So you’ve put yourself in charge of your own wedding bouquets and arrangements? Some may tell you it’s an ambitious project that you should fear, but believe me, there’s nothing to be afraid of and it is deeply rewarding. Much like the love you are celebrating, your floral garden must be cultivated, nurtured and treated with patience. But in the end, you’ll walk down the aisle with the assurance that your floral decor is totally you—not to mention it’s cheaper and greener than going the traditional route, which is notorious for its environmental destruction. Here’s a little advice to get you growing.


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Plan ahead

If you have a year of planning on your side, now’s the perfect time to get started. Better yet, if you have more time to work with, the more plentiful and varied your garden can be. I recommend a head start of one to two years. After all, you’ll need time for flowering shrubs (roses or hydrangeas anyone?) or perennial flowers (think peonies, lilies, asters, and did I mention the ever-lovely peonies?). Annual flowers are great to plant if you have only one growing season. That’s all you need to have a bounty of sunflowers, zinnias, and snapdragons.

Related: INHABITAT GREEN WEDDING GUIDE: Eco-friendly Wedding Dresses!

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Think local, seasonal, and one-of-a-kind

I bet you’re picturing it now: a wild, rustic bouquet of varying colors and species of flowers. But do you have the right dates in mind? Keep your eyes glued to those seed packets and the time-of-year recommendations to help you narrow down your selection. Also, pay attention to your planting zone. If you live in zone 2, for instance, you may have to give up your dreams of growing hydrangeas.

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Gather a crew

Who are you kidding? This is indeed an ambitious project, so take note of all those folks who exclaim, “Let me know if I can help you with anything.” Gardening is a fun, therapeutic activity, and it can be a great gift to you from your wedding party. In return, you will enjoy a special bonding experience and learn useful new skills. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed: call in your friends and family.

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Soil sisters

Once you have your plan, seeds, and minions—oops, I mean friends—it’s time to get dirty. Prepare the soil by first deciding how much planting space you need and planning the flower bed accordingly. Be sure your area is totally free of weeds. If you don’t compost, you should start now, because you’ll need plenty of it to keep your soil healthy. If your flowers need warmth to get going and you aren’t past the winter’s last frost, cover the bed with black plastic a week or so before planting.

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Stay on H2O duty

So many of my friends complain that they lack that “green thumb” and thus, all their plants die. In many cases, a simple splash or two of H2O will help your garden grow just fine. Your bed needs a lot of hydration, so beware of droughts. Be sure not to drown your plants because that will kill them too. Once you get started and monitor your project closely, you’ll understand how your flowers respond and can plan accordingly. For summer and fall weddings, mindfully give your bed the irrigation it requires in spring and it will start blooming faster than you can say “I do.”

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Presentation time

So you’ve grown your own flowers, and your wedding is already off to a pretty, personal start. Now it’s time to talk presentation. This is also a fun, creative project, so don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to pull off an unforgettable room full of fresh centerpieces. Some sweet ideas to kickstart your planning are vintage teacups and pitchers, mismatched vintage glassware, antique watering cans, and the ever-popular blue Ball jars.

What kinds of flowers will you grow for your nuptials?

Kelly Rae Smith is a DIY and crafts writer for Shutterfly.com. Her ideas for grow-it-yourself wedding flowers are inspired by the creative wedding planning options available on the Shutterfly.com website.