Wedding Flowers : Hire a Florist or Do It Yourself

According to our wedding planning estimator, couples in the Milwaukee area spend between $608 and $1,014 for their wedding flowers, on average. That’s pretty consistent with our actual experience in the past year.

It may be more or less in your area, but it’s still a sizable amount of money.

Some brides make the decision to save that expense by doing their own wedding flowers.

I completely understand their thought process, because I’ve made similar choices, too. But is it always the right decision? Here’s how to be sure…

Let me start by giving you an example

Back in late 1997, I decided that the shop needed a web site. I knew exactly what I wanted, so I decided to outline the framework for the site and hire someone to build it for me.

However, after getting back a couple of initial quotes (on average, about $3000), I decided I would save money by building the site myself. I had read and seen a lot about how to build web sites, and frankly, it didn’t look all that difficult. And I knew I could do it myself for a lot less.

Well, as you can imagine, it turned out to be much more of a project than I thought. In addition to laying out the site framework, I was also the programmer, photographer, graphic designer and editor too. But I kept plodding along, reminding myself of how much money I was saving.

Was I wrong? No. Did I work hard? Yes. Was I working smart? Definitely not.

It took me nearly 60 hours over four months, but I finished and launched the site. Had I hired a pro, it would have taken less than a month to be up and running. It also would have been far more cost-effective, after I added up the numbers. Honestly, I did learn a lot going through the process, but I wouldn’t do it again.

It’s The Same With Your Wedding Flowers

Most brides who have done their wedding flowers said they enjoyed the experience and learned quite a bit – but readily admit it may not be the best idea for everyone.

They watched the videos, bought books and read all about “how to do your own wedding flowers”, but still said it was pretty stressful when it came down to “crunch time”.

Even though you can find a lot of how-to information, resources and links on this site and at MilwaukeeFlowerMarket.com as well as MilwaukeeWeddingFlorist.com, it still takes time to

  • Research, find and purchase the necessary flowers and supplies
  • Recruit help
  • Make samples and practice design techniques
  • Process the flowers upon arrival
  • Make all the bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres and any ceremony and/or reception flowers as needed
  • Pick up and return any rental items
  • Transport, set up and remove floral decor from the wedding site(s).

You might think doing all this will only take a few hours. It will take much longer, trust me. In fact, I would probably double the time you planned on, just to be safe.

Keep in mind that most of the work needs to be done in the final hours leading up to, through, and after the wedding. Unlike other tasks that can be spread out over a longer time frame (like building a web site), working with a perishable product like flowers cannot be done too far in advance.

How You can Leverage Your Time and Save More Money

As I said earlier, had I known it would take me four months to build my first web site, I would have hired a pro to do the work. The site would have been up and running in a month. Even if I paid a little more than the original quotes I got, I still would have come out ahead. Here’s why.

Time is Money

We’ve all heard it over and over. Here’s how it applied in my case.

The web site I built generated $4000 in sales in the first four months. In essence, I lost $3000 in sales because it took me four months to do all the work myself. Looking back, it would have been smarter spend that same $3000 and hired a pro to do the work for me. I would have come out ahead. But hindsight is always 20/20.

My example applies to everything, even doing your own wedding flowers. All you have to do is run the numbers to prove it.

Using our shop as an example, the average wedding takes several hours of planning and consultation, and a couple of days to do the work. For most of our weddings, 15 -30 staff hours are usually required, depending on the size of the event.

Using the same number of hours (15-30), at an hourly wage of $15 (use your own number here), the cost of your time would be $225 – $450, plus the cost of the flowers. If you spend $300 on flowers and supplies, your total cost would be $525 – $750.

If you get a quote for wedding flowers that is comparable, and you’re comfortable working with that florist, why wouldn’t you hire them instead of doing it yourself? If you value your time, the answer is a no-brainer.

If you have limited time, or no experience working with flowers, you could use the those 15-30 hours learning and designing your bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres and centerpieces, hoping that everything turns out well, or you could use that time to do other projects for your wedding that you might enjoy more, or may be better suited to your talents.

My point is this…

Everyone is capable of doing things they never imagined they could. But because you can, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Whether it’s wedding flowers or anything else. Your time has value. Understanding the true cost of your time will help you to determine how cost-effective the choices you make will be.

I readily admit my advice may not be right for every situation, but all you have to do is run the numbers to be sure.


I'm the owner of Greenfield Flower Shop in Milwaukee, with more than 40 years of experience in the floral, wedding, and event business.