Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Budding of a New Hobby - How I became an Amateur Florist

    I have always liked flowers, I suppose.  Who doesn't?  All the same, my experience in arranging them consisted of choosing a vase, cutting a stem, and hoping they survived a few days.  Not all did, by the way.  Tiger Lilies, it would seem, are better enjoyed outdoors.

   However, when it came time to plan my wedding, the price of a florist wasn't high on my priority list of things to budget.  So I started investigating doing my own.  I had friends who had done it, so why couldn't I?  I decided that as long as I would be content carrying a single flower down the isle if anything went wrong, I would be good.  And of course my dearest fiancé was as laid back and unconcerned as I was, so we took the chance.  Now, if you are here because you want to do your own wedding flowers, please heed this one piece of advice.  Have a backup plan.  Know which stores near you sell flowers, or which friends' gardens have flowers.  Or be willing to do without.  Because things can and will go wrong, as I will share in a bit.

  So my first stop in my florist crash course was, of course, Pinterest.  Because you can find everything on Pinterest, right?  I think I already had my flower board full of ideas of what I wanted, so my next step was to see what was possible.  I decided on a bouquet of blue hydrangeas, white roses, and greenery to frame it.  My first concern was how well hydrangeas would hold up.  Thanks to this website, I not only learned some tricks for keeping my flowers fresh and ready to go.  I learned that by cutting them under water, splitting the hydrangea stems, then dipping in boiling water, it would prevent the sap from blocking the stem, enabling my flowers to keep drinking.  Cool, right? I found tutorials on how to wrap bouquets, too.  With some bouquets, you start in the center and work your way out, but with hydrangeas, you want to start with the hydrangeas, about three heads, and then thread in your other flowers where you want them.

   Then next thing I did was start pricing flowers.  Flowers are not cheap. I compared Hy-Vee, where I could order bulk flowers, and Sam's Club.  Even though I had to order more flowers overall from Sam's, it was still much less expensive than ordering just what I needed.  Plus, I knew I would have extra for mistakes.  I also considered doing artificial flowers, but realized quickly that they would be even more expensive.  I did get artificial boutonnieres, though.  I knew they would take more skill, and would have to be made the day before the wedding.  I planned on doing my bouquets two days before, then just keeping them in the refrigerator at the church.  The boutonnieres I found at Hobby lobby looked so real that I had one person confess that they didn't realize they were artificial when they hadn't wilted days later!

 I saved empty water jugs and the boxes they came in to hold my flowers before they were turned into bouquets, and enlisted a friend's help.  I had to flowers come a day before I wanted to arrange them, so they would have time to hydrate.  I figured out what supplies I would need, like clippers, scissors, floral pins, ribbon, and floral tape.  I think I had floral wire, too, although I probably didn't use it.  In fact, I couldn't figure out how to get the floral tape to hold, so I ended up using foam bandage tame instead!  It worked, but now I know to wrap the tape around each flower a couple of times as you add it.  Since then I've also added plumbers pvc tape for boutonnieres and a hot glue gun for ribbons to my supply kit.  I learned about the plumber's tape from a library book I picked up when I did the flowers - including boutonnieres - for my sister-in-law's wedding.  By wrapping it around the stem, covering the cut part all the way to where the wires are threaded through at the top, you seal in the moisture to help them to stay fresh longer.

   Making the bouquets went well, as I said, despite my unorthodox tape choice.  I made my bouquet, a toss bouquet, five bridesmaid's bouquets.  and vases for Our Lady and St. Joseph.  After that the rest of the flowers went into vases for the alter and to have by the guest book and probably a few other places.  I don't remember, I'm just glad we had the flowers because.....

   Disaster struck.  Yup, something went wrong.  I made the bouquets Thursday, and took them to the church when we went for the rehearsal Thursday night, so they could stay safe and happy in the fridge until Saturday.  Only I didn't take into account that they refrigerators had only just been plugged in.  So, when we got to the hall Friday to decorate, and my mom went to start loading the beverages for the reception into the fridge she found them.  Frozen.

  This is why you have a backup plan.  Fortunately, I'm not the type to panic.  Fortunately, there were lots of extra flowers.  Fortunately I think I even had my clippers and pins with, and a local friend had some floral tape.  I was able to rearrange everything into a bouquet for me, my 5 bridesmaids, my vases for Mary and St. Joseph, and even a (slightly more pathetic) toss bouquet.  Or maybe I used someone else's bouquet for that.  Oh, and (fortunately) the church had it's own store of alter flowers, including hydrangeas in just the right shade of blue.  All in all, I think my second bouquet turned out even nicer than the first.
     My sisters-in-law said when they saw how I handled my flower fiasco, they felt confident enough to let me do their flowers, too, lol.  So that's how I ended up with a new hobby.  I've done three more weddings since mine, and I learn a little more each time.  It isn't a hobby I pick up regularly, but it is definitely one I hope to continue for many years to come.

Some Useful Links:
My Flower Pinterest Board
Some terrific tutorials
Where I learned about hydrangeas
The starting point for my bouquet
Guidelines for how many flowers you need

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