Do-It-Yourself Wedding Flowers

Posted by hchapple on Apr 16, 2012

When my friend and fellow designer Corinne Sebesta Sisti of Sebesta Design shared her experience of designing her own wedding flowers, I knew this was a story that had to be told to my friends at Wedding Wire. Corinne is an amazingly talented floral designer. In spite of her skill and knowledge for designing the Do It Yourself Wedding Flowers took a real toll on Corinne on her wedding day. So without further ado….

As a floral designer, I often encounter brides looking to DIY some part of their wedding flowers thinking by doing so it will not only save them tons of money, but it will also be a fun bonding experience to share with their family and friends. I get it.  I was the same way.  I own an event design/floral company so, of course, I wanted to do the flowers.  Who else would do them?   And why would I pay someone else to do it?  Here’s what my answer should have been: anyone else, but you and because it’s ‘your’ day.   When it’s all said and done, I wish I had let someone else do it.   Even as a florist it was so hard for me to get it all done and enjoy the process.  I was the bride, I was supposed to be pampered and showered with attention.  I was supposed to be visiting with my family and friends that I hadn’t seen in ages.  I was supposed to be well rested and glowing.  Instead I spent that time working.  And don’t be fooled, it is WORK.

Here’s my DIY story.  I separated them into Pre-Wedding and Day of the Wedding to help you get a feel for what you might be in for.


A.K.A. Just get it done.

 –  Getting all my supplies together.  I was also a long distance bride coming in from Michigan to Philadelphia.  I needed to get my buckets, vases, floral food, clippers, wire, packing materials, etc to Philadelphia and back. While you might not need to transport your supplies, you are still going to need all of those supplies not to mention packing materials.

–  You need a lot of help. I had four friends who were former employees of the flower shop I worked at helping me put the flowers together and while they were gracious to agree to help, we hadn’t all been together in a long time.  The result: their work was SLOW.  We were on a deadline.  I had to get everything done in a day (or at least that was the plan) so I could get everything delivered.   But I understood everyone was so excited to see one another and they were doing me a favor.  I already felt like I was imposing on them so I decided to grin and bear it.  That and there was much more to be done.  I needed their help to set up the wedding AND with breaking it down at the end of the night.  There was no need for me to rock the boat.

–  Some of my flowers came in bad and the vases I ordered were junk.  As a professional, I know that not every flower is going to arrive in optimal shape.  I prepared for that, but it didn’t make it any easier being my wedding and on a strict timeline.  Some of the arranging was put off until the last minute because I had to wait for replacements to be overnighted (another cost!).  Additionally, I wasn’t told the “mercury” glass vases I ordered weren’t water compatible and the paint started peeling off as soon as the water hit it.  So I had to run out and get new vases, eating up more time and money.

–  Because I was busy designing and trying to fix glitches, I missed out on visiting with my family and friends.  Flowers are time sensitive, there’s no time to put your feet up.  

–  I had no idea until the day before the wedding where the majority of the flowers were going to be stored for the day of the wedding.  They were either going to be in my hotel room (FUN!) or in the caterer’s office if she could figure out where to put them all.

–  Once everything was delivered, I had to RUSH to get showered and dressed to get to my rehearsal dinner.    There literally wasn’t a moment to spare.


A.K.A. I’m so tired, I have to be up until midnight?!?

 –  I had to wrap all of the bouquets at 7am the day of the wedding.

–  I spent the majority of day of the wedding getting my mani-pedi and hair done.  As relaxing as that might sound, it wasn’t.  I felt like I was running from one task to the next.  Remember arranging flowers isn’t easy on your hands therefore; don’t even think about getting a manicure until everything is arranged. 

–  I had to bring over the ceremony flowers in our bus and continue to reiterate to my friends how it needed to be set up, and hope that they understood.

–  My husband and I had to break down the wedding in our wedding attire because our friends “enjoyed” the party too much and got on the bus to go back to the hotel.  And of course, I couldn’t really blame them or be mad at them.  I had them working my wedding for 3 days.

 Here’s a couple of things you might have not known and need to take into consideration.

 –  Did you know that though the bride-friendly wholesale flower sites say they are wholesale, they really aren’t?  And they make you buy in larger quantities than you might need, which ends up costing you more and in some cases as much as you would spend at a florist?  Or that the flowers you are getting may be a lower grade than what you might get from a florist and you’ll need more stems than you originally thought?  Another thing you should consider is if something doesn’t arrive in good shape, who will you call (if you can call someone), replacement costs and the delays that you’ll face.

–  Doing your own flowers means you need to take into consideration the supplies like lots of buckets, clippers, packing materials, etc. 

–  You have to figure out who is setting it up and breaking it down and hope that they do.

–  Many flowers don’t arrive “party ready”.  Many need time to open and some can be finicky and need extra care and handling.  And if you have different kinds of flowers that need to open you might have to get them in different shipments throughout the week.  Then you’ll need additional time to get them prepped and in water. 

Even though I am a professional and am lucky to know exactly what to do when, the vast majority of brides aren’t that lucky.   There are so many advantages to hiring a professional to bring your vision to life.   Professional florists take care of everything. We prepare for product coming in the wrong shade, poor quality, the wrong variety, etc.   We know how long it takes for flowers to get to their optimal blossoms.   We pick the best suppliers so we have the best product.  We prep, we strip, we scrub, we keep a watchful eye out, we deliver, we set up, we break down.  We do it so you can enjoy your day.  All in all while you might save a little bit of money you will never get that time back.  I was so rushed.  I was stressed.  I missed spending time with my family and I will never get that time back. 

Would I do the flowers all over again?  Nope.  I would get someone else to do all the work. 

I really appreciate Corinne sharing this story with us today. In addition to the bouquets Corinne made all of her centerpieces, altar flowers, and all personal flowers. I understand why a professional designer would feel compelled to make their own bridal bouquet. Corinne most certainly did an amazing job on her bouquet and her flowers, but it breaks my heart to think about the stress and anguish my friend went through on her wedding day.

A wedding day is supposed to be sacred, relaxed and about family. A non designer can’t possibly imagine the  stress and worry a professional floral designer carries every single wedding. The thought of designing and being a bride all in one day, sounds like a great way to work your wedding day away!!

Photography by Dave Direntis