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Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course): DIY wedding flowers…a florist’s tips


A DIY approach to flowers for a wedding will save you money and can be fun! Don’t be surprised or overwhelmed if the process has a few nerve-wracking bumps. Even an experienced florist hits a few bumps now and then has to remain flexible. I promise you it won’t be as stressful if you are aware of what some of the challenges might be. As a florist for MANY years and having (at a minimum) more than a thousand weddings (really, I do!) under my belt, I feel very comfortable sharing tips that may make your preplanning and flower shopping experience easier.

The best place to buy flowers for less is at a wholesale floral business. They are called wholesale florists, and sell bunches of flowers to retail florists. For many years they sold only to retail florists, but now many also sell to the public. Now you can shop there too! You can read about them online, and read reviews written by brides. One even has a relationship with The Knot!

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This is where a little coaching from a florist who has always wanted brides to be happy and love their flowers can help. I recommend a visit to a wholesale florist to see how it works while you are in the early planning stages. Introduce yourself to a salesperson and let them know what you are planning. I love the hustle and bustle of a wholesale atmosphere, but it can be hectic! If you have never been to a wholesale florist, expect them to be busiest in the mornings… maybe even crazy busy. This is crunch time for them to fill orders for their retail florist customers and get delivery vans loaded and on the road for the day’s deliveries. And avoid the week before any major floral holidays, like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.

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By now you probably have a pretty good idea which flowers and colors you’d really like to use…so here we go with more tips!!

Placing your order about a month ahead of your wedding date is probably ideal. Your salesperson can give you a better idea of how quality and availability have been for the flowers you like and may make suggestions for alternatives if needed.

Estimate the quantities of flowers that you will need. Note that roses come in bunches of 25;

many other flowers come in 10 stem bunches; some are bunched by weight.

Order roses by variety, not color. There are many varieties of every color of roses. Ordering by variety name gives you a better chance of getting the shade you like.

Your flowers may come in water or in a box. Even if they come in water, make sure they are well hydrated by re-cutting the ends of the stems and putting them in fresh water. I highly recommend cutting the stems under water (use a bucket of water and clippers). Taking an inch or so off will ensure that the stem will take up water.

Pick up your flowers a couple of days before you plan to work with them. They may need time to develop from bud stage. If using lilies, they can take 5-6 days to open. Consider picking up lilies a few days earlier than the other flowers.

If possible, plan to pick up the flowers personally. If any substitutions are necessary you can be there to make the decision. Don’t do errands on the way home. Cars heat up quickly inside and flowers can suffer quickly in hot cars.

Plan a little refrigeration space for the most important bouquets….especially your bouquet!

Buy a small thermometer for the fridge and be sure it doesn’t go below 45 degrees.

Be proactive about communicating with your salesperson. Check in with your salesperson about a week ahead of pick up time to see if flowers that you have selected seem to be arriving in good condition.

Now relax and get prepared to have fun arranging flowers and being with friends! Enjoy this very exciting and special time in your life!

Posted By: Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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