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Talking Wedding Flowers with Cotton & Magnolia!

Planning your wedding can be one of the most exciting times in your life - and at times, also one of the most stressful!! Below, my guest-blogger Elaina Scronce, owner of St. Petersburg-based event florist Cotton & Magnolia helps take some of the guess work out of wedding flowers.

floral arrangements, wedding florals, flowers, Cotton & Magnolia, St. Pete Florist, roses, peonies, ribbon
*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

greenery, florals, wedding florals, Cotton & Magnolia, St. Pete Florist
*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

Setting a budget – where do I even start?

When it comes to setting a budget for wedding flowers, the sky really is the limit! Some online resources advise you to set aside 8% – 10% of your total wedding budget for flowers, and that’s honestly a great place to start. Budget can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is one that I urge you to have early and often - with all of your wedding vendors. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re looking at a proposal for $5000 when your true budget is $500.

But whether your budget is $500 or $5000, you’re going to want to prioritize. If your budget falls on the lower end of the spectrum, focus on your personal flowers to get the biggest bang for your buck – bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres – since these items will be photographed the most. From there, think about what you might need for ceremony and reception décor. What items are the most important to you? Are you getting married in a Church that doesn’t allow outside decorations, or maybe your venue is picturesque enough without the extra flowers and foliage? How many guest tables will you have at the reception and what size/shape are they? Talk to your florist. Lean on them to help you decide what will most help you get the overall look and feel you are trying to achieve.

What are the biggest flower trends happening right now?

It’s still all about a more natural, Boho vibe, with brides opting for fewer flowers, heavier greenery, less structured pieces, and cascading bouquets.

I will say that I hear a lot of brides saying that they want to go heavier on greens as a way to keep costs down, and this can be a bit of a misconception. Large greenery garlands are priced by the foot, and depending on the size you need, that can add up quickly. Likewise, when you do a bouquet of all greenery, it becomes all about texture. It is rare that you would only use one type of greenery for an entire bouquet – you need that movement and texture so things don’t look flat. So, while you’re certainly not spending the same amount of money that you would be if you were doing an entire bouquet of peonies, your greenery bouquet is still going to incorporate multiple types of greenery, and those different elements can add up quickly.

wedding florals, greenery, foliage, flowers, centerpieces, Cotton & Magnolia, St. Pete Florist
*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

What about seasonal flowers – will that help me save money?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – while there are certainly some flowers that I can only get at certain times of the year, there is honestly not much that I truly cannot get my hands on (or at least suggest an alternative for.) With that in mind, the quality might not be what it would have been at the height of their season, you may be limited on available colors, or you may end up having to pay a more premium price from them.

Being based out of St. Petersburg, I source the majority of my flowers from Miami – essentially, they come straight off the boat to my doorstep. For me, having a relationship with such a large floral wholesaler allows me to source things more globally. Most of the flowers I’m working with – depending on the time of year – are coming from South America, Holland, Italy, even Africa!

Let’s be honest though – the real question on everyone’s mind is peony season, right?! Peonies are a summer flower. I usually think Mother’s Day as the start of the season. (But I’ve also gotten amazing peonies in December!)

Peonies got me like….

cute baby, oh baby, peonies, flowers, roses, wedding florals, wedding bouquet, Cotton & Magnolia, St. Pete Florist
*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

If I love a flower that is too expensive or simply not available, are there other options that will give me the same look?

Absolutely! One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you no matter what types of flowers you love (or think you love!) is to keep an open mind. Even though you’ve pinned 50 pictures of peonies, it might not even truly be about that particular flower. It might be that you just prefer a bloom and an overall look that is soft and full. Garden roses, for example, are a great alternative to peonies. During certain months of the year, ranunculus, which are usually a smaller accent flower, come from Italy and can be the yummiest giant bloom, and another great peony substitute.

At the end of the day, the #1 – NUMBER ONE – piece of advice I can give you (WRITE THIS DOWN!!!!) is to choose wedding vendors that you trust. Florist, planner, photographer – whatever – pick vendors that you know you can have those uncomfortable budget conversations with. Vendors that you trust to take your vision and run with it; to make suggestions and substitutions as needed but to still keep the integrity of your overall event intact. Things will come up at the last minute – it always happens – but you want vendors that you know will have your back when they do!

wedding flowers, centerpieces, florals, peonies, roses, greenery, Cotton & Magnolia, St. Pete Florist
*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

*All photos courtesy of Jenny Ricker Photography

At Cotton & Magnolia, we marry our roots in Southern hospitality with a love for flowers to create natural, garden-inspired boutique floral designs. Our designs offer an updated, sophisticated look that is eclectic and textural.

Have more questions? Need more help? Feel free to reach out to Cotton & Magnolia directly at

Follow Cotton & Magnolia on these social platforms:

Instagram: (@cottonandmagnolia)

Facebook: (@cottonandmagnolia)

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