A step-by-step guide to making your own wedding bouquet (suitable for brides and bridesmaids). Save tons of $$ and get your flowers exactly how you want them to look.
Also, make boutonnieres for the guys with the "scraps"!
Step 1: Why Make Your Own Wedding Bouquet?
I put together my trial bouquet & boutonniere with grocery-store flowers, a bit of florist tape and wire and some ribbon.
The flowers include one bunch of mixed flowers ($20), a dozen small roses ($13) and a few stems of lilies ($8) - in all, this cost me just over $40... I didn't use the lilies in the end, but will talk about those a bit.
I did the trial about 1 month before my wedding, then repeated the same process for the wedding itself. Flowers turned out great - and cost me just over $120 for 3 bridesmaids & 1 big bride bouquet, 6 boutonnieres, 1 fancy boutonniere, and 2 ladies corsages (like the boutonnieres). Some florists were going to charge me exactly this much for my bridal bouquet alone!
Here is what all the "raw material" flowers looked like - keep these in water throughout the process.
Step 2: Supplies
Flowers (duh) - I like using similar coloured flowers, with varying textures and sizes. Keep things in scale though, as the really big flowers may look out of place; a matter of choice I suppose.
Florist tape - it's a low-tack, green, stretchy fabric "tape" which can be found in most big craft stores. Count on using most of a roll per big bouquet.
Florist wire - this too can be found at craft stores. You can buy it in spools (not recommended) or in long straight wires (about 12" long). Amount needed depends on if you will need to hand-wire individual flowers or not.
Ribbon - for decorating - about 2 feet's worth of wide, synthetic ribbon (patterned ribbon might be hard to match up when rolling around the bouquet handle).
Pins - straight pins and/or fancy pins with pearl heads. At least 4 per bouquet I think, or 2 per boutonniere.
Big knife - chef's knife is used to chop stems.
Paring knife - good to take thorns and greenery away.
Wire cutters - to cut aforementioned wire.
Vases - to store flowers and completed bouquets. Big pots are good here too.
Beads or keepsakes to include in your bouquet.
Fancy wide leaves to gussy up the bottom of your bouquet.
Newspaper (lay out and use as a drop cloth when taking away greenery - then throw everything, newspaper et al into the composter after).
Step 3: Cleaning Up the Flowers!
I took apart all the "bouquets" and laid them out flat on the paper they came wrapped in. I sorted the flowers from the mixed bouquet into the different sorts (mini mums, gerbera daisies, greenery, and some pink things I didn't want to use).
I then took ALL the leaves off of the stems - which makes them look a little scary, but it's an important step. I stripped away the wayward stems that had just small flowers on them. For the roses, I took off all the thorns (using a small paring knife) and plucked some of the baby petals from the roses (this is also a nerve-wracking step - the flower does not fall apart, but do it carefully so you don't rip the baby petal)
For flowers with stamen - like the lilies, clean off the pollen carefully with a tissue. Remove all of the specks of pollen as they can stain very easily.
Roses were a dream to work with - their stems are very tough but thin, so they are easy to clean, and can be bunched very tightly together due to a lack of "stem bulk".
Step 4: Wiring the Gerberas (and Other Hollow Stem Flowers)
Gerberas are weird flowers that have very long stems - florists usually put them into straws or plastic tubes to keep their stems straight in arrangements. For bouquets though, they need to be wired. Take 2 long lengths of florist wire and pierce the first right under the "head" of the flower. Don't go into where the petals are. Wrap the first wire around the flower in a spiral... don't make it too hard of a twist around the stem. Do the same with the second wire but pierce it at 90 degrees from the first wire (it should make like an X) and wrap that wire around it too. Basically, you're making a little "cage" out of wire so the stem doesn't go limp.
You can do the same for things like sun flowers, tulips, etc.
Step 5: Putting Together the Bouquet!
So, now that the flowers are all ready you can start piecing together your bouquet. There are two ways of doing this: either from the center out, building as you go - or, making several small "picks" and then putting these together towards the end. In either case, make sure that the tops of your flowers are all at around the same level - this will be important to create a nice "Âdomed" look.
As you go, use tape to put the pieces together. I used a lot of wire during the trial (yellow flowers), and it was hard to manage (and the ends were pokey!). Definitely went with tape in the official bouquet (pink flowers). You can use wire to strengthen the stems as you go.
The lovely thing about either tape or wire is that you can UNDO your work - which is going to happen (keep reading!).
If you want to add some sparkle to your bouquet - thread some fancy beads onto the florist wire and add these as you're assembling the bouquet. If you're planning to "tuck" keepsakes into your flowers, do so now too; it'll be too hard to poke them into the bouquet after it's done.
Stems will be sticking out all over the place but you'll cut these down at the end (don't cut them too early because you never know what you'll want to change). The ends will look kind of splayed apart, but that's alright - they'll get tightened up once you trim the stems and wrap ribbon around the handle.
Step 6: Check What It Looks Like From Afar & Trim
Put the flowers into a vase or have someone else hold them. You'll see what you like and don't like (I removed that giant lily in my practice bouquet).
Not bad! I ended up chopping the stems to about 7 inches - enough for 2 hands to hold it. I used a chef's knife for this! It was way easier than using sheers! You may need wire cutters for the wire that are sticking out.
Step 7: Ribbon & Pins
So, now that I was happy with the look of the bouquet, I took a length of ribbon that was about 2 feet long and used a pin to tack one end of the ribbon (folded over - Â not sure if that made a difference) into the top end of the stems. Given that my bouquet was a big mass of flowers, it wasn't hard to do. I used plain pins for sewing. I then wound the ribbon nicely down the stems, cut the ribbon down to length when I felt I had covered it enough, and tucked the other end under before pinning it.
Pinning through ribbon AND stems was tough. I didn't have fancy pearl pins for the trial, but it worked okay. Remember to pin at an angle so the pin really get buried into the center of the stems (not poking out the other side!)
For my real bouquet, I looped some very big leaves around the finished bouquet to give it a more full look. This was something I'd seen in a lot of magazines. Using tape, the leaves were added one at a time to the bouquet. Wrap immediately in ribbon as the tape isn't secure enough to hold down the leaves on its own.
Place in vases with water just coming to the base of the ribbon (it'll absorb water like crazy). Keep in a cool place out of the sun.
The trial bouquet lasted in a vase great (pins and all) for about 2 days. We did the pink flowers for the wedding the day before the wedding and they looked great through our wedding day and into the following day. Definitely rest flowers in some water whenever possible, but be aware that they can drip or leak greenish chlorophyll-y water on you).
Step 8: Finished Bouquet!
Can't help but publish one of the fancy photographer pictures of the bouquet! :)
Step 9: Boutonnieres!
Using some of the smaller flowers, and some of the greenery left over from the arrangements I bought.
The boutonniere follows the ikebana rules (Japanese flower arranging) - always use odd number of your predominant pieces.
I wired the tallest of the little mums for extra strength, then tapped the two smaller flowers to the tall one.
I added two loops of the long grass-like greenery (just looping, taping, then cutting off the ends) and two small leaves that were actually from the lilies. These were all just taped to the three flowers.
Wrapped the whole little guy in ribbon (maybe 4 inches worth) and used one pin to tuck the end and stick it into the stems.
This boutonniere cost "pennies a glass"ÃÂ since it was made out of leftovers, and took about 10 minutes to make from start to finish!
I left the test boutonniere out of water to see how long it would last - a whole week! The official boutonnieres on the wedding day didn't last quite as long, they mostly got squashed because of hugs, dancing, and being left on jackets on the back of coats. Oh well!