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Wedding Flowers: 9 Steps to Perfect Wedding Flowers

Before you sit down with any florist, here's your list of need-to-know info.

Photo: Photography by Vanessa

Choosing your flowers is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. But before you make any decisions, there are a few points you'll want to consider. Use this step-by-step wedding flower guide to get started.

1. Find the Right Wedding Florist

Before you venture out and start the meet-and-greets with selected florists, think about the type of person you work well with. Do you want someone who's going to grab the buds by the stems and take control? Or are you looking for someone who wants you to guide them every step of the way? A combination of both? You'll also need to get a good idea about design tendencies (and if they match yours) -- insist on seeing a portfolio before you commit. Talk to friends and relatives who recently got married and find out who they used. Check out the listings in The Knot Local Wedding Resources of great florists in your area. If you find someone you don't know or haven't heard of, be sure to check out the company with the Better Business Bureau where you can find out if anyone has had problems with them in the past.

2. Consider Your Wedding Flower Budget

This one is a no-brainer. Figure that eight percent of the total wedding cost will go to flowers -- from the bouquets and boutonnieres to the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception decor. At the start of your first meeting, ask straight out: What great things can you do with $__________? (Don't get sucked into $5,000 worth of flowers and then let your florist know that your bottom line is $2,000.) And remember: There's a lot of stuff to consider, so don't be surprised if you end up spending more. So we suggest you pad in an extra 10 percent.

Need to adjust some numbers? Figure out your wedding budget.

3. Establish a Vision

Have a general idea about your taste. Are you a true minimalist? Or are you looking to do an uber-romantic Gatsby-style wedding? Create a file of magazine tear-outs -- and not just bridal pics. Lifestyle shots, colors, and fashion photos will all help give your florist a clear idea of your loves and love-nots. And don't forget shots from friends' weddings. Maybe you flipped over the centerpieces, but hated the bouquets. Now's the time to bring it up (to your florist, of course, and not your friend).

Look through our bridal bouquet gallery to get inspired.

4. Consider Your Reception Site Specifics

This is a biggie. Think of your reception site as a blank canvas on which the florist will create her masterpiece. Is there bright red wallpaper that she needs to consider? Is it a botanical garden that won't need much floral accent? Or are you starting with a clean, empty loft that will need lots of work? Bring along some sort of photo (a press kit or pamphlet) in case she's never worked a wedding there before, and ask her to visit the site to get an idea of its size and style.

5. Create a Wedding Color Concept

Don't even think about visiting a florist without knowing what your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and moms are wearing. There's literally no point -- you can't pick any flowers if you don't know what colors will work. On the flip side, you won't know what colors your flowers come in without knowing which flowers you want. First tackle the attire, then choose your ideal color palette and make a list of your favorite flowers, and then see if your florist can accomplish both.

6. Consider Your Wedding Dress

At this point, you should have already picked out your gown, seeing as that will dictate what kind of bouquet you should carry. While you might not think so, florists base many decisions on the bride's gown -- how ornate it is, whether it's white or cream, if it's classic or contemporary, and so on. Most florists think of the wedding dress as the centerpiece of the day, so this will give her a good idea of where you're going with the wedding style.

7. Map Out Your Wedding Style

Your style is different than your vision. Are you looking to carry a very dramatic, long bunch of flowers or a tight posy of blooms instead? Do the same thinking about the other people in the wedding party: Should Mom wear a corsage or carry a nosegay? Should the bridesmaids carry a single stem or a tussy mussy? Style will also affect price accordingly, as well as the choice of flowers that will or won't work in the type of bouquet you're eyeing.

A tussy what? Brush up on your bouquet lingo.

8. Size Up Your Crowd

Don't listen to your groom -- size does matter! How many people are you planning on having to the wedding celebration? That number will determine how many tables and, consequently, how many centerpieces you'll require. How many attendants will you have to outfit with flowers: groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls? This will dramatically impact the price. On the other hand, if you are requiring fewer than average centerpieces, you may be able to get those orchids flown in from China that you swore you couldn't live without.

9. Get Everything in Writing

All the work you will do to get this far will mean nothing if you don't have it all in writing. So make certain that your florist drafts a contract, specifically stating the flowers you're going to have, how many bouquets you'll need, price, and what time you can expect her to arrive on the day of the wedding. Don't hesitate to include the things you absolutely don't want, as well. That way, you'll have recourse if your florist doesn't come through for you.
 


-- Joanna Saltz

See More: Wedding Flowers