Whether you envision an ethereal day or a splashy bash, flowers and décor are essential to elevating your space into a site worthy of a once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Learn how to pick the best pros and make it an event for all to revel in and remember.

By Claire Sullivan
February 04, 2020
ALICIA KING

Once you have your location set, it's time to dream up what will make it look and feel extra-special, and what you might carry or wear down the aisle. There are no rules that say you have to have roses—or even flowers, for that matter: Feel free to ponder plants, botanicals, or unexpected alternatives. The trick is to play up what you love, what jibes with your venue, and what's widely available at the time of year.

Related: Seven Flowers Professional Florists Wouldn't Use for Their Own Wedding Arrangements

Find a Florist

Aim to hire one six months to a year out, and allot between 5 and 8 percent of your budget. Ask friends, your venue's manager, and your planner (if you have one) for recommendations. Scroll through Instagram feeds of vendors to see whom they've worked with locally. Unless you love a person's specific style, diverse portfolios are preferable to those showing singular looks, says New York City floral designer Lewis Miller. Above all, hire someone you communicate well with. "We do our best work when we understand a couple's aesthetic and have creative freedom to pick flowers that are most exquisite at the specific time," says New York City florist Ariel Dearie.

Gather Inspiration

Location and time of year are key influences in your design decision—a wintry ballroom and a beach setting have very different vibes. But ideas can come from anywhere. Miller suggests collecting pictures of favorite spaces and artwork to jump-start the process. Share paint chips of your palette and dress swatches. Consider using blooms with personal meaning, too, like the lilacs your grandmother carried on her wedding day.

Plan for Impact

"A few amazing things can be more special than loads of designs used for padding," says New York City florist Emily Thompson. Go big or dramatic in focal areas, such as entrances or a prominent fireplace mantel. Small arrangements in restrooms or on the bar are optional, but centerpieces are in full view for hours.

Spending Savvy

Want to save money on your big-day floral décor? Remember that blooms that don't need to be flown in from afar are less expensive and more eco-friendly. Fillers, like foliage, branches, and berries are easy ways to amplify a smaller arrangement; they're more cost-effective than fresh petals. Last but not least, ask for designs that can be enjoyed all weekend (and beyond). Use potted plants as aisle markers or near prominent signs, like the "Ceremony this way!" placard in a farm or vineyard.

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