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Testing Testing: A DIY Wedding Bouquet for my Sister

Over the past few years I have been blessed to see two of my six little sisters get married. I am from a family that appreciates getting as much out of a tiny budget as possible (that's probably why I like to DIY so much), so to help my sisters cut down on expenses I served as the photographer for both of their big days. However, as much as I love taking thing I've learned is that I am just not cut out for the high-pressure world of wedding photography! Phew!

This summer my family and I will celebrate the marriage of a third sister (hooray), but this time around I'll be helping out with the floral arrangements (I might sneak in a few photos for her too...but not as the official photographer—thank goodness). I haven't worked with arranging live flowers very much, so over the past couple of weeks I've been trying to soak in as much insight into the process of bouquet / floral design as I can. Since I've been browsing around for whatever knowledge I can gain and finding a few helpful things along the way, I thought that today I'd share the best sources that I've discovered so far with you all. I hope that if you ever find yourself wishing to create a DIY wedding bouquet, that these links might take some of the headache out of the researching process for you:

My sister first started off with a purple and white color palette (you can see my Pinterest inspiration board for her here), but we recently decided to shift the theme to include some soft peachy colors for a day that has more of a relaxed "walk in the garden" feeling about it. Before we changed the palette, the lovely Maddy from Somewhere Splendid was kind enough to put together a couple of beautiful arrangement ideas to inspire my sister. They are part of her Blooms on a Budget series and are gorgeous! 

This is the bouquet that is currently serving as inspiration for my sister's wedding arrangements and decor. The versions I came up with here were limited by what was available in stores (since I was only practicing and didn't want to spend too much money hunting down specific blooms). Even still I learned a lot by just practicing with what I had...

Firstly, it takes a lot of time to prep everything (removing leaves, wiring blooms, etc.) but it's worth it to have everything prepped before you start arranging. Here the flowers are in my kitchen sink, soaking inside a pot and a glass measuring bowl (whatever works, right).

Check out how messy all the prep is! Not pictured...a pile of greenery 10 inches high!

Click on the image for a larger view

I used ranunculus in this bouquet, and they are gorgeous, but I'm not sure if they will work during the Summer season because of how delicate they are. However if I do end up using them I've now learned how to wire them and make them much more sturdy! Just insert a floral wire inside the hollow stem until it begins to pierce the head of the bloom, and trim the excess wire at the base of the stem. Voila! The blooms can even be gently bent into the direction you want them to face because of the wire hidden inside of them!

I know I want to work with a different kind of greenery (mine here had bug holes since I just picked them off a random tree). I'm thinking of using Dusty Miller, Lamb's Ear, and/or Seeded Eucalyptus for her actual arrangements.

Here's how I started the layering several different blooms on top of a few greenery sprigs.

I continued to build onto the bouquet with additional flowers...adding three at a time and then rotating the arrangement slightly before adding more, so that I could evenly fill in the entire piece.

Once I was satisfied with the overall design and fullness I wrapped the stems in floral tape.

Lastly, I wrapped the stems in a natural-looking ribbon and added decorative pins for embellishment. The pins are pretty, but I will probably want to find something less sharp (maybe applied with a glue gun) for the actual wedding.

I think the bouquet and boutonniere / corsages (below) turned out pretty well for my first time! The one truly tricky thing that I'm worried about is that my sister is on a very tight floral budget (you might cry if I told you how small), so one of my biggest challenges will be completing arrangements for the huge wedding party plus all the family members (and honorary bridesmaids) that she has on her list without sacrificing style. Trust me...I have even considered buying roses from the wonderful vendor at our local farmer's market and blooms from Trader Joe's to pack in my suitcase when I head to Michigan for the ceremony! We shall see.

If you have knowledge in the world of floral design that you would be willing to share, I would love your help! I received a ton of wonderful feedback over on Instagram when I shared the photos of these arrangements that I snapped with my phone. So fantastic! I never cease to be humbled and amazed by the wonderful community we share together! xo Ez

Reader Comments (31)

Oh Ez, those bouquets are GORGEOUS! You did such a wonderful job, your sister will love them. That is so special that you get to help out in some way. My husband did our table arrangements and it was so sweet!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertara

wonder-wonder-wonderful beautiful! :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Drawingdream

Ez, these arrangements are gorgeous, and I love the boutonnieres! I'm considering DIYing the flowers for my May 2014 wedding, and I'm definitely bookmarking this page! Plus, I love your sister's color palette - I haven't decided on mine yet but this is definitely in the running now :)

Thanks for the beautiful pictures and info, and have a lovely week!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

ranunculus are one of my favorite flowers! so pretty. you've done a lovely job. but one thing, when i saw “dusty miller“ a bell went off in my head, i seem to remember being told that they are poisonous so i looked it up...sure enough..."All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested. Gardeners should be especially carefull with handling the foliage and then rubbing their eyes as the sap of this plant has been used to treat cataracts!" (via ) so you might not want to use them in a bouquet that someone will be holding. i mean, it's unlikely that anyone is gonna take a bite of their bouquet, but maybe not risk the transfer to the eyes. i think lamb's ear would be fine though, historically, it was used as a bandage.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterren

Gorg!!! You may want to wear gloves, a lot of flowers are sprayed heavily with toxins, esp. roses. Xo

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGia

SIX little sisters!!!??? I only have two and they are plenty annoying enough (JK/not really, still love em). I love the purple and peach color palette, those were sort of my wedding colors too :) I have no flower arrangement wisdom to share, but it looks like you're on the right track!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Wow - such beautiful arrangements - & photos too of course! Do you know anyone with a green thumb & space to grow some things for you near the wedding site? Seeds are pretty inexpensive - even if it's just for the greenery & fill flowers, it will save $$. Other ideas -use local wild flowers or herbs, rosemary or sage maybe? It would smell good too!

My niece (a talented floral designer) used Queen Anne's lace picked from the roadside in her arrangements, & it was gorgeous. She also had her husband wrap tin cans in fabric for simple table arrangements - cute & budget friendly. Here's her wedding if you'd like to take a look:

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle P

Incredibly gorgeous, love it! I feel like pinning all these photos ;)
I had no idea that you could wire flowers!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Oh my gosh, these are just gorgeous Ez!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Lovely, lovely bouquet. The cheery colors were much needed today. It's so gray and cold here in Kansas. Didn't Mother Nature read the calendar? Bring on Spring already!

It's been ages since my own wedding when I did a DIY bouquet. About all I remember is that if you plan to use white flowers in a bouquet, even if there are other colorful blossoms, you want to surround the entire thing with a 'frill' of green to keep the white ones from disappearing against the dress in photos. I'd wanted to do a bouquet with orange blossoms, jasmine and white roses... and that advice pretty much put the kibosh on my plans. Went with Sterling and pink roses surrounded by greenery, with a few sprigs of jasmine thrown in for color and fragrance. It photographed well.

Those are gorgeous, Ez! Beautiful work (and photographs)!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Your sister is a lucky girl, Ez! That bouquet is stunning. I'm still trying to find a florist that carries ranunculus out here, but no luck yet. Yours are dreamworthy.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Your test arrangements are beautiful! Your post comes at a perfect time because I am also helping a friend with her floral arrangements on a small budget. May I ask, do you plan on purchasing your flowers in bulk or just going to the local store the day before to choose your flowers? Thanks so much for you all your wonderful ideas and helpful information.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

so pretty, Ez!!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Makes me want to run to pick up some flowers and play around!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIveth

They turned out great Ez! I love the soft purple, white, and green color palette, and the soft peach added in looks so nice.

Stock also comes in a beautiful shade of peach, which would compliment those colors really well. There is also a lovely peach hypericum berry which can give a bouquet that "walk in the garden" feel. And, if the time of year is right, we love to use mint in our bouquets. It adds a nice garden texture, and it smells so good!

A tip for boutonnieres (or any flower that is wired and taped) is to "water source" them. After you wire them, place a small piece of wet cotton (we use cotton balls, torn into small pieces) at the base of the stem, and then wrap it with tape, making sure you cover the cotton completely. This gives the flower a little bit of water, which helps them last longer, especially if you are making them before the day of the wedding.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to include all of the special women in your sisters life (mom, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, honorary bridesmaids, etc) something as simple as a single bloom for a "corsage" for each of them to carry, rather than wear pinned on them works nicely. You can find a nice ribbon that fits in with the color palette to tie around each stem. Its a nice, affordable way to make a lot of people feel included and special, without having to spend a ton of money and time.

Sorry if this is all a little overwhelming. I'm a wedding florist stuck in the off-season, with fingers just itching to make bouquets, arrange centerpieces, and decorate arbors. If you have any questions or need tips please feel free to email me and I can try to help!

Oh gosh! Thank you all for your kind comments and amazing tips and suggestions too! I appreciate each one of you so much! xo Ez

March 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterEz

These are so beautiful! I think they look just as good as the pro's! :) My sister-in-law is getting married in 2 weeks and they are DIY'ing a lot of the flowers. I'm totally sending her all of this info!!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily @ Peck Life

Floral arranging skills aside...what you truly have going for you are your innate creative talent and your love for your sister. With those, the wedding florals will be gorgeous, I'm sure!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBellenza Wedding Bistro

Are there no end to your talents Ez? Well, if I were your sister I'd be delighted to be your guinea pig. What an amazing bouquet! The colors are simply divine. I used to be a florist once upon a time and I did my own wedding bouquet too (as well as designing the invite, making all the favors etc). I think it's so much nicer with a personal touch :)

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeanda

Hi Ez! I think it's great that you're doing this for your sister. I'll be doing the same for my brother's wedding this coming summer. It's a great way to show love and support to your family while also helping to keep costs down :)

I used to work for a florist earlier this year, so I thought I'd offer a few suggestions, since you asked:
1. You're right about ranunculus being delicate - I had them in my wedding bouquet (a very hot October day) and they did well, but definitely got a little beaten up by the end of the day. I'd suggest using them as accent flowers, but not the main event just to be safe.
2. Another little trick to make flowers last longer (especially the really thirsty ones) is to insert a water-soaked pipe cleaner into the stem of the bloom.
3. Trader Joe's and local farmers' markets are a great place to find good deals on flowers. You may also try making friends with a professional florist who has a relationship with a wholesaler - they may be willing to order the flowers wholesale for you in exchange for a feature on your blog or some other type of favor. My friend did this for her centerpiece florals for her wedding (the florist did her bouquets/boutonnieres).
4. Your "inspiration bouquet" from Pinterest is beautiful! You may already know this, but the anemones and David Austen roses in that arrangement tend to be quite expensive, even from a wholesaler. Have you considered using lisianthus at all? They come in beautiful white and purple hues and have a rose-like look, plus you get more blooms per stem and they're not as costly. They might be a good option!

Good luck with everything, and be sure to show us all how it turns out!

Xo, Ali

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

Those are absolutely gorgeous hunnie! Seriously. I can't believe that is your first attempt at a bouquet, it is just amazing. I love those colors together so much. LOVE!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa de la Fuente

Another way to make the flowers go further is to create non-traditional bouts, maybe using feathers/berries/etc (there is something to fit any wedding theme) with fake flowers/greens. You could potentially make ahead even.

Definitely finding a wholesaler is the way to go, best bang for your buck. Also, get slave labor early the day before to strip/prep everything. It will definitely take you that entire day to make all the arrangements. And the blooms look better the next day. Can't wait to see your final bouquets!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Joy

I don't know where you are going in Michigan, but there is a store called Horrocks (locations in Battle Creek and Lansing) that has great deals on beautiful flowers (I never find any place cheaper). A lot of people in the area order from them for weddings and events.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEm

This is just lovely, what a sweet sister you are! My mama actually made my bouquet and all the bouquets fro my bridesmaids. It was such a special touch.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Ashley

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