Important tips for making your own wedding bouquet.
2015 was an absolute wild ride! I finished my formal floristry training (while holding down my full time job), I booked my first official wedding in January (followed closely by my second wedding not two weeks later!), I began work experience at a local flower shop where they immediately asked me to come on board and work part time, I celebrated my first year of marriage and I quietly launched my own floral studio.
It’s safe to say I’ve learnt a lot this year. Going from a DIY bride who wanted to make her own wedding bouquet to a fully qualified florist has taught me a lot. And I know that there are HEAPS of brides out there just like me who spend countless hours a week trawling the internet, pinterest, instagram, looking for tips, tricks and inspiration for their own wedding. With that in mind, here are some key floral tips I have learnt this year from both formal study and many, many early hours at the Sydney Flower Markets.
DIY at the Sydney Flower Markets
I see so many brides at the Sydney flower markets, with bridesmaids in tow, searching for a bargain and planning their DIY bouquet. I know this frustrates many florists, but I think it’s so thrilling to see women taking major creative control over their own day. When embarking on a DIY wedding, it’s definitely in the brides favour to pick a couple of key thing you want to create yourself and enlist the professionals for the rest. Your wedding is a crazy, amazing, beautiful time and if you plan on doing everything yourself, you wont have time to just enjoy the day!
But having said that, here are some key things to keep in mind if you plan on DIY-ing the flowers..
- Parking – general public are not be permitted to access the Flower Shed parking until AFTER 5.30am. All parking in and around the market will be ‘Reserved’ for permit holders/florists. There is a limited amount of general customer parking spots on the top level of the multiplex opposite Building F (and when I say ‘limited’, I mean very limited! You’ll be fighting with Syd Market staff and anxious florists who were unable to secured a reserved spot to get one of these parks, so you need to get in early). If you’re hoping to snag one of these spots, I would recommend getting to the markets early (3am) to get in line for a spot (yes, there is a security controlled queue to get access to the parking spots. Carpark opens at 4am, markets open at 5am) especially during peak season (Aug – March). Otherwise, the alternative is trying to find a park in the multiplex parking station opposite building R (check the Syd Market Website for a map). This will mean a veeeeeeery long walk with lots of heavy flowers, so bring a big trolly (trolleys are not supplied by the market or growers) and wear comfy shoes for the several KMs you’ll be walking back and forth.
- Safety first. Safety fluro vests are now a requirement for entry into the Sydney Flower Markets. Blue for buyers and yellow for growers. You can buy this at the front entrance of Building F. And trust me, you want to be wearing one of these at all times. 5am is dark and there are countless forklifts, trucks and vans speeding around the markets. The last thing any bride wants is to be mowed down by a truck or forklift two days before her wedding.
- Pick your day. Key market days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Not all growers attend market on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but these days provide a great alternative to the hectic and rushed atmosphere on the busy days. Saturdays are free parking, less hectic, less professional florists and prices are generally cheaper as growers are moving stock before the new week of selling.
- Be respectful. As I mentioned, parking is very limited, demand is high and the general atmosphere at the markets is VERY hectic. Professional florists are trying to make a living by doing what you are attempting to DIY, all within a very competitive industry. Adrenalin is at an all-time high and time is of the essence. This is no time for chit chat with your girlfriends. Don’t block the aisle, move to the side. Get in, get what you need and get out. If you get in someones way (and you most definitely will), be prepared to get mowed over by a trolley or yelled at. Don’t take it personally.
- Do your research. Check out youtube tutorials, research flower seasons, etc. There is nothing worse than having grand plans in your head about how your bouquet will look, only to realise two days before your wedding that ornamental kale isn’t in season, or that you can’t quiet achieve that perfect, domed shape. Floristry isn’t as easy as it looks – it is comprised of countless technical and design elements that people study for a long period of time to master. Don’t be upset if your flowers don’t turn out perfect. But if perfection is a must, then it’s probably best to enlist the professionals. Remember, you are not only paying for a product, but a service when engaging a florist. His or her skills are an invaluable asset that you need to pay for. Don’t insult your florist by trying to cheapen their skills.
- Do a test run! Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, and this is true of floristry as well. A test run is a must for all DIY brides, mostly so you can get an idea on how much it will cost and how long it will take you. Chances are, you will spend the entire day before your wedding arranging and preparing flowers, leaving little time for anything else. And if budget is your main motivator, keep in mind that the cost of a test run plus the actual wedding day (not to mention the time spent on creating bouquets) might mean that you are better off hiring a florist in the first place.
- Learn how to correctly prep and condition your flowers. The most crucial step in DIYing your flowers is conditioning. This ensures your flowers actually last and you don’t waste all that money and time just to have them all die on your wedding day. Your flowers have been out of water some time and need to rehydrate. You need to strip all the foliage off below the water level, (foliage breeds bacteria and if this gets into the water, the flowers will suck up the bacteria through the water) cut stems on an angle for maximum water intake (some flowers need to be cut under water as their stems seal over instantly). Some flowers require a water bath, while others will wilt and decay if you get water anywhere near the petals. Also, don’t put your flowers in the fridge!!!! Flowers need to be kept in humidity controlled fridges (which your conventional home fridge is not) and the wrong level of humidity and temperature will cause them to wilt and burn. Also, your fridge probably has fruit and veg stored in it, yeah? Some fruits and veg release a gas call ethylene is which will destroy and wilt some flowers.
- And for the love of god, wear inclosed shoes to market, for fucks sake! I see so many brides in their (abet, lovely) sandals or opened toed flats and within 5 minutes they are TRASHED and their feet are sopping wet thanks to the endless buckets of dirty water that are tossed into the drains that line the aisles. The last thing you want is a horrible cold thanks to wet feet two days before your wedding, so cover up ladies!
- Does that all sound really overwhelming? DIY is a great way to save money, particularly if you’re not fussy about the flowers, but it is a lot of work. If you’re looking for a cheap, simple option without all the consultations, emailings, quoting blah blah blah, we highly recommend checking out Cellophane Flowers who specialise in affordable wedding flower packages without all the fuss. www.cellophaneflowers.com.au
I’m starting with this because it’s a big one! Peonies are the hottest, most in-demand wedding flower right now. Peonies are stunning, come in a variety of colours from soft pink to deep burgundy and they smell absolutely divine. But there are a few things that you need to keep in mind if you have your heart set on having a peony filled wedding. Peonies are only in season for a few weeks per year, so get ready to plan your wedding date around the end of October. Generally speaking, peony season starts at the end of October and runs into mid November.. approx 3-4 weeks! That’s not a huge window of time. And as the season comes to a close, the quality of peonies becomes really poor. They also don’t like heat, so if your florist is supplying you with end of season peonies in December, their chance of them holding up well throughout the whole day is slim. Some growers do import peonies from overseas to meet demand in the off season, which dramatically increases the price. Be prepared to pay upwards of $60/$70 for 5 stems – and you’ll need a lot more than 5 stems for your bouquet! Not to mention the carbon footprint left behind from shipping small bunches of flowers in from a whole other country and the deterioration in quality of the product whilst in transit. If peonies are a must have, lock in your wedding date around the season and look for a quality florist who has good connections with growers to ensure they can secure quality flowers.
Trail bouquets are making a HUGE come back. I personally love a trail bouquet. Cascading, flowing, bold trail bouquets are an art form. The amount of technical details that goes into making one of these beauties makes my fingers hurt just thinking about it. Every piece of foliage, every flower, every piece of vine needs to be individually wired and taped in order to achieve this look and while the process is long and tedious for a florist, the results are stunning and oh, so romantic. Probably not one you are going to want to try at home on the eve of your wedding, ladies!
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