Everyone thought we were doing such a grand favor for my niece last weekend. As a gift to the bride, I had offered to do the flowers for her wedding. But for me, it was a treat to "play" with hundreds of flowers to make Ellen and Garrett's wedding bouquets and arrangements.
If you're thinking of doing your own flowers for your wedding, here's what we did to create centerpieces for the reception, four large arrangements for the church (later moved to the reception), and bouquets for the bride and four bridesmaids. The wedding was elegant, simple and absolutely fabulous, and the flowers added just the right touch, if I do say so myself.
Ellen and I talked on the phone and sent numerous e-mails before she chose lilies as her main flower. It makes arranging simpler to stick to one type of bloom. The flowers were ordered and arrived at the bride's home a few days before the wedding. The bride and her mother quickly trimmed all of the stems and plunged the flowers into buckets of water mixed with flower preservative. Many of the blooms were not open when delivered. They kept the flowers in a cool basement, and the stems were perfectly open by the day of the wedding. The calla lilies kept best in the refrigerator.
The bride liked the loose, open feel of the lilies. For the reception, she chose simple, clear cylinders (some we had, some she bought at Ikea in Cincinnati for just a couple of dollars each) with a shoot of natural bamboo and two or three Stargazer lilies in each. A few inches of clear glass marbles in each vase held the flowers in place and kept the vases upright. The blooms were loose enough to allow guests at the round tables to see around and through the arrangements for conversation.
My husband, son and daughter and a friend of the bride (thankfully) helped haul the flowers, vases and marbles to the country club where the staff there had laid the tables with ivory linens, each centered with a large round mirror and tea lights. We were able to make the 25 centerpieces in just an hour and then it was back to the house to make bouquets.
One important note here: My son, daughter and husband had the thankless task of "de-pollinating" all of those lilies. The large blooms have lots of rust-colored pollen on the stamen and if it gets on table linens or clothing, it's nearly impossible to remove. My wonderful family members pulled the stamens from all of the blooms - thank goodness.
The bridesmaid's bouquets were made with pink Asiatic lilies, baby's breath (we used "Millionstar" Gypsophia) and seeded eucalyptus. The stems were wrapped with floral tape and then ribbon to match the turquoise dresses and the ribbons were held in place with pearl-headed pins. Since we didn't have a flower cooler to keep them in, we left the stems long and put them into tall vases with just a few inches of water in the bottom. Prior to the ceremony, we cut the stems right up to the bottom of the ribbon wrap.
The bride's bouquet was a large, round bunch of ivory calla lilies with baby's breath, seeded Eucalyptus and a few of the pink Asiatics to tie hers to the other girls' bouquets.
The arrangements at the church were large and loose, filled with lilies and greenery. The church had several large, potted plants (peace lilies) and we added airy stems of baby's breath to the green plants to tie them into the rest of the flowers. The pews had ivory tulle bows accented with bunches of baby's breath and green hypericum.
We worked throughout the day Saturday but we were never rushed. (We had time to visit with family members during brunch at the bride's parents' home and plenty of time to hang out at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Cincinnati where we stayed for the weekend.) All in all, the experience was fun and it felt great to be a part of this wonderful celebration.