Well, my third wedding is in the books. Not my own personal third wedding but the third one that I arranged floral decorations for. I must say I absolutely love this creative side of my business. DIY wedding flowers can be a bit stressful but I use lists, lots of lists, to keep myself organized and on schedule.
This last wedding was my niece’s. The venue was in my brother’s backyard, located a little over an hour from my home. That meant everything was created here, then transported there. That’s always a challenge, especially when fresh flowers are best just that…fresh. I do love a challenge!
Succulent and Driftwood Planters for DIY Wedding Flowers
I know that my niece loves succulents. Way back last fall when perusing Pinterest for succulent wedding decor, I fell in love with some succulent driftwood planters viewed there. I had a feeling she would love them too; they made the to-do list.
Propagating (producing new plants from old ones) succulents is very easy to do and can save tons of money. Simply lay a petal from an old plant on a shallow bowl of soil (the chunky kind made especially for cacti and succulents), spritz it with water daily and it will sprout baby plants! When they develop a few petals each, transplant each new baby plant (very gently) to a tiny pot of its own. At this stage, water much less frequently, once every 2 weeks should be plenty.
These were started last fall and took about six months to get to this size. These grew almost too big (heavy) and were difficult to keep them attached to the driftwood in the later stage, more on that later.
Of course, if you don’t want to try your hand at propagating succulents, you can purchase them instead.
Last month I went in search of driftwood pieces. A kind stranger answered my request on Kijiji informing me of a great place to find lots of it, for free. I just had to collect it.
This driftwood collection became an outing with my adventure-loving, 6-year-old grandson, although he was upset that I might be stealing the home of a frog, snake, toad, or other creature. Point taken, we did make sure nothing was inhabiting my selections before we loaded them into my van. We did have to work around a thunderstorm passing through the area.
After the driftwood sat on my back deck drying out for a week, I drilled holes in it, spaces for the succulents to root (quite a messy procedure) then added moss and various shapes and sizes of succulents.
Two weeks later, with frequent spritzes of water to keep the moss wet, the succulents had perked up and rooted into the drilled holes. They looked awesome on the tables around the wedding venue and were a huge hit. We ended up giving the driftwood pieces to guests to take home.
Large Planters for DIY Wedding Flowers
The original plan was to hollow out several logs for me to fill with plants but that proved to be too difficult. Instead, I filled inserts that fit into fake birch bark containers (from my houseplants) and tall black planters that my son had stored in his garage.
The last time I filled large containers for wedding decor I used annuals only. This time, the center of the inserts were planted with ferns for the shade and ornamental grasses for sunny spots a month before the wedding. This enabled the “thrillers” to fill out. Ground covers like sweet woodruff, lamium, periwinkle, sedge, and perennial geraniums were added to the perimeter of each container for the spillers. Next, annuals within the bride’s bohemian-themed colour palette were added for the fillers. Tall, spiky blue lyme grass seed heads (that faded obligingly to a wheat colour) as well as branches of euonymus and smoke tree, were added next. The final touch was fresh flowers in plastic water tubes. Gorgeous!
Two days prior to the wedding I put together the boutineers. They too were created from succulents which survive longer out of water, so could be made earlier than the corsages and bouquet.
Using succulents was a bit tricky as they have no stem. I removed the roots, then stuck a piece of floral wire through the base of the succulent, creating a stem. Then I played around with various leaves for a backdrop to the succulent. When I was satisfied with the arrangement, I wrapped the wire with floral tape. The easiest way to do this is to hold the boutineer upside down and spin it with one hand while stretching and applying the tape with the other. Floral tape is only sticky when it is stretched.
After the boutineers were assembled, each one was placed in a ziplock baggie, filled with air, sealed, then stored in my basement where they can chill for a few days.
Corsages and Bouquet
The corsages and bouquet were assembled the day before the wedding. Fresh flowers and foliage were collected in the morning (not too early so flowers no longer had dew on them) and then sat in water for three hours before the assembling began. Both the corsages and bouquet were simply in style and design as requested by the bride, so fairly easy to create.
For both the corsages and bouquet, it is easier to start with the foliage. Arrange it according to size, colour, texture, and shape in your hand. It helps to do this in front of a mirror so you can see what they will look like, especially the bouquet.
When you are happy with the arrangement of the foliage, start adding the flowers. These DIY wedding flowers were easy to make as they contained just a few flowers each. Again, arrange the flowers so the shape, texture, colour etc is spread out. For example, don’t place all the spiky flowers together, intersperse them between the rounder ones. When you are happy with their arrangement, attach an elastic at the base of the flower heads to hold them together. Then add ribbon, winding from top to bottom as explained with the boutineers. (One hand spins the bouquet while the other hand guides the ribbon). You can leave the stems bare too with a small piece of ribbon where it will be held.
Late to the Party
Much like the predicament when arranging flowers for my son’s wedding, several of my planned options did not pan out. I started dahlias indoors in plenty of time but our frosty spring delayed their transition to outdoors. As a result, they bloomed two weeks late.
Unfortunately, the pale pink and peachy beauties in my rose garden suffered the same fate.
Thank heavens for generous neighbours and clients who were willing to let me choose other options from their gardens. These were stunning in tiny green vases on cocktail tables as well as larger vases around the event. Several were also tucked into water tubes within the large containers, and others were used in the bride’s bouquet and mothers’ corsages.
Hits and Misses
As mentioned, I let the succulents grow too large, so they were sufficient to secure in place. I used greening pins“>greening pins and hot glue on the surrounding moss to try to hold them in place. These efforts were somewhat successful but the project would have been easier with smaller succulents. Deeper holes in the driftwood would require thicker, sturdier pieces. Lessons learned!
I did have some tinier succulents from my cottage garden that worked well.
The perennials and annuals I planted early (grasses, ferns, sedge, lamium, sweet woodruff, periwinkle, chrysanthemums, dusty miller) all filled out nicely.
The unrooted euonymus branches survived for several weeks but the smoke tree ones barely lasted through the wedding weekend, and sadly the Black lace elderberry did not last more than an hour. This was disappointing as it was so pretty on my shrub.
As mentioned above, the seed heads of the Blue Lyme grass were awesome and still going strong (on my front veranda) three weeks later, even though the stems are just poked into the soil with no roots. Impressive
Amazing Peony Hack
I learned of a clever trick for peonies just a few days before the wedding. Pick the unopened blooms when the size of a marshmallow, (I tried smaller buds but they were not as successful) remove the bottom leaves, wrap them in newspaper individually, and store them in a sealed plastic baggy in the fridge. Remove as many as you need a few hours before you want them to open, put them in water and wait for the magic….amazing! Apparently, you can store unopened peonies this way for months! Who knew?
I think that’s it for this episode of DIY wedding flowers. These endeavors were definitely labours of love that I would not take on for just anyone. All three brides are easy-going, and not in the least bit fussy. In other words, I could not handle the pressure of creating anything for a bridezilla.
I would though be happy to answer any questions for any of you willing to give any of these DIY projects a try.