D.I.Y. wedding flowers ~ centerpieces

Are you ready for this?! This is the post where we show you how to design the big floral pieces for your wedding–it’s so exciting! We’re going to explore several possibilities, talking you through the pros and cons of each one.  Unless noted, each of these designs is arranged in a glass container with a florist’s-tape grid across the opening to support the stems.  For information on getting your flowers prepped for design, click here.  For information about design tools click here.  Let’s start with a splash, shall we?


This piece (and its twin) graced the altar at a summer wedding.  Crammed with gladiolus, roses, hydrangea, and lilies, it was feminine and gorgeous!  If you want a similarly lavish look, choose at least one type of flower with very long stems/stalks.

altar piece with pink roses and gladiolus, white roses and hydrangea

altar piece with pink roses, lilies, & gladiolus, and white roses & hydrangea

Flowers: The longer the stems, the better. At least one extra-long-stemmed flower type is essential to create the fanned shape at the back. Designs of this scale also look spectacular with draping flowers, such as orchids, placed near the opening of the vase so they look like they’re spilling over.

Container: Tall cylinder or trumpet vase. The photo shows a glass cylinder wrapped in pink satin ribbon ruching.

Difficulty: Considerable. The more flowers needed to fill a container, the longer it takes to complete the piece.  A person with limited floral design experience may begin to feel overwhelmed long before the piece is finished.  If you plan one or more large-scale pieces, allow plenty of time to complete them–possibly up to two hours each if you’re a beginner.  

Expense: This depends partly on which flowers you choose, but think about something of this scale being in the $100 range.  If you’re dying for this look but want to execute it for less, ask your florist for suggestions.

Build it! This piece was made to be viewed from the front only, since it was positioned against a wall.  The designer started with a greenery base, then placed the tallest flowers in the back and worked forward in a height gradient.  Notice the triangular shape of the whole design: more flowers are placed across the “bottom,” which in terms of the vase is the shortest, front-most position.


On the other end of the size spectrum is this sweet Mason jar of hydrangea, statice, hosta, and turkey grass.  Simple vases like this can be tailored to any décor, not just country chic.  More ideas below!

Flowers: Shorter flowers, or flowers that can be cut short, are your best bet here.  Steer clear of line flowers such as delphinium, larkspur, bells of Ireland, and gladiolus.  Match bloom size to vase size too.  A large Gerbera daisy bloom could almost overwhelm a tiny vase, so consider scale.

Container: Let your imagination run wild!  Jars, teacups, upcycled soda bottles (Izze, anyone?), and so on–if it can hold water, it can be a vase!

Difficulty: Almost no difficulty whatsoever.  We’ll be so bold as to say you’ll be less stressed after assembling these easy-as-pie arrangements.

Expense: Again, it depends on the flowers, but these could easily be $10 or less, even factoring in the cost of the container.

Build it! No tape grid needed; just cut stems to a suitable length and drop them into water!


Marriage is all about monogamy; we get it–but no bride has to commit to one type of flower arrangement at her wedding.  Who says three’s a crowd?  One of our most popular reception designs involves the interplay of three different looks, randomized among the tables.

Flowers: Each look should complement the others, so try to maintain one color palette even as you explore varied designs.

Container: Two tall styles and one low style. Here you see a tall cylinder, a large bubble bowl, and a tall trumpet vase.

Difficulty: You can make these as simple or as complex as you like. The submerged orchid arrangement (pictured above left) is almost as easy as the Mason jar arrangement from the Simple design.  The bubble bowl requires more flowers, and therefore more time–estimated thirty minutes, while the trumpet would be the most labor-intensive and time-consuming–estimated up to an hour.

Expense: From $10 to $100.

Build it! CYLINDER: Use waxed string to tie a fishing weight to the bottom of orchid stems.  Gently lower the orchids into about an inch of water in the vase, turning them however you want them to be displayed.  Use a tube to pour marbles around the bottom of the vase, covering the weight.  Add enough water to cover the marbles.  Do not submerge orchids until a few hours before the reception.  If left underwater overnight their petals may bleed color or become translucent.

BUBBLE BOWL: Working from center to edge, fill in with a light base of greenery, then add flowers from largest to smallest.  (Place all the large ones then fill in gaps with small ones.)

TRUMPET: See the Grand design, just use fewer flowers!  Here the tall flower is larkspur, and the design is more rounded than triangular, as the piece is meant to be seen from all sides.


If you still have areas that need a little touch of color, these cocktail cakes are one of our favorite ways to sweeten up a bar or buffet area.

Flowers: Anything that can be cut short and will last in floral foam.  Some flowers dehydrate too quickly; ask your florist.

Container: Ceramic hors d’oeuvres plate or other dish that matches your decor and can hold a small water puddle.

Difficulty: This is pretty easy too.  You just have to be right the first (or second) time you stab a stem into the Oasis foam or the foam will be destroyed and you’ll have to start over with a new piece.

Expense: These Starfighter lilies are usually close to $8 per stem, but you can harvest multiple blossoms from one stem.  With one stunning bloom and a little filler, you could probably complete each cocktail cake for around $15.

Build it! Soak Oasis foam bricks in water until they are fully saturated.  Using a steel can with both ends removed, punch circles from the foam.  Safety first, ladies–use a can with completely smooth edges!  Wrap a ribbon around the edge of the foam circle and pin in place.  Poke a few pieces of greenery into the foam, then top it off with lovely flowers.  If you make these in advance, press the foam to check the water level.  If it seems that the foam is drying out at all, pour on a little water to wet it again.  We recommend making these within 24 hours of your event but not earlier than that.

Got some ideas now?  All of these basic templates are so easily adaptable that we’re sure you can find a way to make your big day truly burst with your own flower style!  If you have other D.I.Y. ideas to share with your fellow self-reliant brides, share them in the comments!

Posted in D.I.Y. flowers, Receptions Tagged with: ,

D.I.Y. wedding flowers ~ bride’s bouquet

For most brides, creating the perfect bridal bouquet comes second only to finding the perfect wedding dress.  Your bouquet will be with you all day, appear in most of your photos, and become an integral part of your wedding memories.  No pressure but…you really want to get it right!

white peony bouquet with ivory satin wrap and tulle embellishment made from bride’s mother’s veil

In this post we’ll talk you through the steps to assembling a balanced and beautiful bridal bouquet, and we have plenty of pictures (scroll down to see).  If you’re anxious about floral design, rest assured this is something you can do!  If you want an especially large bouquet, enlist a friend’s help–so much the better if that friend has large hands.  You’ll see why in a minute.


Let’s start at the verrry beginning: bouquet design.  Think about a few things:

1. What time of year is your wedding?  Certain flowers have a brief growing season–peonies/ranunculus/anemones, I’m looking at you!  Many of the hardest-to-get flowers are also favored for bridal designs, so just be aware that you will pay more for these beauties if you insist on having them out of season.*  Ask yourself if you have to have exactly what you saw in the bridal magazine, or if it’s really just the color, mood, or bouquet shape that attracts you.  Those aspects can likely be recreated with flowers that are easier to find.

*We’re writing this from our perspective as a family-owned business in Iowa.  There is a chance that in larger urban areas or moderate climates flower availability may work more in your favor.

2. What is your vision for the wedding as an event?  Do you expect your guests to come in boots, ready to “scoot and boogie?”  Or is yours more of a high heels and coattails kind of evening?  There are no hard-and-fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t have, thank goodness, but you may want to consider the “mood” of your bouquet in the context of your whole event.  We think you’ll agree that it would look kind of funny if a bride walked down the aisle dressed in  a crystal-laden, cathedral-train gown and carrying a little tussy-mussy of daisies.  No one is saying she can’t, but you know what we mean, right?  Some things don’t seem to work as well as others.

3. What bouquet shape do you prefer?  This one goes along with the second question but deserves its own treatment because, for the most part, any flowers can be arranged into any design shape.  We’ll tell you right now that if you want a cascade like any of these, your best bet is to hire a professional.  Each flower must be wired in to a cascade to create that luscious, draping shape, and–you guessed it–they’re a real pain to make!  They can also be more expensive than a simpler design, but you may think it’s worthwhile to pay for such a showstopper and then save money by making simpler bridesmaid’s bouquets yourself.  Also consider your own size and shape.  A petite bride can easily be overshadowed if her bouquet is too large.  Your flowers should be stunning, but you should steal the show!


Order your flowers as early as possible, especially if you’re using flowers your local florist doesn’t order on a regular basis.  We have to book flowers in advance with our suppliers to give them time to find a grower who has the right thing.  (Much as we’d like you to think we do this all by magic, it really takes a bit of planning!)  Call your florist to confirm your order and make sure everything is pre-booked at least two weeks before your wedding.

Beware that after this final confirmation you may be locked in to your order.  In other words, if you change your mind about what color of roses you want you may still be expected to purchase the ones you originally ordered. This is especially true if your florist doesn’t think she can sell the special-ordered flower in the store.  Talk up front about the latest date for making changes, and be sure each of you clearly understands the agreement.  Be sure to add to your order any florist’s supplies you need.


When you pick up your flowers the week of the wedding, be sure to condition them according to these directions.  After they’ve properly hydrated, assemble your flowers and tools on a work surface.  We recommend something at least the size of a dining table or kitchen counter.  You may be surprised how much a project like this can spread out!


One more list, real quick–you’ll need:

1. Flowers, obviously.  Some greenery too.

2. A sharp knife.

3. A pair of garden shears or snippers.

4. Quick Dip if you’re using any roses.

5. Waterproof florist’s tape (to bind the bouquet).  This is the dark green stuff with threads running through it, not the soft stretchy stuff.

6. Satin ribbon in a color that matches your dress or complements your bouquet.  We almost always use either white or ivory.

7. Pearl-head straight pins.

8. Crowning Glory in a spray bottle.

9. A friend with large hands, maybe?  Or a friend with wine and chocolate!  Then again, why choose?  Invite them both.


Have everything you need?

Okay, first step:gather some greenery in one hand.

We used flat cedar and seeded eucalyptus for this romantic February wedding.

Flat Cedar

Seeded Eucalyptus

Now visualize the finished project you are about to create and, based on that image, decide which flowers you want to use first.  We usually add flowers one type at a time, layering with greenery as we go.  For this bouquet we started with red hypericum berries.

Loosely hold the stems in your fist, pulling them up or down a little to position them nicely.  Add some more greenery if you need it.  Next, layer in another flower type.  We moved from berries to tulips.  Insert the new stems in around those you’re already holding, with a view toward spreading out the new type amid the first type.  Unless you’re going for a really artsy or contrived look, you’ll want to avoid having a clump of this next to a clump of that; you want things nicely balanced and blended.

Just keep going.  Layer in each new flower type, with greenery as needed for support and aesthetics.  This is where a large-handed friend may be your lifeline.  You may not think so now, but it can be very tiring for your hand to grip a bundle of stems once that bundle exceeds the circumference of, say, a rolling pin.  It gets sort of heavy too.  At least at your wedding you get to hold your bouquet with two hands!

We had so many flowers to include that two of us ended up cooperating to complete this bad boy.

When you have all the blossoms positioned prettily, have your friend help you bind the bouquet with waterproof florist’s tape.  Start as close to the tops of the blossoms as you can.  Don’t worry; you’re going to hide the tape next.  Wrap snugly so there’s no flexibility for a stem to slide out of position.  Wrap twice for good measure.

Next, gather some greenery and make a little “collar” of leaves around the top of the taped bouquet.  Arrange stems of greenery all around the bouquet’s perimeter, making it look finished–and covering up the tape that’s holding it together.  Tape this greenery in position, but place the tape near the middle of the stems’ length this time, not up at the top.

Now you can wrap the stems in ribbon and all the tape will be hidden!  Beautiful, no?

After wrapping the ribbon several times around the stems, working with slight overlaps from top to bottom, we fold under the end of the ribbon and pin it in place.  We usually use pearl pins, but if you want to use something else go for it!  This is the time to use shears to trim the flower stems to an even length so the bouquet looks finished.  Keep it in a couple inches of water until the ceremony.  Remember to pack paper towels to dab the stems dry before holding them near your dress!

So what do you think?  Is this a project you’d take on?  Any ladies who made their own bouquet, or made one for a sister or friend, chime in with anything you learned from your experience!

Posted in Bridal Bouquets, D.I.Y. flowers Tagged with: ,

how much do flowers cost?

We find that many of our customers feel out of their depth when trying to decide how much to spend on flowers.  Since we do this all day every day, let us give you some information we hope you’ll find helpful.

For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll assume you want to send flowers to Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin, Solon, or West Branch.  (For other areas see the section on out-of-town orders.)

Many of the pieces we design on a daily basis cost somewhere between $45 and $75.*  We design in two basic “shapes,” which we call low & lush and tall & airy.  Low & lush means the vase is short in relation to its width. The large bubble bowl pictured here is filled with Asiatic lilies, roses, Gerbera daisies, yarrow, hypericum berries, variegated pittosporum, and spiral eucalytpus.  It costs about $60 for a low & lush design with this many flowers.

The other basic design we use is tall & airy, which means the vase is tall in relation to its width.  In the tall & airy design below, the flowers are grouped much more loosely, with more space in between, than in the low & lush design above.  The tall & airy look can give a sense that these flowers have just been brought in from the backyard garden, but it can also be done in a more stylized way, such as in a traditional funeral piece where the flowers are almost rigidly fanned out.  We prefer the more natural look.  This arrangement would cost around $75, though something similar could be done for less by using fewer flowers.

When cost is not the main concern, we love to design with tropical flowers.  For our part of the country, these are a special-order item; it’s your lucky day if we just happen to have them on hand.  Many tropicals cost $5 to $8 apiece, but you only need a few for a showstopper!  This mossy basket with birds of paradise, anthurium, mini calla lilies, and a bromeliad plant would cost about $75.  Considering that bromeliads bloom for months, that’s not half bad.  We also like the look of several dendrobium orchid stems in a cylinder vase–it’s classy and understated, but definitely gets people’s attention!

By no means are low & lush or tall & airy mixed bouquets your only options.  You can also fill a vase with just one kind of flower, as we did in this small cube with several colors of mini calla lilies.  The birch sticks add a little height, and small green hydrangea function more as greenery than as focal flowers.  A sweet something like this could cost quite a bit if the market price for mini callas is high (which it sometimes is–just ask).  That being said, a similar look with tulips (in season) would cost about $45.

For something even simpler, you can have us wrap up flowers if you think the person you’re sending them to is likely to have a vase on hand.  This bunch of pink alstroemeria looks gorgeous placed in a vase just as it is.  Our prices for wraps range from $25 to $100, which is about the maximum amount of flowers we can bundle without breaking any.

Now that you have some visuals to guide your selection process, here’s the really mathy part if you’re into that:

What Does it Cost to Send Flowers?
It depends. Here are some factors:

Ordering online (processing fee)
A $4.99 processing fee, charged by our network, applies to all online orders. None of that money ever comes to us. If you want to avoid the added cost, our staff is more than happy to assist you over the phone. Call toll-free at 866-351-7242.

Ordering by Phone (no fee)
We accept Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. If you feel more comfortable giving your credit card information directly to us, please feel free to call us. If we are not here leave us a phone number and a time window as to when we should call you. We always check our messages and we can return calls any time after 8:30 a.m. on weekdays, per your instructions.  On Saturdays we open at 9:00.

If you call us you will be speaking with Maja, Sanja, Chelsea, Denise, Liz, Maria F., or Maria W.

Si lo prefiere, María W. es fluido en español. Por favor llámenos de lunes a viernes de 8-12. Gracias.

You may also email us at [email protected]  We check and respond to emails throughout the day.


A bouquet wrapped in cellophane and tissue paper rings up for the cost of the flowers alone.

A bouquet arranged in a vase rings up for the cost of the flowers, the cost of the vase, and the designer’s labor.


Flower costs vary by type. For example, hydrangea cost more than daisies, but hydrangea also fill more space than daisies.

Costs also vary somewhat with the seasons. For example, the cost of roses increases around Valentine’s Day.  We don’t control these price fluctuations; we simply charge an industry-standard markup over what our suppliers charge us.  We do compare prices between suppliers in an effort to keep our prices reasonable for our customers.

Delivery fees

Iowa City/Coralville $7.00

We’re minutes away from the University of Iowa campus and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. We make deliveries there daily.

North Liberty/Tiffin $12.00

Hills/Solon/West Branch $15.00

Out-of-Town Orders

We are always happy to handle the details of our customers’ out-of-town orders, but we feel it is beneficial to explain how the costs break down so customers know what they are getting.

For all orders going outside our delivery area, there is a $7.00 service fee for us to send your order to another florist in our network.

The minimum for a florist-to-florist order is $45.00 for the arrangement itself. We don’t always know the market prices of flowers in other regions, though we can make educated guesses. Generally we count on $45 buying a fairly small vase arrangement.

Delivery costs about $10 in most metro areas. Taking all this into consideration, the least expensive florist-to-florist order costs $62.00 plus tax. (You are charged the local tax, not the tax in the destination city.*) In smaller towns, charges such as delivery may differ; please ask if you are not sure what amount is suitable for where your order needs to go.

All out-of-town orders must be handled over the phone; we are unable to accept out-of-town orders online.

*Note: all prices are approximate and DO NOT include tax.  Currently Iowa state and Iowa City local tax add 7% to any total.

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: