The musings of Alexis Doktor
Let’s face it, the flowers you choose for your wedding day can make or break the look and feel of the event. Fresh flowers, in my opinion, are always the way to go. But fresh flowers can get expensive! If you’re feeling adventurous, and love a good do-it-yourself challenge, then foraging may be a fun way for you to feel like you helped create a piece of the overall wedding day picture. Here are just a few pointers to help you down that path. These tips should help you see if taking on any of the floral projects for your big day is the right DIY avenue for you.
1. Figure out the style and shape of flowers you are drawn to, such as roses vs wildflowers, solitary vs spike, etc.
These are a couple basic diagrams to help you get started understanding the different types of flowers available. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Do your initial research. Spend some time googling flowers so you know what’s out there. If you are a wildflower kind of girl, your look can be more relaxed. If you’re a classic kind of girl, you may want a more polished look. Just like you would save pictures of dresses you love, start collecting images of flowers and arrangements you gravitate towards. Save pictures based on style, based on colors, based on specific flowers. There’s definitely no right or wrong while you’re getting started here.
2. Learn the flowers and greenery of your area one full year before your wedding date.
Learn your area, and the flowers that naturally grow there, at least one full calendar year before your proposed wedding date. What grows in October is not the same thing that will be growing in May. Identifying what grows in your area can help you in two ways: it will either force you to choose a color palette based on what is available at that time of year; or possibly, you can determine your date based on which naturally growing flowers you love the most. If the pink wildflowers you adore only grow in April, you may be looking at an early spring wedding. Once you know what flowers you want to incorporate, you can start brainstorming what project you want to tackle. Maybe the pink wildflowers lend themselves perfectly for the vision you have of a collected wildflower bouquet – there’s your DIY.
Also keep an eye out for greenery. Using greenery helps fill in the gaps where you may not have enough flowers to do the entire job. It also helps balance all the color. Greenery is nature’s natural neutral. If you love the look of greenery as a table runner, you want something with a continuous stem. Ivy or Smilax, for example, would be great for this. If you’re just looking for padding within your arrangements, cuttings from a long stemmed bush may do the trick. Again, it’s all about what speaks to you.
The last wedding I foraged was for a wedding in upstate NY. The bride knew a year out that her area was full of different purple wildflowers. She used that to help plan her color scheme – whites, purples, and greens. It was very light, very fresh, and worked out perfectly! Here are a few of the flowers I foraged the morning of her wedding:
The first picture above is from the bride’s neighbor. The other pictures are flowers that were found near the horse barns in her area.
3. Do not forgo using a skilled professional completely!
Unless you have done floral design yourself, it is not advisable to skip the florist altogether. Decide where you would like flowers included in your big day, and have the florist do the ones that you feel least comfortable tackling on your own. A seasoned florist can help you navigate the overwhelming parts. Maybe you can’t decide which of the pink flowers you’ve been reading about are the best suited for your day. A florist will know if they are “in season” and how accessible they will be, how expensive they will be, and which ones will work together the best. A professional florist will always do their best to stay within your budget. Talk with them about where that money is best spent. Once you have an idea of what grows near you, you can use that info to help with the florist. Tell them you’d love to take on a project or two. Maybe they can even help guide you! Trust the florist you choose. Give them those inspiration pictures you’ve collected and let them get creative. The best florists are indeed flower artists, and can most likely exceed your expectations when allowed to be inspired!
Here are some examples from the NY wedding:
The first picture is a combination of my work and the florist’s work. The arrangement in the milk jug was the florist’s, and the arrangement on the place card frame was done with foraged flowers. The table centerpieces were mostly the florist’s, but I added the allium (last picture from the previous photo group) to all of the arrangements for just a bit more purple on the tables. The ceremony chairs were all done with foraged flowers. The barrel arrangement by the dessert table was done entirely with foraged flowers. And I made the groom’s boutonniere with a combination of foraged flowers, and one fiddlehead fern that came from the chef!
4. Plan your time well.
As soon as you have an idea of the flowers you want to use, go ahead and pick some. Get yourself a pair of gardening shears and a bucket half full of water for the day of picking. If it’s hot in your area, crank that a/c up all the way. And keep your flowers in a cool place before and while you’re working with them. Do all this the year out, while you’re still planning. You may not end up using exactly what you first picked, but this will give you some time to play around. See what you like and don’t like. Take notes, and pictures, as you go. Maybe you love all your choices. Maybe you want to rethink using every flower you picked. Maybe you want to experiment during different seasons with different flowers. This time not only helps you see what you like, but it also teaches you how long this process will take. Freshly snipped flowers are only fresh for so long. Ideally this process should be done the morning of your wedding, but no earlier than the day before. This alone can be a bit overwhelming for a bride who already has a pretty intense day ahead! This planning phase will let you see in real time what it takes to DIY your own flower arrangement(s).
There are so many different ways that you can incorporate your own personal touch on your wedding day. I will hopefully be able to explore them all at some point! Stay tuned for more projects, tips, and tricks to help make your day the one of a kind dream come true you’ve always envisioned.
**Special note** Please do not trespass. If you have a generous friend or neighbor with beautiful flowers, maybe ask them if you could cut a few. But do not take flowers from someone’s property (personal or business) without their consent.
*Flower diagram sources – biophils.blogfa.com, Shutterstock.com, savvyeventstudio.com (2)