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Wedding Flowers: How to Choose the Best For Your Special Day

Updated on September 10, 2008

When it comes to choosing the perfect flowers for your wedding, there are so many options that it can seem overwhelming at first. I am planning my own wedding, and I was amazed at all of the different choices there are when it comes to flowers! Don't worry if you have more questions than answers at this point. It's completely normal!! I have some suggestions on how to get started as you begin to think about the perfect flowers for your magical day. Just remember that flowers, by nature, are beautiful, so you're already one step ahead!

Set a Budget

As you are getting started, it is important to decide just how much you plan to spend on flowers (and how much you can realistically afford). The generally accepted tradition is to spend about 10 percent of your total wedding budget on flowers and decorations. Hopefully you have an idea of what you want to spend overall, and can figure out a suitable budget for your flowers based on that starting figure.

If you skip this step, you may find that you get your heart set on a certain type of flower or a huge arrangement, and then realize later that there's no way you can afford it! It is much better to start with a basic budget so that you are happy with the final result... and the final bill.

Decide Who Gets Flowers For the Ceremony

When it comes to flowers for the people in your wedding party, you are going to have to decide exactly how many people are involved, and who should get what kind of flowers. Here are some general guidelines for who traditionally is given flowers before the ceremony:

The Bride - Most brides carry a bouquet of flowers. Of course, there are other options such as carrying a fan or a bible, so decide what you want to carry down the aisle. If you decide on flowers, you will eventually need to think about whether you want to carry a single type of flower (like Gerbera Daisies) bunched together, or a small bouquet of wildflowers, or even a more formal bouquet of white roses and calla lillies. Often, the Bride's bouquet is one of the most expensive items on your florist's bill. Also consider whether you want to wear flowers in your hair, which can be especially beautiful for an outdoor wedding. Remember that if you plan to do the traditional bouquet toss, you might want to have your florist prepare a simple tossing bouquet so that you can have yours preserved!

The Groom - Thank goodness the men's flowers aren't usually very complicated! A simple boutineer for his lapel is a perfect solution. A good idea is to pick a small, simple flower that will compliment your bouquet. One warning, though, is to avoid delicate white flowers for a boutineer, since people will be fussing with them. White flowers will often get bruised and become brownish if they are touched too often.

Bridesmaids - Usually, bridesmaids will carry a bouquet that is similar to the bride's, yet smaller in size. One idea is to choose just one flower from your main bouquet and put three or four of them together with a complimenting color of ribbon. You could also have the Bridesmaid's carry a bouquet that looks like a miniature of your own, but maybe just in a different color pallet. Just keep in mind that these flowers will be in almost every picture, so even though a single calla lily might sound sweet, it might end up looking sparse or odd in the pictures.

Groomsmen - Again, the groomsmen will wear a boutineer that is either identical or similar to the Groom's. These should generally be pretty small since a heavier boutineer might be hard to pin on and will end up crooked for a lot of your pictures.

Flower Girls - If you are planning to have a flower girl, decide if you want them to wear flowers in their hair. Also consider having them carry a basket with rose petals or lavender buds that they can throw as they walk down the ailse.

Immediate Family - You might want to have corsages for your Mothers and Grandmothers, as well as boutineers for your Fathers and Grandfathers. Someone else that you want to recognize in a special way, such as a Great Aunt who travelled hundreds of miles to attend, would also be someone to consider for a corsage.

Ceremony Decorations

Will you need flowers for the ceremony other than the ones people are wearing or carrying? When you start thinking of this question, the first place to start is by checking with the location to see if they have any special rules about flowers. Formal churches may have restrictions on where they will allow you to hang flowers. Once you know your restrictions, then start thinking about how much you really need to make your ceremony space more beautiful.

A church worship hall with gorgeous stained glass windows and a pipe organ, for example, is not going to need much adornment. Consider using large green ferns placed in the choir loft or on the sides of the pulpit. A more simple hall might look a little bit better with a small flower basket hanging on every other inner pew. If your wedding is in a gorgeous garden or overlooking the ocean or a scenic area, you probably do not need to add any extra flowers. However, if you are having an outdoor wedding in your backyard, and there is not a lot of landscaping, you might consider small pillars with vases of beautiful flowers on top .

If you are having a traditional Jewish ceremony, consider adorning the poles of the chuppah with beautiful branches, ivy, or placing pots of budding plants near the bottom of each pole.

The important thing to remember is that everyone is there to see you and your loved one exchange vows. Most people will have their eyes on you, so don't stress out about your floral choices! Choose flowers that make you happy!

Flowers At The Reception

Again, it is so important to check with the location! See if there are any rules or any special resources available when it comes to decorating. Once you figure those details out, you can start looking at where you might want to add flowers for reception decorations.

You may want to put a floral centerpiece on each table. Be careful not to make them too tall, however. Your guests need to be able to see across the table to carry on conversations, and also to see the head table so they can watch the toasts and any dancing.

If you are having a buffet table, consider having flowers or rose petals adorn the length of the table, or even having one big arrangement for the center of the table.

Also consider if you want to use flowers on your wedding cake. It is very popular these days to decorate a wedding cake with real flowers, either all over the cake or just on top. Find out from your cake maker if she will get the flowers and arrange them herself, or if she will be expecting you and your florist to provide them.

Consider the Style and Setting of Your Wedding

Flowers can enhance the mood and style of your wedding, so you want to be sure of what your wedding style actually is. For a formal wedding, consider flowers that are classy and classic. Roses and orchids will enhance your more formal wedding style, while sunflowers at a black tie only event would look out of place.

If your wedding has a modern theme, let your flowers reflect that. Choose bold color combinations and add things like berries or cotton to your bouquets. The more creative, the better. However, if your wedding is outside at your parent's farm, think simple and natural. Wildflowers tied with a simple ribbon or bright sunflowers would be perfect for that style of wedding, while orchids would look pretentious and out of place.

Consider location as well. A beach wedding would look best with bright, tropical flowers, while a winter wedding in the snow might be a great time to use deep red roses.

Pick Complimentary Colors

Before you choose your flowers, you should have already decided on your wedding colors. Consider what color your bridesmaids will wear, and make sure that you pick flowers in a complimentary color. Also, take into consideration if your dress is Ivory or has a red ribbon. You will want to make sure that the colors in your bouquet look amazing with your dress!

When you are choosing decorative flowers for your ceremony or reception, make sure to take a look at the colors of the actual venue. If your reception is being held in a room with green walls, for example, make sure that the centerpieces don't clash. One way to get started is to go to a paint color site like and play around with their free color tools. You can try out different color combinations without worry or consequence.

Don't forget to also take lighting into consideration. Will your wedding take place during the day or in the evening? Will you be inside under bright lights or at a candle-light ceremony? For a situation where the light will be low, be sure to use cool colors like red, orange, or yellow, that reflect light. If you will be outside in the sun or under bright light, pastels might get washed out, so think about using brighter colors like purple, hot pink, or blue.

Money Saving Tips

♥ Flowers are much cheaper when they are in season, so be sure to talk with your florist about what flowers are the easiest to get during your wedding month. Trying to get blue Hydrangeas in December might cost twice as much as a similar color of Hyacinths.

♥ Consider buying organic flowers in bulk from a local farm or farmer's market. You can often find gorgeous sunflowers or wildflowers this way for a great price, and then arrange them yourself.

♥ Find out if there is another event or wedding taking place near your date. It might be possible to share the costs and use the same flowers. Also, if you are having your wedding at a church, ask if there is a floral arrangement that will already be in the main area for the service on Sunday. If so, you can probably use that as a focal point in your ceremony and not spend a dime.

♥ Repurpose your flowers! Have ceremony floral arrangements moved to the reception venue right after the wedding. If you are having a brunch the next morning, reuse the centerpieces from your recption. (Make sure to find someone willing to move them for you so you aren't up that night moving flowers!)

Enjoy the Process

Flowers are beautiful and can bring so much joy and happiness on your wedding day! I hope you are enjoying the process of choosing your wedding flowers and that these tips have helped you get started. Best wishes as you work towards the wedding day of your dreams!


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