5 March 2009

Walking the Aisle - Part Deux

Yesterday, I so enjoyed ogling all the wedding gowns that were available on etsy, that I decided I needed to delve today a little further into the elegant elements that create the perfect wedding. There is a twist to this however. I am fully in favour of budget weddings, full of do it yourself projects. Over the next few weeks, I am going to offer a few tips and tricks that you can use to curb the financial stress of your nuptials. I don't believe that anyone needs to break the bank to have the perfect wedding. Money is tight, and each day more grim economic news comes our way. Don't let this spoil your big day. Your wedding, with some careful planning and some willingness to do some of the work yourself, can be as beautiful as any wedding found amongst the glossy pages of the celebrity magazines.

So today, let's start with one of the biggest wedding expenditures: flowers.

The bulk of the cost of wedding flowers is the labour involved. If you yourself are capable of creating your floral designs, or if you know someone who has a flair for floral detail, you will be able to save yourself a great deal of money. If you are capable, make use of wedding magazines and websites such as Martha Stewart or The Knot to look for appealing ideas, and then if need be alter them to fit your budget. If you are a little sceptical about your ability, see if you can find a free or inexpensive flower arranging course at an adult learning centre or local craft store. This should help you come away with the basics needed to craft your own simple flower arrangements. Just make sure to factor in the time required to make them, and if making them the day before the wedding, remember that you will need adequate refrigerator room to keep them cool and fresh until the right moment.

If the idea of doing the work yourself is simply too daunting remember these two very important rules: 1) use flowers that are in-season and; 2) keep flower designs simple to avoid driving up the labour costs.

If you are a spring bride, why not consider the elegance of the tulip mixed with the whimsy of the pussy willow. Perhaps use white nasturtiums, or yellow daffodils if you want to celebrate with some bold colour. If you have fruit trees at your disposal, branches covered in apple or cherry blooms make a stunning table centrepiece.

For early summer, peonies are a beautiful option. Soft and romantic, yet bold enough to stand alone. Day lilies typically start to bloom around this time of year, and come in such an array of colour that the possibilities for use are endless. A late summer wedding in my mind calls for bold colours. Cheery daisies and sunflowers are a sweet alternative to roses, especially if you are having a country wedding.

Autumn calls for rich warm tones. Dahlias, though maybe not traditional are certainly an affordable option, and are available in some wonderfully rich colours. If you prefer softer hues, fading hydrangeas are a wonderfully pretty and romantic flower.

Winter can be a tricky one as fresh flowers are not so available. Red or white are both beautiful options, and luckily both can be found in the Christmas time favorite, amaryllis. Poinsettias as well are a wonderfully showy flower. Using them in a bouquet would also ensure that you would not have them hanging around into March.

Another clever way to save on floral costs is to incorporate a variety of inexpensive filler, giving it a long over-due starring role. Ivy is a traditional choice, but for more impact, try banana leaves, or eucalyptus leaves. Ornamental grasses are readily available as well, and can easily be incorporated into designs to add unexpected texture and colour to a bouquet. In autumn, add in clusters of coloured leaves. In winter use fragrant evergreen boughs and why not tuck in a pine cone or two while you're at it. Berry branches such as hypericum are simply stunning.

A fantastic way to plump up a table centre piece, or to add hits of colour is to use fruits. I used green and red grapes along the outer edges of my centre pieces. I may be biased, but I thought it looked great, and at around $10 for a few bags of grapes, it was an inexpensive way to fill out seven centrepieces. In the autumn, you could tuck flower arrangements into hollowed out pumpkins. In winter add rich bursts of colour by skewering dried pomegranates and tucking them into an arrangement. Pomegranates are after all an ancient symbol of fertility, and are an often used wedding symbol. Lemons, limes, apples, any fruit that is firm and hardy enough to stand up to an all night party without browning or worse, leaking, is a wonderful option. I have even seen in recent years, arrangements that make use of vegetables such as radish which have such a wonderfully rosy colour.

Simple designs can be made stunning with the addition of fabric embellishments. Vintage ribbons in colourful silks or velvet add much to bridal bouquets. Seam binding, is even more affordable than ribbon, and can be found in a variety of exquisite colours and has a soft and silky, flowing nature.

Finally, there is the option to exclude fresh flowers all together. Silk flowers have come along way from the unnaturally coloured arrangements that one may have found on gramma's coffee table. There are some very realistic looking alternatives available and these can go a long way to stretching a limited budget even further.

I found this surprising arrangement on marthastewart.com, featuring of all things, carnations. As a general rule of thumb, I can't stand carnations, but this simple bouquet transforms them from a supermarket standby to the height of elegance. (clicking on the photo will take you to the web-page which includes some how-to's.)

I hope this first installment of "Walking the Aisle" was helpful. I had a fantastic time browsing websites looking at stunning floral designs.


Nancy said...

Always a pleasure to read your blog Carol. Check out mine today - I gave you an award!

Nancy said...

Ok I have one more comment!!! For some reason I grew up hating carnations as well but I actually love them now. The days of a couple red carnations slapped together with some baby's breath and fern stem are over. I love to buy a huge bouquet, all in one colour. They are stunning and last so much longer than most cut flowers. They also smell amazing. O.k. I'm done now...bye :)