While the sources in different areas vary greatly, find the ones that are most readily available and check them out. If you do your own flowers, you'll save about 1/3 of the cost of wedding flowers, the part that goes to the designer and labor.
- Wholesale Flower Mart
If you or a friend has access to wholesale flower markets, this is where you'll find the widest variety of the freshest flowers at the best prices. You'll even be able to check out the offerings, talk with the growers about what will be available at the time of your wedding, and order just what you want and need.
Wholesale marts are generally located in large metropolitan areas or suburbs where their customers are plentiful. The markets open about 3 a.m. so that retail florists can get their supplies and get back to their shops in time for opening at 9 a.m. It would be worth a drive of up to 50 miles to have access to these markets, so find one that's near you.
If you don't have access as a buyer, find out if the wholesale market near you has hours when they're open to the public. After the pros have done their buying, the vendors are eager to sell off their perishable stock.
If you're having a small wedding, a trip to the local grocery store may be able to provide just what you want. You might even be able to order what you want ahead of time for delivery on your work day.
Since grocery stores and markets have small flower departments, they may be willing to put together a few small arrangements at an affordable price. Since you won't need much, it shouldn't cost much.
Store Front Florists
Small florists may be willing to order flowers for you to arrange yourself. Though they make money on the arranging, they will usually be happy to get the stems for you. They won't be as inexpensive as at a wholesale market, but they'll probably be fresher. And they'll be able to order the particular varieties you want.
A local florist will be a great source for specialty items such as floral garlands, floral ribbons, and materials for arches and alters.
Farmer's markets aren't just for fresh fruits and vegetables. Many vendors grow flowers, too, and are happy to sell you theirs. Check out all the booths and speak with the vendors that have varieties of flowers that appeal to you. Let them know your needs, confirm that the varieties you want will be available for your event, and ask them to hold blooms for your special day. Choose the vendor who has the best flowers and speak to them about ordering specific flowers for a specific day. Get their name, booth number, and phone number and follow up with a phone call so that you know they'll bring what you need when you need it.
If you have absolutely no time to shop for flowers, you might want to check out some online sources for flowers to be shipped to your home. Sites like Proflowers.com or FTD will ship unarranged stems for you to arrange yourself. Remember that the prices quoted will not include the delivery fee which can be high. It might be a good idea to do a dry run a couple of weeks ahead of time to make sure that they send what they promise and that the flowers arrive in perfect condition.
Since there can be a wide variety of flowers available, mail order is not a good way to go for flowers for a large wedding. And it may be a bit risky for weddings held in cold climates. It will take time to unwrap, condition, and prepare the flowers. And you'll have to dispose of all the packaging.
Once you've found decided to do your flowers yourself, determined what varieties you'll get for your color scheme, decided how many corsages, boutonnières, and arrangements you'll need, keep these next tips in mind.
Don't Forget the Greenery
When you buy flowers in a store, they usually include some ferns and other greenery. But if you buy wholesale, the greenery is not included. And you'll need a lot for your wedding flowers. Greens will be the base of the table centerpieces, they'll provide a background for large alter arrangements, and fill in around blossoms on boutonnières, corsages, and bouquets.
Just for safety, order more greens than you think you'll need. Sometimes stems are broken, bunches are not the same size, and some of your flowers may not be perfect and you'll have to fill in.
Have a Bucket Brigade of Water
Before you pick up your flowers, have buckets of water ready to receive the stems. If you have a van or truck, arrange the buckets in the vehicle and place the flowers in them for the ride home. This is especially important if you'll be picking up the flowers a long way from where they'll be prepared.
When you get the flowers home, cut off about 3" of the stems and place them into water with preservative. To avoid damage, leave flower heads wrapped in cellophane until they're delivered to the party site. Any stems that are wired should be kept that way. The wires won't show in the arrangements.
Treat the Flowers with Special Care
Ask your particular vendor the best way to care for your flowers. They will know when the flowers were cut, how they were cared for before they got to market, and what you can do to help them stay fresh and beautiful. Take notes on each particular variety of flower.
Most importantly, be sure that you have set aside more than enough time to arrange your flowers, get ribbons attached, and clean up the area. Floral arranging takes a lot of time--more than you'd imagine. You won't want to be rushed!