Why DIY Wedding Flowers Are A Don’t!

I’m presenting DIY tips this week and it wouldn’t be complete without a look back {a classic rewind if you will} at reasons why I think DIY flowers are a no-no.  It’s not simply because I am a floral designer with delusions of grandeur that no one can do what I do, rather I offer this advice as someone who understands the true scope of what it takes to do-it-yourself.

{Here’s a quick story}  I was speaking with a floral designer who recently provided fresh flowers for a bride and her mom to arrange the day before the wedding and when the florist arrived on the wedding day to deliver bouquets for the wedding party she was shocked at what she found.

The beautiful white hydrangea that she had delivered in water only one day earlier was completely wilted in each and every centerpiece–they had just arranged the flowers that morning!  What went wrong?  Well, it could be a few things…the hydrangea may have been left out of water for too long while the bride was working with them; or it could be that the water level in the vase was too low and the hydrangea was cut too short so the stems were not able to drink; or perhaps the temperature in the reception room was too warm and it stressed the flowers.

The floral designer happened to peek into the reception room and noticed the dying blooms so she did her best to freshen them up a bit, but if curiosity had not gotten the best of her the florist would never have known what state those centerpieces were in.  The bottom line is that the bride paid good money for flowers that were fresh upon delivery and then something went wrong after she got her hands on them.

Flowers are perishable and require some knowledge & skill for proper handling.

Here’s a Classic Rewind from December 2009

There are several aspects of wedding planning that work for the DIY bride (homemade favors, table numbers, invitations or welcome baskets for example), but in my opinion your flowers should not be on that list.  DIY projects work best if they can be completed in the weeks or months before the wedding date.  Flowers are a time-sensitive element that can only be started a few days before the wedding and must be completed the day prior to the wedding when most brides (and close family members, too!) should be able to focus their attention on out-of-town guests, preparing for the rehearsal dinner and tending to last-minute details that may be unexpected.  And don’t forget the manicure!  You will simply ruin your nails while working to clean and arrange stems bringing new meaning to the idea of having a green thumb!

Some important things to consider about wedding flowers:

  1. Ordering.  It can be difficult to know how many stems of each flower type will be required to achieve the look you are envisioning.  Some flowers ship more reliably than others and it is important to consider the possibility that certain stems may be damaged upon arrival.  One can easily over-order or under-order the amount of flowers needed.
  2. Space.  Arranging flowers for 15-20 tables, 6 bouquets, and more requires a work area that can accommodate the flower prep, centerpiece containers and allow enough room to work.
  3. Prep.  Fresh flowers require hydration (which can take hours if the flowers are not in water) and the stems must be cleaned (ie. the foliage which falls below the water line or simply looks damaged must be removed).  Each stem requires a fresh cut before arranging.
  4. Skill.  Even if you have some experience working with flowers it can prove to be more complicated than it seems to determine the freshness/quality of each bloom, appropriate height for stems and create a pattern for arrangements on a larger scale.
  5. Time.  This goes hand-in-hand with skill, but the time it takes to clean, prep and arrange can be difficult to predict.  Having enough work space also factors into the time it takes.
  6. Delivery.  Packing arrangements for delivery and transporting them is a huge piece of the floral factor.  Boxing arrangements, packing materials to keep vases from breaking, the size of the vehicle required for transport and on-site set-up needs should all be considered.
  7. Clean-up.  Stems and plastic sleeves will require either composting, recycling or tossing.  This can feel like a job in itself and will also factor into the time consideration.

Aside from the above, the most important reason to re-consider DIY flower designs is the fact that at some point it is nice to be done with your wedding planning.  When you have the right venue, selected your menu, have your rsvp’s in hand and finished your final dress fitting you should be able to breathe easy knowing that you have hired the right vendors to make your day a success.  If “arrange flowers” is on your to-do list you won’t get the benefit of completing your list until the day before or day-of your wedding.  I came to this realization when I was planning my own wedding and am so happy that I decided to hand the floral designs over to a trusted professional who was capable of fulfilling my vision and allowed me to be the bride instead of the florist.


  • Sarah Jo

    March 29, 2011 at 12:39pm ·


  • Kristen

    March 29, 2011 at 4:33pm ·

    Thank you for posting this! Floral design is a skill/talent that few possess plus its super stressful to do a million designs right before your big day and think they will look anything like a professional florist. Leave the design work to the professionals!!!

  • alison

    March 29, 2011 at 5:06pm ·

    Well it is not a surprise that a couple of floral designers would agree with me! Our clients are clearly not the DIY brides I am forewarning–that’s why they come to us!–but there is a lot of dirty work and planning that goes into what we do and I think it’s easy to underestimate the time and effort that it requires. Thanks for reading ladies!

  • ML

    March 30, 2011 at 9:28pm ·

    Why oh Why would anyone even think of doing their own flowers? What a stressful time. Maybe if they are doing one stem of something?

  • Jessica

    April 1, 2011 at 11:17am ·

    I agree! Thanks again for posting, Alison. Flowers are not a DIY project! I’m getting married in July and even though I’ve been a floral designer for the past five years and have lots of help, I’m still nervous about doing my own flowers! Of course, I refuse to give up control and we’re on a tight budget so I’m going to do it, but I am DEFINITELY going to need a manicure the morning of my wedding!

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