How I Designed My Wedding Floral Decor (Designing Wedding Flowers: Part 3/3)

Floral_A_1600
Photo Credit: Gregory Woodman of Woodman Weddings

Welcome to the last post of my 3 part mini-series on designing flowers for my wedding. Parts 1 and 2 were about designing my bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets; this one is on designing the floral decor for the wedding.

There are a lot of paths you can take when designing floral decor; rather than discussing every option, I will simply describe what I decided to do, how I went about it, and any tips, tricks or difficulties encountered along the way. I hope this is helpful for any brides-to-be looking for some ideas on how to DIY decor. Please refer to Part 2 of this series for my tips on ordering flowers and how to take care of them before the wedding.

1. MASON JAR FLOWERS FOR AISLE & TABLES:

I really wanted flowers all along both sides of the wedding aisle as well as floral centerpieces for the dinner tables so I decided to create some pieces that could be used for both. To do that, I decided to put some flowers and greenery in quart mason jars, have them hung up onto chairs along the aisle with ribbons, and then have the ribbons cut off when the pieces get moved to the tables for dinner. See the photo above for a close-up of one of these pieces.

If you want to do the same, here are some tips that I have:

A. Look up “frog mason jar lids” and buy or make them to keep the flowers and greenery in perfect place. This also keeps the flowers in place when you change out the water. I bought some welded wire mesh from Home Depot (with 1/2″ or 3/4″ holes) and used the flat part of the mason jar canning lid to trace circles onto the mesh with sharpie and used wire clippers to cut the circle out. Then I placed it onto the top of the mason jar and topped it off with the hollow part of the canning lid, which was screwed into place to keep the mesh secure. My friend, Jaclyn, actually did most of the work tracing and cutting – I probably only made two of the lids. Her very generous wedding gift to me was helping me with some of my DIY projects as well as being my day of coordinator and setup/take-down coordinator. Thanks, Jaclyn! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

floral_decor_1600
You can see two of my frog mason jar lids at the bottom of this picture, behind the flowers and eucalyptus

B. Wrap wire very tightly around the mason jar, right under the lip, as seen in the picture below. Create a 1/2″ diameter loop with the wire on both sides of the jar (use pliers) – you will tie the ribbon around these loops. I folded the loops up toward the lid after the ribbons were tied. If you just use ribbon to tie around the jar instead of wire, the jar may slide out of the ribbon and fall to the ground (ribbons are slippery!). The wire makes everything must sturdier.

floral_decor_B_1200

C. Make sure you remember to change out the water and add flower food as needed, to keep the flowers fresh and to keep bacteria from growing, if you are making these a few days in advance. My then-fiance and I unscrewed the lids and removed the lids together with the flowers to change the water once.

D. Consider the color of the ribbon and the color of the chairs or hooks you will be hanging the pieces off of. If hanging from chairs, make sure the chairs have a place for you to hang them. I requested white chairs so I used translucent white ribbon in order to not draw attention to the ribbon.

E. Remove the guard petals of the roses (if you are using roses) either the day before the wedding or have someone do it during or before setup. My friend, Lyndsay, removed them during setup.

F. Remember to have someone cut the ribbons off for you after the ceremony, if you plan to use them as table centerpieces. Also let your setup team know where exactly they should place the flowers after the ceremony (I gave Jaclyn a detailed diagram of all the tables with all decor locations marked on it).

Floral_C_1200
Photo Credit: Gregory Woodman

Warnings:

A. Make sure all stems are submerged a few inches in the water, especially the greenery. When my friends and I were sticking the eucalyptus into the jars, I didn’t realize that half the eucalyptus stems we put in were above the water, even though the rose stems touched the bottom of the jars. I later took out all the eucalyptus and cut off the leaves along the bottom few inches of the stem to be able to stuff them deeper into the jar so they could drink the water.

B. Assuming you are hanging these off of chairs, designate someone on the day of your wedding to make sure no guests drape their jackets over the flowers. Your coordinator will probably be busy, so I’d ask someone else. I did not think to do this and one guest apparently did not see the flowers and put her jacket over the entire chair, including over the mason jar of flowers. Oh well.

 

2. FLOWER PETALS FOR AISLE:

I wanted flower petals scattered along the grassy aisle so my florist friend, Lyndsay, helped me pluck the petals off a bunch of spray roses the night before my wedding. She also made the boutonnieres for the groomsmen that night. Keep the rose petals and boutonnieres in the refrigerator and make sure they don’t get left behind when everything is being transported to the venue.

Floral_B_1600
Photo Credit: Gregory Woodman

 

3. OTHER FLORAL DECOR FOR TABLES:

Since the tables at my wedding were long picnic benches, I wanted additional floral decor besides the mason jar flowers. So I gathered a variety of vases, glass bottles, and lanterns and filled them with flowers and eucalyptus. Lyndsay and one of my bridesmaids, Ashley, came over to help me stuff them with flowers (Lyndsay put flowers into the lanterns during setup on the actual wedding day). I was very thankful for their help because all of the bouquets and floral decor ended up being a lot of work! It was worth it though, and it all came together beautifully:

Floral_D_1600
Photo Credit: Gregory Woodman

 

4. SWEETHEART TABLE FLOWERS:

Last, but not least, the Sweetheart Table. My florist friend, Lyndsay, did all of the work for this. All I did was send her a few pictures of the look I was generally going for and hand her the garden shears and the buckets of roses and eucalyptus that I allocated for the Sweetheart Table. She put all of this together on the day of the wedding during setup and went above and beyond my expectations. Thank you, Lyndsay, you did an amazing job!

Floral_E_1200
Photo Credit: Gregory Woodman

 

I want to mention three more things:

A. Transferring all of these bouquets, decor pieces, and additional flowers to the venue is not an easy or simple task. Have a plan for how you want this done and discuss it with the people who will be helping you. I discussed the plan with my friend, Jaclyn (who was my day of coordinator), and put her in charge of getting everything to the venue on the day of the wedding. I was very blessed to have a team of friends to help me out with all of this.

B. Since guests were sending wedding gifts to my place before the wedding, I saved all of the bubble wrap from these packages for wrapping around all of the mason jars and vases so that they could be carried around in boxes without breaking or tipping over. I used tape to turn the bubble wrap into protective “koozies.”

C. You need to have a setup game plan and discuss that with your coordinator or whoever you put in charge of setup so that they know exactly where each item should go, and when they should put it there.

 

And there you have it! That is how I designed my bridal bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, and floral decor for my wedding. Looking back, it was a LOT of work but it was fun and totally worth it. My husband tells me that wedding planning was like a giant art project for me, and I completely agree. Designing the floral pieces was a very rewarding project and I enjoy looking back at all of the beautiful photos and remembering our special day.

 

How I Designed My Bridal Bouquet (Designing Wedding Flowers: Part 1/3)

CB 162
My wedding day bouquet! Photo credit: Gregory Woodman of Woodman Weddings

I had so much fun designing my bridal bouquet and other floral arrangements for my wedding and wanted to share that experience with you all in case there are any brides-to-be out there wondering whether or not they should DIY their own flowers, and if so, where to start. Here is a little three-part mini series describing my process so that you can have an idea of what it was like for one bride to go through it all. I can’t speak for all brides nor do I believe that my process is one size fits all. However, hopefully this series will give you some ideas to consider and you can decide for yourself if you want to DIY all things floral or outsource some or all of it to others.

For the first part of this series, I will discuss my bridal bouquet, which I LOVED! Every time I look at our wedding photos I remember that day fondly… and I also stare at my bouquet a lot. Fresh flowers don’t last long, but I am thankful for photos that can capture their temporal beauty!

Deciding what the bouquet would look like required a lot more thought than I had anticipated. However, part of the reason this was rather time-consuming is because I am quite detail-oriented, particularly when it comes to aesthetics.  I’ve created the following list to outline my process and hopefully help you in yours:

How to Design Your Bridal Bouquet:

1. DRESS:

Choose your wedding dress first. I strongly believe that a bridal bouquet should complement the wedding dress and not the other way around. So order or buy your dress before designing your bouquet. Remember to have pictures taken of yourself in the dress so you can look at the pictures when considering the bouquet.

2. WEDDING COLORS:

Choose your wedding colors. If you know in general what colors you would like for the wedding party but are not sure how to incorporate them, consider incorporating some into the dresses, some into the tuxes/suits, and some into the flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, etc).

3. COMPOSITION:

Now, with some pictures of yourself in your wedding dress in hand (or in your phone) and colors established, consider the style and structure of your dress and the style and structure of your bouquet and how they will work together (composition). Yes, we are getting artsy here. I have a background in art so forgive me if I use some foreign terms.

Let me use my own dress as an example. Originally I thought I wanted a huge, whimsical bouquet with a lot of different types of flowers and greenery.  I couldn’t wait to plan my wedding so that I could finally have The Bouquet of My Dreams. However, the more I considered the dress I had chosen, the more I realized that the bouquet in my mind would not work well with the dress.  I really liked how clean-cut, modern, and minimalistic the front paneling and silhouette of my dress was, and a large whimsical bouquet would cover up or distract from the simple and sleek look of the dress.

I had also considered a cascading bouquet, but since I liked the clean, smooth drop of the front of the dress, I decided on a round bouquet to contrast with and highlight the vertical drop.  And although the “organically round” bouquets are very beautiful (like the ones with eucalyptus or other greenery sticking out of it), I figured a bouquet that was precisely round would work better with the structure and crisp lines of the dress. So consider how you want your bouquet to complement your dress and how you want the two to work together!

262_300
Me in my dress!

4. BOUQUET COLORS:

Consider the color(s) of your bouquet and bridesmaid bouquets. Most wedding photos I have seen usually have the bridal bouquet look very similar to the bridesmaid bouquets, except the bride’s is bigger. I personally think having the colors of the bridal bouquet be a bit different from the bridesmaid bouquets is a better contrast than size and draws the eye to the bride instead of the bridesmaids. See my next point on size for why I believe this.

As I mentioned in my post Top 6 Things I Don’t Regret Spending Money on for Our Wedding (post coming soon), I had considered wearing a colored gown on my wedding day, but finally decided to stick with the traditional white dress. With a white dress, however, I was craving bold and vibrant colors and really wanted to add some to the bouquet. Originally, I was going to have a bouquet intermixed with the different colors I had chosen for the wedding party but that seemed too visually chaotic for the simple and structured look I was going for. I finally understood why British royals like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle went with small bouquets of white flowers for their wedding day – the bouquets drew the focus to their dresses, not to the flowers. So I considered a white bouquet for a while. But I really wanted my bouquet to drip with color.

Then inspiration hit. What if I designed the bouquet so that it looked like it was literally dripping with color? If it had a color gradient, the bouquet would have both structure and vertical movement (which would complement the structure and movement of the dress) while also providing vibrant color. Yes! I did a quick internet search but couldn’t find many bouquets that had a gradient to them at the time (although now there seems to be more of them).

Nevertheless, I went to work designing it using the wedding colors I had established. The color fade would start with white at the top to provide a natural transition from my dress to the flowers and to match with my husband’s white boutonniere. Then soft golden peach would follow, which is also the color I chose for the boutonnieres of my fathers, grandfather, and pastor. Then came light pink, medium pink, and medium-dark pink. These pinks were the colors I chose for the bridesmaids bouquets and groomsmen boutonnieres. I also wanted pink and peach for the corsages of my mothers and grandmothers. Lastly, the bouquet faded into bright red and then dark red / burgundy. The bright red was my color only, but the burgundy matched with the groomsmen’s ties and the dresses of my mother and mother-in-law.

By this point, I had decided to hire a florist to take care of all the corsages, half the boutonnieres, and to put together my bridal bouquet, because I would be too busy making the bridesmaids bouquets and the rest of the wedding floral decor. So without very many helpful photos, I wrote highly detailed instructions to the florist on exactly how I wanted the bouquet constructed, what specific colors to use (we worked together to finalize the flowers – I wanted mostly roses but with different forms/types to create different textures), and how to organically weave the colors together. I probably gave them a headache with all of my detailed directions but they patiently and kindly followed them to a T and the bouquet was perfect, EXACTLY like I had envisioned it in my mind. I am so glad I hired them to construct my bouquet! If you’re going to hire someone to put together your design, find a florist you trust and communicate with them to make sure they understand your directions.

5. SIZE:

Consider the size of your bouquet. Think hard about this one. In many of the Pinterest wedding photos I have seen, the bride is holding a very large and beautiful bouquet in front of her. The flowers are stunning, but do you know what I don’t notice? The bride’s dress. Her dress is merely a white background to gorgeous flowers. A large bouquet can cover up her entire upper body, depending on how it is held.

Wedding dresses are very expensive and after all the time you spent trying to pick out the perfect dress, do you really want to obscure it with a huge bouquet? Huge all-white bouquets are even worse, especially when the bride is surrounded by bridesmaids. The bride ends up looking like The Big Fluffy White Thing in the middle, while the bridesmaids look cool and elegant in their colorful dresses, completely unobscured because their bouquets are so small.

In general, I recommend a bridal bouquet with a diameter smaller than the width of your waist. If you’re still not convinced, again, look up the wedding photos of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Those were royal weddings and you know what bouquets they chose? Tiny, simple white ones. And do you know what stands out in the pictures? Their faces and their dresses.

The only two exceptions I would make are:

A) If you really want a huge bouquet, go for it! Don’t let me stop you. Big bouquets are gorgeous. You can always take pictures while holding the bouquet at your side, or without holding it at all.

B) If you can make the composition work in favor of your dress, go for it. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where the bride wore an A-line gown and carried a huge horizontally-shaped bouquet. She carried it quite low so it didn’t block her upper body and the horizontal composition of the bouquet complemented and contrasted well with her dress. Just keep in mind that a huge bouquet is very heavy and you will need to hold it for a while (I held my friend’s bridal bouquet in addition to my own bridesmaid bouquet for a large part of the ceremony and got quite the arm workout).

And there you have it! That is how I designed my bridal bouquet and some things you should consider when designing yours. Part 2 of this series on designing my bridesmaids’ bouquets is here.

From the Balcony

fromthebalcony
Charcoal on paper, 2008

This drawing was part of an experimental series in which I took something that was already there (in this case, a line that I randomly made) and built up a design starting from that original entity.  For this piece, I started by drawing a circular curve that eventually became the head of the girl in the center with her eye closed.  I really enjoyed the spontaneity and strangeness of the composition and the patterns and textures that resulted.