DIY Sola Flower Report
Dec 1, 2020
I am the most sentimental person I know. I still have my baby blanket and tatty teddy bear. I have an entire trunk full of every birthday and Christmas card that I’ve received in the last fifteen years. When it came time to plan my wedding, I knew I would want to keep everything possible. I’ve kept my dress for my nieces in the future, some of our signs were used on our gallery wall, and our altar fabric has been turned into curtains for our dining room.
I’m also more than a bit of a hippie – we have cut down our single use plastics, recycle everything, and I’ll eat the same thing four days in a row if it means not wasting food.
For both of those reasons, I was shaken by the staggering cost of fresh flowers that would only end up in the trash at the end of the night. I looked at a few services that would let you donate your flowers to retirement homes, or reselling them to another bride on the day after, but those still didn’t settle well with me.
Then I discovered sola wood flowers.
I don’t remember where or how I came across them, but I was immediately intrigued. They were just as beautiful as fresh bouquets, if not more so depending on your tastes, and I would be able to keep it!
Sola flowers are made with a very soft, light wood that’s similar to balsa. The wood is shaved into pieces shaped like petals and assembled into a bloom, wrapped with string and glue to hold them together. They can be very delicate, but no more so than fresh flowers. Since they’re not fresh, you’re also not stuck having to assemble them on the already insane week leading up to your wedding. They’re lightweight and easier to transport and store – you don’t need a refrigerator at your venue to store them on a hot day. The bonus: they’re vastly cheaper than fresh flowers.
I spent hours on the sola flower site that I found to be the most trustworthy at the time, drooling over different bloom choices and dreaming of my bouquet. There were plenty of shops on Etsy that sold bouquets that were already assembled, but the cost of those was nearly the same as fresh flowers when you included shipping costs. I’ve got a bit of an artistic hand so I decided that I’d do them myself.
You can order sola flowers a few different ways – with or without dye and with or without a stem. I decided to dye and stem the flowers myself to save an extra few bucks, though I did buy the darker colors with dye already applied based on the advice in one of the Facebook groups I was on. The sola site I was shopping with had an annual Thanksgiving sale where they dropped prices up to 80%, so I waited for the sale and ordered all the flowers I would need.
I bought enough flowers and extra supplies (stems, ribbon, greenery, etc.) for my gigantic bridal bouquet, seven bridesmaid bouquets, ten boutonnieres, two corsages, two gigantic flowers for our altar, and a dozen centerpieces for $600. No, that is not a typo – I really spent just six hundred dollars on flowers that I got to keep. I even had leftover flowers once I was done assembling everything too.
I processed them in stages. First up, I needed to dye the blooms. This ended up being messier and more time-consuming than I expected, and looking back, I would recommend spending the few extra bucks to have your flowers dyed.
The second part, stemming, was easy, provided you kept a firm and slow hand on the wire and bought the correct gauge. I found out the hard way what happens when you push a stem too hard and have the scar on my palm to remember it. I found it easier to put a dot of hot glue on the bottom of the bloom before pressing the stem in, and didn’t have any flowers jump off the stem after I started that trick. If you get your flowers pre-dyed, it’s recommended to “fluff” them – wet them a tad and reshape them – before you start stemming or arranging them.
Lastly was arranging them. The best part was that I was able to start over if I didn’t like the way it was going together. You start with your biggest statement flowers and work your way around them with varying sizes, colors, and greenery or other accessories, and keep an eye on the size. I had found a site that recommended about fifty blooms for a bridal bouquet and figured out too late that this was for squishy fresh flowers, not large sola flowers, but my wide bouquet looked great anyways.
I finished each bouquet with a layer of fabric to pad the stems. The stemming wire I had purchased was 18 gauge, which is pretty skinny. Anything larger and you run the risk of ruining your blooms, though you’ll get more of a natural stem look. There are also multiple options to add sticks or other natural fillers to the handle of the bouquet to make it look more natural, but the fabric did the trick. I wrapped the fabric with white ribbon in a spiraling pattern and hot glued it all together.
For some personalized touches, I also bought flat-backed pearl beads (my wedding was all lace & pearls) and glued them to the centers of a handful of the flowers. For foliage, I had disassembled a handful of greenery stems from the craft store, and I glued the edges of the leaves to the outside of select blooms to make certain they wouldn’t move. I had also ordered leaves made with book pages on one side and lace on the other and had those interspersed, with additional pearl beads glued on. Lastly, I had ordered dried pink pepper berries and glued those wherever I thought it would look good – most often just inside the flower bloom. This ended up being my favorite feature of my bouquets.
For my something old, I attached one of my grandmother’s pearl bracelets on the underside of the bouquet. For something borrowed, I had the cuff links my brother wore for his wedding attached to the stems. I had ribbon tied around the top of the handle to have some additional cascading color and texture and absolutely adored my final product.
I followed a similar process for my bridesmaid bouquets, just with fewer blooms. For the boutonnieres, I had to wrestle with ribbon and stemming wire, and burn myself about a dozen times with the hot glue gun, but they came out amazing. To make the day easy, I glued on a pin backing. I made slightly larger pin-on arrangements for corsages for both mothers, and even smaller bouquets for the centerpieces. I glued some of the extra blooms to our signage, and rigged a hanging apparatus for two of the dinner plate sized blooms to hang at our altar. All told, it took me approximately forty hours of work to put together all of my floral arrangements from start to finish.
If you’re a DIY bride with plenty of time on your hands, this is a great option, and there are tons of tutorials available online – and we’re happy to give some guidance as well! If you love the look but don’t love getting your hands dirty, give us a call and we’ll work with you to put together a quote for exactly what you need.