Don’t Try to Do Your Own Flowers for a Destination Wedding

Good morning!

Is the title of this blog entry direct enough for you? DO NOT TRY TO DO YOUR OWN FLOWERS FOR YOUR CARIBBEAN DESTINATION WEDDING.  Just wanted to make sure we’re clear on this.

I’ve written before about the differences between tropical flowers and “local” flowers so I won’t go there today, but if you’ve read that one you know that most of the beautiful local flowers you see around the island are very heat sensitive and will wilt immediately after cutting unless they’re kept in water.  So they don’t work for bouquets and stuff like that.  Enough on that subject.

So why can’t you do your own flowers for your destination wedding?  After all, you know plenty of people who have done their own bouquets or had them done by a talented aunt or bridesmaid.  Why should you have to pay a florist to do what somebody else could do for you for free?

On most little Caribbean islands, all of the flowers for your wedding will have to be shipped in from another bigger island.  And those flowers have been shipped in from the mainland to the first island before they can be sent to your destination.  First and foremost, you need a reputable and reliable florist simply to get the flowers you want to the island before your wedding.  An experienced Caribbean florist knows where to go when one wholesaler drops the ball or doesn’t get in the shipments of a specific flower you need for your special day.

So let’s say you agree with me about getting the flowers on the island, but you still think you can arrange them yourselves once you get the flowers in hand.  Maybe, maybe not.  First, the bride cannot arrange the flowers.  You, my dear, are going to be very, very busy the day of your wedding.  You will also feel distracted and not able to focus on any one task at hand.  And don’t count on being of much help to your aunt or friend who is trying to arrange the flowers because you’re going to be much too busy doing other things.

Basic floral supplies like wire, tape, ribbon, bouquet forms, and containers are not readily available on small Caribbean islands.  These items have to be brought in from a bigger island and you are very, very unlikely to find them in shops at your destination.  So you figure you can bring all the supplies and you’re fine, right?  Maybe.  But can you risk that?  What if you don’t have enough ribbon after all to wrap all the bouquet stems?  If something gets broken on the way to the island, how are you going to replace it once you get there?  You’re not.

If your budget is so tight that you don’t think you can afford the flowers you want, lower your expectations.  Choose to have only bouquets for yourself and the bridesmaids.  Give each mom a single flower, and skip the boutineres for the men entirely if they’re not wearing jackets.  They hang funny on shirts anyway.  Come up with centerpieces that use candles instead of flowers.

Tell the florist your exact budget when you first meet with him.  Be honest about how much you have to work with and a good florist will help you stretch your dollar.  He can recommend lesser expensive flowers in colors that meet what you’ve been imagining.  He can help you choose bouquets that are less expensive in style, and guide you away from the ones that cost a mint to create.

Your wedding planner should put the brakes on any plan you have to do your own flowers.  If she’s willing to do them with you or for you, be damned sure you talk to at least three brides who she has previously done flowers for.  Look, we can’t all be experts on everything, can we?  If you assume that your wedding planner is the expert on planning the wedding and all that goes with it, you can’t expect her to also be a florist.  She should be busy coordinating all the other elements of your wedding on that day anyway.  Any wedding planner who takes on too many vendor tasks in order to line her own pockets is not someone you should be working with.  I know how busy I am on the day of the wedding, and I sure don’t have time to make bouquets, bake a wedding cake, and do the wedding party hair and makeup all at the same time I’m coordinating setup with the rental company, decorating your reception site and shepherding you through the process of becoming the most fabulously gorgeous bride the island has ever seen.  Your wedding planner should hire the experts to take on all these other tasks.

Okay, so let’s review — the lesson of the day was?  Don’t even THINK about trying to save a few bucks by doing your own wedding flowers for a Caribbean destination wedding.  And no, I am not getting any kickbacks from the Florists of America for telling you this.

I’m off to take a bride to meet with a florist now.  She’s here on the island for a planning weekend because her wedding is still 11 months away and we’re just getting started.  Then it’s up to see the villa she’s going to rent for her wedding weekend.  They’re having the reception there after they get married on the beach.  It’s a fabulous place — just recently completed — and I can’t wait to see how it finally turned out.

I’ll write again tomorrow — HAPPY WEDDING PLANNING!


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