My Usual Approach Is Useless Here: How To Approach Choosing Flowers

I am notorious for having what my family calls a “black thumb”.  I kill plants.  I’ve even killed a cactus.  I cannot keep any foliage alive.  Because of this, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with flowers, and my knowledge of types was limited to roses, carnations, orchids, and alstromeria (also known as Peruvian lilies, and I only know those because they’re my FAVORITE).  Every once in a while I could have a moment of brilliance and shout out something else like peony or hydrangea, but those instances were few and far between.  So, when it came time to start picking flowers, I was a little in over my head.

There are really two ways to approach the flower conundrum.  You can either choose specific flowers, which is the likely choice if you know more about flowers and have very set ideas on what you like and don’t like, or you can choose an overall look and trust the florist to find things that fit into that idea.  Given my complete lack of flower knowledge when this adventure started, I went with the second choice.  I knew that for our bouquets I want fluffy flowers, the type that have a lot of petals but don’t have a very defined shape, but I wanted the bouquet itself to have a contained and defined shape.

If you go with the “choose specific flowers” option, your work load consists of you checking on the availability of those flowers for your time of year and deciding which flowers are a must and which flowers would be nice to have.  If there’s a particular way you want them arranged, either draw it up, find a similar picture, or have a well drafted write-up of your vision.  I still recommend looking at bouquet pictures, because you may find flowers that look very similar to the ones you want (which gives you more options), or you may even find new flowers you didn’t know were out there that may work better for the look you’re going for.  Be aware that having your heart set on certain flowers can mean sticker shock if you are in love with blooms that aren’t usually available during your time of year.  It is still possible to get the flowers (it’s very rare for a flower to be out of season in ALL of the major flower growing areas), but you’ll pay a premium for their transport.

If you go the second route, you simultaneously have more and less work to do.  You don’t need to worry about availability since the florist will be finding flowers for you, but you do need to have a clear idea of what overall effect you’re going for and preferably a couple of pictures to show your florist that depict what you want.  I say this is both more and less work because as someone who doesn’t really have a preference for flowers, you are less likely to be able to have a clear idea of what it is you want, so coming up with the words to describe what you’re looking for when you don’t really know what you’re looking for can be quite the challenge.

Since I was going with the second choice, I spent a good deal of time pouring through pictures of bouquets and saving ones that either had the colors I liked or the shape I liked (and in one rare instance, both!).  I also went through libraries of flowers to find some that had the type of look I liked (I love the fluffy, lots of petal types) so that I had some suggestions to off the florist.  When we met I brought her copies of the bouquet pictures, with the parts I liked in each picture pointed out and described, as well as a list of flowers I had found that I liked the shapes of.  I explained the look I was going for and said I was more concerned with the feel of the bouquet and the cost than any particular bloom (with the exception of my alstromeria…that HAD to be in there!).

Once you decide what your emphasis is (particular flowers versus a particular feel/vibe), you come to another fork in the road: do you hire a florist, or do the flowers yourself?  I’m doing a mix of both, so later on I’ll have a post both about drawing things up with your florist and how to go about finding your own flowers.  If you need a reminder about how to choose a florist, you can see my previous post here.

On a side note, +10 bonus points if you get the reference in my title.


Posted on February 27, 2012, in Flowers, Priorities, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I love astromeria too! Best of all, they are cheap and last for ages!

  2. We aren’t doing too much with flowers as we are getting married in a garden which will be very naturally flowery for us. I am thinking about having my bridesmaids each have one lily as their “bouquet” – simple but elegant. And then for me… well I just discovered the anemone flower and I think it is really neat so now I need to see its availability, etc. We’re not planning on hiring a florist due to the lack of complexity involved in our flower stuff for the wedding but I think I should still go talk to one to figure out those lilies and the possibility of anemones….

    • I love anemones! I was really sad that they aren’t in season early June…I had found the perfect picture of what my ideal bouquet would look like and it was chock full of brilliant purple anemones.

      I like the idea of the simple, single stems for the bridesmaids! A florist should be able to help you out in terms of getting the small number of good quality ones you’d need.

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