On the morning of my wedding, as I sat in a stylist’s chair getting my hair re-curled, my father called me breathlessly to let me know that all the flowers we’d purchased for our bouquets (which had yet to be assembled) were dead. My stepmom had followed every instruction included with our online order, and still, with just a few hours until go time, they had withered and died in the downstairs bathroom of his home.
I remember feeling surprisingly calm at this news. The wedding was in T-minus eight hours, so what was I going to do anyway? My father and my stepmom, on the other hand, began a frantic citywide search for enough flowers to make seven somewhat cohesive bouquets. Whoops.
The Flower Incident, as I now call it, was always a disaster waiting to happen. Because in order to do your own wedding flowers the right way, you need to have your shit together. And I did not have my shit together.
Here are some fun flower facts that someone doing their own wedding flowers should probably have on lock (I had none of them on lock). First, you need to understand how big flowers are in real life (weirdly, the Internet is not great at floral scale). Ranunculus and peonies might look similar online, but they are not the same. In fact, ranunculus are the teacup to peonies’ dinner plate, but again, I didn’t really bother to find that out. Then you need a plan for when your flowers arrive that isn’t “I don’t know… aren’t you supposed to put them in a fridge or something?” (Spoiler alert: no, no you are not.) And once all that is accounted for, you better hope you picked the kind of flowers that can survive a slight mauling in the hands of non-professional floral arrangers, and again, ranunculus are not that flower.
In hindsight, I was the perfect candidate for silk flowers. But snobby old me used to scoff at the idea. Having only ever encountered the dollar store version, I thought they were gauche (which is a lot coming from me). But after we hired our Studio Coordinator and in-house florist, Chelsea, and started working with fake flowers for our own APW content, I’m officially a convert.
Here are some amazing things about fake flowers. They don’t die! (Particularly clutch if you’re me, wedding flower angel of death.) Also! You can make them months ahead of time! You can have peonies whenever you want! They can withstand the often fluctuating temperatures of pre-fall Maine. And y’all, the good fake ones look really good. As in fake, fake, fake. So today we’ve partnered with Jamali Garden to share our best tips for using silk flowers at your wedding.
Jamali Garden would have, in retrospect, been perfect for my wedding. They have a huge selection of silk flowers from traditional roses and peonies to more trendy tropical styles, plus floral supplies like wire cutters, floral foam, and floral tape. And their vases are way more modern and varied than what you might find in a traditional craft store (we had to pry this brass urn out of Chelsea’s hands). But here’s the real kicker: the other reason I’ve turned my nose up at fake flowers in the past is that the good ones are expensive. (Though certainly not as expensive as $200 worth of flowers in a trash can, but you know, one never predicts that.) But Jamali Garden fake flowers cost roughly half of what I typically see in stores. (Plus we got you $15 off—details below.) You can actually get a peony that looks like the real deal and is much cheaper than a single (real) peony stem, and is way less likely to fall apart on your wedding day.
how to tell if silk flowers are right for you
Silk flowers can look like real flowers, but they are very different to work with. The upside is that you can assemble them way ahead of your wedding, and if you mess up on your first try, you can take them apart and re-assemble to your heart’s content. Fake flowers also don’t require any water, which means no spills, and most importantly they are durable and easy to transport. That said, while most silk flowers come with a bendable stem that you can manipulate, they aren’t quite as malleable as a real flower, so silk flowers tend to work best for tighter arrangements (read: round), especially when it comes to bouquets. But if you have your heart set on something a little wilder and less traditional, here’s our pro-tip: you can always mix and match. In our Flower Boy tutorial, we mixed fake flowers with real greenery so that we could have the best of both worlds: a little more movement with the greenery, but enough durability to withstand a four-year-old. If you’re not sure whether fresh or fake is right for you, here’s a mini checklist to see if you might want to consider silk flowers:
Flower arranging 101
Before you get started, you’ll want to brush up on basic floral arranging, because real or fake, the basics stay the same. We’ve got tips on how to construct a bouquet right here (ignore all the stuff about flower prep, since silk flowers typically come pre-prepped). And this tutorial is the closest approximation to the centerpiece we made for this project. In fact, I didn’t even realize until just now that we got the urn for that tutorial at Jamali Garden. Sadly it’s been discontinued, but this one is a pretty close second and a steal at $6.99.
Choosing Your Fake FLowers
Choose flowers the same way you would fresh flowers. If you want more traditional looking arrangements or bouquets, stick with a single flower, or a variety of blooms in a single color. Or if you just want to cheat the system, you can buy a pre-arranged bouquet for less than $20 and call it a day. Just plop them in a vase and boom, centerpiece. Or add ribbon around the stems and bam, bouquet. My favorites are:
But if you’d rather construct your own bouquet or arrangements, and want that modern bohemian vibe, then the key is to aim for a variety of textures, shapes, and sizes, with lots of greenery. The nice thing about silk flowers is that you can price out your inspiration as you go. Just keep in mind, that with bouquets, the more flowers, the more stems. And the stems on silk flowers can be pretty thick. So you may need an extra hand wrapping your bouquet to get the stems extra tight.
How to Be the Boss of Silk Flowers
As I mentioned above, the challenge of working with silk flowers is the same as the benefit: they are hardy. Never-ever die, kind of hardy, but also, made of wire kind of hardy. Which means that you will need to cut your stems with a wire cutter instead of regular floral shears, because the wire stems are too tough for regular floral shears. And while fresh flowers are bendy and can be manipulated easily, your fake flowers might give you some resistance. Remember that wire is meant to be bent, so if you find yourself with a bunch of flowers that are sticking straight up in the air, you might have to put a little more muscle into it before they do what you want. The good news is that it takes a lot of abuse before silk flowers start to show any wear and tear, so you can trial and error all day long. That said, if you want to avoid the frustration that comes with trial and error, keep in mind our above tip: floral arrangements that are more structured and less free-flowing are very fake-flower friendly. And pro-tip: if you’re making your arrangements way ahead of time and live in a dust magnet house like mine, Jamali Garden sells this special spray that prevents dust from settling on your flowers. (Does that mean I should finally give up on trying to keep house plants alive and just buy this? Probably.)
For some people, fresh flowers are an integral part of a wedding day. But for me, I just wanted something cool and modern that would photograph well. And I didn’t have the budget for a florist. But if I’d known then what I know now, I’d give silk flowers another chance. If not for my own sanity, then at least for my poor dad.
This post was sponsored by Jamali Garden. In addition to DIY-ers and the APW team, Jamali Garden is a go-to source for professional florists, wedding and event planners, stylists, caterers, decorators, and set designers for beautiful, affordable, and high-quality floral, decor, home, holiday, lighting, and garden products. Visit Jamali Garden in person in the New York Flower Market or browse all the products available on their website (with shipping to the U.S. and Canada!). And click here to get $15 off $100 or more, or enter code 15OFF100 at checkout.