Homestead Stories: Growing Wedding Flowers

Melissa Hartner / Insteading

I am the do-it-yourself type. Why hire someone to do it if you can do it yourself? This is my mantra, and part of the reasoning behind this mentality of mine is saving money. I am not cheap, but I am frugal. The main reason I enjoy tackling all sorts of projects is the experience you can gain from it. I find it enjoyable to try new things!

This mindset has made for an interesting and experience-rich life thus far. Call me crazy, but I truly enjoy tackling all sorts of daunting challenges. This is likely why I decided it would be fun to grow practically all of the flowers for my sister’s wedding a couple of years ago.

My sister, Sherry, is my mini-me not only in looks but in our willingness to try new things and our love of a good deal. Sherry is even more frugal than yours truly! That is likely why she said, “Go for it!” when I asked her if she would like me to grow the flowers for her wedding.

zinnias in vases
Melissa Hartner / Insteading

Well, almost all of them. She felt more comfortable hiring the local florists to create the bouquets that she and her bridesmaids would carry. That left me responsible for centerpieces for about 50 tables! The wedding was scheduled for the end of August, so I decided zinnias, dahlias, and wildflowers would be beautiful and dependable flowers to grow.

The next step was asking my dad if he would be willing to let me take over one of his garden beds for the flowers. My garden at home wouldn’t be big enough, and everything grows better in my dad’s garden anyway. His green thumb outshines mine (and he approved the idea)!

Planting the Wedding Flower Garden Bed

We discussed our plan in the winter months and when spring finally arrived, Sherry, my dad, and I all gathered together on a beautiful Saturday in May to prepare and plant the garden. Preparation included tilling compost into the garden. We happened to have aged duck and chicken manure, so that is what we utilized.

The garden bed was roughly 10 by 20 feet. My dad kindly purchased the seeds and as I recall, he had around 15 packages or so. We created 5 or 6 very straight rows. Very straight thanks to my dad who has it down to a science. When left to my own devices, my rows are quite crooked and haphazard. In my home garden, no big deal, but that wouldn’t fly in Dad’s garden!

Melissa Hartner / Insteading

We followed the directions on the back of the seed packets for how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart they needed to be. It was a time-consuming process, but quite enjoyable thanks to the company and gorgeous weather.

Once all our seeds were planted, we gave the garden a good soaking with the garden hose. Throughout the summer, my dad and I tended to the garden which entailed weeding and watering. My dad did the bulk of both because he enjoys weeding. Strange, but true! When the flowers began blooming in July, the entire garden was breathtakingly beautiful! It proved to be a favorite hangout for the neighborhood bees and butterflies.

Cutting and Preparing the Flowers

When the big day finally arrived at the end of August, I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and was at my parents shortly thereafter armed with lots of 5-gallon buckets, large coolers, and a pickup truck. I enlisted the help of my wonderful friend, Tracy, who had formerly worked in a flower shop, to help me gather all the flowers and arrange them in vases.

Donned in mud boots and raincoats, we spent hours cutting flowers. We also had my dad (and a few awesome relatives who were in town for the wedding) join forces with us in the garden. It was a real family affair! Their help was much appreciated and indispensable.

zinnia flower
Melissa Hartner / Insteading

With flowers in tow, we headed to the venue. Once there, we sprang into action trimming flowers with scissors, filling vases with water, and arranging the flowers just right in each vase. I originally thought just Tracy and I would be dealing with the flowers, but thankfully, the same relatives who helped in the garden also helped cut and arrange the flowers. My cousin even ended up heading back to the house to bring back more flowers when we realized we were a bit short!

We spread a tarp on the floor where we cut the flowers which made clean up a breeze. Not only did we fill every vase, we also used the flowers to place around the amazing cupcakes my aunt made for the wedding. They looked stunning!

flowers in vases
Melissa Hartner / Insteading

If you like the idea of growing flowers for a loved one’s wedding (or your own), but don’t have the time or space to do it, consider reaching out to your local CSA (community supported agriculture). They may be willing to grow the flowers for you and allow you to come out and pick them to put together the bouquets on your own.

There are quite a few farms set up exactly this way, and it’s always nice to keep your dollars local and support local growers! You’ll save money and have fun hand selecting your very own flowers! Costs will depend on each farm or CSA, but will likely be cheaper than hiring a florist and having flowers shipped in from across the country and arranged for you. The average couple in America spends $1,400 for wedding flowers!

flowers in vase
Melissa Hartner / Insteading

You can also purchase flowers from your local farmer’s market. That’s what a friend of mine did for her small wedding and her bridesmaids arranged them in vases the morning of the wedding. You don’t have to be a florist to create a beautiful bouquet of flowers. All it requires is an eye for beauty and a little creativity!

My sister was very happy with how beautiful the flowers turned out and very grateful for how much work went into making it happen! I realized that even a do-it-yourselfer like me still depends on others to make grand things happen!

Written by Melissa Hartner

Melissa Hartner grew up on a hobby farm in central Minnesota. She loved helping take care of the animals and gardens. She is now married and has four daughters. When she isn't writing, she is busy homeschooling, gardening, cooking, painting, reading, and taking care of animals!

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