Julie Chasse can’t see spending thousands of dollars on something she might throw away in a few days.
So Chasse, who is planning her Aug. 28 wedding to Andrew Bouchard in Presque Isle, has decided to do her own wedding floral arrangements.
It’s a trend popping up all over the country as wedding costs climb and people try to stretch dollars in a tight economy. And they’re being encouraged by home-and-garden TV shows, websites and magazines that sing the praises of the do-it-yourself movement.
“I had originally gone to a florist and was quoted about $4 a rose, and I needed about 250 roses, which is about $1,000,” said Chasse, 25, of Windham. “But I can get that same amount of roses online for about $300.”
Chasse and her fiancee are paying for most of their wedding themselves, so saving $700 is significant.
Chasse also thinks it will be fun for herself and members of her bridal party to get together a few days before the wedding and make the floral arrangements.
In Maine, garden centers, nurseries, farms and flower sellers have all seen the effects of this trend.
‘IT’S A WAY TO SAVE A LOT’
Chasse found out about the ability to buy flowers for DIY arrangements on the Internet when she went to the Portland Bridal Show and discovered a Portland company called 48LongStems, an online flower seller.
The company does not have a lot of flowers at its Congress Street office. Instead, it has a website (www.48longstems.com) that allows people to order flowers on the Web and have them shipped from growers at prices well below most retail florists, said company president Michael Geiger.
In the three years he’s owned the business, Geiger has found that people who plan their own weddings make up the fastest-growing segment of his business. So he’s started to go after them by exhibiting at bridal shows and holding flower-arranging classes for prospective brides.
“We’ve gone through a tough time in the economy, and a lot of brides are researching ways to stretch their money,” Geiger said. “If you’re comfortable doing it, it’s a way to save a lot of money.”
Geiger says he can sell some roses for about $1 per stem, compared to $4 or $5 a stem that some florists charge.
Because his business is online, Geiger ships flowers to wedding parties all over the country, including destination weddings. That way, the wedding party will all be there and have time to work on arrangements together.
For example, his business provided the flowers for Miriam Alario-Miller’s wedding on Catalina Island, Calif., on Valentine’s Day 2009. Alario-Miller wanted to save money on flowers so she could spend more on entertaining friends and family.
She ordered two kinds of roses and lots of daisies, and did the arrangements herself with a little help from others at the wedding. She covered a wedding archway, decorated the cake with daisies and an airplane, and made bouquets and boutonnieres.
Alario-Miller spent about $300 to buy the flowers from 48LongStems, and estimates she would have paid at least $800 to a local florist.
“We were having a small wedding, and we wanted to spend more of the money on food and entertainment, the ambience of the event,” said Alario-Miller, who lives in California.
If you search online, you’ll find lots of step-by-step instructions for DIY flower arranging. Local garden centers, nurseries and adult education programs often do workshops on the subject.
Skillins Greenhouses, which has locations in Falmouth, Brunswick and Cumberland, usually does some flower arranging classes in the spring, and has a wedding flower-arranging tutorial on its website, www.skillins.com.
At Little River Flower Farm in Buxton, Nancy Stedman has seen a steady increase in wedding parties coming out to pick flowers for arrangements. Some bring refreshments and make a day of it.
“Because Maine is such a destination for weddings, we’ve had people from all over – Australia, California – come out to pick flowers for arrangements,” said Stedman, who has 10,000 cut flower plants at her farm. “Sometimes they just feel comfortable doing their own centerpieces, and they ask us to do things like bouquets and boutonnieres.”
Stedman said her flower prices are similar to wholesale if people pick them themselves. Snapdragons, for example, cost $9.50 to $11 for 10 stems at her farm.
Besides wanting to save money, Stedman says some people pick their wedding flowers at her farm because they want to “go green.”
“We’re certified organic, and people like that, too,” she said.
While Stedman can provide some arranging help for brides, 48LongStems has a wedding consultant, Karin Ahl, who can help them learn the basics of wedding arrangements, including how to figure out how many flowers they will need.
Or she can suggest less expensive flowers that might give them the same look as more expensive ones, like using a lot of carnations in place of hydrangeas.
“The majority of the questions I get are about how many flowers they’ll need. As far as vases and supplies, every craft store in the world has the basics of what you’ll need,” said Ahl, who has spent 15 years as an event planner.
“People are catching on that doing your own arrangements can be a fairly simple thing to do.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: