Notice that I’m addressing this one to the girls. That’s because the grooms rarely get involved in the flowers unless it’s to argue about how much money the bride is spending on them! But this would be a good blog for those who think flowers can be done on the cheap on a tropical island. With that said, let’s talk about some things that will help you understand exactly what you’re paying for and tips on how to get the most bang for your bloom!
1 – The most important thing to remember is that everything that comes to a little tropical island like Vieques has to take two boats or two airplanes to get here. If you think flowers are expensive wherever you’re from, consider that those flowers were obtained through a wholesaler nearby. The flowers at your Caribbean wedding likely came from another country. It’s a good idea to ask your wedding planner from the beginning what kinds of flowers she recommends, and what she recommends that you avoid. For example, tulips, peonies and ranunculus can’t tolerate the heat down here and die long before you’ve made it down the aisle.
2 – There is no such thing as saving money on “native” or “local” flowers. Flamboyan, bougainvilla, mandevilla, hibiscus and many more of the colorful blooms you admire in the landscape of tropical islands are very heat sensitive once cut and won’t last down the aisle alive. Leave them on the bushes and enjoy the scenery. Some tropicals are grown in Puerto Rico and sometimes the orchids, birds of paradise, pineapples and ginger we buy from Puerto Rico wholesalers come from local Puerto Rico flower farms. But it depends on the season. Ninety percent of the world’s commercial orchids are actually grown in Thailand. When the big airport there was shut down for political demonstrations last year, the orchid supply internationally was choked for two weeks.
3 – The more attendants you have, the more your flowers will cost. Bridesmaids bouquets can be just as expensive as bridal bouquets depending on your flower choices. Flower girls cost money too, whether they’re sprinkling rose petals or carrying tiny bouquets. Plus don’t forget flowers for both moms, boutonnieres for the boys and for the dads, and something for your grandparents. Suddenly, you need a whole lot of flowers!!!
4 – Remember that hand-tied (usually tuxedo style with pearl-tipped pins up the back) bouquets are less pricey than wired bouquets because they are less labor intensive. You have to use common sense with some of this.
5 – The more flower types you use, the more expensive your arrangements and bouquets will be — this is true no matter where you get married, but even moreso at a remote destination. Wholesalers sell flowers in bunches, and your florist has to purchase them that way, even if you only want one bloom to wear in your hair. At a wedding destination, the florist is unlikely to have a wide market for their overages, so you’re probably going to pay for everything they have to order in for you, even if you only use a tenth of it.
6 – Renting your vases and glassware is always cheaper than choosing something and having it shipped to your destination. It’s not as if your guests are going to be leaving with them at the end of the night, they’re all going back to hotels and traveling. Find out what’s available to you down here before you start spending up there. Shipping can cost a fortune.
7 – If your flower budget is minimal, put the bulk of it into your bridal party flowers and then play with the rest of it at your reception. Don’t do a big flower arch at the ceremony, or an aisle full of rose petals for a wedding ceremony that’s going to last 15 to 20 minutes. I’m sure that your wedding photos are going to be beautiful without gilding the lily that way if you have the Caribbean in the background, so why spend the extra money?
8 – If you need your flowers delivered to three different locations, for example, the bouquets to your parent’s house, boutonnieres to another house, and flowers for the grandparents delivered to the beach ceremony, expect to pay for it. The more complicated you make the delivery process, the more expensive the whole thing gets. Because of the heat in the Caribbean, it’s not like your delivery person can load up everything in the morning and deliver throughout the day. Almost everything stays in the cold room until it’s brought to you. This helps to extend the life of the flowers through your ceremony, wedding pictures and the reception.
9 – Skip corsages and give your moms a couple of stems of flowers tied in a keepsake bouquet with a ribbon to match yours. Corsages are more expensive because they can be labor intensive to make. They’re heavy and don’t hang well when pinned to lightweight fabrics (like most will be wearing in the Caribbean), and nobody wants to wear a bush on her arm anymore. It’s just very, very out of style.
10 – Stay true to what you know you like. Don’t let a pushy florist or a know-it-all wedding planner destroy the vision you’ve got in your head for your flowers. Listen to them — because if they’re telling you that certain flowers won’t work in that locale, you need to take their advice — but look to them for alternatives to your first choice. For example, if you’ve always wanted pink tulips, pink callas might fit the bill instead. Stick to the color and texture you have in mind, but be open-minded about other ideas too. Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.
It’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon and I don’t have a wedding this weekend, so I’m off to put on my suit, grab my book and head out for some sunshine!
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!