You’re Engaged — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCICongratulations! This is an exciting time for you and your fiancé. You have so much to do in making your plans. Relax. Enjoy. These are the days that dreams are made of. Someday you will remember these hectic times with joy. As you begin planning, remember flowers can add beauty and fragrance to your day of celebration.

Develop a plan

If you are like most brides, you know flowers are important and have added them to your list of things to consider early in your planning stages. However, when it comes to actually creating a floral plan, you may be wondering where you should start. After selecting and confirming your wedding day facilities, the real work begins. First, shop for the perfect wedding gown, one that makes you feel like a princess. Then, select pretty bridesmaid dresses that are flattering to your attendants and complement your gown.

Having accomplished those important tasks, it is time to accessorize with beautiful flowers.

Purple Cattleya — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCISelect your florist

If you don’t know a lot about flowers, have no worries. Simply begin by surfing the web and printing images of pretty bouquets, tearing out magazine pages of flowers in your favorite colors, and asking friends and family if you can look at their wedding photos for ideas. You can hire a professional florist to advise you in combining all the ideas you have collected into a coherent plan. It is important to find a floral designer that you will enjoy working with as you plan the floral décor for your wedding.

Bridal Bouquet — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCIStart early

It is wise to start your search early. Many brides begin as soon as they set the date and secure their facility — as early as nine to 12 months in advance. Competent professional florists, who are creative and efficient, are often very much in demand and are booked far in advance. The earlier you begin the process the more likely the designer of your choice will have the space in their schedule for your big event.

If you don’t have a favorite florist, ask friends and relatives for referrals. Ask the other wedding professionals you have hired such as the bridal shop, caterer, or photographer for recommendations of local florists they prefer to work with. Visit the websites and design studios of designers you are considering and ask to see photos or videos of their work. If their design work is unknown to you, ask them to provide a list of names of recent brides or local wedding facilities you can contact for a referral. If you still can’t decide on a specific florist, narrow your list of potential candidates to two or three floral designers whose design style you prefer and make appointments with them for consultation. Choose the designer who not only is talented in design and fits your budget, but one who also makes you feel relaxed and confident about your floral plan.

Do your homework: Consultation Checklist for Brides

Bridal Bouquet — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCITo prepare for a productive consultation, do your homework. The decision-making process will progress more quickly if you create in advance an outline of the basic information your florist will need regarding your wedding details. Create the following checklist, and take it with you to your floral consultation:


  • Collect photos of floral designs, styles, colors that you both like and dislike
  • Confirm and list the date, time, and location of your wedding
  • Bring any contracts or lists of rules and regulations for facilities
  • If the florist hasn’t worked in your facility, meet there or provide photos
  • List names and contact information of wedding professionals you have already secured, such as the bridal consultant, caterer, photographer, etc.
  • Create a list of wedding participants for accurate number of flowers needed
  • Develop a list of flowers needed for altar, pews, buffet tables, guest tables, etc.
  • Provide a color swatch of the dress fabrics (dresses must be ordered)
  • Provide swatches of any linens or fabrics to be used in reception decor
  • Develop list of special needs, i.e. handicapped family members, small children, etc.
  • Jot down any religious or family traditions that involve special flowers
  • Outline your floral budget, keeping it in balance with other wedding costs.

Bridal Bouquet — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCIIn addition, prepare a list of any additional questions that you might have for your florist. Make arrangements for a subsequent meeting or phone call to answer any questions that will arise after the consultation. Ask them for the specifics of how to secure their services for your wedding day.

Develop a budget

When planning your budget, remember that your flowers must be in balance with the other elements of the wedding for a cohesive look. An investment in elegant facilities, exquisite dresses, large guest list and bountiful food displays can be diminished visually if you skimp on finishing details such as the flowers. Brides who aren’t careful of their budget in the beginning when buying dresses and securing locations can run out of money at the end when it is time to select these most noticeable details.

Flowers are often the first thing noticed by guests, and a highlight of the wedding photos. Keep in mind that a large wedding has the need for abundant flower displays, while a small simple ceremony in a well landscaped garden may need much less. Color is the most eye-catching design element and the sense of smell triggers memory. Utilize the beauty and fragrance of flowers to your advantage in creating a memorable wedding day.

Bridal Bouquet — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCIStrive for balance

Look at the total amount of money you can afford to invest in your wedding. Before making any purchases, break down the costs by categories such as facility, food, alcohol, attire, photography, flowers, rental, invitations, guest favors, etc. Try to estimate the price range for each category. Set a price range for each category that will keep the look of the wedding in balance. For example, don’t spend so much money on flowers that you must skimp and not have a wedding cake. In that same spirit, don’t spend so much on food and alcohol that the flowers look like an afterthought. You will be less stressed and your guests will be more impressed if you plan from the beginning to keep every area of the wedding in balance.

Enjoy the process

Plan perfectly in advance, yet know your wedding will not be perfect. Nothing in life really is, and that’s okay. This is a real life celebration, a dress rehearsal for all the unplanned mishaps of sharing a life together, not a pageant to be performed with perfection. All the details that go astray will create the stories of your wedding day that make it all your own. You will also want others to share good memories of your special day. Take care to realize that while yes, it is your wedding, a loving and gracious bride will remember that the day is not just all about her. Strive to create an intimate time of comfort, celebration, and happiness for your family and guests, as well. No matter how large or small the event, how perfect or imperfect the detail, relax and allow yourself to enjoy making wedding plans, creating precious memories and celebrating life with flowers.

How can your professional florist help you make that dream come true?

 Enjoy Planning Your Wedding — Photo by Sharon McGukin, AAF, AIFD, PFCI

Sharon McGukin is the author of “Flowers of the Heart: A Bride’s Guide to Choosing Flowers for her Wedding.”