What are my options for getting wedding flowers?
Selecting and ordering flowers for your wedding
Then, flowers are used extensively as decorations during the ceremony (think ceremony site decorations, arbor decorations, flowers for the flower girl, decorations for the limo, etc.) and reception (reception decorations, table centerpieces, etc.) Some of these may already be included as part of the package you have negotiated with a particular vendor (limo service company will likely decorate the limo for you, your ceremony venue and your reception venue may already have some decorations, etc.) For the rest, depending on your budget and desires, there are a few options for you to consider.
Flowers for the wedding ceremony
To begin, the bridal bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets are probably the only "must-have" flower arrangements you will need at your wedding. That is, your guests would quickly notice if these were missing, while any other places where flowers are used in a wedding are really optional. Think of a wedding you attended over a year ago - can you recall the details of the flower decorations during the ceremony? Do you remember what the centerpiece was like, or if there even was one?
The truth of the matter is that unless the centerpieces (or other decorations) were something spectacular or very unusual, your guests are not going to notice or remember these, so it's up to you to decide how much budget to dedicate to flower arrangements and decorations (we at WeddingVenture.com keep hearing mixed emotions about the centerpieces - but most people seem to come to the opinion that they were not really necessary after the fact).
Regardless of what you decide, here are some sources of flowers for you to consider:
Order flowers from a florist.
This is definitely the most expensive option. A typical bridal bouquet would cost you $100-$250 on average, while the bridesmaids' bouquets usually range from $60 to $100. These costs will run up. The main advantage of having a florist, however, is that if you are very particular about the shade of the flowers (or the actual flowers) you want as part of your floral arrangement, the florist will offer you a wide variety of choices and help you pick out what you need.
Flowers from a local store or online (great for wedding reception flowers).
Most large supermarkets (Safeway, QFC, and, especially, Costco) have floral departments that can be pretty large in some cases. That might work, but that's not what you really need.
Many of such stores carry catalogs of special occasion bouquets and wedding flower collections. These are typically cheaper than the flowers you would get directly from your local florist (a typical bridal bouquet would cost $60-100, for example). However, there is little or no room for negotiation on the price as well what would be included in the package (or in which quantities).
Also, as these flowers are generally shipped a few days before the wedding, they are typically not as fresh as those found at your local florist (some flowers may also be damaged during the shipment).
If you are shopping online, we at WeddingVenture.com tend to notice one fact - the moment you specify on a site that you need the flowers for the wedding, not just a ton or red roses for "any" occasion, the price automatically gets multiplied by 10 - even it's the same roses that you'd be getting. Watch out for that :)
Other than that, ordering wedding flowers online can give you the most flexibility and choice. Most options would be delivered by local florists anyway - and in most cases, can be delivered overnight.
Do-it-yourself (especially wedding bouquets).
This is definitely the most affordable but also most time-consuming option. You would need to decide what type of a flower bouquets you would want (by scouting local stores' floral departments) well in advance, buy all other necessary supplies (ribbons, ties, pins, etc.), as well as enlist the help of your family and friends who will create the arrangements on the day (or the day before) your wedding.
Most brides' mothers really love helping out with this one, so our advice at WeddingVenture.com: unless you going to order wedding bridal bouquets from a florist, ask your mom if she wants to help with this. Most moms really hope this is something you would ask them to help with. It's a motherly thing to do :)
Choose what you want in your bouquet wisely. Say you decided that you want one large bouquet of red, pink and white roses and three smaller red and white rose bouquets for each of your bridesmaids (these bouquets would be held together by flower ties and have white ribbons around them). Then, you could simply buy all the necessary supplies in advance, get several bouquets of red, pink and white roses from your local Safeway and have your mother (or sister, or best friend) create the bouquets the morning of the ceremony (they will have plenty of time while you are getting your hair and makeup done). You can also use the same trick to create the centerpieces for your table.
One final thing to remember is that many of your friends will bring flowers with them (unless your groom-to-be forgets to remind them) as they first arrive in order to congratulate you. If you arrange for a few empty vases in advance, you can use these flowers you are given to decorate the ceremony/reception venue and the tables. You would need to ask one of your friends or bridesmaids to collect the flowers and put them in the prepared empty vases. Being the bride and everything, you get to make requests like that :)