DIY Flowers – The Dry Run

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

budget wedding flowersOne of the cool things about our year and a half engagement is that we have lots of time to test things out. This week brought one of the wedding chores I have most been looking forward to – the DIY flower test. We went to the San Francisco Flower Mart to see what was in season in August, and then tried to figure out what the heck we were doing making bouquets.

First DIY lesson – when you are having friends and family helping out, it’s key to be flexible. Our friend Beck, mistress of the flowers, couldn’t make it. So at the last minute, my mom and I tried to figure out what the heck we were doing on our own. This video helped. Other then that we relied on trusting our eye and some carefully selected inspiration pictures. I’m pretty pleased with the results. (And don’t worry, I won’t bore you with long tales of gocco next. Generally I’m too lazy for intricate DIY projects, and I ask people to help.)
Piles of flowers in our kitchen. We didn’t really know what we were looking for, so we got a lot.
Our first project was my bouquet. Bright! was the idea.
We did attendants bouquets next, and I was really happy with them. The experience we got on the first bouquet really paid off.
DIY wedding flowersAnd here is everything. Two small table arrangements, one larger bar arrangement, two bouquets, and in front a teeny tiny corsage. Note the inspiration pictures on the windowsill.

The verdict? Affordable and fun. The best part? When you made them yourself, you don’t feel like you need to treat the bouquets with great care.

If you have questions, ask them in the comments. I’m not boring you with the details of floral tape here.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • If you don’t mind answering, how much did that amount of flowers run for?

  • One Love Photo

    Looking good! The one thing that I think goes wrong with DIY flowers is SCALE. The bride’s flowers always seem much too large and cover up her dress. I think your scale looks really good. I couldn’t believe how long it took me to make 8 arrangements at my friend’s wedding, so I always tell my clients to make sure that they have help and time. So smart for you to go to the market this year and do a trial run.

  • They’re beautiful! Nicely done!

  • they look great! i am so jealous that you have a flower mart and can make your own!! :) love the dahlias!

  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, I’m really impressed! My future sister in law and I are doing my bouquets but I chose simple all-one-flower arrangements because I thought it would be really tough to mix flowers not really knowing what we’re doing. You may have just inspired me to experiment a little more!

  • Meg

    Heather- I think our scale might still be off. I think the brides bouquet was a little big. It sure is heavy!

    And, we spend about $150 on everything, but at LEAST $50 of that was overpriced floral tape, pins, shears, etc. I’ll stock up that from a craft store for the real deal. Also, we could have spent less if we’d had a better idea of what we needed… but that was part of the dry run. We learned what worked and what did not. I suspect next year we’ll spend $400- $500 in total, but we have a lot of guests, so a lot of centerpieces to do. That could be scaled way back if need be.

  • Meg

    And Jessica Lynn – we would order flowers wholesale online if we didn’t have a mart. Great option.

    My only concern is whether or not the same flowers are going to be in bloom come your wedding. If so, I’d say – SWEET! If not, just find out what will be in bloom and mentally figure out which flowers to change them out with etc.
    You rock! (like you didn’t already know. ;-) ).

  • Vanessa

    A lot of times the brides request BIG bouquets. It makes them feel “special” to have the biggest most expensive bouquet. They also say that the bigger bouquet you have the smaller you look. I don’t know if that’s always true though. It may just be florists conjuring ways to make more money. ;)

  • Vanessa

    BTW- Your DIY flowers look FANTASTIC Meg.

  • How are you going ot have the time to do all of that on your wedding day!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • i LOVE the contrast between the coral and the lilac in your bouquet, meg, and the texture of the queen anne’s lace (or are those dill blossoms?) – very pretty, and very much what i thought when you talked about vivid middle eastern colors way back when (ever since we had birthday drinks for you at kemia, i associate you with those hues). it looks like you’ve got a bunch of thistle (one of my faves) in that first picture – did you end up using it for anything?

  • i love your results! when do you plan on putting together the bouquets and centerpieces? for the smaller centerpiece in the square vase, what size vase is that? how many flowers did you use for it? and how are you going to transport everything? that’s been my biggest hang up on doing my own flowers. but i’m so very tempted…yours turned out beautifully.

    sorry if i asked too many questions!

  • Lucy

    Your results are stunning. I am also planning to do my own flowers for my Sept wedding but am having a hard time finding a place to get fresh and inexpensive flowers that is open to the public. I live in central CT. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

  • Lucy, consider an online wholesale retailer like or costco. This may be the route we go even though we do have a flower mart in LA, but I don’t intend to get up at the crack of dawn to gp there the day of or before the wedding.

  • Another tip for making DIY flowers easy (or at least this is my plan) – We’re doing one type of flower in each container which requires much less of a designer’s eye and is pretty much fool-proof for anyone to help with.

  • Leigh Ann

    I love what you’ve chosen. It looks half wild and very colorful. Just like you. :)

  • They look very nice. Did it take long to make everything?

  • Wow, looks amazing (and professional!) I love the idea of DIY flowers to help on costs and personalize the experience more. I have never been to the SF flower mart but I may need to check it out next time I am home.

  • fadedblue

    very nice! love the flowers you chose. i echo others sentiment about the lack of a fabulous flower mart in the area i’m getting married.

    i’m planning on doing diy for my reception and decor florals. i’m considering the online wholesale option though i’m a little concerned not being able to see what i’m purchasing beforehand. the other option i’m batting around is ordering flowers through the florist doing my ceremony bouquets, since obviously she has the access to the wholesale marts that i don’t :).

  • Meg

    Thanks all! We’re doing a flower decorating party on the Saturday before our Sunday wedding. We’ll stick the flowers in the fridge (the ones that will fit, at least, the rest, oh well) then the next morning we’ll haul them to the venue. They’ll be a bit imperfect, but there you have it.

    And yes, we are doing the bouquets and centerpieces. Bouquets first, centerpieces with whatever is left… can’t be too picky. We’re doing long tables with small centerpieces, so they can be far more imperfect.

    And, we are getting married this time next year, so this is a pretty good representation of what will be around. But again, we know we have to be flexible.

  • Meg

    Oh, and, I’ll help out with the flowers the day before, but after we get started friends and family will run with it :)

  • The Virtual Bridesmaid

    Great bride bouquet!

    The Virtual Bridesmaid

  • I think the results are amazing. I’m not a florist but I’ve done the flowers for many weddings, and brides were always really happy with the results and especially with the incredible value for the price. I’m going to do mine also, of course.
    I’ve found that the bouquets and centerpieces will work out fine if they are made the day before (and a lot of people ask me when I will find the time to do this, but the thing is I would much rather do that than anything else! I guess it will give me a sense of control over things, and I’m always happy and relaxed when I can cater to my creative side! Having people to help is also a nice idea).

    The thing I’ve often had problems with though are the corsage/boutonnieres. They are always incredibly finicky and have often turned out less than perfect unfortunately. So if you have them, my advice (after many trial and error) is to make them at the very last minute (have someone else do it) and to choose very, very sturdy flowers (great picks are calla lilies -they still looked perfectly fresh the day after the wedding!- and green orchids). Roses, freesia, lisianthus, ranunculus and dahlias always wilt at the speed of light as soon as you take them out of water and cut them short.

  • You are soooo talented!! The flowers look awesome!
    We’re going to DIY about 3 or 4 arrangements that will just be at strategic locations (like the bar, guestbook table, etc), but they’re going to be a single color of roses. Easy peasy.

    Hope you have a wonderful vacation!! :-)

  • So, so great (and without your flower pro, too!)!!!! Looks like a lot of fun, too… yay for planning ahead!!! I heart the picture of all of the flowers together with the inspiration photos. So happy : )

    AND have a FANTASTIC time!!!

  • Krista

    We’re doing our boutonnieres with silk flowers. My fiance and his best man are allergic to so many flowers, that this just seems easier. I’m going to do them in advance!
    It never even considered doing bouquets myself. May I ask, how do you use the floral tape? I.E. how do you hold the bouquets securely together?

  • They look great! You’ve given me a lot of confidence that no.2 will produce something fabulous for our flowers :)

  • Amazing! They look professional!!!
    For those of you asking about where to get flowers if you don’t have a market or mart, try,, for wholesale flowers (YAY for wholesale!) and for everything from vases to floral tape. Super cheap!! If you need additional instruction for DIYing your flowers, these two pages are super helpful: and

  • bravo!!
    these are amazing,
    I’m going the same route.

  • Joan

    For a one stop shop of both wholesale flowers and supplies like floral tape, sheers, and all that fun stuff,I would recommend They sell everything right on their website. Good prices too! I have used them a few times in the past and could not have been happier. Everything was so fresh and beautiful! Definitely check them out!

  • i felt a little nuts that i did a DIY flowers trial a year out- this makes me feel better! lol

  • rosie

    These are amazing! Did you have a wholesale pass to the SF Flower Mart, or were you able to get what you needed during regular retail hours? Anyone you would recommend in particular?

    • meg

      No, I’m just a civilan like you. Just wander around and buy what you want. It’s that simple (or complicated… achem).

  • Love the ranunculus! Nice and big. They usually are that way when grown on California.

  • John H

    Thanks for info. Couple points for first time bouquet designers. 1) get flowers in water as soon as possible, cut 4″ or so off bottom. 2). While flowers are soaking up water start peeling off rose outer petals that are normally the most dinged up 3) use the cotton swab tipped and taped wires to push up into roses or other flowers to keep them fresh. Note:not too long in water for swabs prior or they will unravel 4). Bride bouquet should be last, more difficult 5) keep wraps on stems off until last, let the bouquet continue to take on water 5) if the flowers are purchased from buckets of water, have buckets of water in truck to drive home. Even two hours out of water will affect final look of flowers 6) try to put flowers in cold room except orchids, they will last longer. 7) use oasis in centerpieces, it will retain water for longer life.

  • mr hug