Part of my business involves doing flowers for weddings. I love doing wedding flowers, but then, maybe I’m a masochist.
Most wedding planning books tell the prospective bride to start planning six months to a year before her big day. I have done flowers for weddings when the bride planned for a whole week before the ceremony and forgot to order flowers until the Wednesday before a Saturday ceremony. As long as the bride is happy with whatever is blooming at that moment, we can make the flowers happen. Other brides have given me six months notice. For these occasions, I was able to plant flowers that would work for the organized bride.
I just finished the flowers for a wedding in Portland. As usual, we learned a few things. The challenge with this wedding was that it was in Portland. We are on Vashon Island, near Seattle. The Mother-of-the-Bride (MOB) wanted to take the flowers down on Friday, which meant the arrangements needed to be made on Thursday for a Sunday wedding. The main flowers were supposed to be dahlias. From a picking on Wednesday and Thursday, holding until Sunday is too much to ask of a dahlia. They just don’t hold up that long. One of the advantages my business has is that we can furnish short lived flowers like English Roses and Dahlias because we don’t have to ship-except for out-of-town family weddings. Moral of the story: If you want flowers that are shipped, choose something sturdy like tea roses, hydrangea, chrysanthemum, lilies, or tulips and daffodils.
Time, distance and heat are not our only challenges in wedding flowers. Fashion is the worst culprit for wedding flower failures. For several years, all the brides wanted a perfectly round ball for their bouquet. Those balls looked nice in the magazines. Of course the magazine bride is getting paid a small fortune to hold a five-pound bouquet eighteen inches away from her dress. A real bride is going to want to rest her arms, shoulders and neck occasionally. The second she takes a brief respite, she will either crush one side of the bouquet, or get pollen and flower dye on her lovely white dress. Fashion is good for inspiration but isn’t practical.
The bride’s bouquet must look lovely for the few minutes the bride is walking down the aisle and for the forty-five minutes to an hour she is holding it for photographs. However, let’s face it, a bride’s bouquet may seem like it should be delicate and lovely for a fleeting moment. In reality, a wedding is the floral equivalent of a war zone. Even the most careful, sedate bride, will try to point while holding her bouquet. It will get set down, dropped, swung, and crushed against Great-Aunt Constanza.
At the end of the day, the father of the bride will look at the florist’s bill and exclaim, “Why were the flowers so expensive? We could have picked some out of the garden for free.” Still, I love doing flowers for weddings.