. Whatever I loved it. I got a wrist corsage for my mom, and for his mom, one tiny bag of rose petals for my flower girls, and a boutonniere for him and my dad. My mother made a silk flower arrangement for the alter, and the rest of the church was decorated for Christmas. We stayed on budget ($500), but we also had to wedding party.

  8. I thought everything at your wedding was stunningly gorgeous, INCLUDING YOU. That's all.

  9. OMG those corsages were absolutely terrible with those wire spirals. What the literal hell was she thinking? They look great after you had your people fix them. Still though....why do people not LISTEN!

  10. That is... crazy. I had no idea flowers were so expensive!!

  11. Oh my gosh, I had no idea that flowers could be so expensive! I am now afraid to go to my local florist ha ha. I will however let them know my budget right when I walk in ;) Your flowers turned out gorgeous! I would have been so mad about the corsages, I am glad that they were able to be fixed!

  12. As crazy as it sounds, that's actually really cheap for flowers. Sad, I know!

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  15. First, congratulations on your wedding! I'm married, and I know the stress of getting it all together while keeping costs down. And, it's true, it's your wedding and you should have it the way you want. The flowers do look really beautiful, and, I would spend about the same if I had to do it myself. Congratulations!

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