Everyone loves a beautiful peony, but why do we have to spend *so much money* on wedding flowers? We asked Madelaine of Mood Fleuriste, Raleigh, NC-based wedding florist, to share some of her top tips for making sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck out of your florals. We are enamored with Madelaine’s work — what she can do with foraged florals alone with take your breath away. You’ll have to read her tips just to see some of her favorite arrangements that we’ve been able to photograph!
Your wedding is one day of your life.
Let that sink in for a second.
A common remark I get from potential clients is “Why spend money on wedding flowers when they are just going to die?” But I would like to reframe the context of flowers, because frankly they deserve it.
Your flowers are the one thing that is completely customized to you and to the season — even to the day you are married.
Wedding flowers are different from buying flowers at the store. For me, the flowers I use on your wedding day are at their most beautiful on that day. They have a purpose: to represent the most vibrant, playful, and sincere day of your life. We task them with this because they are alive, breathing, changing, aging — like all of us.
I treat your flowers this way, as a part of you. It’s why so many of couples say that the compliment they get the most at their weddings is for their flowers. The place changes when the flowers are delivered and installed. It feels like something important is happening. Because it is!
Besides beauty and personalization, flowers can be a workhorse for your wedding. You can use them to let guests know where they need to be, to give refuge to chat with other guests, and let’s not forget about wowing your guests! So let’s talk flowers:
Embrace Movement, Dimension, and Season
To embrace nature, and trust your florist, is hands down the best way to get high-impact wedding flowers.
What I always do is follow nature and the seasons. Organic flower arranging is deceptively simple because I am designing to make it look as if the flowers just happened to grow that way from the vase or the bouquet. But really it is a practice in movement. Movement means letting the branch or flower twist and turn the way it wants to naturally. Some varieties have beautifully twisting stems while others are strong and straight. If organic wedding floral design is what you want, let your florist take more design liberties. This style often relies upon using seasonal flowers that your florist can’t guarantee will be available or will pick up at the market that week.
Adding dimension in your wedding flowers through layers and colors will increase impact dramatically. These days there are fewer monochromatic weddings, where if the color is blush, everything is blush. This style can be done well, but for organic design, playing off your main color’s undertones and branching out the color palette creates depth and interest. Layering flowers so they aren’t all on the same level is also inviting, and it mimics natural growth.
Focal Points and Installations
These aren’t just great for pictures of the couple. Since people are drawn to flowers, using larger installations can help guests find where they need to be in a space. I think it’s a mixture of our inherent love of beauty, and because we don’t see flowers en mass all that much in our lives.
There is something powerful about being about to walk up to a huge installation to see, smell, and touch the flowers in front of you. The taller an installation or arrangement, the more light penetrates it, creating a kaleidoscope of light and color.
In a world of screens, you can give your guests something alive to appreciate. And by repurposing the ceremony installation on a bar, buffet, or head table, you and guests can experience them all night long.
Flowers for an Intimate Reception
Couples often stress out about the wedding flower arrangements for reception tables. But let’s get real about receptions for a minute. Weddings these days are often more relaxed, with buffets, food trucks, or even just heavy hors d’oeuvres all night long.
The longer I work at weddings, the more I notice how uninterested in the guests are at sitting at eight or ten person tables. They break off into groups of two to six to chat, often leaving the reception for quieter spaces because the only seating is at those large, round tables.
So what’s the solution? As long as your wedding vision and venue isn’t centered around a plated dinner or relies heavily on assigned seating, I recommend mixing up the table sizes to have mostly smaller tables than the traditional 60” round.
This works twofold. Firstly, guests have more intimate seating options, which leads to people having a more memorable time at your wedding, and the floral arrangements you paid for are closer to your guests. Instead of sitting feet away from the arrangement in the middle of a big table, your guests will have a more refined and smaller floral piece hanging out next to them wherever they sit. They will interact with and appreciate the flowers more!
The second way this helps is that the different (and overall smaller) table sizes means more variation in your reception design, making it look more custom. If you have the same thing on each table, guests won’t walk around discovering your details. And smaller arrangements help your budget, too!
Flowers Can Be an Activity
Get the guests involved in the flowers — and be creative doing it! I had one couple who wanted everyone at their wedding to be able to participate in the ceremony. They had me station vases of flowers for guests to come forward, grab a flower, and place it around them in an circle on the ground. They got to see everyone at their ceremony and exchange a quick greeting as the guests came up.
Another way to use your wedding flowers to keep your guests engaged would be a make-your-own boutonniere or flower-crown bar. Get a sign made with how to put together your flower bundles, or have me and my team stay after the ceremony to instruct your guests on what they want to make. This is a great idea if your wedding is family focused or if you and your partner love doing art yourselves.
Photography is Key
This tip mostly pertains to your memory of your big day through photography. The photos accompanying this post were an to experiment with shooting flowers with a wide lens to show off all of the movement and dimension I was creating in the arrangement as mentioned above.
Our eyes have a remarkably narrow area of clear focus, and around that central area, things begin to blur. If you want your flowers to last the way you remembered them, discuss your desire for this style of shooting with your photographer. The layers and colors blend and blur at the margins, creating a lovely sense of nostalgia for your big day.