May 30, 2010

Here comes the DIY bride

It's a new boom in blooms: Couples cut costs by arranging theri own wedding flowers.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Julie Chasse can't see spending thousands of dollars on something she might throw away in a few days.

click image to enlarge

Alario-Miller ordered two kinds of roses and lots of daisies. She covered a wedding archway, above, made bouquets and boutonnieres and decorated the cake with daisies and an airplane, below.

Courtesy photo

click image to enlarge

Courtesy photo


TO SEE A video tutorial on making your own wedding floral arrangements, go to

FOR A LIST of places to buy cut flowers in Maine, go to the website of the Maine State Florists and Growers Association at

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.


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 ( 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,

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