Your wedding day can be a real budget buster, but it doesn’t have to be if you think outside the box. When my husband and I got married eight years ago, it was the second time around for both of us. We didn’t want to spend a fortune or make a big fuss, but we did want to do it in style; second time doesn’t mean second rate. I love flowers, and I wanted plenty of flowers at my wedding, especially as we married in March, and dull March days need a little cheering up.(As it happened, it was a glorious day, but we didn’t know that when we were organising everything.)
I didn’t even consider going to a florist for my flowers. For the chapel flowers, I asked the lady who usually arranges the altar flowers if she would do a couple of nice arrangements for us. As our wedding was only the second wedding in 10 years at our chapel – brides usually prefer the larger chapel overlooking the beach a couple of miles away – she was delighted to oblige. I told her our colour scheme of cream and deep red for the flowers, and I just left her to it, as she was a retired florist. The flowers cost less than £20; I said I was happy for the chapel to have full use of the flowers after the wedding, so she added the chapel’s usual flower budget to our contribution and the result was magnificent. I didn’t want flowers on the ends of the pews; I think that is for first time weddings, but she would have done that for me as well.
The message here is: make use of the local talent. Every church and chapel has someone responsible for flowers. If yours is a large establishment that needs a rota for arrangements, go along for a few Sundays and see whose arrangements you prefer, then approach them regarding your wedding flowers for the church. Even if you are asked to pay a little for their time or make a donation to church funds, it will still only cost a fraction of what you would expect to pay at a florist’s.
For the bridal party’s flowers, button holes and top table arrangements, we went to our local college of further education. Their floristry students need to practise on real weddings, so the college will fill your order for little more than the cost of the flowers. Your wedding flowers will be arranged by final year students under close supervision, and you will discuss your requirements with a qualified florist and make your selection from full colour brochures, so everything is just as it would be at a regular florist’s – apart from the price. To keep costs down, go for in-season flowers and give unusual colours a miss.
There are only three slight drawbacks with this option. The college will be limited in the number of weddings it can supply each week, so if you are getting married on a Saturday, which is the most popular choice, place your order as early as possible. And of course, if your wedding falls outside of term time this is not a solution for you. The college will not be able to deliver, so you need to arrange for collection. You will be advised how to keep your flowers fresh for the big day, so don’t worry; it’s quite likely that the flowers the college uses may be even fresher than your local florist’s.
It’s possible to save money on table flowers and give your guests a memento of the day at the same time. I managed to acquire a load of pretty bud vases very cheaply, which I filled with small glass pebbles and a single silk rosebud. I dotted these around the tables, and invited the guests to take them home with them. I didn’t know about Ebay back then – hard to believe, isn’t it? These days, you could probably buy vases, pebbles and silk flowers for even less than I paid. You could even use them as place markers, if you or an artistic friend is able to paint guests’ names on the vases with glass paint. Play around with this idea to find your own individual take on it.
I hope these ideas will help you save money on your wedding flowers. It’s easy, in the frenetic run-up to the big day, to forget the most important thing – that you and your fiance are publicly affirming your love and making a commitment to each other. You’re telling the world that you have found your soulmate, and that is priceless.