Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bloomin' Truth - Flower Budget

I'm not big on flowers. I knew this wasn't going to be a huge chunk of my money. Don't get me wrong, I love flowers. But they are so expensive. And they die.

On top of it, I used to work for FTD. I was the Product Development manager for their floral containers. I know a lot more about the inner workings of flower shops, florists and floral wholesalers than the average bride, in my opinion. I certainly know what I don't like:

Leather Leaf (hello, 1985)
Plumosus (it sheds little tiny green needles - like a mofo!)
Bear Grass (hello, 1997)
Baby's Breath (unless you are doing an all Gypsophilia thing like these:)

From The Martha, of course.

Found this on The Sweetest Occasion. Never knew about this blog. It's AWESOME!

I found this on Weddingbee (God, how I hate that site), but don't know the original source. If ya know it, lemme know!

I am not a big rose kind of girl. I like some weird flowers, most of them happen to be cheap. Lucky me! Now, I don't know if this was the smartest thing for me to do, but I only interviewed one florist. Yup. Just one. And I have no recollection as to how I found her. I think I was just hunting on-line, found a link to her on some seriously obscure wedding web-site and then found examples of her work on Flickr. I made an appointment, talked to her about what I wanted and what I knew about flowers. I was up front about flowers not being the bulk of my budget and that I wanted to trim the fat at every possible turn. She was totally down with it. Her name is Angela Sadler.

I think we went through about 6 or 7 quotes until we got to where I wanted it. The thing is, I had a hard time deciding what I actually wanted to do with the flowers at the reception. You can read about that here. I finally decided, bit the bullet and went for staggered bud vases scattered on the tables, mixed with small votives (provided for FREE by Mere Bulles!). I got my bud vases on sale at Crate and Barrel, Target and Ikea and had a total of 5 different shapes and styles. I bought WAY too many. The good thing was that I was able to return ALL the vases to Target (I did get a merchandise credit because I had purchased them long ago), and I sold a good chunk of the C&B bud vases to Angela. I still have the Ikea ones and some of the C&B ones that I will offer to sell here as soon as I can get my act together.

I met with Angela a few weeks before the wedding at the local wholesale florist place to review and pick out flowers as well as to show Angela the bud vases. Apparently, most brides don't do this. Angela made a comment about how involved I was! I'm not sure if this was a good thing or what, but I like to see what I'm buying. Anyway, you can see what we did here.

We kept the ceremony flowers super-simple since I knew it was going to be a short service. Why pay tons of money for something people are going to see for 30 minutes, tops? Owen Chapel has it's own unique charm, so I didn't want to over-do it. We had wreaths on the doors, a large wreath inside and two large alter arrangements.

How did I save? A few ways:

1. I saved $25 on the large wreath by purchasing the wreath myself. It was about $13 with tax and coupon use at JoAnn's, so it saved a little over $10. Hey - every little bit counts!
2. I saved $5 each ($10) on the door wreaths. I bought those on sale at Micheal's for $3 for both.
3. Going the bud vase route versus centerpieces saved me about $500 from the original quote! Angela had really affordable arrangements using BIG flowers like hydrangeas, football mums, gerbers and stock. We used really beautiful variegate pittsporum and snow berries as the filler, both affordable.
4. We had one large corsage for my mom and then smaller corsages for the other females in the group (no MOG for us, so no need).
5. We used really big, really inexpensive flowers in my bouquet: gerbers and football mums. The most expensive flower was a garden rose that we added, just to make it a little different than the MOH's bouquet.
6. I had my go-to girl Alecia take one of the alter arrangements as well as the door wreaths to Mere Bulles to add to the ambiance there.
7. I chose teeny tiny little button mums with fern curls for the boutonnieres. The guys really liked them and they were CHEAP!

Here's the budget breakdown.

The delivery and set up was "free" - I just took out the bud vases Angela bought in trade. The total here doesn't count the $60 I made back from the returned Target vases. Hopefully, I'll get a little more back if I sell the remaining Ikea and C&B vases. I was really hoping to come in under $1500 on this and I might in the end. Who knows.

There was one thing that I didn't like about all of the flowers and that was the handle on my bouquet. Again, I blame no one but myself for not being more specific. I had wanted the stems of my bouquet wrapped in the left over lace from my mom's mantilla. I mean WRAPPED - like how they do it with the ribbon. I also had a pearl pin I wanted put on. Well, she used just the teeny-tiniest piece of lace, I think to preserve the lace usage, but that's not what I wanted. She could have used it all! At any rate, the lace shifted around as did the pin and looked a little tattered at the end. I assumed that the bouquet stems would be wrapped all the way down to their ends. That wasn't the case. I was afraid that the stems would touch my dress and leave a mark during photographs!

Wedding Tip #3: Be as specific as you can. Assume nothing. If you don't ever ask for it, you can't be sure of what you are going to get. If a vendor gets snippy because you're asking too many questions or giving lots of direction, let them or move on. You have a right to know exactly what you are paying for.

I really enjoyed working with my florist. She was happy to give me references, even one who had a wedding at Owen Chapel before! I contacted everyone and they sang Angela's praises and were straight up about her short-comings, the only one being that she wasn't one to reply immediately to emails. Knowing this bit of information saved me a lot of worry. Since I knew she would eventually reply, I could contact her in advance of needed info and wait out the response. She knew if I called, I needed her and she would call back in a jiffy. She was a great vendor to work with. I liked her personally and kinda wanted to get to know her more and just hang out. I think because I was around her age, she got me. That's how it all ended up though - we hired the vendors who understood The Candyman and I as people and treated us that way. That makes it all good.

The flowers were simple and beautiful. Mixed with the candlelight at Mere Bulles - they were STUNNING! The good thing about using the bud vases was that we were able to add them to different areas in the venue without a bunch of extra arrangement costs. We had some added to the fireplace mantel, the place card table and the cake table.



  1. This is great info. The quotes we've been getting all come in around $1500 for everything. Since that's still out of our price range my fiance's mother is going to do our centerpieces to save money and I plan on using a florist for just the bouquets and ceremony arrangements. I'm hoping to keep the costs under $1K. Looks like you got a great deal!

  2. As an attendee at the wedding and reception, I can vouch for the fact that they flowers were beautiful. I loved the bud vases and votives together. Just the right tocuh of romantic and classy.

  3. Still have bud vases to sell? my wedding is in may and i'm also trying to trim the fat and will have, similar to you, scattered bud vases around the table. only thing, i don't want to take them back home with me after so i don't want to spend a lot of money on them. hoping you can help.