Congratulations, you’re engaged and planning a wedding! How wonderful and exciting! And terrifying! For most people, this is the biggest and most important party they will ever plan. There are so many decisions to be made, so many choices. Breaking down the process into bits and pieces you can manage helps enormously - what’s the old joke? How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. Taking each piece of the pie and dealing with it individually will help you make the best decisions overall. And I’d like to talk about the flowers, since that’s where my expertise lies, and give you a few tips and tricks to save some serious cash.

ONE: Be flexible. If you convey to your florist the overall look and style you’d like for your designs and the color palette you’d like to work within, and don’t have any particular notions of what flowers to use, this frees up your designer to use whatever is looking best at the best price. You’d be surprised at how much money you can save with this one tip alone. And this leads me to:

TWO: ‘Seasonal’ blooms - a myth. Have you ever noticed that you can buy strawberries and asparagus at the grocery almost any time of year now? The same goes for flowers. We can get almost anything any time of year. I’m often asked, “What’s in season? That will be cheaper, right?” Seasonality is directly tied to what’s growing where your wedding will be at the time you’re getting married, and it’s not always less expensive. Supply and demand play a huge role in prices. And color is a direct factor as well when it comes to flowers. We’ve just gone through a big trend with blush colored flowers, and in some instances they were twice as much as any other color. For truly seasonal blooms, deal with a florist who sources her blooms locally, or grows them herself. Luckily at Design In Bloom, we do a little bit of both!

THREE: Don’t be a daisy snob. Using more common varieties of flowers to fill out and bulk up your designs can be a great way to save cash. There are so many new and exciting varieties of carnations, mums, pom pons out there - in some cases you’d never know it was a mum unless you’re a trained pro. Or a carnation! They get a bad rap, that’s for sure. When they’re from your florist, rather than a mega shopping store, they are almost always a premium grade. Which makes for a better flower - higher petal counts, bigger blooms, sturdier stems. And, to take it back to the much maligned carnation, there’s a scent! Personally, I love the fresh clovelike fragrance, and the super ruffled edges are so feminine. In the right color (and they come in BLUSH!) and the right size, you can have big impact at much lower costs.

FOUR: Focus. I’ve been to more than one wedding where the bride short-changed herself on the pieces that mattered because she ran out of money buying everything wedding that was purple. And those tcotchkes showed up everywhere - there were fake purple roses in the bathrooms, purple confetti on the tables, purple streamers in the entryway - it looked like a kids birthday party, not the elegant event at a country club that the bride originally told me was her dream wedding. Use your money wisely and spend it where it will make the most impact. No one will remember if you had confetti on the table but they will remember the beautiful linens perfectly coordinated with a dazzling centerpiece or cupcake they got to take home. Make your $ work for you, don’t be a slave to every Pinterest post.

SO WHY USE FRESH FLOWERS? You’d be surprised how often people tell me they’re going to make their own centerpieces with flowers from the craft store, or someone’s uncles’ sister’s cousin is going to whip something up - it’s your wedding. I personally think you should have whatever makes you happy and make you feel special to carry down the aisle or have on your guest tables. For me, there’s a special sense of wonder and delight I get from fresh flowers, even after being a pro for the past 16 years. I’m still excited to visit my wholesalers and walk through the coolers, open boxes when I have something shipped in, or head out to the garden in the early morning to cut the flowers and foliages for wedding work. There’s something magical about nature, and fresh flowers make the event a special occasion. They say you took the time to create a fleeting moment of perfection to celebrate your lifelong commitment to each other. My own home is never without them, and believe it or not, I buy them wherever I find something I love - the supermarket, the corner guy with a bucket, the farmer’s market. I can’t help it, I’m nuts for flowers! So yes, I think you can have an event without flowers. It will be fine. But with flowers.....it’s extraordinary.