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Collective Wisdom: Wholesale Flowers


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Collective Wisdom: Wholesale Flowers | A Practical WeddingBecause we are smarter together than we are apart, I wanted to pass on this reader question. It’s a good one.

I’m looking into ordering my flowers wholesale and arranging them myself and wonder if you have any recommendations or tips in what to look for when researching and what to avoid? – Amy

Please chip in with wholesale flower websites that you’ve used (within the US or internationally – Team Practical International should not be excluded), and what tips you have to pass on.

My personal advice is simply this: if you live near a big city, go to the local flower mart. We’re sourcing all the flowers for our wedding from the fabulous San Francisco Flower Mart (though oddly, we’re still searching for a good source for local wild plants – namely Jasmine and blackberry bramble). Now, your turn. Go!

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15103047512463828864 jamie

    We ordered red roses [ben's choice!?!] from 2g roses… http://www.freshroses.com [they have other flowers too] They were delivered to us at the wedding site [our lodging] two nights before the wedding and prepared the day before. I don’t really have any advice or tips other than practice and delegate. We kept it VERY simple, roses in mason jars en masse, and it was very easy, effective, and gorgeous.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05955067991628905693 Bookbag

    We ordered roses, hydrangeas, eucalyptus, and something purple from rosesource.com. They were *fantastic* to deal with. The people at rosesource were really nice, the flowers were beautiful and shockingly fresh.

    The one piece of advice I would pass on is to research flower care a little. I love hydrangeas — my mom has huge bushes outside our house and they always make me think of home/family — but they are fragile. We went ahead and ordered them but made sure that we ordered sturdy flowers (roses apparently hold up quite well) and super sturdy fillers. That way, if the hydrangeas kicked it, we’d still have flowers. But then the hydrangeas were fine (gorgeous, actually, with no fatalities) and so we just had more flowers.

    I give DIY flowers an enthusiastic thumbs-up (although they should definitely be a team effort) as long as you keep it simple. And you can literally stop and smell the roses during the most hectic stretch of wedding planning. Lovely. Good luck!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04349394209890946701 Dubbs

    costco flowers are good bang for your buck if you can be flexible with stem selections (though it’s pretty safe to count on the standard color roses). i don’t particularly love roses but i used them for my own wedding for ease. i rushed to put it together but here’s a link to see my bouquet (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_2Va3QKuHbkI/SWaot_Z3sJI/AAAAAAAABfk/ljchCtKUQdQ/s1600-h/my+bouquet.jpg) made with costco roses for reference.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04349394209890946701 Dubbs

    guess i should also clarify that i order in costco stores, not online.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01426323794509270763 Nicole and Jesse

    yes – any Canadian-available wholesale flowers would be a big help!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10010855220044881380 Krista

    I’ve yet to find a canadian wholesale florist, but if I come across one, I’ll be sure to post about it here!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05750659066802561501 Erika

    We used fiftyflowers.com, and they kinda sucked. They botched the order — in the end we got roses, but not the garden roses I wanted. The worst part was that they didn’t apologize and sorta blamed me for what happened. Not a pleasant thing to be dealing with 72 hours before the wedding. But the roses we did get were very pretty, and all’s well that ends well?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11525991722450984283 Megan Schommer

    A quick thought about ordering flowers wholesale- I went with a friend and her florist to a wholesaler to pick out flowers for her wedding. Her florist immediately went for the Ecuadorian roses because they are about half the price of California-grown roses. Having visited Ecuador, I know why the flowers grown there are so cheap- they use chemicals banned in the U.S., and they use cheap labor. The greenhouses that I saw were on the dry side of the mountains (not the rainforest). Flower growers also have money and influence that allows them to get limited water resources directed towards their greenhouses and away from farms and homes.

    I don’t want to guilt people into buying expensive flowers, but it’s something to consider when choosing where you source your flowers from!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13811559996670448379 Emily Takes Photos

    I also looked at fiftyflowers.com, but found the same group of flowers for much cheaper from flowerexchange.com. A friend of mine ordered from Flower Exchange, and had no problems.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18158492409598444709 Terry

    oh, we did this!

    my advice is to buy in-person if at all possible, and to be open to changing your mind.

    3 days before the wedding i went with my mom to a local flower wholesaler, and the colors of roses we’d seen before just weren’t there! So, since we had a general pallet, rather than a set color scheme, we came up with a new pallet right there on the spot- and it turned out more perfectly than I could have imagined.

    I sugest buying in-person rather than online, becuase colors on the website might not be quite the same in real life, and becuase then you can pick out the groups that look best to you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01435279105691346319 katie lynn

    I have some experience with DIY flowers…once for my own and once for a friend. I actually have another wedding coming up in Feb for a friend and I plan on using fiftyflowers.com for my ordering.

    I used them this summer and was very satisfied! We even found coupon codes online for another 10% off our order. Shipping was on-time and the roses were BEAUTIFUL! We had a little trouble with the callas in our order but they are very fickle flowers anyway.

    Two thumbs up for fiftyflowers.com.

    I used costco.com for my own wedding and it wasn’t a good experience. Unlike other wholesalers, they can’t provide flowers during their off-season and I got a bunch of dime-size buds instead of ranaunculus. :( The only up-side is that I got almost a full refund.

  • Kara

    I ordered spray roses from growersbox.com and was quite happy. I didn’t have a color scheme so I ordered “multi” colors, and got a selection of pretty colors.

  • Ellie

    Has anybody tried ordering bulk flowers from Costco? I’ve been curious as to whether their flowers arrive in good condition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11371172824707301749 Cate Subrosa

    Wild jasmine and blackberry bramble?

    *sigh*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15362619565392680707 bekapaige

    I ordered mine from theflowerexchange.com. They had free shipping, a big plus for me, and great prices on the flowers I wanted (garden roses and spray roses).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00174894872050076618 Marie-Ève

    I’m not married yet but I’ve done the flowers for all my friends and both sisters’ weddings. I use a local wholesaler. My tips:

    -Be somewhat flexible and open-minded. Talk with the people, they may suggest great things you hadn’t thought about.

    -Plan ahead. Try to make a reservation for what you want on the day you want (I usually do three weeks in advance). Flowers should be picked up the day ahead, so you have time to handle any snafu.

    -To cut costs, seasonality is the most important factor.

    -Be informed about the proper care and sturdiness of each type of flower. Some react to heat, some are every sensitive to cold, etc.

    -Boutonnieres should be made at the very last minute (delegate). Sturdiness is especially important in this case because otherwise many flowers will wilt before the end of the day. I find calla lilies are the best.

    -Don’t stress! This should be fun and relaxing. It’s really hard to mess up flowers!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11793117653561745718 amyc

    Wow! Thank you Meg, for posting my question and thank you to all who have responded so quickly! There’s so much to go through and research, but I’m much more excited to tackle this than I was a mere 24 hours ago!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12281567604425446375 faith

    I second the suggestion to do your research. Some flowers can be difficult to work with you or wilt quickly.

    Also, if you want a wider selection of flowers and greenery, try American Floral Distributors:

    http://www.americanfloraldistributors.com

    I really wanted a more offbeat range of flowers and greenery for our wedding last September. I ordered a lot of greens, amaranthus, ranunculus (from a different vendor, actually), berries, olive branches (!), dahlias,

    I purchased from them twice: once for a test run and once for the wedding itself. The flowers were packed well and in fantastic condition. They are not necessarily the cheapest out there, but if you don’t live in a city with a major flower market, it’s a good way to go.

    And finally, when it comes to flowers, do NOT underestimate the time and physical work it will take. I took a morning to strip lower foliage, trim stems, and arrange in water buckets when the flowers arrived. Then the day before the wedding a team of about 8 friends and I took another whole morning to do all the centerpieces, bouts and bouquets. Have plastic bags ready for all the trimmings, and plenty of scissors and snips on hand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14974592740179974822 Holly

    perhaps american laws are different, but in canada an actual wholesaler cannot sell to the general public, you need a vendor permit to purchase. be aware that most of the “wholesalers” out there are charging you the same amount for bulk flowers that a florist would

    any repudable florist buys fair trade flowers, ie they are grown in safe working conditions, by workers that are paid a fair wage, in a sustainable environment. ask your wholesaler what farm they get their roses from to be sure. don’t rule out south american roses which have larger blooms and a longer vase life.

    as a designer who’s done MANY MANY weddings and encountered hundreds of crying DIYers on their wedding date begging for help, DO A PRACTICE RUN! some arrangements are easier than others, some flowers work better than others in certain areas. Go to a local independent florist (ie no teleflora no ftd) and ask them for advice, most of them would be happy to help! and don’t get stuck on the idea of doing in yourself, flowers are a group effort job, it takes a lot of time and patients. consider DIYing your bouquets and table centres but hiring out the bouts and corsages, it might be worth it to not have to worry about it day of! (yes, they do need to be done day of, esp if you are in any sort of a warm climate!)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    My sum-up comments (people brought up things I hadn’t even thought to consider):

    *Do a dry run if you can. REALLY. It will be fun, and more than worth it.
    *Maybe I have a creative eye or something, but I differ from almost everyone on this: you do NOT have to keep it simple (ie, all one flower) mix and match. Seriously kids, flowers are fun and easy.
    * Don’t take it to seriously. It’s hard to mess up flowers.
    * Bouts do die right away, but as we all know, I tend to think bouts are TOTALLY unnecessary (go, ask your groom if he cares about it/wants one. He’s going to look at you like “oh my god, I have a CHOICE? Heck no I don’t want one!”
    * And, more than anything else, just say flexible. If you are doing it in person, just show up and buy what looks pretty. It will be in season, and fitting, and lovely.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10966670407976735937 justarabbit

    If you’re looking for california native plants, I found these awesome folks: http://www.calfloranursery.com/
    You’d have to buy plants from them, not flowers though.

    Blackberry bramble is all over the place in SF, often hiding in everyones backyards, could you just go and snip some for yourself? Heck, I bet people will pay you to cut back their bramble for them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01845312178367860485 Shannon

    I have experience from helping one of my college friends with her wedding. Depending on what flowers you are needing to arrange, DIY flowers for a wedding does take some time and elbow grease. It can also be a very fun and bonding experience if some of the girls get together prior to a wedding. One recommendation I would give is take a floral class if you can. This will give you some exposure to what is actually involved, or at least practice before the actual wedding. You might also want to check online for a floral wholesaler. I went to my local costco but they didn't carry all the flowers we needed so we ended up going with http://www.wholeblossoms.com, which came out cheap with a coupon and the flowers were gorgeous. Overall, the bridal party had a lot of fun and with my wedding coming up, I plan to do my own wedding flowers.

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