Brides Daily

Flower Arranging for the DIY Bride

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Courtesy of Joyce Bautista

From my first visit a couple of years ago to her shop, Saipua, I fell head over heels for Sarah Ryhanen's loose, lush flower arrangements. I even troll her store's website to see her latest wedding creations, and follow her blog just to see what she ate for breakfast or what color she painted her nails. (I know—a little obsessive—but that's how awesome I think she is).

As part of a Christmas present, a friend of mine bought spots for herself and me at a flower-arranging class. Sarah teaches with Nicolette Owen at Sarah's shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn, out of which she and her partner, Eric, also sell deliciously scented handmade soaps. For my tiny wedding ceremony, 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, what I learned in the class will help me make my own bouquet (a risk, to be sure), a boutonniere for my groom, and even the arrangements at the Brooklyn reception (that is, unless I totally chicken out and just ask Sarah to do it). Here are some of her tips and tricks for hand-tied bouquets:

1) Form a "web," using filler flowers and greenery, at about a 45-degree angle from your fist. This will create a base in which to start placing your featured blooms. (I find it easier to arrange in a vase than to do it all in one hand.)

2) Highlight or "face" flowers (i.e., the big beauties you spend the big bucks on) should be grouped in odd numbers. Same goes for table arrangements.

3) Place those featured flowers at different heights. Think of the arrangement as an obtuse triangle, with the flowers radiating down gradually as you move away from the highest point (not necessarily the smack-dab middle).

4) Vary texture by combining silky petals of roses and hydrangeas with the velvety touch of cockscomb or sage and the many delicate little blooms of Queen Anne's lace. For variation, try kangaroo paws, dusty millers, and black lace.

5) Berries and eucalyptus don't need to be in water, so they can be tucked into an arrangement last to fill in gaps. This also makes them perfect for boutonnieres.

6) Last, think creatively about your filler. As you'll see from my own attempt below, the ancillary flowers can add the personal whimsy that make your bouquet as unique and special as your day.

I wish I could fly Sarah and her crew to the West Coast for my very intimate ceremony. However, at least I now have some working knowledge and lots of inspiration to forge ahead on my own. If you're a DIY enthusiast (or have talented and eager friends), a class in your city may be just the thing to get you inspired. —Joyce Bautista, BRIDES Features Department

Would you ever do your own wedding flowers? Do you think I'm totally nuts to do them on my own?

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