Mary Zellman, a physical education teacher, has no training in floral design. Hers was an unlikely transition from freeze tag to freesia.
"I don't do any crafty stuff at all," said Zellman of Lake Grove. She didn't let that stop her from designing her daughter's wedding flowers in August.
"We did it to save money," said Zellman. "We saved about $2,800."
Zellman purchased flowers in bulk from two online vendors. She bought calla lilies for the bridesmaids' bouquets, and oriental blush lilies and freesia for her daughter's bouquet. She used mini callas for the groomsmen's boutonnieres. She spent about $950 on flowers, ribbon, vases and lights.
"The key to the whole thing was my daughter," Zellman said. "She was not Bridezilla in any way. She was so happy marrying the right man, this was all icing on the cake."
Do-it-yourself is a trend that's not going away, sources say, despite recent gains in the economy. "Couples will want simple yet elegant events at a lower cost," according to a 2010 wedding trends forecast by market research group The Wedding Report. "They will choose do-it-yourself and thriftiness as a way to cut cost."
Indeed, cost savings is a motivator for do-it-yourself brides, said Liza Roeser-Atwood, CEO of online flower seller fiftyflowers.com. "The most common reason that brides order their wedding flowers from us is to save money," Roeser-Atwood said. "It comes down to simple math."
Florists generate most of their revenue on the markup of the flowers, Roeser-Atwood said, adding that blooms ordered in bulk can cost up to 70 percent less. "With family and friends providing the prep and design help, there is a huge opportunity to save," she said.
Saving money was a priority for Jessica and Richard Falotico of Astoria as they planned for their September 2009 wedding reception in Smithtown.
"I love flowers and I wanted them to look nice, but I didn't want to put a big chunk of my budget toward that," said Jessica Falotico.
She left the bouquets to a florist, but she was inspired by the elegance and simplicity of baby's breath centerpieces featured on a Martha Stewart Web site. She bought 20 bunches from an online flower wholesaler for $189 and placed them in mercury glass vases purchased on sale at Pottery Barn. "There are so many options out there," Falotico said. "Whatever's important to you, you can put your budget there."
Jonathan Greene, who in 2004 cofounded the online flower site growersbox.com, said bulk wedding flower sales make up 85 percent of his business. He said he's seen the result of DIY labor pay off.
"It does take practice and skill," Greene said. "But we've seen customers create their own masterpieces by imitating and duplicating what's in a picture."
Practicing beforehand was crucial, said Zellman, who did several dry runs and spent four hours the day before her daughter's wedding putting the flowers together. "Once you know what you're going to do, anyone can do it."
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO CREATE A BOUQUET
One of the most popular bridal bouquet styles is the hand-tied bouquet. Wholesale online flower seller The Grower's Box (growersbox.com) offers these directions on how to create your hand-tied bouquet with do-it-yourself wedding flowers, including roses:
1. Use clippers to remove the thorns and foliage from the roses.
2. Select three large roses and tape them together. These will be the center of your bouquet.
3. Add another three or four roses to the bouquet and tape them to your original grouping.
4. If you choose to incorporate fillers and greens into your bouquet, add them to the mix as you see fit.
5. Continue to add roses three or four at a time as desired and tape them together. Taping the roses at this point will ensure that your bouquet stays tight.
6. Once you have built your bouquet to the size you would like, secure the bouquet by wrapping another layer of tape down the stems about 6 or 8 inches.
7. Wrap the ribbon beginning at the top of the bouquet and going toward the bottom.
8. Leave the ends of the ribbon long if you would like them to cascade off the bottom of the bouquet.
9. With a sharp knife or clippers, trim the bottom of the stems a little bit up from the bottom - leaving the stems longer than you will need them - and set the bouquet in a vase or pitcher of water.
10. If your ribbon has loose ends, rubber-band them to the upper part of the stems to keep them out of the water.
11. Fill the vase with just enough water to cover the bottom of the stems. Do not get your tape or ribbon wet.
12. Shortly before the festivities begin, clip the stems to the length you want with a sharp knife or clippers and wipe the bottom of the stems with a towel to catch any drips that might be there.
A few tips
Store your fresh-cut flowers in a cool environment. When working with fresh cut flowers - and especially roses - it is very important to remember that the cooler the temperature, the slower the flowers will open, and the longer they will last.
Wherever possible, practice first. Purchase some flowers from your local florist or grocery store and familiarize yourself with this process so that it isn't foreign to you as you prepare your wedding flowers.
Floral tape will do the trick, but for special occasions such as weddings, these crystal-adorned wire arrangers, left, are functional - the grid helps hold centerpiece flowers in place - as well as fanciful. Six-inch arranger with beads from fiftyflowers.com is $10.49.
This unique centerpiece container, right, is made of recyclable paper. It can be reused 10 times and comes in a variety of shapes and colors. And oh, yes, it's waterproof. Orange Naranja DIY flower vase is $14.99 at fiftyflowers.com.
A variety of online farm-direct flower sellers has cropped up in recent years. Among the bunch: