How To: $20 DIY Paper Flower Wedding Backdrop


The super, super easy version

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

apw + sprout logo

apw-diy-012215-flower-reedit-2-fix

I’ve developed a pattern for whenever I see something really cool online. First, I ogle. Then I obsess. Then I spend hours (and I mean hours) trying to figure out a way to replicate it at a fraction of the cost. I think it goes that way with a lot of wedding planning. So much of what you see on Pinterest and wedding blogs is stunning, but is either impossible to replicate (for lack of time or skill) or too cost prohibitive to be realistic. And while that can often be very frustrating, not being able to replicate something exactly also frees you up to be more creative in how you interpret an idea. (I mean, everyone knows the best challenge on Project Runway is the unconventional materials challenge.)

So when we had the opportunity to work with HP using their new all-in-one desktop, the Sprout by HP (which features an overhead camera that can scan 3D objects, and a touchmat that lets you move things around in real time with the power of your fingers), we wanted to use it to try and solve some of the problems that come up when you have a cool idea, but have basically zero dollars to bring it to life. Case in point: this amazing floral backdrop. As we’ve shown before, flowers, when used en masse, can make for really cool ceremony and reception backdrops. But even the cheap flowers cost money (and fake ones are always so much more expensive than you think). So armed with the HP Sprout and the help of designer Tabitha from Winston & Main, we set out to create a paper flower wedding backdrop that would as cool as the real thing in photos, but cost (almost) no money (the total for this bad boy is about $20, all in).

To start, we scanned some of the wedding industry’s more expensive flowers (cough, peonies.)

Since the Sprout makes it super easy to duplicate items and create patterns, Tabitha was able to scan a bunch of different flowers, from peonies to greenery, meaning you can copy our design exactly, or mix and match flowers for a backdrop featuring only your favorite flowers. For the complete set of flower scans, you’ll want to download our PDF here, which will look something like this:

APWFLOWERS-2

 

Here’s what you’ll need for the rest of the tutorial:

Total Cost: Around $20, assuming you have a pair of scissors at your house.

Time To Make: 3–5 Hours, but does not need to be done all at once, and can be done way in advance of your wedding.

flowers final

Directions:

1. Download and print the PDFs on heavy cardstock. You’ll need to print forty pages of flowers to cover an approximately five-by-seven foot space (I know that probably sounds like a lot, but most pages have only one-to-three flowers on them. If you want to keep things simple, stick with a backdrop of just one kind of flower, and forgo the dantier ones, which take more time cutting.)

2. Cut out the flowers while watching bad TV. For reference, it took Tabitha about three hours to cut the flowers for this tutorial, without any help. Add a friend and you could get it done in the span of Dirty Dancing.

3. Tape flowers to wall by rolling a little piece of blue painters tape and attaching to the back of the flower (Note: This is important. Washi tape is purely decorative, so give yourself something more substantial to work with when affixing your flowers or you’ll spend the whole night picking them up. If rolling painters tape feels like too much of a hassle, double-sided tape should work just as well. Just make sure whatever you’re using won’t affect the walls of your venue.)

4. Add a piece of gold washi tape to the stem for decoration.

Final Shot

Depending on how big you go with your backdrop, this project can be time-consuming (though it’s nothing that binge-watching an afternoon of The Mindy Project can’t fix). That said, the process itself is super easy. Pro tip: if you plan on putting your flowers on a white backdrop (like a white wall or painted plywood, for example), there’s no need to be meticulous in your cutting, since the white edges aren’t going to show. If you don’t have a wall you can hang these on, steal the idea from our hanging carnation backdrop and string the flowers from a ready-made arch. And you don’t have to limit yourself to a backdrop, either. Other uses for flower scans might include:

  • Escort Cards
  • Table-settings
  • Table Numbers (Decoupage a peony on a block of wood and you’ve got a cool, minimal centerpiece.)
  • Making your office look nice (At least, that’s what I’m planning on doing with this tutorial.)

apwdiy-012215-flowers-final-010

A few extra tips from Tabitha herself:

1. Don’t be a perfectionist. Flowers are organic shapes and it’s okay if they all turn out a little different. Be lazy and cut quickly.

2. Don’t be afraid to leave some white, especially on the smaller flowers—on the berries and greens I cut out what was easy and left the rest white.

3. This will go up (and come down) in a flash if you work with a friend. The first person can roll the painters tape and stick the flowers to the wall, and the second person can follow behind adding the washi tape to the stems.

4. Washi tape should come off easily without taking the paint with it. However if you leave this up in a sunny spot for a long time (weeks, months) that might not be the case.

Bonus: For the #lazygirls in the house who like the look of this project, but don’t want to be bothered with cutting and taping (or who can’t put things on the walls in their venue), we turned this pattern into fabric (or wallpaper!) on Spoonflower. I think it would make for a killer photobooth backdrop

Are there any cost-prohibitive materials you want to use for your wedding but can’t figure a way around? let us know and we might work them into a future tutorial!

This post was sponsored by the new Sprout by HP. Thanks HP for helping make the APW mission possible!


The Info:

Styling: Tabitha Johnson of Winston & Main | Photography: Melissa Ryan of Marble Rye Photography APW Sponsor

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

Staff Picks

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  • Hannah

    Adorable! This reminds me of the scene in ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ where Kathy Bates’s friend shows off the “garden” on her nursing home wall.

    • Meg Keene

      OH MY GOD RIGHT. Whatever, I didn’t like micro second quickly tear up when I read that at all.

    • BB

      yessssssssssssssss

  • scw

    wow, apw is killing it today. I think this is my favorite apw tutorial to date! someone please do this and then submit your wedding.

  • This is the most brilliant project I’ve ever seen. Incredible! And so doable! I need to get one of those Sprout computers.

  • SuperDaintyKate

    I know that this is not the point of this post but– Spoonflower is a revelation! Thanks for sharing your fabric there. You’ve just solved all my wedding backrop problems. I love you.

    • We used them for custom fabric and it was the best! Pro-tip: spring for the sample fabric in two different variations of the pattern. What looked good on the screen didn’t translate onto fabric the way I hoped. I ended up using the sample fabric to wrap my bouquet.

      • SuperDaintyKate

        Smart! Thanks for the tip.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    **BRAVO MADDIE**

    I actually prefer your version to the original!

    On another note… did an APW couple ever successfully pull of the carnation backdrop? It was on my Pinterest board for ages, I really thought I’d make it happen for our wedding but alas…

    • Meg Keene

      Oh god. Someone did. I’m wracking my brain… I think it might be a wedding that we haven’t published yet? They did it in all white, and it actually was a far more traditional look, but it was super cool. I want to say a parent did all the work for them as a gift. (Awwww…)

    • Meg Keene

      For the uninitiated, here is the link to the project (more under our How To tab, obvs.) http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/10/carnation-backdrop-wedding/

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      There have been a few beautiful interpretations. I’m not sure if they were directly inspired by our post, but I’ll take credit anyway. :)

      This is one of my favorite takes on the project: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/05/santa-rosa-at-home-wedding/

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Wowzers! I actually remember this wedding (VIVIDLY) but didn’t notice the carnation backdrop the first time around, I guess. I’m a big fan of ‘technicolour dream weddings’ but I must say the white version is #classyasheck

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      And a few photos. All shot by the absurdly talented Nirav Patel.

  • KC

    That is so, so smart.

    I’m looking at this and thinking that the stems are probably the “hard part” to cut out – would it be feasible to use sticks/grass stems/bits-pruned-off-shrubbery and only cut out the flower “heads” and stick them on, um, sticks? I’ve had good success taping up cedar branches to walls, so I’d expect twigs et al to also be fine with painter’s tape…

    If you could condense the flower “heads” onto fewer sheets of cardstock by not having stems attached, this would also reduce the price if you’re getting the project printed at a Large Office Supply Store somewhere, because that’s per-page, not by ink density. If you’re printing at home, the ink used up is probably equivalent to or greater than the cardstock cost, though, so it wouldn’t be as much of a savings.

    But the very very best idea is getting it via Spoonflower and not doing any cutting-out at all! So smart!

  • april

    Debating whether it would be unprofessional for me to hang something like this in my office … yeah, probably … but it’s so pretty!

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I mean, that’s where it’s going in MY house.

  • quickj

    Uhhhh, y’all, I might just do this for life.

    • VALENTINE’S DAY WALL BOMB. That’s my plan!

  • SP

    Am I the only one disappointed that this is billed as a $20 DIY? It’s technically true, but only if you use these PDFs. If I want flowers in a different color or some other object it’s $20…..plus almost two grand for the computer.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      As-is the case with most of our DIY’s, what we’re trying to do is help you guys save money on hiring a professional designer, or buying new technology, etc. by giving you tutorials that you can easily and affordably replicate. On the upside, we’ll have another tutorial for you next week, if flowers aren’t your aesthetic.

      • Kate T

        My printer eats ink like a champ. Any idea how much all the flowers cost to print as you want a pretty high quality print job (it wasn’t included in the $20 cost of the project). Thanks!

        • Rebekah

          Using the FedEx Kinkos site, they price a color page on 110 lb card stock at $1.24. Staples is quoting me 67 cents a page, same weight card stock. You might want to use even thicker card stock, and would want to call them to see pricing and options. I don’t know what it would cost you to print 40 color copies at home though, but most ink cartridges for my printer cost $20.

    • quickj

      Maybe this is too enthusiastic, but I was actually thinking that this process might be relatively doable with any kind of flower/object with a camera, decent lighting, a solid white backdrop, and a bit of not-skilled photo editing. Obviously those things require some set-up/equipment, but could likely be borrowed from others if not already handy. Bonus if the flowers/objects are returnable high-quality silk flowers. The awesome computer/camera/printer would definitely help, but might be necessary!

      • Meg Keene

        Oh yeah, you could totally pull off something like this with a good camera and photoshop skills (which I don’t have, but still). The Sprout makes it a lot easier and creates the cool 3D scan, but this could totally be replicated in another way. (See: above comment on Fried Green Tomatoes.)

        • quickj

          For sure! It’s fabulous and I’m brainstorming ways to use it since we’re post-wedding over here. :) I’d just wanted to chime in and celebrate the fact that the process was also awesomely outlined in this DIY, which (as an added bonus to the great PDFs and the designer-upped aesthetic), is an *extra special* DIY feature!

    • Meg Keene

      Well. That would be a totally different DIY. Just because we had access to a cool computer and got a chance to make these PDF’s doesn’t mean we could make every possible DIY under the sun, or exactly what you want for your wedding.

    • Jess

      I kind of get what you’re saying, because a computer is a big investment, and APW’s photos are way better than ones I would take.

      The concept still works if you wanted to go out and find cool pictures of flowers you liked or beach balls or whatever in stock images and white out the background. Or you could just wander around with a camera and some white posterboard to hold behind the cool things you find.

      Sure the scanner probably gives you the best replica of a 3D object, but for replicating it on your own, picking the flowers you like, etc? Even with a digital point and shoot and a piece of printer paper, you could get a good file size and manipulate it to be what you wanted.

  • Jessica

    This is adorable! I have a giant blank wall at my new office that I’m working to curate a gallery wall for, and I think a few flowers peppered between the frames may be a cute way to break up the squareness of it all (though I may still spring for the castiron moose head, too).

  • Guest

    It’s pretty tacky, you guys. You can see the tape.

    • Nina

      That’s kind of mean. They put a lot of effort into this. If it’s not to your taste, then feel free to move along. If the tape is what you object to, then use double-sided tape and put it on the back of the flower part: problem solved.

  • Elle

    Hey Maddie,
    If my color is yellow and my library has photoshop, how difficult would it be to recolor your images? Also, are you cool with someone doing that to your images for the purpose of their wedding (or personal home/office decor)?

    Thanks!

    • Meg Keene

      You have our blessing :)

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Regarding re-coloring, I am by NO means a Photoshop expert, but I think it’s doable, depending on how “natural” you want to look. But if you do some hue/saturation and color balance adjustments, you can get something like this (took me about 10 minutes?) And if you have more patience/precision/skill, you can probably get something much better than this.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        ETA: Yellow is a little harder than other colors, I think because of the shading/green hue in flowers. But seems doable!

      • Elle

        Interesting! I think I’ll try it out and see if I can use the ‘select this part and not that part’ tool to get the stems/leaves to stay brown/green while the petals go more gold. Thanks so much for replying!

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          I think that’s totally doable. I am…less patient with photoshop. :)

  • laurasmash

    I LOVE THIS. It might be my favorite APW tutorial yet.

  • Loooove! There is a blank wall in our office that has just been WAITING for this project to come into our lives! Thanks team!

  • Ann

    Now I wish I had a wall behind us where we’re getting married!! Any suggestions on 3-D paper flowers? My goal to have a flower-filled wedding with a very limited budget – never mind outdoors in the August humidity – turned into a decision to use all paper and dried flowers. I started making crepe paper and tissue paper flowers to use in centerpieces and all I have to say about that is GOOD GOD HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS? I make two of them and feel accomplished until I realize I have to make about a bazillion more. Has anyone done this successfully? Am I going to drive myself insane?

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  • janika

    Wow..this project is really cool and friendly to my wallet too. I am bookmarking this page for future use. Thank you so much dear for sharing it.

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  • Deanna

    Wait a minute! This is just an ad for a cool printer!

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