Discuss Your Budget With Your Florist
Be up-front with your florist about your budget. Give as many guidelines as you feel necessary, but hand over some creative licensing to your florist too—she’s the expert after all. “Try and make suggestions based on style and palette, but let your florist select the blooms that make the most sense based on your bottom line,” says Sarah Brysk Cohen of Blossom and Branch in New York City.
Stay Local and Seasonal
Local, in-season flowers are the way to go. This will guarantee the freshest blooms, plus the stems will be less costly too. Your second-best option is choosing from widely available, year-round blossoms, like roses, calla lilies and orchids. If you go local, you’ll save on transport costs too (tulips from Holland don’t come cheap).
Choose Big Blooms
Sure, cymbidium orchids will cost you more than spray roses, but they’ll make a much grander statement in your centerpieces. “Talk with your florist about incorporating some pricier stems into your arrangements, and let her figure out how to make the pricing work,” Cohen says. Oftentimes, these flowers pack a bigger punch, which means you need fewer of them. So you may be able to have the luxe blooms and stay within budget.
Swap Out Costly Stems
Learn flower lookalikes, and trade expensive buds for more affordable varieties, like swapping peonies for roses. Pick a florist you really trust—then let her expertise get you the look you’re after. Share images to hone in on style and color, and then allow the florist to select stems that fit your look and your budget. If you’re really set on a certain flower, discuss including it in your bridal bouquet (which will be photographed like crazy) and substituting it in your centerpieces.
Don’t Immediately Count Out a Flower
“Often brides will say, ‘I don’t like regular roses’ or ‘I don’t like carnations,’ but you may not know about the amazing varieties your florist can get,” Cohen says. You may have never seen a cluster of heirloom carnations, or a gorgeous arrangement of spray roses. Be open to your florist’s suggestions and ask to see examples—you may be totally surprised.
Stick to Just Two Kinds
If your florist is only sourcing two types of stems, she can buy in bulk, saving you big bucks. Consider sticking to flowers in a similar color scheme or shape for a more cohesive look. Orchids, calla lilies, tulips, roses, hydrangeas and peonies are all great options. “If you use fewer varieties of foliage and florals, the labor fees may also be reduced,” Cohen says.
Repurpose Your Flowers
Don’t leave your ceremony arrangements at the altar! Aisle arrangements can flank the buffet, bridesmaid bouquets can add color to a cake table and an archway can make for a memorable exit. Talk to your florist about how you can reuse your ceremony flowers to get the most bang for your buck.
Use greenery in your arrangements whenever possible. Lush leaves will help fill arrangements without sacrificing style. Opt for leafy garlands, herbaceous bridesmaid bouquets and woodland-like ferns.
Consider a Nonfloral Alternative
Want to buck tradition? Some brides opt to carry a religious symbol instead of a bouquet, like an heirloom rosary or a prayer book with a flower stem placed between the pages (so just a single bloom is showing). Consider mixing floral centerpieces with nonfloral décor, like lanterns or candelabras, to help cut costs at the reception.
A Flower Cheat Sheet
A couple common wedding blooms, by price:
$ - chrysanthemum, cosmos, daisies, dahlias
$$ - roses, anemones, tulips, ranunculus, hydrangea, calla lilies, stephanotis, lisianthus
$$$ - orchids, peonies, lily of the valley