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weeder’s digest: diy wedding flowers four-one-one

by Grace Bonney

This week I thought we could focus on how to best manage your wedding flower table arrangements. Table decor is often the most expensive part of wedding floral budget, and in truth, you can save a lot of money by taking this beast on yourself….with a few simple guidelines.

FACT: your bridesmaids most likely don’t know how to arrange flowers
FACT: your bridesmaids probably would rather drink mimosas and fret over which groomsman they’ll be paired up with walking down the aisle
FACT: you’re not going to have time to hand-select flowers at the farmers market on the day of your wedding. really. you. will. not.

In light of these facts, if you are stuck on the idea of handling the flowers for your wedding yourself, you need to follow the two rules of DIY wedding floral decor: 1 – KEEP IT SIMPLE. 2 – CHOOSE ONE FLOWER. Believe me when I say these 2 rules makes the day of (or the day-before) prep work completely manageable.

To showcase these rules, my assistants Amy and Amanda helped to put together 2 different table scenarios. In the first we uses Delphinium, a gorgeous blue or lavender flower available locally in most areas of the US. In the second, we used Mountain Laurel, a woody-stemmed bush also available in most zones. Both of these flowers are available in June.

With simple flower arrangements it’s nice to embellish the table in other ways. Amy, a craft maven in her own right, brought two bolts of different cotton fabric which she fashioned into runners that complemented the colors of the Mountain Laurel and Delphinium. For the first table, we arranged the delphinium in some simple pint mason jars and old apothecary bottles. Any loyal, intoxicated bridesmaid can do this. Runner goes down, extra bits of delphinium are tied around the napkins with the place cards (printed on the computer). Some small glass bird ornaments are clipped right into the flowers. Now you’ve got a coordinated mess folks. And…onto the next.

With the Mountain Laurel table we used a pink runner on a muslin table cloth. The vases we picked up at Ikea for $1.99 a piece. If you’re setting long tables, plan to have one vase for every 3-4 people. If you’re using rounds, place 3 or 5 (always odd numbers with flowers) in the center of each table.

For the table numbers and place cards Amy played around with vintage postcards. Names can be hand-written on brown craft paper and just slipped under some twine that ties it all up with the napkin.

Lastly, I always stress the votives. The photos don’t do them justice, but you know they go a long way for ambiance at an evening wedding. You’ll want to have one votive for each guest.

Does this help, or am I leaving pertinent details out? Hit me up with questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best with answering. After I’m done with this weekend’s weddings, and have had my own mimosa of course.

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  • “loyal, intoxicated bridesmaid” funny. As a soon-to-be bridesmaid who was recently in another wedding where I had to help arrange my own bouquet, the centerpieces, the altar decorations, etc. the day before and day of the wedding and with no clue how to arrange flowers, I can say that your “facts” are dead right.

  • you make me want to get married again! my hungover bridesmaids put lillys in tag sale glass vases (groups of 3) and we got compliments on our flowers all night. but i’m still apologizing for the unlimited wine at the rehearsal dinner. love the placecards!

  • One bit of advice from a friend’s wedding ~ Don’t light the votives too early, or there won’t be any candle left by 8pm!!

  • I gasped at the beauty of these arrangements. If possible, please share the fabric details of the runners. Thanks!

  • This is somewhat off topic, but has anyone seen or used handmade paper flower arrangements for weddings? I have seen some suggestions from sources like Martha Stewart, but I am skeptical.

  • You might be covering this in a future post, but what about large/tall arrangements? We are going to have a reception with passed food & drinks only. So the flowers are going to be at smaller tables throughout the room that aren’t really for sitting – and most people will be standing. What about simple (read: myself or friend can do it) LARGE flower arrangements that will stand out in a room where most people won’t see smaller groupings of flowers?

  • Should you order the flowers from a shop, online, wholesale, etc? I’m planning on doing a very similar thing with my tables, and I’m ordering bunches from a floral shop, but I was thinking it might be cheaper online. But should I trust them to be quality?

  • @ Allison 11:54 I hired Saipua for my bouquet and made paper flowers for our tables. I bought one kit from papersource, did some online research for flower variations, and mixed patterns and solids within our color scheme. I collected milk glass bottles from thrift stores and it worked out great. The paper flowers are time consuming and I made them in stages over a couple of months rather than all at once. It was worth it in the end. Plus still have many of the flowers around to enjoy!

  • Could have used this advise 3 years ago at a nieces wedding where all the girls in the family were put into service as “floral designers” before the reception. The bride had lots of roses, and empty vases and said “arrange them anyway you want”, and then proceeded to re-arrange them herself, and that was after she “fondant-ed” her own wedding cake……..YIKES

  • Love the frothy look that the delpheniums give. Your creations are always a pleasure to the senses and doable for those of us in the midst of West Texas even!

  • Oh, beautiful! I love mason jars and am going to use them also.

    Jennifer, why not checking our your local Costco or Sam’s Club? My local Sam’s sells a variety of flowers in stems of 70, 80, or 100 and they’re all reasonably priced. That’s where I plan to buy flowers for my wedding in a few months.

  • I was just married on June 6th. We used hydrangeas in mason jars with raffia tied around the top and a mix of tiny flowers in wine bottles (labels peeled off) with raffia wrapped around the neck. It took all of an hour to put together (by me and my bridesmaids) and cost less than $1400….for a wedding of 150 people in NYC!

  • I did my own flowers for my wedding – but I just used our bouquets (small clusters of mini callas with ribbon wrapped around the stems and held in place with a line of pearl headed pins) and strategically put them in square vases from Ikea around the movie theater where we had our reception. Our guests’ tables were very narrow, so I just put out tons of tealights popped out of their metal bases and put into super-cheap tealight holders from Ikea. It was really beautiful, and the flowers were much easier to arrange than I thought. I just recommend doing a practice run several months before (just in case you change your mind) to see if it’s doable and to see how much time you should devote to the arranging. That said – these are gorgeous!

  • Great tips!! We’re going to be trialling diy centrepieces in spring for our wedding so these tips are going to help! :)

  • I’m in love with the simple flower choices and the beautiful and laid-back decoration! So inspiring. Makes me want to decorate a table right away. Thank you!

  • Anyone have any good sites or suggestions for getting inexpensive vintage postcards (such that the postcard idea would be affordable for a 100-150 person wedding). I like the idea of vintage postcards from cities/places—international and U.S. I’d love to hear your tips.

  • We are using fiftyflowers.com for our table centerpieces (wedding in 1 month). I was able to get about 250 stems for under $400, including garden roses that look like peonies. Then I found “vases” in the kitchen section at ikea– just a simple ceramic white pot. Finally, we found silver favor boxes with a beautiful cut out pattern– take off the lid, add a tea light, and voila– votives. They cost the same as plain glass ones, but look a lot nicer!

  • I did something really simple for my wedding – one yellow Kalanchoe in the centre of each table. Each potted plant was on a round place mat, with three tea lights. No flower arranging required and it looked really nice :)

    After the ceremony, the bridesmaids bouquets went in vases around the reception room, and my bouquet went into a vase on the cake table. The pots, tealights, vases (except the cake table vase) and clear glass tealight holders were all from IKEA. I did order the potted flowers from a florist and they were five bucks each. And used the same florist for the bouquets, corsages and boutonnière’s, our total flower budget was under $600. And I had six bridesmaids and 12 dinner tables.

  • Just want to add that one nice thing about potted plants is you can set it all up the day before. :)

  • In the months before my wedding, I scoured eBay and flea markets and junk shops for vintage soda bottles. There were three on each round table with a couple gerbera daisies in each. Lots of old bottle caps were strewn around the table and mounded in the dishes the bottles were grouped in.

    Went with the fried chicken and pie on a farm vibe and I could truly count on friends to not screw it up.

  • I, too, would love to know where the fabrics came from/what they’re called. They are gorgeous! I can’t stop thinking about them! :)

  • My daughter is getting married May 2012 and loves butterflies. I was wondering how I can use them for her wedding and shower.