Just as a stunning piece of jewelry can really set off a wedding gown, beautiful blooms are like accessories for your big-day décor. But we’re not just talking decoration here – with countless colors, textures and options for arranging, wedding florals also are an easy way to create the vibe for your event.

Petal Planning

If you’re a fan of flowers, booking the shop or event designer who will create your arrangements may be a top to-do, “but don’t hire the florist until after you’ve selected your venue and date, and secured your main vendors – band, catering, and photographer,” says Karen Bussen, an event expert and author of “Simple Stunning Wedding Flowers” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007). “Then you’ll have a better sense of what your décor budget is and what kind of ambience you want to create.” Six or seven months out should be a safe bet.

Before meeting with vendors, peruse magazines, books and websites for ideas.

As for the average bill, you can expect to pay out about 8 to 10 percent of your total budget for blooms. However, the actual number varies widely, depending on factors like your desired aesthetic (e.g. lush and glamorous versus minimalist and chic versus simple and rustic), the type of flowers (think seasonal and locally grown blooms to save money) and the size of the event. In addition to reception centerpieces, for a traditional wedding you’ll likely want bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, boutonnieres for groom, groomsmen, ushers and dads, corsages or small posies for the moms, and possibly petals and head wreaths for flower girls. But you can use flowers anywhere, from chair-back garlands, altars and the cake, to windows and restrooms.

Once you have an idea of the approach, color palette and price-range you want, Bussen recommends meeting with a couple vendors who seem like a good fit before making your choice.

Flower Forward

While the over-the-top, romantic look still resonates with plenty of couples, more and more modern pairs are preferring a simple, clean and/or less formal aesthetic that’s still striking. For example, instead of one large, elaborate centerpiece, use lots of small-bud vases and bottles in varying heights and shapes. That way your florist can showcase a few amazing blooms, such as peonies, garden roses and orchids, to their full potential, and use less expensive flowers and foliage as accents in the majority of the vases. As an alternative, submerge exotic flowers. One stem of bird of paradise or heliconia makes a great table accent when turned upside down in a glass vase.

For eco-friendly couples, use a small potted tree (citrus, olive, cypress) in a lovely pot as a unique centerpiece, while Bussen is a fan of live phaelenopsis or dendrobium orchids interspersed with a few votive candles.

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