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Wedding Flowers for Budget Brides: The Silk Flower Secret
Are Silk Flowers Right For Budget Brides?
Many brides turn to silk blooms in the hope that this will make their wedding flowers less expensive. With the average cost of wedding flowers running into thousands of pounds or dollars, almost any saving would be welcome. Silk flowers can help, but as most brides don't want it to be obvious that they've used silk flowers, there are some things to beware of. Some realistic silk flowers cost far more than their fresh flower counterparts, I've seen beautiful silk hydrangeas, for example, selling for $40 per stem, when real hydrangeas sell for $4, and there are some tools you'll need to work with the silk flowers, so include those costs in your budget.
Being able to keep your bouquet, and perhaps use it as a flower arrangement in your home, is lovely, and some brides prefer silk flowers for that reason. They are also useful if you a travelling to your wedding venue and don't know a local florist. You can work with silk flowers well in advance of the big day, making life simpler, and less stressful than doing your own fresh flowers, and of course you can sell bridesmaids bouquets and centerpieces on ebay to recoup some of the cost, and that is likely to make the biggest difference to your wedding flower budget. Sadly it is difficult to predict how much you can make by selling your flowers, a lot will depend on how the arrangements look, how well you photograph them and the colors you choose. Popular color schemes will always have a larger market.
Where Silk Flowers are a Problem
When you want to save money, it's tempting to buy the least expensive flowers you can find. With silk flowers the cheapest flowers can be pretty nasty and look extremely artificial. This is especially true of white flowers. Fresh white flowers have a natural variation in tone that makes them look real. Expensive artificial flowers can mimic that look, but cheap fake white flowers just look fake. If you have set your heart on silk flowers and your preference is for white, avoid completely white flowers. Either buy those with a slight color tint, add the tint yourself using artists pastels or watercolors. It's surprisingly easy to do.
Convinced you want to go artificial? Here's the secret of successful silk wedding flowers
Seven Secrets of Successful Silk Flowers
- Use the right tools
- Buy the right sort of flowers and foliage.
- Choose colors carefully.
- Add movement
- Take your time.
1. The Right Tools for the Job
Using the right tool for the job can make the difference between the perfect bouquet and a bunch of cheap plastic flowers. The essential tools are marked in bold. Others are optional.
Powerful Wire Cutters. Silk flowers can have VERY strong wire stems, get the most powerful wire cutters you can.
Florists Tape: Green tape helps to hide your construction work and hold stems together.
Florists Foam: The foam for artificial flowers is usually brown in color and easier to work with than foam for wet flowers. Iv'e tried using the white hard foam, and that's just too much like hard work for me.
Embellishments: Entreily optional, but you can give your centerpiece or bouquet that designer touch my adding some decorative wire, bouquet jewels or a favorite motif - butterflies, for example, are very popular.
Vases/Containers. These can increase the cost of arrangements by quite a bit. Buy in bulk to save money (look on amazon for eifel tower vases, cylinder vases or floating candle vases) or see below for other suggeststions.
Bouquet Holders: I haven't been able to find any specifically for silk flowers, but the fresh flower type will do nicely.
Ribbon: a professionally made bridal bouquet always has a beautifully wrapped handle. Don't skimp on the details, a reel of satin ribbon doesn't cost a great deal.
Other features: Mirror mats, string lights, submersible lights, vase filler. All will add to the cost. You may need to consider vase filler, depending on the type of centerpiece you choose. Water pearls are economical, colorful and can be used with silks, angle hair wire and sisal are reasonably priced and will hide stems, or look for colored florists foam, in bricks, tiny bricks or powder form, available from florists supply shops as mentioned in the 'resources' section.
Vases and Containers
Vases and containers add a great deal to the cost of flowers. You will need a vase for each table and you may need some flower stands for the ceremony venue. If you work with a florist the vases will either be figured into the centerpiece cost or they will be on loan. Vases are one thing DIY brides tend to forget about, so don't let your budget explode, consider these up front. There are options which will let you save money for vases and when it comes to stands, you may find your venue can help. You may even find florists you can rent stands from.
Consider the following.
Borrow from the family. The vases you use for low centerpieces will usually be covered by the flowers, so they don't all have to be the same.
Buy in Bulk. Even amazon has bulk deals on the vases most commonly used for wedding centerpieces.
Use containers you already have:
- Wine glasses
- baking trays or tins
Again you can use your own, borrow from friends, or your venue may be happy to provide extra cups or glasses, they may even have vases you can use.
Retask/make your own container - I've made vases from lots of other objects:
- Cola bottles
- boxes of washing 'pods'
- paint cans
- plastic pots
- DIY paint kettles
Try to look at your containers in a different way. Could you stack them? Sometimes using a container with openings at different heights can make flower arranging really easy.
2. The Right Sort of Flowers and Foliage
Knowing what to buy is an important part of successful silk flower arranging.
- Stems. If an artificial flower is descrived as a 'stem' you'll find you are buying something 'middle of the road' in terms of quality. What you'll get will be something roughly equivalent to a single stem of the real flower, so it may include more than one bloom.
- Bouquet. A bouquet of artificial flowers usually consists of several short stems held together. Some companys (Afloral.com for example) offer bouquets of real touch flowers which are very realistic, but before buying chech the dimensions of the bouquet. One may be large enough for a bridesmaid, it is rarely large enough for a bride. Consider buying two or even three and tape/wiring them together, before finishing the handle with satin ribbon.
- Bush Usually the lowest quality of artificial flower a 'bunch' typically has a single stem. Some bunches are far more realistic than others, a lot depends on the type and color of flower. For simple bridesmaids bouquets, find two or three bunches which look realsitic, tape the three stems together with florists tape and then cover the stems with satin ribbon to make a handle. You can usually snip the bunch apart, but the resulting stems will be short. Add them instead to a foam bouquet holder and add some real foliage (use a potted plant) or a foliage 'bunch', but beware the underside of cheaper artificial foliage tends to be obviously fake.
- Real Touch The most realistic of fake flowers. Calla lilies and certain orchids can look very convincing. One thing to be wary of - ultra realistic flowers include imperfections. I ordered a bunch of real touch roses to find that some of the flowers were discolored, deliberately, to make them look more real. They are ideal for a flower arrangement, but I would not use them in a bridal bouquet.
- Hand Wrapped. The very best quality silk flowers are usually described as 'hand wrapped'. Some of these are extremely expensive. Check the descriptions carefully before you buy, you may well be paying for stem length that you don't need. The longer the stem, the more expensive it is. You don't need long stems for wedding bouquets. Some suppliers have the same flower in several different stem lengths so read the description if you are buying online.
3. Choose Colors Carefully
Any flower with no variation in color tends to look fake. Some genuine white roses are so pure white they look fake. All blue roses whether natural (dyed or sprayed blue) or not, look fake.
If realism is what you're looking for, color matters a lot. Roses from the same manufacturer can look fake in one color and real in another.
In general, look for flowers with variation in color across their petals. If that's not within your budget, buy white silk flowers and paint them yourself.
When flowers are in a bouquet, their stems are short, and often invisible. If you decide on a cascade styles, or have large flower arrangements where the stems show, there is one thing you must do if you want your flowers to look real; you have to add movement to the stems.
Straight stems, identical flowers and lack of color variation across the blooms are all telltale signs of fake flowers. Once you've chosen the right flowers, it's up to you to add movement to the stem. Real flowers rarely have dead straight stems. Natural flowers have small kinks or bends in the stem, often in order to support the weight of the flower. Just a small bend can make all the difference.
Where the stem has leaves, good quality silk flowers have natural looking wired leaves. Bend these into shape for added realism. If the leaves aren't wired and/or don't look natural on the underside, it's best to just remove them.
Silk flower arrangements and bouquets, once created, should be treated as you would fresh flowers. Florists often embellish fresh bouquets with jewels, wire, ribbon or other ornaments, like butterflies for example. Many of the stores which sell silk flowers also sell embellishments. Add just enough and your silk flowers will look even more real.
No self respecting florist would send out a bridal bouquet without a properly finished handle. Usually the bouquet handle is covered in satin ribbon and glued or pinned in place, but other coverings, like angel hair wire, can also be effective. Without this sort of attention to detail, it will be pretty obvious that your flowers are fake.
In the video above, Leanne from the flower school makes a calla lily bouquet and wraps the stem carefully with lovely organza ribbon. You could do the same, with silk calla lilies.
There are lots of advantages to silk flowers, so make use of them. Experiment with your flowers before you decide on a particular design.
Before you cut the stems of your flowers to insert them in a bouquet holder, try out a wand or scepter style of bouquet, or an overarm sheaf, you may find you prefer them.
If you do find you've cut a stem too short, just tape it back together.
If your foliage doesn't look as good as you would like, buy potted plants, ivy and fern are always useful, and snip off some stems for use in your silk bouquet or arrangement. Ivy in particular will keep growing even if you cut it down a long way.
Take your flowers to a craft store and see what sort of color contrasts would look good. You don't have to add more flowers, you can add loops of contrasting ribbon or different types of wire. Wide metal wire can be molded into long shapes and even provide the trailing section of a cascade bouquet, or you might like to add beaded wire. All these metallic accents will catch the light and enhance your flowers.
Take Your Time
Silk flower arrangements and bouquets don't have to be kept fresh or watered, they can be made well ahead of time. Once you've completed your experiments, and you know the design you're aiming for, take your time to arrange the flowers just the way your want them and don't rush at the last minute. If you're making the centerpieces yourself, remember it takes time, you might like to throw a 'flower party' and get some help.
When it comes to the bouquet, buy more than one bouquet holder just in case things go wrong and don't be afraid to back track. If you put a flower in the wrong place, you can move it. Plan to have all the bouquets and arrangements done a week before the wedding, just in case.
Where to Find What You Need
- Marshall Floral Products - stocks most things you need
Mega beads, angel hair wire, bouquet holders, oasis wet and dry foam in all its colors sizes and forms.
- Wholesale Silk Flowers, Crystal Garlands, Artificial Butterflies, Wedding Candles, Decorative Feathe
Silk flowers, glass vases and lots of embelishments from crystals to butterflies. I get lots from this site, the product is good and flat rate shipping is even better.
- Silk Flowers, Wedding Flowers, and Floral Supplies | Afloral.com
Premade bouquets, bushes, bunches and stems.