Frugal Wedding Planning: Save Money on Flowers & Centerpieces

Weddings don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful.  Flowers can be a major budget buster too when it comes to weddings.  But with enough planning, you can save BIG on your wedding flowers.  I was a wedding planner for 3 years and here are the best tips I have (and I used them all!) on saving money on your flowers.

  • Consult your florist.  Be honest about your budget, give your florist flexibility to suggest inexpensive flowers and know what it’s in season during the time of your wedding as those will be the most inexpensive blooms.
  • Less is more.  Keep flower arrangements simple and choose flowers with large blooms and big showy leaves, like hydrangeas, which come in blue, pink or white.  Google, or ask your florist about baby’s breath, curly willow, and long bladed grasses to use in the arrangements.  More greenery and less blooms will save you money.
  • Choose a naturally beautiful venue.  When your surroundings are already beautiful, you won’t have to do much to add to it.  Gardens and beaches don’t need much, obviously, but you can also find chapels and churches with decor and architecture that needs little in the way of flowers to enhance what’s already there.
  • Look in your own backyard (or a friend or family member).  The blue hydrangea in the picture is from my own backyard.  A couple bushes of these at the right time of the year could produce numerous arrangements.  Sunflowers can give you real bang for your buck and it’s easy enough to grow a bushel of them in one season to use.  Magnolias, gardenias, lilies – chances are you or someone you know has these kinds of flowers in the backyard.  Not a green thumb?  Ask around for help from friends and family.
  • Borrow what you can. Again, here’s where asking for help from friends and family come in handy.  Ask around to see who has large potted plants such as ficus or palm trees or ferns that you can use.  These can easily fill up large spaces, hide unsightly elements or frame the altar.
    Also, look around your venue at what is on hand.  Ask first, but generally you can move things around.  If there are some ferns in the lobby or some potted trees in a corner, ask if you can move them to the altar or reception area.  Plus, if you are getting married in a church, ask if you can look through their decorations and use any of them.  Most churches have a whole room where they store all their silk flower arrangements, candle stands, etc., that they use during different seasons or holidays.  One wedding I planned, we save a ton by using candle stands the church already had instead of renting some from a florist.
  • Check out fresh cut flower farms.  Google “flower farms” + your state name to see what’s around you.  You can buy armloads of flowers you can arrange yourself for less than a florist.  It’s not as hard as you might think either if you pick the right blooms and containers. Galvanized flower buckets paired with flowers with long sturdy stems – like sunflowers, hydrangeas, and lilies – can work on altars, tables or the ground depending on size.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
  • Simplify your bouquets.  Choose a single type of flower with a sturdy stem.  Use 6-8 stems and hand tie them with ribbon.  Calla lilies, sunflowers and roses work well for this. You can do it yourself for less but something this simple done by a florist is an affordable alternative to a dozen or more roses or a cascading bouquet.  Don’t want to give up your large rose bouquet?  Then choose the simpler alternative for the bridesmaids.  I had two dozen red roses in a big round bouquet (in the middle of February no less!) but it was what I wanted and one of the few “splurges” I took ($95!).  So for the bridesmaids, we went with hand tied bouquets of calla lilies.
  • Consider silk flowers for some arrangements.  This is a tip I actually used in my own wedding to save a bundle.  The altar arrangements were silk flowers.  A couple trips to Michael’s during sales and taking advantage of the 40% off coupons in the weekly paper to get the vases and I had arrangements for a fraction of the cost of using fresh.  AND I still have the arrangements in my living room seven years later!    I also used fake greenery and ivy on the candle stands.  Generally, the guests aren’t going to get close enough to the altar to know the difference.  Save the fresh arrangements for bouquets and reception flowers.
  • Forgo flowers on reception tables.  You don’t have to put flowers on every table.  Candles, tulle, flower petals are all great ways to decorate without flowers.  If you are using any roses from your florist, be sure to ask for petals.  They remove extra petals when making arrangements and will save them for you at no extra charge.  You can use these on the tables.  Or you can also purchase silk flower petals.
    Hurricane candle holders can hold a single candle or you can put filler in the larger ones and nestle a candle in.  I’ve seen these filled with sand (white and colored), pebbles, glass rocks, coffee beans (yes – at a wedding that had a neutral/natural color scheme – brown coffee beans with candles on top and as the candles heated the coffee beans it smelled great!).  You can fill them with anything as long as it’s not flammable!  Plus, centerpieces made from candle holders can also double as “thank you” gifts or mementos for family members or the wedding party.  (A great way to get a dozen centerpieces off your hands after it’s over!)
    Be creative!  This picture is from my own wedding.  The red goblets I purchased as a set of 4 on clearance after Christmas.  They are partially filled with water with tea light candles floating in them.  A small box underneath the tablecloth made it possible to sit one up higher than the others.  Add a piece of tulle, those extra rose petals I mention above and a strand of battery operated mini lights and voila!  These were the decorations at the end of the groom’s cake table.  The letters were wood letters purchased at a craft store and spray painted ivory.  That whole display probably cost $20.  A flower arrangement from the florist to fill up the same amount of space would’ve cost $30-$50 and it most likely would not have gotten as many comments as this display did.

Find more ways to save money on your wedding!

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