Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flowers on a Budget

When it comes to wedding flowers, some brides cringe. It’s difficult (we know and understand) to spend money on something that will only last for a few hours – no matter how beautiful or necessary. However, since few weddings are entirely flower-free, it’s usually a necessary evil to open the wedding budget to include flowers.

Fortunately, this does not mean that wedding flowers need to break the bank. In fact, there are several easy ways to cut down on the cost of flowers.

Go small: small bouquets and boutonnieres show up just as much and as well as larger ones during the ceremony and in photos. Usually, cutting down on the size of a bouquet and boutonniere can reduce their cost by $2-$3 each. 

Don’t provide for everyone: sure, your bridesmaids may need a bouquet, but does each of your groomsmen really need a boutonniere? What about Aunt Ida and your grandmother, do they really need a small bouquet? Chances are that they’ll be just fine without one, especially if you explain budgetary restrictions to them.

Repurpose: altar arrangements look great on bars, bouquets can be used on the cake table or as centerpieces, and boutonnieres can actually be used to surround the cake or on buffet tables. Guests love seeing the bouquets and other flowers up close, so don’t hesitate to allow those costly blooms to work double time.

Use more than just flowers to decorate tables: long ago, brides discovered that non-floral arrangements on tables looked just fine, if not more interesting. Mirrors, candles, and photo frames can often be bought in bulk, reducing the per-table decoration cost.

However, if intricate or large, alternative arrangements can become just as expensive as flowers. To avoid this, make sure to do a total cost calculation of the items you would like to use as centerpieces prior to purchasing them. Once you have the total cost, divide it by your number of tables to obtain a per-table cost. If this cost is approximately the same as the estimate provided to you by a florist (usually around $200 per table), consider scaling down your design.

Buy used: if you’re in love with non-floral arrangements adorning your tables, consider buying used décor. Websites such as NextWed have vases, mirrors, and even gently used candles for a fraction of what they cost new.

I recently discussed a newlywed’s wedding flowers and fell in love with how she purchased her flowers:

First, she found a local floral wholesaler and visited them during the day. While there, she wrote down the names and per-stem cost of the flowers that she liked that fit her general color scheme.

Next, she went home and calculated the per-item bouquet and boutonniere cost for the flowers she liked the most. When she found that it was too high for her liking, she substituted cheaper flowers from her previously created list. This way, she tweaked the cost of adorning her wedding party until it coincided with what she wanted to spend.

Third, she researched the cost of vases for her table centerpieces by checking Craigslist and NextWed. On those sites, she found she could obtain vases and other glass flower holders for a dollar each. She then calculated the total amount having three vases of each type and cost that she selected on each table.

Fourth, finding the per-table vase cost acceptable, she returned to her floral list and chose a single or two blooms to insert into each vase. She tweaked the list of what she wanted for each table until it met her budget.

Fifth, after having created her bouquets, boutonnieres, and table arrangements, she turned to her ceremony site.  With what remained of her budget she decided upon using a single bag of rose petals (which she had priced at the wholesaler) for the aisle. She also liked the idea of roping off the aisle, and returned once more to the web to find cloth for that purpose. The cost of the cloth was $10.

Next, she detailed where flowers would be repurposed to ensure she had enough. Bouquets were sent to the cake table while boutonnieres graced the space between buffet stations.

Seventh, she calculated the total cost for all of her flowers and items required to display or use those flowers: $600. Finding that acceptable, she placed an order at the wholesaler for the items she chose and asked her maid of honor to assist with creating bouquets the night before the wedding. The maid of honor’s thank-you gift for helping was dinner and a nice bottle of wine to imbibe while piecing together flowers from the bride’s list.

Finally, when all was said and done, she returned to the Internet and NextWed to re-sell the items she could. Overall, she recouped $200.

Viola! The bride spent $400 on flowers for an outdoor wedding for 150 people. How impressive is that?!