Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Grand Floral Strategy

I really like flowers. Like most women, I get really happy and googly-eyed when my Betrothed brings me a pretty bouquet. I get only slightly less happy and googly-eyed when I buy them for myself. Flowers are awesome.

So, when I started working on wedding stuff, I thought this would be fairly straightforward, and possibly even fun. But I certainly didn't expect to be up to my damn neck in floral insanity. (Please pass the Zyrtec.) Per the usual, I turned to my online wedding planner thingy. Per the usual, I was totally put off, if not totally horrified, by the veritable laundry list of things I should be thinking about.

Apparently I'm supposed to devote hours upon hours to thinking about this. I should be meeting with florists, envisioning my theme, colors and preferred motifs, and mapping it all out perfectly into a Grand Floral Strategy:

Your flowers will be one of the most heavily photographed elements of your wedding. As a result, it's important to pick centerpieces and bouquets that truly fit your wedding style.

Well then. No pressure or anything. Really, though, I have a hard time believing that the photographer will spend upwards of 50% of their data space on flowers. They're nice and all, but aren't the people more important? I'd much rather have pictures of my best friend dancing to Lady GaGa than I would of some uber-detailed shot of my bouquet from 8 different angles. I'm just sayin'. So, for me at least, I don't feel like it's necessary to fret about whether or not I can produce bouquets and centerpieces that will be the floral equivalent of an international supermodel while they smile and look pretty for the camera.

(Because I'm feeling particularly punchy tonight, I've decided to flex my decidedly atrophied, if not downright hideous, artistic muscles and make some badly-drawn illustrations to accompany my wise-ass writing. I thank Allie Bosch at Hyperbole and a Half for the inspiration to draw funny shit in Microsoft Paint.)

Once you've made a decision on the flower arrangements you want, you should find a florist who can make it all happen. Be sure to bring pictures and examples of wedding flowers that you like. Before you talk with your florist, make sure that you have your ideal centerpiece ideas and bouquets in mind - as well as your wedding flower budget.

I see no problem with finding examples of things that I like, but really? I just can't bring myself to devote this much time and energy to developing and deploying a Grand Floral Strategy. I don't have a clue what my "ideal" wedding flowers look like. All I know is that, since the bridesmaids' dresses are red, I should probably find colors that don't clash with it. And I don't want them to be overly ornate. Beyond that, I ain't got shit. And, as for my budget? Cheap. As cheap as possible, in fact.

While I can certainly see the value of knowing what one wants and having examples to illustrate it, working with a florist to create the perfect bouquets and centerpieces is an ordeal that apparently requires its own language. No joke. Said language isn't the least bit based in horticulture, either. According to The Knot, I should describe my venues, the architecture of the church and reception cite, level of formality, season, and the style of my dress - all to ensure that the Grand Floral Strategy is implemented with minimal casualties.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present...

Exhibit A:
Cymbidium orchids, calla lilies, and French tulips come to mind for"chic" weddings - in addition to a generally modern aesthetic and simple, sleek arrangements such as clear acrylic containers. When meeting with florists, describe the visual details of your wedding (for example, your location's architecture, your wedding colors, or your gown's design): "The semi-formal reception is in the courtyard of a Spanish-style boutique hotel." Or "A posh dress and a black-tie wedding in summer, on a rooftop in the city, with an all-white color scheme."

Exhibit B:
The word "romantic" presents florists with a wide variety of ideas. Some think of peonies and garden roses in clay pots, while others imagine a cascade of red roses placed in silver urns. Because there are so many interpretations of romance, you'll need to give lots of details—such as feel, location, formality, and season—when communicating your version of the word: "A relaxed daytime reception in early summer, on the lawn of a seaside cottage," or "An upscale, 200-person fete at a historic estate in winter."

No disrespect to florists, but...GOOD GOD. I'm exhausted after reading this. If I have to do all this stuff in real life, there's a good chance I'll lose my mind. Or die of flower-induced exhaustion. My aching body will simply give out under the strain of wedding pressure and floral fatigue.

I also wonder how much, exactly, all this costs. The more I research, the more my stomach cries out in anguish. None of this stuff is cheap. The "deluxe" options usually start at $350, whereas the "budget" options are between $100-$250 per item.

Now, there's no way to put this delicately, so I'm just going to say it: there's no way in hell I'm going to spend $100 for five bridesmaid's bouquets, $100 for a junior bridesmaid/flower girl bouquet, $100 for my bouquet, and $100 for centerpieces to be placed at no fewer than 15 tables. At a minimum, we're talking $2000.

My budget cannot, in any way, allow me to allocate 2K for flowers. My student loans have already left me unfathomably broke, so I'm unwilling to become even more broke in order to purchase some fucking flowers.

Even if I had the money to spend on this, and despite the fact that I get all googly-eyed over flowers from my Betrothed, I'm not sure I could abide paying a lot for them. Bouquets wilt. They're not planted in your garden. They'll be all parched and sad within the week, and who wants sad flowers?

Is it really worth paying that much money for, not to mention devoting absurd amounts of time to thinking about, a bunch of bouquets that will be moribund 5 days after the wedding?

Upon looking around for, like, 30 seconds, I realized that there's a preponderance of really cheap and really nice flowers out there. There's a dude outside my office who sells bouquets for $6. Another dude by the Metro who sells roses for $7. On a recent trip to Sam's Club, I decided to scope out the flower prices to see how they compare to the $100 "budget" bouquets I've read about online. Behold...

Cheap flowers! Beautiful, glorious, magical cheap flowers! I wanted to hug them, but decided against it because a) they wouldn't do well when squooshed in my embrace, and b) I'd look like the craziest person in the store, which is really saying something when you're at Sam's Club or Wal Mart.

While, for some people, thinking about and paying a lot for flowers is totally within the realm of possibility -- hey, to each their own -- it's definitely not for me. I have, instead, devised a Grand Floral Strategy that relies on my staunch adherence to the principles of frugality and sticking it to the MIC whenever possible:
Step 1: Sam's Club, Costco, or a wholesale flower company.
Step 2: Flowers that go well with red, for $10-$20 per bunch.
Step 3: Scissors.
Step 4: Ribbons.
Step 5: Done.


  1. 1. Love the illustrations
    2. You want pictures of me dancing to Lady GaGa?? Good luck, my friend. Good luck.

  2. Brandon asked that very question, actually. He was in the middle of reading this post when he looked up quizzically and said "Really, dude? Susie is going to dance to Lady GaGa?" I said that yes, you will. You just don't know it yet.

    Besides, since you're my maid of honor you have to do whatever I say without so much as a whimper.

  3. I love that Brandon has me pegged and hasn't even met me yet.

    Of course, you're right. I bow to your every whim, oh magnificent one.

  4. I went with the wholesale flower outlet option and got gorgeous flowers for practically nothing. They were super helpful too.