Karen and Anthony are a Maryland couple who chose the beautiful Stone Mill Inn in York, Pennsylvania for their romantic countryside wedding. I loved working at this beautiful historic venue, which had beautiful locations for the ceremony, cocktail, and reception. The couple chose to lightly accent their green outdoor ceremony space with flowers and requested wispy strands of greenery to trail from the ceiling of their cocktail tent area, accenting the romantic string lights. Inside the beautiful reception room with wood beams, the couple placed handmade monogrammed coasters at the tables for their guests, and on the dessert table colorful and funky flowers adorned a naked cake.
I really enjoyed talking with Karen about all of the different details of her wedding, and I loved the way this couple’s personality and wedding vision came through in their flowers.
This year, I am getting married myself. I am constantly advertised to by wedding vendors, my email inbox is full of DJs I don’t want to hire, I have about six different planning spreadsheets, and I have a budget. I think it would be good for every wedding vendor to go through the process of planning a wedding: it has been really interesting to see the wedding business from the client’s point of view.
We had an honestly horrible time searching for a venue that worked for us. At one of the venue visits, my fiance and I were shoved into a tiny wedding chapel by a wedding coordinator who began cranking Pachelbel’s Canon from the speaker system. “This is weird,” I whispered to Joe as we counted forty chairs in the chapel. Despite the insistence of the coordinator, who we’re almost certain was faking a British accent, that we could fit 150 guests inside this chapel, which was the size of a 7/11, we decided to look elsewhere. Venue after venue, and we started joking around that we’d get married anywhere that wasn’t in front of a dumpster.
Then we had a prospective catering manager scold us in front of a lot of people for not having our whole menu picked out (eleven months before our wedding) at what we thought was an —initial— consult. In my embarrassment, I couldn’t find the words to tell her that I thought we were meeting with her so she could help us with this.
It reminds me of this time I went to the free counseling center at my college to unload some stress. After sitting for an hour and telling the counselor everything I had going on, she looked at me for a minute and asked, “Do you have anybody you can talk to about this?”
But wasn’t that why I’d met with her?
Good wedding vendors won’t make you feel stupid about not knowing where to start when planning your wedding. It’s their job to guide you through the process. I’m so grateful that I eventually found vendors who made me feel like my wedding was in good hands.
So, to folks considering DIYing part of their wedding: are you in good hands or are you taking matters into your own hands? If you’re taking on some of the wedding tasks yourself, how many of these tasks are you trying to do? Are you taking on too much–truly, are you?
In my own wedding planning, I had a (truly delusional) phase where I thought I might attempt to cook all the food myself the week of the wedding, justifying it with all kinds of reasons, even though I wouldn’t have a way of keeping the food warm or serving it to my guests, and even though the catering company usually does all of the setup and all of the cleanup, who provides the linens and plates and silverware, and even the tables and chairs sometimes.
DIYing my food became something I started considering, only because I was panicking over finding the right vendors. I didn’t like the vendors I’d met, and they hadn’t articulated their value to me. Because I hadn’t met the right vendors yet, I was scrambling to figure out a way to do it on my own. When I found my venue and met my caterers, I knew that I could trust them to bring everything together beautifully for me. They were also incredibly clear and detailed about the services they provide, and made me feel like I really understood where my budget was going. It wasn’t necessarily that they were cheaper (excellent service at a special event is never cheap!): it was that they made me feel confident in giving them my money and my trust. I knew I was in good hands with them, right away.
When you find the right vendors, they will make you feel like you’re in good hands, and they will articulate their value to you. By that I mean you will understand the services they provide, you will feel confident in their expertise, and you will be comfortable hiring them and trusting them with your special day.
One of the best comments I’ve ever received from a client was this:
“The day of the wedding, I had nothing to worry about.”
THAT is my goal as a wedding florist: not only providing beautiful, memorable, and timeless flowers, but also making sure my client has nothing to worry about. And as a florist I’ve been lucky to work with wonderful wedding professionals, who strive to create a good experience for their customer and bring their very best to making a wedding beautiful. You can find wedding pros who mesh with your vibe and personality, and you can find vendors who listen and care. So, in the panic of wedding planning, don’t give up yet! Your vendors are out there somewhere.
Once, a snowstorm twelve hours away from my city caused a massive shipping delay on a wedding order, and I couldn’t pick up the flowers at my wholesaler until the night before the wedding day: almost 48 hours later than originally scheduled. I got the flowers at 7:30pm, and then I spent most of the next 24 hours working nonstop to create all of the pieces and deliver them by Saturday afternoon. I’ve never been more proud of how beautifully a wedding turned out, and my client didn’t have to stress about this shipping delay for even a second.
Something like this delayed shipment is nothing out of the ordinary in the life of a florist. HOWEVER, while I was waiting at 7pm for the truck to arrive with my client’s flowers, another young woman was standing there with me in the loading dock of the wholesaler’s. I asked her if she was a florist as well, but she told me she was the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding, and in charge of doing the flowers. Because of the delay, she was currently missing the rehearsal dinner in order to pick up the bulk flowers, and would have to, like I was, spend the whole night working on the flowers in order to finish them on time, and that several bridesmaids would help her. She had flown 3,000 miles to attend her best friend’s wedding and had no floral training or experience.
Y’all, I felt bad for this girl. As a person getting married, you do NOT want to go through this kind of situation or have your wedding party, friends, or mom go through this, the night before the wedding. Floral arranging can be fun, but it can also be tedious, stressful, laborious, and time-consuming, with unexpected hiccups. Just like a Pinterest DIY that looks deceptively simple, or learning to knit or sew, or assembling IKEA furniture, or baking an elaborate French pastry–putting together a bridal bouquet like the one you saw on Pinterest can be harder, and more time-consuming, than expected.
I set out to write this series only as a list of things to keep in mind for DIYing your wedding flowers, but upon reflection, experience, and conversations with other florists, I’ve changed my tune to say this: Yes, absolutely, you can do your own wedding flowers, but it is NOT for the faint of heart.I’m saying this because I don’t want anybody to be surprised by that.In the next posts of this series I’ll go over why this is the case, with the intent of providing education for couples planning their wedding.
There are lots of DIY tutorials online, and some of them are solid. And sure, you can save a little bit of money by doing your own wedding flowers (though bulk flowers and hard goods are expensive in their own right). But please know: it will be a time-suck, for you, for your wedding party, or for your family. And it can be exhausting, and hard, and it can take your loved ones away from the events of the wedding weekend. And the logistics might be hard. And unexpected things will arise. Florists are used to managing all of this, but it might be immensely stressful for your family and friends.
Two last thoughts. First–I completely understand the need to stick to a wedding budget. I’ve never met somebody who wasn’t worried about money when planning their wedding. However, my concern is that people underestimate the difficulty and the legitimate expense of DIY flowers–especially since many wedding magazines and blogs list it as the first way to save money on your wedding. The last thought I want to leave you with is regarding the value a florist offers you. When you book a florist, you receive their creativity, expertise, resourcefulness, professionalism, commitment, and good taste. Florists are under contract to ensure your wedding flowers are beautiful, and we take pride in the artistry and hard work that goes into what we create for you. As a florist, what I want more than anything is for my work to add to the beauty and joy of your wedding.
I wish you luck (and fun!) while making decisions about what to do for your wedding flowers! You can contact me here for more information about wedding packages through Violet Floral Designs.
Cheers! Mallory @ Violet Floral Designs of Baltimore, LLC