While most couples go into the wedding-planning process with the knowledge that big day will be expensive, many are surprised by which details come with larger-than-expected price tags. One aspect of the big day that tends to surprise couples is wedding flowers, and the bride's bouquet in particular. In fact, a bride's bouquet might be more costly than a centerpiece, despite the fact that they're often larger. But there's a good reason for that: Your bouquet will be with you all day long and photographed extensively, so it's important to know that premium stems were used and that it was arranged to last. "Unlike a vase of flowers atop a table, the wedding bouquet will be handled repeatedly throughout the ceremony and reception, and the blooms out of water for the duration," explains Joan Wyndrum, florist and founder of Blooms by the Box.
In an effort to cut costs, some couples might be inclined to cut out the wedding bouquet, however Wyndrum notes that this is arguably the most important arrangement of the day. After all, it will be front and center in just about all of your photographs. Though it can be frustrating to cough up so much money for a seemingly small amount of blooms, it makes much more sense when you learn just how much work goes into creating the average wedding bouquet. Here's a closer look at how the bride's bouquet is created—from initial concept to the final product.
Once you decide on a florist, he or she will schedule a consult where you sit down and discuss your vision and budget. "This important dialogue will not only set the stage for the overall look of the bouquet, but it also sets the tone for the entire celebration's florals," explains Bron Hansboro of The Flower Guy Bron. "Reviewing inspiration pictures and deciding on texture, shape, colors, volume, size, and overall composition will happen now, and these are details that will tremendously impact the design of the bouquet." These consultations can happen in person, by phone, or by email, but it's best to collect images and create a Pinterest board of ideas beforehand. Katie Easley, owner of Kate Ryan Design in Scottsdale, Arizona, finds that it can be sometimes more effective to identify things you don't like and start narrowing down the bouquets you love. "Just keep in mind that not every flower type is available year round and many of the most popular flowers are seasonal, and that your inspiration pictures should be to inspire your designer, not used as an exact replication," she adds.
You'll typically discuss your budget at this time, so try to be as realistic as possible. This will help your florist guide you in the right direction—since some flowers are twice the price of others, you don't want to get your heart set on something that's unreasonable for your budget. "You may want premium flowers like peonies or ranunculus that will cost more, or you may be open to using seasonal blooms that are more cost-effective," says Easley. "Be open to suggestions from your professional floral designer and trust that they will help you to get the most from your floral budget."
After you identified the overall aesthetic of your bouquet, your designer will develop a "flower recipe" based on your preferences, taking into consideration all of the nuances that you have shared, as well as the availability of certain blooms that you may have requested, explains Hansboro. "Flower selection doesn't only come down to what looks the best together, but also which blooms are the most durable, as we only want to work with blooms that are going to stand up to the demands of all day use and remain pristine," he adds. After everything is accounted for, there is a final list of flowers and the specific count of each stem needed to complete your bouquet.
Next, it's time for your florist to identify where the flowers will be sourced from. "Many designers will choose a variety of local farms and sustainable co-ops, while others will use a broader search to include, local wholesale markets, as well as national and international distributors," says Hansboro. "The process of sourcing the perfect flowers for your wedding bouquet can take several days, or even weeks, considering the fact that flowers are impacted by so many factors, including weather, transportation, and season." In short, determining whether or not it will be possible to get your preferred flowers to your designer's door is no small task.
After your florist has determined the availability of the flowers and their estimated cost, they'll work on drafting a proposal for you. "Many hours go into making sure that enough stems are accounted for, the color mix is spot on with your palette, and every detail is accounted for, all while factoring in your budget," says Easley. "Each item should have a general description for you and an itemized list with quantities of what's being provided and the proposal should include a contract that explains payments, change policy, as well as the location and date of services." Once you agree to the terms and lock in your contract, your florist will get to work, actually ordering the items he or she needs to create the perfect bouquet for you.
Once the flowers are finally received, your florist will take certain steps to ensure they look their best for the bouquet. "Immediately, all flowers are given a fresh cut and placed in clean buckets with fresh water, with certain stems cleaned of foliage that may be draining nutrients or water supply from the bloom itself while others are stripped of thorns," explains floral expert Jenna Armstrong. "We'll leave certain flowers (like garden roses or peonies) out of the cooler for a day or so, to allow the bloom to open up fully before we're ready to make the bouquet."
Next comes the tricky part: construction of the bouquet. Armstrong likes to have all her materials ready before she starts building a bouquet. To that end, she likes select the prettiest blooms and clean and cut each to manageable length, then place them in a bucket within reach for easy access. "Every floral designer has their own techniques and tricks, and a lot of how the bouquet is started is based upon the final look you're trying to achieve," she explains. "Once I have the larger face flowers in place how I want, I fill in with smaller flowers and other textural elements until I'm satisfied and then wrap the finished bouquet in tape with the stems are cut and place the bouquet in water."
On the actual wedding day, most florists will coordinate with the wedding planner and photographer to ensure all personal flowers are delivered well before photos have begun. "To ensure the bouquet stays fresh for as long as possible, we wait until the last possible moment to remove it from water, then dry the stems off and wrap the bouquet in selected ribbon," says Armstrong. "After working for weeks to create a beautiful, memorable bouquet, seeing the reaction when we walk through the door is what makes us love what we do."