Making and adhering to a budget is probably the number one task couples struggle with during the wedding planning process. If you're experiencing sticker shock at every turn, you're not alone. The cost of wedding flowers in particular tends to surprise brides and grooms the most. Before you balk at the number your florist has given you for your ideal big-day blooms, it's important to remember that the price-per-stem quote you received doesn't just account for the flowers themselves, but also for the care that each has received—including cleaning and preparation—ahead of your wedding. Still, florists agree that there are ways to get arrangements you love on any budget. While you might not be able to get the exact flowers you've been dreaming of, the pros say there are ways to stretch your floral budget and swaps you can make that won't feel like sacrifices. Here, two florists spill their best secrets.
Be open about the budget.
Before you try any other cost-saving methods, Michelle Edgemont of Michelle Edgemont Design says you should communicate your budget to every potential florist, then choose the pro who is able to deliver the type of look you want within that price point. "You should hire a florist that you absolutely trust and who will be honest with you about costs and what flowers are available in your budget," she says. And don't forget that your final floral total will also include additional costs, like delivery and set-up fees and sales tax. "The standard delivery/set-up fee is anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the subtotal, which pays for packing materials, staffing, trucking, and transportation costs," says Edgemont. "The exact percentage depends on the florist, the complexity of the arrangements." In some instances, as much as 40% of your total floral budget could be going towards these behind-the-scenes costs.
"Everyone is always very surprised at how much each stem costs, and it accumulates quickly," says Elena Seegers, owner of Le Fleuriste. "Having said that about the price, the key is to not skimp. Get what you really love, just do less." Choose smaller arrangements, or fewer total arrangements, of the flowers you really love rather than settling for over-the-top displays of blooms you don't care about. Edgemont agrees. "Instead of substituting a type of flower you might not love as much, pay for the high-end flowers but use a lot less of them. A few extra-special stems in bud vases can have the same effect as a whole centerpiece of everyday flowers."
Choose a variety of different centerpieces.
Edgemont's favorite tip for getting the most bang for your floral buck is asking your florist to create several arrangements at different price points. "Designing three or four different centerpieces for one wedding is my absolute favorite way to stretch the budget," she explains. Sound counterintuitive? It's not. "Instead of 15 tables with $750 centerpieces, you can do five tables at $750, five tables at $350, and five tables at $200. Looking across the room, you still get the wow impact of the $750 look, plus the variety in centerpieces makes it an even more beautiful space."
Consider a minimalist style.
Intentionally pared back designs can be incredibly impactful, which is why Seegers recommends looking to Japanese floral design for inspiration. She also likes the idea of using single statement blooms in bud vases, which are easy for your florist or caterer to move between venues and can therefore be reused throughout your event.
Swap bouquets for something unique.
If you're looking to save big—especially if you have a large bridal party—ask your 'maids to wear floral corsages instead of carrying bouquets. "Having your bridal party wear the flowers is a modern and unusual twist. It also keeps their hands free to hold yours when needed, and help with your train!"
Don't rely too heavily on greenery.
Greenery can be a great way to stretch your budget, but both florists agree that it isn't necessarily the answer to getting the most for your money, either. Garlands and hanging installations, even those made entirely of greens, come with higher labor charges. "Rigging heavy arrangements from a ceiling is costly," says Edgemont. Plus, your florist often has to create those garlands themselves, tying individual sprigs of greenery together. That takes a great deal of time, which you'll also be paying for.