How To DIY a Floral Urn Centerpiece


Big impact flower decor that won't sink your floral budget

by Lucy Bennett

Creating centerpieces for your wedding is an undertaking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a manageable undertaking, but it’s a project you should be going into with as much information at your disposal as possible. The problem is, there are tons and tons of centerpieces that are lush and big that you see on Pinterest, but then once you decide to tackle it yourself, you realize on shopping day the flowers are so expensive you can buy like two stems instead of twenty. Or you show up at the venue and realize you have half the amount of flowers you need to create the same look.

However, just because you don’t have a swimming pool full of money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to have a wedding that’s formal in style. And just because you’re stuck with a ballroom where you have to go a little more formal, doesn’t mean your wedding can’t be hip, right? Well, those formal-but-also-kinda-hip centerpieces on Pinterest are a bit like unicorns—they’re all very pretty, but no one’s telling you how to get your own.

And that’s where we come in. We wanted to tackle the urn, because it’s pretty timeless, and also normally done in ways that seem to cost a million dollars. So we asked our favorite wedding stylist, Michelle Edgemont in Brooklyn, if she could make a $7.99 plastic urn… well, cool. And it turns out, of course she could. So for those of you stuck in ballrooms, or who just like tuxes, here is a doable, affordable, kinda fancy floral arrangement. Here, we’re putting an emphasis on flowers that are readily available, impactful, and aren’t going to completely sink your flower budget. That said, this isn’t a cheap centerpiece (around $80 per centerpiece if you buy wholesale flowers online, compared to the $200-$350 it would cost from a florist), so you will need to have some kind of flower budget. We tried to keep the material prices reasonable, but they ain’t free.

If you’re undertaking this project, remember to get help, allot time for making multiples, and do your bouquets before your centerpieces, because chances are you care more about them, and you want be safe in the knowledge that you have enough flowers for the thing you’re going to hold in your hands. (Michelle also advises that if you plan to buy your flowers online, allocate for about 30% more flowers than you need, as some will inevitably arrive with broken stems and sad looking blooms.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Urn
  • Roses (7)
  • Scabiosa (7)
  • Stock (7)
  • Lemon Leaf (11)
  • Fern (5)
  • Carnations (9)
  • Seeded Eucalyptus (5)
  • Thistle (7)
  • Floral Foam
  • Waterproof Floral tape
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Clippers
  • Scissors

Steps

1. Prep flowers by removing all of the leaves, cutting the stems on an angle, and placing in room temperature water for twenty-four hours.

2. Prep foam by filling a bucket with room temperature water, placing foam on water, and letting foam slowly soak up water.

3. Cut foam to size to fit inside the urn. Cut smaller pieces to fill in the gaps.

4. To hold the foam in the urn, tape on with waterproof tape.

5. Start with your largest green, the lemon leaf. Place stems all the way around the urn, creating the shape you want your arrangement to be. Put the stems evenly around the urn, some close to the lip and some sticking higher up.

6. Do the same with the fern and the seeded eucalyptus.

7. Now onto the flowers. We’ll start with your main, largest flower, the roses. Cut the stems on an angle and stick into the foam. Place some roses near the lip and some sticking higher up. Spin your arrangement as you work, so each side looks even.

8. Next, move onto the second largest flower, the stock. Start to fill in the gaps all the way around the urn.

9. Do the same with the carnations and scabiosa.

Tips

  • If you want to reposition a flower in the foam, recut the stem. Do not reuse a hole you already made in the foam.
  • Spin the urn as you work to make sure that it looks great from all sides.
  • Make a prototype a few months before your wedding to determine how long will it take you to make one centerpiece, and how many of each flower to do you need per centerpiece.
  • Your centerpiece will look best if done the day before the wedding, and kept in a cool, dark place.
  • Order thirty percent more flowers than you need to accommodate for broken stems and not so great looking blooms. If you end up with extra, either make fuller centerpieces or create bud vases for cocktail tables and bars.

Editor’s note: If you live in New York and aren’t a fan of DIY, you can always just hire Michelle to make your flowers for you. She’s pretty awesome to work with, if we do say so ourselves.


The Info:

Styling: Michelle Edgemont APW Sponsor | Photography: City Love Photography APW Sponsor

Lucy Bennett

Lucy a freelance designer/writer hybrid. When not coming up with weird self-challenges, she can be found marathoning TV shows or playing board games. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, her moderately internet-famous pup, and two cats. She takes herself very seriously.

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  • KC

    Would it be possible to get approximate quantities needed of each floral ingredient? Obviously, that would be something like “from 5-8 roses” or something like that, not a precise number that you could follow exactly, but it would probably help to get at least a ballpark for ordering and pricing.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Just added those extra details and some extra pricing. Worth noting: the more centerpieces you have, the lower the per-centerpiece price will be, thanks to volume floral pricing.

      • KC

        Hooray! Thank you so much! It’s hard for a total floral newbie to guess from photos how many of what there is, even when the photos are excellent and from multiple angles. And yes, pricing would depend on gobs of different factors – but knowing at least to the closest order of magnitude what you need to buy is a good start. :-)

  • AGCourtney

    We don’t have flowers in the budget, but I just wanted to say those look lovely! Thanks for sharing.

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  • millietolleson

    I’m planning to DIY florals for a May wedding and also planning to use floral foam. Am I reading correctly that it’s ok to plan to make the centerpieces using foam the day before and then sit overnight? Is it important to add water to the foam again at any point after the initial soaking time? Any tips on that? Thanks!

    • Hi! Soak the foam in buckets of cool water with flower food for at least 15 minutes. This will be sure to make the foam nice and wet. Yes, you can totally make the centerpieces the day before – just sit them overnight in a cool, dark room. I use a small room with the door closed and the AC on high. Before you go to bed, pour in a little more water. It’s not necessary, but can’t hurt. Oh…and some flowers HATE floral foam. Like tulips and ranunculus. Do a dry run a few weeks before your wedding

      • millietolleson

        Thank you!!

  • Nope.

    Hm… our centerpieces were $65 each from a really lovely, trendy florist in a mid-sized city (Cleveland). I purchased the vases online (they were $5 each) and had them shipped straight to the florist, since I was planning from out of town. I’m sure you can pay $350 for a centerpiece in Manhattan, but just wanted people to know that that might not be their fate everywhere!

    Just remember to include all of the “extra” costs when you’re figuring out if it’s cheaper to DIY – you’ll need to get some extra vases too, in case one has a leak or gets broken in transit. That 30% extra figure definitely adds up, and while I originally intended to DIY, it was much, much cheaper (and infinitely sanity-saving) for us to work with a florist.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I think that quote Michelle gave us (which definitely is for a florist in a major metropolitan area like New York) is for *this* specific look (my hunch is that the urn combined with a more overflowing look is what ups the price, but Michelle can probably speak to that more specifically!)

      • Nope.

        That’s fine! I just didn’t want people to read that as “big centerpiece = $250-$350.” The picture I used of ours actually makes it look smaller/less overflowy than it was. That’s a pretty common look for artistic florists these days, so I just don’t want people to assume that it’s always priced that high.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          Totally! I’m with you; just wanted to clarify where that might have come from (for the same reason.) P.S. Your centerpieces were HOT, so good on you. :)

    • Your centerpieces were lovely! This particular DIY uses more stems of blooms to fill the size of the urn then were used in your centerpiece. Great tips on purchasing your own vases…some florists are willing to be flexible on this. Some might carry an inventory and renting the vases to clients is one way florists make a little more profit. A little FYI from behind the scenes.

    • Emily

      Cleveland bride-to-be, here! Your flowers are gorgeous. Would you mind telling me who you used?

      • Nope.

        Urban Orchid! They were fantastic to work with. They have a spot in Hingetown and a new one in Little Italy. Happy to send you more pictures if that’s helpful, and pass along other Cleveland info if you need it!

        • Emily

          Oh I have walked past their Hingetown location a bajillion times – I will check them out. Thank you!! And actually, if you used a DJ and liked said DJ, I would super appreciate a DJ recommendation. I wish there were more (er…any) Cleveland APW vendors!

          • Nope.

            We used a band, but they were through the CLE Music Group booking agency. They have a lot of options for bands, DJs, and other entertainment (and so many polka options!). Our band was excellent, and the booking agency was straightforward to work with.

    • Meg Keene

      $65?!?!?! HA say the coasts! (They’re super duper pretty!)

      No seriously, that’s super fantastic, and you need to balance the costs of DIY vs. Non-DIY where you live. I DIYed my florals, and if I had to do it again, I’d skip centerpieces and pay for bouquets, because it is hard. So I’m no unabashed fan of floral DIY. But out here in the Bay Area big centerpieces like this one cost a fortune, so for most of us without money trees, if we want them, making them is probably a more realistic option. (When researching floral costs for my book, the STARTING costs in San Francisco made me black out. Like, many floral studios won’t speak to you if your floral budget is under $4K, which is their very lowest cost. That doesn’t mean they’re not way worth it, but it does mean… it’s expensive…)

      Also, there is a scale comp issue here. Looking at the pictures I can eyeball that Michelle’s is significantly larger even if yours were lovely and over flowing, which just means it’s going to cost more everywhere. It still may be more cost effective not to DIY, and everyone should really do their research, but… it’s going to depend.

      • Susan

        I’m getting married in the Bay Area and my (granted independent without her own shop) florist is doing our centerpieces for $35 each. The bouquets are all $150+ but I was pleasantly surprised by the centerpiece pricing. I’m not really sure how the sizing will compare to these arrangements (more of a traditional vase, not an urn) but definitely there are some more affordable options out there — I love flowers but I definitely couldn’t imagine spending $4000 on them!

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  • SM

    Do you have suggestions for an online source for wholesale flowers?

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Blooms by the Box are great (they’re sponsors of ours, so we’ve got a longstanding relationship with them). There’s also FiftyFlowers. Those are the two that come to mind first!

      • SM

        Great! Thanks!

    • Ditto to Fiftyflowers.com I use them frequently and they are great.

  • FancyPants

    The deep, bright colors and varied texture in this centerpiece is just exquisite! Nicely done! I would be so impressed with myself for doing something this gorgeous.

    My question would be the SPACING required for such large, pop-worthy centerpieces? I could see it being perfect for 8-10 person round tables. What do you think about for long tables? THANKS!

    • CoastalCreature

      I used an urn with a diameter of 6.5 inches and filled them with three types of ferns – it was very “foresty” looking. And it filled the entire center of the table and made any other decorations I had planned on completely unnecessary. The only other thing I added was random LED tea lights.

      I don’t have a great picture but I attached one that kind of shows how big they ended up being.

      My guess is my centerpiece on a long table would have required people to sit to either side of it, and not in front of it, requiring the loss of some space.

      • FancyPants

        Oh, that’s lovely! Ferns are so very classic and yet eye-catching and full. Looks awesome :)

      • Shit. I’ve been trying to get all of my clients to do giant fern centerpieces exactly like this FOREVER. You are a genius and I love you.

    • One per 6′ long table will work. Put it in the middle, then put some votives/hurricane candles on either side of it to fill in the ends of the table. OR – use the extra blooms in bud vases on the ends of the tables. That would be pretty too!

      • FancyPants

        Thank you, Michelle! Looks great!

        We are likely putting three or four 6′ long tables to make several very long tables. One per 6′ makes the math and spacing easy.

  • CoastalCreature

    Little tip I learned after figuring out my DIY urn centerpieces – match the diameter of the urn you want to use to the diameter of a floral foam ball. That way you simply soak the ball, cut it in half, slice a little off the bottom so it is secure in the urn, and plop it in!

    What I used, specifically: URN http://www.afloral.com/Floral-Supplies/Plastic-Floral-Containers/4-Silver-Centerpiece-Bowl-24-Per-Case_2 and FLORAL FOAM http://www.afloral.com/Floral-Supplies/Floral-Foam/Floral-Foam-Sphere-6

  • These are beautiful centerpieces, but the cost of 1 was my entire flower budget (decoration and boquets)!

    Here’s what I ended up doing (picture self-explanatory):

  • Cassy

    What kind of carnations were used? The color?

  • jubeee

    Great, now I want dark pink roses! This is a gorgeous centerpiece and the colors have really inspired me, thanks!

  • Kari Guastella

    Beautiful arrangement!
    Kari
    http://www.sweetteasweetie.com

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  • Amber Lynn

    Hi!! I’m wondering how long these might last? If I was DIYing my own.. for a Saturday wedding, should I buy the flowers (market or in store) on Wednesday, create on Thursday.. and they would still be good on Saturday evening? Thank you!

  • This is my favorite type of centerpiece! Wild and natural yet still very elegant and classy. That floral foam can be so tricky to cover sometimes :)

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