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Wedding planning with Marcy E. Thornton
Add flora to fauna for not a lot of moolah
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    In my last column, I discussed the nature of reality, (i.e.— facing the fact that weddings really cost money). As I stated, your best bet for keeping costs down is to prioritize. In the next several columns, I’ll be talking about specific categories that you may choose to focus on, and this week’s column is dedicated to all things floral.
    Flowers can make or break your wedding. A few lively nosegays here and there can really brighten up an otherwise dull location, while the wrong flower choice can have a whole wedding party in a sneezing fit.
    Of course, you can always choose to go without flowers—it is your wedding, after all, and if you’re not into all that frou-frou stuff, then you don’t have to have it at your wedding. Walk down that aisle carrying a bouquet of poodles if you want, honey; it is your day!
    But if totally breaking tradition is not on your wish list, keep on reading.
    ‰ Try this: Like all wedding vendors, you should go see a florist for a personal consultation several months before your ceremony is to take place.
    When you go, you need to have several things with you, including: a pen and paper (for note-taking), paint or fabric swatches of your exact color scheme, clippings or photos of floral arrangements that you like, your wedding wish list, your wedding date and wedding location. If you’re having a destination wedding, it’s better to go to a florist at your destination, rather than in your hometown. Local florists are more likely to be familiar with your venue, therefore knowing more about its limitations.
    “Everyone has their own tastes. Typically, you need the bridal bouquet, and the bridal attendants will need bouquets as well. The men, generally, will wear boutonnières,” said Lavene Koepke, a floral designer for Frazier’s Flowers and Gifts, Inc.
    “Family pieces, (for) mothers and fathers, any people that are important in your lives, you’ll want to give them something such as corsages or boutonnières.” Koepke added that depending on your design tastes, you might also need altar flowers, centerpieces for the reception, specially designed hairpieces, et cetera.
    Tonia McElveen, a floral designer for Southern Creations Floral Shoppe, Inc., has been in the floral business for over 11 years, and strongly recommends having a firm idea of your location before visiting a florist.
    “The first thing you’ve got to decide is where you’re going to have your ceremony. A lot of times, that will depend on what type of flowers you’re going to go with. Some flowers are not going to last out in our hot Georgia sun if you’re having an outside wedding,” McElveen said.
    “It’s always good to look in magazines, go online and find some that you like in the shades that you want. I always tell brides to go ahead and cut the pictures out and bring them in when you have your consultation. And then, we can look at them and see how durable they will be; what will hold up, and what won’t.”
    Prices for flowers are all over the map, according to both experts, but McElveen estimated that the average cost of wedding flowers in her experience has been between one and two thousand dollars, but you can go as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. By the way, when it comes to tipping your florist, a monetary gift is not necessarily the way to go.
    “Some people will give monetary tips, but that’s not really common for a florist in a wedding situation. Sometimes they’ll come and bring a little gift. We’ve had other brides, though, that knew we were here working late (on their wedding), and they might send us supper as a thank you. Most brides would send a thank you note.”
    Finally, brides typically buy a second, smaller version of their bouquet for tossing at the reception, according to Koepke. As for the original bouquet, McElveen recommends two methods for preserving the big bouquet as a keepsake.
    “There’s two different things that I’ve heard people say work. You can put it in a closet, turn it upside down and let it dry. The other thing is put it in a shoebox or a plastic storage container and put kitty litter in it. The kitty litter sucks all the moisture out of the flowers, and dries it. It’s a process that takes several months, but they both work.”
    Both experts recommend going to see a florist at least six months in advance, then keeping in contact with them.
    Marcy E. Thornton is a senior English major at GSU, and is engaged to become Mrs. Carl W. Bonebright in September of 2008.  She welcomes any tips, comments or questions via e-mail at
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