Where I grew up, the state flower is a pinecone. Combine that with my black thumb, and I don’t know why I was surprised when our attempts at DIYing our wedding flowers ended up a bit of a disaster. At first I thought maybe we’d just bitten off more than we could chew. But I’ve come to realize that the real problem was that we just didn’t do our research. (Whoops. Story of my life.) Most of the floral tutorials I had found online at the time were all style (aka what flowers look good together), when it turns out what I really needed was substance (aka what to do with your flowers after you get them). So when we had the opportunity to partner with the online flower delivery company The Bouqs this month, I wanted to rewind things a bit and get back to basics. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching florists work their magic, it’s that it doesn’t matter if you’re planning on creating a huge peony and wildflower bouquet with all kinds of different textures, or just a simple one-flower arrangement. You gotta understand the fundamentals first.
To help us out, we brought in Napa-based florist Melody Raye Mahoney of Melody Raye Flowers (who does bold, colorful wedding flowers like it’s nobody’s business), and asked her to share her best tips for getting the most out of your DIY wedding flowers. We chose to work with The Bouqs’s multi-colored “Cake ‘n Cream” ranunculus bouquet from their volcano collection (so named, because the flowers are grown on the side of an active volcano in Ecuador, on sustainable, eco-friendly farms). But you could easily apply these tips to any bouquet you’re working on for your wedding:
1. Give yourself a buffer. If you’re ordering your flowers online from a wholesale flower supply or a place like The Bouqs (who, spoiler alert is giving away six months of free bouquets at the end of this post, plus 15% off all orders placed within the next six days when you use the code SUMMER15 at checkout), they aren’t going to show up at your door ready to wrap ribbon around. Getting flowers to open up takes a few days, so you want to schedule your delivery for two to three days before your wedding. Once you have your flowers in hand, don’t worry about getting them into a fridge (commercial refrigerators aren’t calibrated to take care of flowers, so you actually run the risk of ruining them that way). Instead, keep them in water in a cool dry place and try to avoid handling them too much because it can cause browning. If your flowers are slow to pop open, putting them in sunlight, or a warmer spot in your house can speed up the process a little.
Pro tip: Please avoid my wedding day disaster by doing a trial run a few weeks (or months) before the wedding. You’ll get a better sense of how many flowers you’ll need, and you’ll be able to work through the mechanics of putting together your bouquet without it being The Bouquet. Plus, when you’re done, you get fresh flowers for your house! So, win-win.
Also, when it comes to the real deal, make sure to order more flowers than you think you’ll need. The Bouqs sends their bouquets in a protected box like you see above, so everything showed up safe and sound, but a few flowers got damaged as we were putting our tutorial together (we’re only human). Luckily we had a handful of extras available to sub in, and you’ll want to as well.
2. prep your flowers. While The Bouqs is more in the flowers for your mom on her birthday business (or your best friend just because, or heck even yourself) than the wholesale wedding flower game, one of the reasons I was excited to work with them is because the flowers show up pre-prepped (which is great if you’re just making one or two DIY bouquets and want to save yourself some work). Which means no need to strip thorns or cut stems. (Normally you’d want to get yourself a pair of strong scissors and possibly a thorn stripper to help with the prep process.) But even with The Bouqs, you’ll still need to prep your greenery. Greenery helps fill out bouquets, while adding texture, but you don’t need all the bulk that comes with them. So before you start in on your arrangement, remove about two thirds of the leaves from your greenery, leaving just the topmost part in tact.
3. Mind the base and the balance. Every florist I’ve ever worked with (including Melody) has started with the same technique: begin with a base of three to four flowers. Then, as you layer in more, the key is to mind the balance as you go. You don’t want to cluster too much of the same color together, but you also don’t want your bouquet to look like you deliberately placed flowers alternating one color after the other. For example, if you pay attention to the photos above, you’ll notice a lot of two-to-one ratios throughout the bouquet that Melody created for us. That is to say, if you put two orange flowers next to each other, put a single orange flower somewhere on the other side of the bouquet to balance things out. She alternated this process with greens every two or three flowers, and then she stopped to check the overall balance of the bouquet every ten stems or so (aka just stand up and hold it against your body to see if it feels like the right size for you).
Pro tip: If you want a more wild looking bouquet, play with the height of your flowers as you add them (kind of like you see in the second photo above). You can also make your bouquet feel more organic and wild simply by adding in different textures of flowers. We wanted to keep things simple for the purposes of this tutorial by using one flower type, but the base and balance principle still applies when you’re using multiple flower types. And for the #lazygirls in the house, if you don’t want to bother with figuring out what kind of flowers will look good together, you can always opt for a pre-mixed bouquet like this or this from The Bouqs’s California collection (which are available for overnight shipping. Because if you’re like me, #lazygirl is synonymous with procrastinator).
4. It’s a wrap: I’ve heard conflicting advice from different florists about when you should wrap your bouquet with floral tape. Some say it’s best to wrap every few stems as you go. Others say to wait until you’re done with the whole thing before you wrap. But Melody helped break down the discrepancy for me: floral tape just helps keep things together. So if you want more control over your bouquet, wrap as you go because it keeps the flowers from running away from you. But control also means you don’t have as much flexibility to fix things after the fact—like if you put your whole bouquet together and decide one flower feels out of place and should be moved. So if you want to be able to move things around or adjust the height of your stems, wait to tape until you’re done building your bouquet. Neither way is necessarily right or wrong, and you’ll know better than anyone which method is best for you.
5. Put a ribbon on it: Your flowers don’t have to do all the work for you. If your budget doesn’t include big expensive flowers (I’m looking at you, peonies), or if you’d feel more comfortable working with just one flower type, you can still add some personality to your bouquet with a cool wrap. We found this awesome glitter ribbon at Michael’s, and Melody gave it a little more edge with cascading ribbon. For that, she simply wrapped our bouquet, then looped a few pieces of cut ribbon around it.
This post was sponsored by The Bouqs, a new flower delivery service that puts the focus on the flowers (and not on unnecessary candy or teddy bears). All of The Bouqs flowers are grown at sustainable, eco-friendly farms that follow strict responsible farming practices certified by Veriflora and The Rainforest Alliance. And The Bouqs’s volcano collection are grown on the side of an active volcano in Ecuador, where more sunshine and mineral rich soil makes for better flowers (and a cool origin story, if we do say so). In addition to today’s giveaway, The Bouqs is offering 15% off your order when you use the code SUMMER15 at checkout!* You don’t need to be planning a wedding to take advantage. So go on, and buy yourself some flowers just because.
*Discount expires on 7/20.