Words by Ann Russell
If the only flowers you normally buy are a quick bunch of daffs from the supermarket on Mother’s Day, prepare yourself for a shock: wedding flowers are a whole other ballgame. Not only is there far more choice, there’s also a substantial cost involved. But there are plenty of ways to get more for your money without losing any of the impact that beautifully arranged flowers can make.
1. Set the Date
Start at the beginning and get a date in the diary before setting your wedding plans in motion. “Most florists only take on one wedding per day, and brides often forget to include the all-important date in their initial email,” says Isla Duncan of Isla Duncan Florist in Kintore, Aberdeenshire.
It’s worth doing some homework, looking at varieties and colours to see if any particular type of bloom catches your eye. “Before approaching a florist, do some online research and investigate local florists in your area,” advises Rowena McEwan, owner of Glasgow’s Showers of Flowers.
2. Make a connection
Choosing a florist is like dating – you’ll meet lots of people along the way then suddenly click with the right match. Make the perfect connection by meeting your florist in person. “It’s so important that you gel with your florist and feel confident in their abilities,” says Isla. “Any florist worth their salt will know what’s available in the month of your wedding and which flowers work well together, and will suggest flowers to suit your personal style.”
3. Visualise the prize
Most of us aren’t well versed in floral terminology, so asking your florist to show you visual examples of previous arrangements can make your decision much easier. Rowena has this advice: “Ask your florist to make up a mini version of your bouquet to give you an idea of what it might look like. Ask yourself if the colours and flowers work together. The last thing we want is an unhappy bride on her wedding morning.”
4. Share your style
Securing flowers and finding your wedding gown often happen simultaneously, so share the details of your dress with your florist – it’ll help them to picture your complete bridal look. “The floral style we eventually go for is often determined by the dress,” says Isla.
“Soft lace gowns suit natural, floaty arrangements, while a trailing shower bouquet works well with a long narrow dress as it takes the eye from the centre of the dress straight down to the floor.”
Rowena agrees: “Everything is themed to complement your dress rather than overpower it. So if you’re able to give us a swatch of material from the gown, it helps us to match your flowers tonally.”
5. Size up your centrepieces
When planning table decorations, think about the guests’ eye level when they’re seated. “The most popular centrepieces are either very high or very low, because you never want an obstruction in the middle of the table,” says Rowena.
6. Buy budget blooms
Every florist has helped a cost-conscious bride, so ask for purse-friendly tips from the outset. “I’d say 85% of my clients come to me with a theme and very clear ideas and it’s my job to bring that to fruition within their budget,” says Sylvia Cunningham of Flower Design Studios in East Kilbride.
Greenery is a solution to high flower costs, with foliage a great alternative to expensive blooms. “If a bride dreams of orchids but has a small budget, we need to manage her expectations,” says Isla. “To create impact without increasing costs, we choose a smaller selection of expensive flowers and pair them with gypsophila or eucalyptus to fill out the arrangement.
7. Calculate the cost
Table centres are the biggest multiple to budget for, with most venues holding ten tables. “If you’re spending £50 to £70 per table, costs can quickly mount up,” says Isla. “Introducing simple props such as candles or candelabras can keep flower costs down, as can alternating between large and small arrangements throughout the room.”
8. Pick portable pedestals
If you’re spending heavily on flowers, it would be a crime to ditch them after the ceremony. “It makes financial sense to reuse the flowers throughout the day,” says Isla. “Lots of brides get married at venues 30 to 45 minutes away from their reception, so we take everything from one location and set up at the other.”“Couples often use large arrangements to frame an altar, the top table or at the entrance to their venue before their evening guests arrive,” Rowena points out. “It’s a shame when flowers are left behind, so getting two or three uses from your largest arrangements is the best way to make the most of your flowers.”
9. Find his favourite flower
“Men are much more interested in flowers these days,” says Sylvia. “I often meet both the bride and groom for consultations, which I never did before. Scottish men are becoming more experimental – and that makes buttonholes exciting again.”
“Lots of men are getting married in tweed or muted hunting colours and they go for clusters of flowers bound together to keep the buttonhole more natural,” adds Isla. “Mini succulents look great as buttonholes and are a little more masculine than roses.”
10. Finalise the little details
Once the bouquet, table centrepieces and pedestal arrangements are in hand, it’s time to think about finishing touches such as buttonholes, corsages and flower wands. “Wrist corsages are hugely popular for bridesmaids – we’ve seen a lot with simple delicate flowers and pearl, satin or diamanté details,” says Rowena. “And there’s been a rise in flower girl wands too, because they’re cost-effective (around £15) and little girls are more likely to hold onto a wand throughout the ceremony.”