Choose flowers that are in-season and locally grown as out of season flowers are often more expensive and can include transportation costs. Your local florist will be able to assist you with what is cheapest in what season (whether they do wedding flowers or not your local corner florist can be a wealth of information).
Buying flowers and arranging them yourself can save money, but it can also add a stress to your day as this is not something you can do in advance. In order to stop flowers wilting it is recommended that most (depending on the variety) are wired, and this is time consuming if you’ve never done it before.
Bulk up your bouquet with foliage to save on the cost of the actual flowers.
Don’t go to a florist that specialises in wedding flowers. You will pay a premium.
I went to the florist that my reception venue used and recommended and who advertises as doing wedding flowers. I got a quote based on a picture I saw in a magazine. It took a week to get a written quote back, and I thought it was a bit extravagant. I then went to a florist in my local shopping strip and asked if they did wedding flowers. This florist said she could do button holes and corsages but she couldn’t do bridal bouquets. So I then asked if she could just put together a simple bouquet for my wedding and showed her my magazine picture. The florist immediately said yes, and her quote was less than half of the first quote I got! My flowers looked gorgeous on the day and got lots of comments, and I only paid $175 for myself, my bridesmaid, five button holes and three corsages.
Limit your flowers (and other wedding decorations) to what the guests will see most of throughout your wedding. For example, don’t pay extra for flowers at the church if the church is pretty enough without them. Don’t pay extra for flowers at the reception venue if you can put your and your bridal party’s flowers in a vase as decorations (they are just going to sit around dying, you might as well make good use of them!)
Candles are a fraction of the cost of flowers and still look elegant as centre pieces on tables. You can save them and use them for other events, give them to guests as gifts afterwards, or sell them to other bride to be’s after your wedding.
Ask at your local horiculture club, floristry school, TAFE (for students studying floristry) and hire one of these people to do the arranging for you. They might also be able to pick up bargain flowers at wholesalers for you.
Consider flower alternatives for the bride, such as carrying a bible down the isle.
Use ribbon to decorate the ceremony venue and reception venue instead of flowers. Ribbon can be purchased inexpensively from discount variety stores and re-used.
While fake flowers used to make everyone cringe, you can now buy great material flowers that look just like the real thing. While they are often as expensive (or more expensive depending upon what and where you buy them) than the real thing, they last forever, and can be on-sold to other brides after your wedding.
If you are wanting to decorate your ceremony venue with flowers, be selective with placement and only decorate the entrance, back row and front of the church, where they are going to make the greatest impact.
If you are using rose petals for decoration or sprinkling, buy your roses from a standard corner shop rather than a wedding specialist. You will get better quality petals from roses that are half way open also, and these older flowers will be cheaper than the more attractive buds.
If you are using a florist to arrange and deliver your flowers to your venues, ensure your quote covers delivery charges. If your florist charges extra or unreasonable amounts for delivery, can you get a friend to pick up and deliver your flowers on the day?
Many florists who are wedding specialists will promote their services by offering extras such as a free throw away bouquet with the bridal bouquet. Treat these with suspicion, because the wedding industry don’t offer anything for “free”. Do you really want a throw away bouquet? Ask the florist what it would cost without the throw away, and I’m positive their price would come down.
Do you have a relative or friend with a garden full of flowers that you could take your bouquet from? Or table decorations from?
Ask a friend to do the flowers for the ceremony or reception venue for you as a wedding gift (or put it on your gift register – I can guarantee it will be one of the first things taken as it is more special than a cutlery set or some sheets).
Some florists also work from home on the side, and they will arrange your flowers (provided by you) for cheaper than their retail outlet.
Road side flower vans offer cheaper flowers than retail stores (they pay less up front costs such as rent) however disadvantages include:
- You often can’t order your flowers from them in advance;
- Don’t count on them actually being there the day of your wedding (even if they have been every day previously – it’s too hard to predict);
- The flowers may not have been treated with as much care as a professional florist and therefore may not last as long.
I’ve seen people on wedding forums talk about getting cheap flowers from Safeway / Woolworths and Coles and having them re-arranged. There are things to beware of here too:
- The flowers are stored here day and night, while most florists will refrigerate their flowers overnight to help them stay healthy.
- The water the flowers are stored in is not changed regularly. Florists do this daily, sometimes twice a day or more to help them stay healthy.
Make your own cake and get a professional to decorate it.
Go one step further and make and decorate your own cake. Books available from your local library can get you started with basic decorating techniques, and edible and non-edible embelishments can be bought from homeware and speciality food shops. You can even buy gorgeous pre-made edible decorations from ebay!
Have a small cake for decoration with a larger and non-decorated cake to actually serve to your guests. No one will ever know!
Polystyrene cakes have just started doing the rounds. These are display cakes (like the above point) and decorated so professionally that no one will ever know they difference. Because they are not made of food stuffs they can be used over and over again, and are therefore cheaper than a real cake. Then your only expense is the actual cake that you serve your guests (which can be anything, from anywhere, and made by anyone because how it looks doesn’t matter!).
Ring the cake decorators association in your state (you can find them in the yellow pages or on the internet) for a list of people who decorate as a hobby. You can get a lovely cake for a fraction of the cost.
I didn’t have a cake at all. I have never understood the cake cutting tradition and doing this was not important to me (or my husband). Of all the weddings I have been to I have either not eaten the cake I have been served because I’ve been too full, or they’ve given it to me in a little bag to take home, and that ends up sitting on the kitchen bench for a week before it goes all hard and crusty and I throw it in the bin. We mentioned the missing cake to a few of our guests after the wedding and they said they didn’t even notice. The time we saved by not cutting a cake was spent on the dance floor partying.
The best option for saving in this area is not to have bonbonniere at all. I didn’t have them at my wedding and I don’t think anyone even noticed. This is a non-essential item that can save you hundreds, or you could spend what you’ve saved on having better entertainment or food for your guests at your reception. You don’t need to give your guests a gift for coming to your wedding, you are already giving them free entertainment, food and drinks.
Get some ideas on what you want and then make them yourself, these are great places to start:
Check out the specials at http://www.bonbonniere.com.au
Get some candy with your names or wedding date on it from http://www.roccandy.com.au/. It may end up cheaper than other ideas and comes with the novelty factor.
Buy a small photo frame (you can get these in variety stores or from some of the sites listed above for under $2), put your guest’s name in it and it can double as a place card.
There are literally hundreds of ideas for cheap bonbonniere, it’s really up to your imagination! While you’re brainstorming though, keep this one thing in mind – is it practical? What you think looks cute or whimsical may not get taken home by your guests, or may be thrown out as soon as it is taken home. Don’t throw your money in the bin!
The Wedding Dress
The Bridesmaid Dresses, The Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire
Hair, Makeup & Jewellery, Shoes
The Ceremony & Music
The Reception Venue, Catering & Drinks
The Flowers, Cake & Bonbonniere (Favors)
Invitations, The Bridal Shower, Hen’s Night & Buck’s Night
The Gifts & The Honeymoon