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Choosing your flowers is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. But before you make any decisions, there are a few points you'll want to consider. Use this step-by-step wedding flower guide to get started.

1. Find the Right Wedding Florist
Before you venture out and start the meet-and-greets with selected florists, think about the type of person you work well with. Do you want someone who's going to grab the buds by the stems and take control? Or are you looking for someone who wants you to guide them every step of the way? A combination of both? You'll also need to get a good idea about design tendencies (and if they match yours) -- insist on seeing a portfolio before you commit. Talk to friends and relatives who recently got married and find out who they used. Check out the listings in The Knot Local Wedding Resources of great florists in your area. If you find someone you don't know or haven't heard of, be sure to check out the company with the Better Business Bureau where you can find out if anyone has had problems with them in the past.

2. Consider Your Wedding Flower Budget
This one is a no-brainer. Figure that eight percent of the total wedding cost will go to flowers -- from the bouquets and boutonnieres to the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception decor. At the start of your first meeting, ask straight out: What great things can you do with $__________? (Don't get sucked into $5,000 worth of flowers and then let your florist know that your bottom line is $2,000.) And remember: There's a lot of stuff to consider, so don't be surprised if you end up spending more. So we suggest you pad in an extra 10 percent.
Need to adjust some numbers? Figure out your wedding budget.

3. Establish a Vision
Have a general idea about your taste. Are you a true minimalist? Or are you looking to do an uber-romantic Gatsby-style wedding? Create a file of magazine tear-outs -- and not just bridal pics. Lifestyle shots, colors, and fashion photos will all help give your florist a clear idea of your loves and love-nots. And don't forget shots from friends' weddings. Maybe you flipped over the centerpieces, but hated the bouquets. Now's the time to bring it up (to your florist, of course, and not your friend).
Look through our bridal bouquet gallery to get inspired.

4. Consider Your Reception Site Specifics
This is a biggie. Think of your reception site as a blank canvas on which the florist will create her masterpiece. Is there bright red wallpaper that she needs to consider? Is it a botanical garden that won't need much floral accent? Or are you starting with a clean, empty loft that will need lots of work? Bring along some sort of photo (a press kit or pamphlet) in case she's never worked a wedding there before, and ask her to visit the site to get an idea of its size and style.

5. Create a Wedding Color Concept
Don't even think about visiting a florist without knowing what your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and moms are wearing. There's literally no point -- you can't pick any flowers if you don't know what colors will work. On the flip side, you won't know what colors your flowers come in without knowing which flowers you want. First tackle the attire, then choose your ideal color palette and make a list of your favorite flowers, and then see if your florist can accomplish both.

6. Consider Your Wedding Dress
At this point, you should have already picked out your gown, seeing as that will dictate what kind of bouquet you should carry. While you might not think so, florists base many decisions on the bride's gown -- how ornate it is, whether it's white or cream, if it's classic or contemporary, and so on. Most florists think of the wedding dress as the centerpiece of the day, so this will give her a good idea of where you're going with the wedding style.

7. Map Out Your Wedding Style
Your style is different than your vision. Are you looking to carry a very dramatic, long bunch of flowers or a tight posy of blooms instead? Do the same thinking about the other people in the wedding party: Should Mom wear a corsage or carry a nosegay? Should the bridesmaids carry a single stem or a tussy mussy? Style will also affect price accordingly, as well as the choice of flowers that will or won't work in the type of bouquet you're eyeing.
A tussy what? Brush up on your bouquet lingo.

8. Size Up Your Crowd
Don't listen to your groom -- size does matter! How many people are you planning on having to the wedding celebration? That number will determine how many tables and, consequently, how many centerpieces you'll require. How many attendants will you have to outfit with flowers: groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls? This will dramatically impact the price. On the other hand, if you are requiring fewer than average centerpieces, you may be able to get those orchids flown in from China that you swore you couldn't live without.

9. Get Everything in Writing
All the work you will do to get this far will mean nothing if you don't have it all in writing. So make certain that your florist drafts a contract, specifically stating the flowers you're going to have, how many bouquets you'll need, price, and what time you can expect her to arrive on the day of the wedding. Don't hesitate to include the things you absolutely don't want, as well. That way, you'll have recourse if your florist doesn't come through for you.

Because if you want your chosen florist to create your dream arrangement for the biggest date on your calendar, then they will need plenty of notice. The majority of wedding flower designers are only able to cater for one wedding per weekend, and you don’t want to end up disappointed.

As the bride, all eyes will be upon you. Your wedding flowers will provide the ‘wow factor’ that will set the tone for the entire occasion, from complementing your wedding gown perfectly, to providing the right ambience at the reception. In addition, wedding flowers often provide the focal point for your professional photographs.

Just as you will inevitably spend hours choosing the right dress and venue for possibly the most important day of your life, so it’s vital to devote plenty of time to making sure your wedding flower arrangements are simply stunning too.

This is where the services of a professional floral design team can prove invaluable. And here’s how you can help them do a first class job for you:

Once you have decided on your budget, it’s a good idea to use a mood board or scrapbook to capture your ‘wedding flowers’ thoughts. Ideas can be gleaned from weddings magazines, the Internet, friends and family.

When you visit your wedding venue, take along a camera or camcorder so you can keep in mind the colour scheme. Also it would be helpful to show your chosen florist an image of your dress and one of your bridesmaids’ dresses if possible. If you don’t have a photograph, a sketch will suffice. Fabric swatches are also helpful.

Check out florists near to your wedding venue and make a shortlist of several to interview. When you phone to make an appointment the first thing you should ask if whether they are free on your chosen day. Also confirm that the consultation will be free.

If you are planning to have flowers for your hair, it is useful to take along a picture of your proposed hairstyle. It’s also a good idea to have a trial run through with your hairdresser before the big day, so any refinements can be put in place.

When you arrive at your consultation be mindful of your first impressions. Is the florist’s shop clean and orderly? Are the staff friendly? Is the person you are meeting the same person who will be responsible for creating your wedding flowers? If not, when can you meet that person?

What to ask your shortlisted florists:

  • Having seen my ideas, colours and themes, what types of flowers would you suggest?
  • Does my budget work for you? If not, can you offer any alternatives without me having to compromise on style?
  • Do you have any examples of work that you have done that is similar in style to the flowers that I have chosen?
  • Would you be willing to visit my wedding venue with me to see how the wedding flowers might work in the space?
  • What are the hottest trends in wedding flowers at the moment? Can you recommend anything that might suit my wedding?
  • Is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask?
  • Would you like to ask me anything?
  • The earlier you start planning your wedding flowers the better. Knowing you have your first choice florist on your team means you can relax and enjoy your wedding day, safe in the knowledge they will do everything within their power to make your wedding day a magical experience for you, your partner and your guests.

Best Flower Advice Anywhere!

My wife is the expert consultant for this lens. Having taken floral design classes and working in both design and sales for a wholesale florist, she knows it all when it comes to flowers. I adapted this lens from a handout she made for a class presentation.

Flowers for Special Occasions

Some occasions have specific flowers that are supposed to accompany them. If you scorn tradition, then skip this advice, but know that the people you give flowers to may not subscribe to your worldview!
  • Get Well: Bright colors such as gerbera daisies. Stay away from flowers with strong scents.
  • Birthdays: Flowers in their favorite colors! (Gerbera daisies come in a variety of colors.)
  • Graduation: Mixed flower bouquet or purple flowers.
  • Funerals: Chrysanthemums (of course, that's why we don't bring them to weddings!)
  • Valentine's Day/Anniversary: A red rose says love like no other flower. Roses of any color can express love because of their formal look. Bouquets and vase arrangements are both nice.

    Flower Colors and Their Meanings

    A flower's color does a lot to convey emotion and intent. By following the advice listed below you will never make a floral faux-pas.
    • Blue: Blue flowers offer a sense of calm, dignity, and serenity.
    • Orange: An orange flower is a bold statement of color and vitality. Often associated with the sun, a bouquet that contains orange flowers brings thoughts of passion for life, satisfaction, and an air of confidence.
    • Pink: The pink flower can signify a teasing interest, grace, and happiness. It is often a more modest gesture than a striking red flower, offering an allure of mystery as to the intentions of the giver.
    • Purple: A purple flower represents royalty, pride, or success.
    • Red: A red flower can be a symbol of desire, lust, devotion, and beauty. Usually means "I love you" or "Will you marry me?"
    • White: White flowers symbolize purity and innocence.
    • Yellow: Yellow flowers simply make people smile. It is the color of friendship, joy, and lightheartedness.

    How to Pick a Great Rose

    First of all, look for healthy petals. Is the flower firm or droopy? If one or two petals are bruised, that's okay, just pluck them off. But if the petals are spotted or come off at the touch, then stay away!

    Now for the florist's secret quality check: Pinch the base (head) of the flower. If its firm, this is a good sign. If its loose, then the rose is "blown" in florist-talk, meaning that the petals are so loose the flower won't last much longer.