Buying flowers directly from the farm for weddings is becoming more and more popular. As a flower farmer since 2000, all I can say is: it's about time! Local flowers are fresh, vibrant and unlike imported blooms, they retain their wonderful scent. Meeting the farmer and walking through the rows of colorful blooms with the person who is growing the flowers for your special day is a wonderful treat. You might see flowers which are unavailable to traditional florists either because they don’t ship well or because they are too time consuming to grow on large, commodity only farms. Farmers are proud of what they do and are happy to talk to you about which flowers will be available for your wedding and exactly how they are grown. Most flower farmers use sustainable growing methods and far fewer pesticides than flowers grown in S. America. You will hear birds and see all sorts of beneficial and pollinator insects working to keep the flowers healthy.
Working directly with a flower farmer is much different than visiting a traditional florist. There are no standardized menus with cookie cutter bouquets. Each farmer grows different flowers which are available according to local seasons and the weather. Every farm offers different wedding services. Growers will provide you with a list of seasonal flowers. Study the list so you are not disappointed when the farmer tells you peonies are not available for your August wedding. Be flexible, peonies may not be available but farm fresh dahlias are breathtakingly beautiful and come in a huge variety of colors.
Prices for farm fresh wedding flowers are based on the same factors as traditional florist flowers. Costs vary according to the varieties and number of flowers needed plus the amount of labor required to make the designs. Growers who are also designers should be fairly compensated for their experience and creativity as well as the superior quality and freshness of the flowers. Expect to pay about the same price for design services from a grower as you would from your local florist. Some growers offer boutique services such as a tour of the farm, custom grown flowers and wedding floral design classes. Offering these services means extra work for the farmer/designer. Expect to pay a fair price for these services which will vary by region.
One of the most important considerations when working directly with a grower is how much service you need and how much of the designing you are willing to do yourself. Flower farmers vary widely on the level of services they provide. At the most basic level farmers will provide a list of what is in season with no other services. The bride is essentially the florist and will need to know exactly how many and what types of flowers are needed for the arrangements. It’s best to make some trial arrangements and do the math before placing an order. Allowing the farmer to choose the colors and varieties of flowers is your least expensive option. It will cost a bit more if you choose specific varieties and colors.
Designing your own flowers should be fun for you and your friends or family. If possible pick up your flowers two to three days before the wedding and allow plenty of time. Have the flower farmer, caterer, wedding coordinator or someone not in the bridal party set up the flowers on the day of the wedding. Don’t worry, your flowers will stay fresh at cool room temperature. Trying to assemble flowers the morning or night before the wedding is stressful and could be a recipe for disaster.
Many growers have studios which they will rent to brides who want to design their flowers on the farm. Generally the grower will provide the flowers as well as all the tools and supplies needed. Usually the grower or an assistant will stay during the design session to answer questions and give guidance as needed. Growers might offer to keep your designs in their cooler until the morning of the wedding. Delivery on the day of the wedding can usually be included for an extra charge. Some farmer-florists also offer basic wedding design classes.
Growers who are experienced designers are willing to mix and match services to suit the individual needs of a bride. Brides might choose to design some simple centerpieces and have the grower make the more complicated bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages. This an "a la carte" option can be a great way to stretch your floral budget and still have custom designed flowers. A few flower farmers offer full service weddings; design, delivery, setup and cleanup. Charges for these services should typically be close to what florists in your area charge.
In popular tourist areas there are flower farms which also serve as beautiful wedding venues. If you want to get married on a flower farm ask the grower if wedding facilities are available.Buying your wedding flowers directly from the farm is not as simple as hiring a traditional florist, but vibrant, unique, seasonal flowers are well worth the extra effort. There is a great new resource to guide and inspire you: Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers is a new book that features photos from dozens of local flower farms, including Laughing Lady. It provides detailed instructions on the mechanics of wedding flower design, and includes 75 minutes of video tutorials that will show you how to make a bouquet, boutonnieres, centerpieces and tall arrangements if you choose the DIY route.