We did many DIY projects for our wedding but one of the ones I was most determined to do was our ceremony pew cones and flowers. In hindsight, making the cones wasn’t tricky at all (I modified this tutorial) but mucking around in my garden at midnight the night of my wedding was a huge mistake. I wanted them fresh! — but seriously.
Thankfully, a florally-talented friend helped take over this project the morning of the wedding and did a beautiful job, but finishing 20+ of these mini arrangements is exactly the kind of stress a bride doesn’t need on her wedding day. It’s not an impossible endeavor, but if you want to do your own, here are some tips:
1. Create a few container and arrangement proto-types and test drive them at the ceremony venue well in advance
This allowed me to measure the ribbon lengths needed to loop around the pew tops and confirm the best cone stock color (white looked best against the darker wood) and size (a little wider and longer). Seeing the sample arrangement IN the cone helped me hone in on the color scheme I wanted (I added pops of pink to the white and green), how much material I’d need, and also helped me decide what would last the longest once it was picked from the garden. Snapping a picture was a great visual guide for re-creating them on the wedding day.
2. Consider staggered cones or aisle decor if you have a very long aisle
If you’re marrying in a larger church, try going every other pew and stopping 10 or 12 rows into where guests are seated, but be sure to add cones to the pews at the top of the aisle where ushers will stand to greet and seat guests.
3. Flowers and greens will look best if you can keep them in water or florist vials
This is just a fact. But jamming more than 1-2 stems in a florist vial is VERY difficult. Especially if you’re using a woody-stemmed flower like a hydrangea. We used a mix of florist vials and plastic baggies with water-soaked paper towels taped with electrical tape. These were then jammed into the pew cones and stuffed with tissue paper, paper towel or anything we could find to make them sit up straight.
4. Certain flowers and greens make more sense than others
Do your homework! Know what is in season on your wedding date and test-drive some grocery store bouquets to get a feel for what lasts in and out of water and what doesn’t. Ferns and hydrandgea are water-suckers, so wilting is very likely with these. Carnations last for-ever in (and out of) water and I think they are stunning in large, single color bunches. Lilacs are lovely and smell gorgeous too, but again, they need lots of water.
5. Used right, faux flowers can work
Be tactical and practical. Guests at the ceremony will probably NOT remember pew cone flowers the way that you will, so focus on the overall impact and less on the flowers themselves. At best, they will make for a gorgeous photo-op, but ceremony flowers will not be missed if you opt to skip them. A really great faux hydrangea in a cream or ivory, mixed in with some heartier live flowers and greens can make a beautiful statement. I hesitate to ever recommend fake flowers, but to save a few bucks, my general advice is that the closer the flowers are and the longer the period of time guests will see them, the more sense it makes to spend on them. So it makes sense to skimp of church flowers but spend on reception table flowers I think. Avoid “diamond white” faux or silk flowers though—they can look cheap.
6. Get creative with your flower containers
I used a really thick, 10×10, white scrapbook paper card stock and glue gun to create our pew cones, then poked two holes in the sides of each and strung 1/4″ satin ribbon through to the front, tied a little bow in the front and called it a day. But there are SO MANY alternate options I wish I’d considered that would have made it easier to keep our flowers in water. If you’re doing your ceremony flowers yourself, look into plastic container options and spare yourself the water/baggie/flower vial headache, I beg of you!
7. Plan out pew cone transport and installation
Think about it. Once you get all those mini-arrangements made, you need to get them to your ceremony site and rig them all up. Think through the logistics, but plan to delegate this. If you can have friends, family, or bridesmaids help with this the night before, even better.