This is the second post of a three part mini-series on my process of designing the flowers for my wedding. Part 1 describes how I designed my bridal bouquet.
In this post, I will delve into how I designed my bridesmaids’ bouquets. I hope describing my process helps any brides-to-be out there who are DIYing their wedding flowers!
How to Design Your Bridesmaids’ Bouquets:
1. BRIDESMAID DRESSES:
First, choose the dresses that your bridesmaids will wear. I didn’t make any final floral decisions for the bridesmaids until their dresses were ordered, because the bouquets needed to complement the color of their dresses. For tips on how to choose your bridesmaids’ dresses, see my post here.
2. BRIDAL BOUQUET:
Decide what you want your own bouquet to look like before designing the bridesmaids’ bouquets, which should complement yours. See Part 1 for tips and suggestions.
3. BRIDESMAID BOUQUET COLORS:
As I have already discussed in Part 1 of this series, using color in the bouquets to differentiate the bride from the bridesmaids is more effective than using size. Part of the reason I think some brides don’t stand out as much is because their bouquets are too big. I can’t admire your dress if you keep blocking my view with a huge wad of flowers.
To use color in the bouquets to draw the eye to the bride, I suggest using some bright or dramatic colors in the bride’s bouquet (or even just one color) and leaving those colors out of the bridesmaids’ bouquets. The colors in the bridesmaids’ bouquets should be in yours though, so that they still “match” with you and you all look cohesive together.
Here’s how I did it: My bouquet was an “ombre” color fade from white to red (see Part 1 for details). The middle of the bouquet was a mix of pale, medium, and medium-dark pinks, so I chose those pinks to be in the bridesmaids’ bouquets. And since the flowers in my bouquet mostly consisted of a variety of roses, I chose three different roses for their bouquets to match those colors and to create different textures. I also love the look of seeded eucalyptus and originally wanted them in my own bouquet, but since I decided on a different design, I gave the eucalyptus to my bridesmaids instead. I must say, the silvery green of the eucalyptus looks fantastic with the pinks in their bouquets and with their mauve-pink dresses (see picture below).
My biggest concern was that since I had not seen the bridesmaid dresses in person (they were coming to everyone through the mail since they were ordered online), I was afraid that the flowers I chose would be too similar in color to their dresses. I didn’t want their bouquets to “blend into” their dresses; rather, I wanted their bouquets to stand out and be lighter and brighter in color. Thankfully, the dresses were the perfect color!
4. ORDER FLOWERS:
Now that you know what colors you want, it is time to choose the flowers. Keep in mind that many flowers are seasonal so they may not be available year-round (and even if they are, they may be more expensive certain times of the year). Check out Pinterest and online flower vendors to determine what flowers you like and which ones fit your color scheme. Order enough flowers for all bouquets, boutonnieres, and floral decor that you are making.
Assuming that you are making these items yourself, you have a few options for where to source the flowers from:
A) You can order them online (which tends to be more expensive, but less expensive than hiring a florist to do all the work for you, and you will have a larger variety of flowers to choose from);
B) You can order them from a local florist (prices can vary);
C) You can order them from a local flower mart if you happen to live near one (possibly the cheapest option); or
D) You can just go to a local store or flower mart and buy what flowers are available a few days before your wedding (which can be stressful, as there are no guarantees about what will be available, and the flowers may not be as fresh).
I ended up ordering most of my flowers online, because the prices the local florists quoted were much higher. I partially wish I had known about the local flower marts back then, because their prices are cheaper, but then I would have had to deal with the time and effort of transporting them all to my place during a very busy season and it was convenient to just get the flowers directly shipped to me.
I picked up the greenery (seeded eucalyptus, baby blue eucalyptus, and lemon leaf) from a local florist, because they had the best prices. There was a problem with one of the rose types from my online order so they eventually only shipped one dozen instead of two dozen to me. I ended up going to Costco a few days before the wedding and thankfully found a dozen roses that were the perfect shade of pink.
Wherever you decide to get your flowers from, make sure you calculate and plan out when you want to have them, how many of each flower you need for each item you are making, how you plan to keep them fresh, what day you want to make the bouquets, decor, etc, and how you will get them transported to the wedding venue on the day of your wedding. And make sure you choose a reliable source to order fresh flowers from because you need them to last a bit and still look fresh on the day of your wedding.
5. GATHER SUPPLIES:
Before your flowers arrive, start to gather the supplies you will need to assemble your bouquets and decor. These were the supplies that I used for the bouquets:
A. BUCKETS: Have many buckets to keep the flowers in (with fresh water), and a few extra for changing the water later. I got mine from Home Depot.
B. FLOWER FOOD: You will need some sort of flower food to keep them fresh. I got flower food like this from Amazon. When you mix the powder with water and put the stems in, the flowers get energy when they drink the water.
You can make your own flower food but DEFINITELY experiment with several bouquets of flowers before your wedding flowers arrive, because you don’t want to accidentally under-feed or over-feed your flowers. I use a combination of Sprite and water sometimes (but not with my wedding flowers). I have found that Sprite keeps SOME flowers fresh for a very long time, while it causes other flowers to over-open (especially peonies and some garden roses). You really need the perfect amount of sugar to keep the flowers fresh. You can also try mixing up sugar, lemon juice or vinegar, and a little bleach (sugar feeds the flowers, acid helps the roses drink, and bleach kills bacteria).
C. GARDEN SHEARS: Don’t bother using regular scissors with flowers. You will crush your stems (which will hurt their ability to drink water), hurt your hands (unless you are only working with soft-stem ranunculus or similar), and make the process very inefficient. Get nice garden shears to make fast, clean, easy cuts. These are the shears that I own.
D. FLORAL TAPE: Use floral tape to construct bouquets, boutonnieres, etc.
E. PINS: Get some corsage pins for the bouquets and boutonnieres. I used them to pin the ribbons in place after wrapping the bouquets with ribbons.
F. RIBBONS: Get some ribbons for wrapping around the finished bouquets, so that your bridesmaids can hold them with comfort. I got some thick green ribbon from Michaels that matched the color of the stems, because I didn’t want the ribbon to distract from the color of the flowers, but you can use colors that match the bridesmaid dresses or other wedding colors.
G. SPRAY BOTTLE: I recommend using a spray bottle to keep your flowers even fresher by misting them with water a few times a day.
H. KNIFE: I used a knife to remove the rose thorns, but you can also use garden shears or a thorn stripper.
I. OTHER SUPPLIES: Depending on what you are making, you may need other supplies that I have not mentioned (like if you are making flower crowns, for example). Do some research to figure out what additional supplies you will need for your project.
5. KEEP FLOWERS ALIVE AND FRESH:
When your flowers arrive, cut 1/4 – 1/2″ off the bottom of the stems at a 45 degree angle and put them in the buckets with fresh water and flower food immediately. Don’t overcrowd the buckets. If you ordered the flowers online, follow their instructions on how to revive them. I like to the cut the stems underwater to prevent air bubbles from forming in the stems which can hinder water uptake.
I highly recommend keeping your place as cold as possible when your flowers are there, because this will keep them fresh longer. Lightly mist them with water from a spray bottle a few times a day (I used filtered water to prevent mineral buildup). Don’t mist them too much though – you don’t want the petals to stick together or get moldy.
Change the water once every day or two and don’t forget to always include the right amount of flower food. I used filtered water (from my Zero water filter), which might have been overkill (I normally use tap water for flowers), but my flowers DID stay incredibly fresh and opened up perfectly right before the wedding, which is what I had planned. Since those flowers stayed fresh and perfect longer than any cut flowers I have had since then, I am going to assume it was due to all of the extra pampering I gave them, including leaving them in filtered water.
Just remember to NOT let the water get cloudy (bacterial growth is not your friend). You really should change it every day or two. To change the water, fill an empty bucket with the right amount of water and flower food, then move all of the flowers into the new bucket. You can cut the bottom of the stems again each time if you want, in case the bottoms are starting to decay or get clogged from bacteria, but I probably only did this with every other water change.
6. ASSEMBLE BOUQUETS:
First, figure out how big you want the bouquets and what exactly you want them to look like. Here is a helpful link describing some different types of bouquets. Once you have decided on the style, if you have never made bouquets before, look up how to do do it on Youtube.
If you have roses, now is the time to de-thorn them. There are different ways to do that as well. I used a non-serrated steak knife to slice away the thorns (be careful to not snap the rose stems when doing this), but you can also use garden shears (which may not get as close to the stem as other methods, but at least it takes away the really sharp thorn point) or a thorn stripper.
I made the bouquets by bunching together a few flowers in the middle, wrapping them with floral tape, and continued to add more flowers and greenery around them while tightly wrapping each addition with more floral tape. Afterwards, I used green ribbon to wrap around the floral tape and stems and a corsage pin to keep the ribbon in place. Then I cut the stems to make sure they were all the same length.
This whole process of caring for flowers and making the bouquets and decor takes a lot of time. Think really hard about whether you really want to be doing this much work right before your wedding. This isn’t something you can do weeks in advance due to the nature of fresh flowers. I made the bouquets a day or two before the wedding.
7. KEEP BOUQUETS ALIVE AND FRESH:
Continue to keep the bouquets in fresh water with flower food. I continued to use the buckets, but you can keep the bouquets in mason jars if you want. Change the water at least once a day. Keep the place cold.
8. DON’T FORGET THE BOUTONNIERES:
To match the bridesmaids’ bouquets, I wanted the boutonnieres for the groomsmen to also have seeded eucalyptus and pink spray roses. I originally planned to make them myself but ended up being much busier than I thought I would be the night before the wedding (boutonnieres can’t be made much in advance, since the flowers need to stay out of water once they are made). Luckily for me, one of the friends with me that evening was a florist and graciously accepted the last-minute task of making boutonnieres. I gave her the flowers, floral tape, and corsage pins and let her do her thing. She did a fantastic job (thanks, Lyndsay)!
Remember to keep the boutonnieres in the fridge the night before the wedding, and DON’T FORGET to have them brought to the venue.
9. GET BOUQUETS AND OTHER FLOWERS TRANSPORTED TO THE VENUE:
You should have a plan in place to get the flowers transported to the venue at the right time on the day of your wedding. Hopefully you have some friends and family who can help you :). See Part 3 of this series for some flower transport tips.