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June 23rd 2015

Wedding Flower Emergency Kit

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IMG_8816We are entering the heart of wedding season–one of my favorite times of the year. I absolutely love the creative process of weaving our farm-fresh, seasonal blooms into lush, ultra-romantic bridal bouquets, altar arches, and centerpieces.  Having the ability to roam our garden and flower fields to choose the very best of what is in bloom to incorporate into someone’s wedding celebration is so rewarding…it’s an honor, really.

I manage to stay cool, calm and collected throughout the process—from the early planning meetings with the brides and throughout the long days of designing.  But my nerves can start to crack right about the time I’m ready to deliver all the flowers.  I want every flower to arrive perfectly and my imagination can start to wild with “what if” worries about tripping up the stairs with a centerpiece, smooshing a boutonniere, etc.  While none of these things have ever happened, I always come prepared with the emergency bag just in case.

chairflowerWhether you are a DIY bride, a new farmer-florist or even a seasoned floral designer, never leave for a wedding flower delivery or major installation without the floral emergency kit. My kit includes essential items ready to respond to any floral emergency. Call it a supply bag; call it a tool kit; call it a ditty bag; call it whatever you want to call it. Just, whatever you do: DO. NOT. FORGET. IT.

The kit is sort of like the floral designer’s equivalent of the old on-call doctor bag. If you ever need to do some serious reconstructive surgery on your floral arrangement, you don’t want to be left empty handed. Trust me on that. Here are some of the essential items in my floral emergency kit.

tool belt-7 Clippers. Sort of a no-brainer, but you never want to be without one–or two or three–pairs of clippers. I usually have a pair of my favorite flower snips in the bag and another pair of heavier duty pruners too. You never know when you may need to do some “civic pruning

Farmer-Florist tool belt. Pictured above, this custom designed, handmade tool belt has changed my life. Seriously, second only to our tractor, this tool has dramatically improved the way I work and function. In addition to holding both flower snips and heavy duty pruners, there is also a spot for a cell phone, two pens and a ring for a hand towel. 

Paper towels. Brides love flowers. Flowers love water. But brides do not love water…especially on their gowns. Always good to have paper towels handy for the occasional sloshed water from a vase.

bridalwrapTape. I have all kinds of tape: Green floral tape. Waterproof Oasis tape. Clear floral tape. Double sided tape. Duct tape. I’m a little obsessed with tape. Tape is a wonderful thing and always seems to come in handy when it comes to wedding florals.

Pins. I like to have lots of extra pearl headed pins in varying sizes and colors on hand.  Nervous hands can easily bend pins while trying to affix boutonnieres onto a jittery groom, so it is always good to have some backups on hand. Same goes for ribbon and wires.  I usually have a stash of all these mechanical supplies in the bag just in case.

IMG_4948Zip ties and pipes cleaners. Like tape, I carry every color and size imaginable. Both work great for attaching garland and flower bundles to chairs, banisters and arbors. Don’t leave home without them.

Hammer, nails and thumb tacks. While most venues don’t allow pounding holes in their walls, it’s good to be prepared for anything. You never know what kind of project your delivery guy (ahem, husband) will get roped into by the bride’s family at the last minute. It’s best to come ready to hustle.

IMG_4393Shower curtain, drop cloth or tarp. If you’re setting up an arbor or decorating an aisle, you’re bound to make a mess in the process. Throw down some type of catch all and clean up only takes a matter of minutes.

Printed directions to the venue.  I love my phone, but I don’t like to tempt fate. It’s a murphy’s law kind of thing. We’ve all been there: GPS is great when it is accurate, and a nightmare when it is not.  Knowing exactly where I need to be and how to get there helps to keep me calm during that white knuckle drive with a van load of tippy altar arrangements.

shopcafeThe “extras bucket.”  No matter how many hours I dedicate to designing the florals, it never fails that once I get to the venue and start placing the arrangements, I want to fiddle with them and tuck “just one more” dahlia or “just a couple stems of sweet peas” into a design.  The “extras bucket” is like my security blanket to ensure everything looks 100% before we leave.

A flask. (just kidding). While I’m usually ready to chill out after completing a big floral installation, my go to drink on big install days is always green juice.

80elorabridalWhat’s in YOUR emergency kit? Do you have a special name or type of bag you keep your tools of the trade in? Share your tips in the comments below.


  1. Rebecca on

    I love all these tips and would not have thought of half of them…until I needed them. :) Thank you!

  2. Makenna on

    fiddling with pokey wires, thorny flower friends and knives is risky enough.. (my hands are always a wreck after big set-ups) So a tiny bag of band-aids and some travel sized ointment for cuts is always helpful, show me most any sized cut and I have the band-aid for it.

  3. Linda on

    You are so generous! Thanks for the practical advice; some ideas I already use instinctively, and others I am grateful to add to my check list. Your website, Facebook, and blogs always catch my interest, and I wait to read them giving my undivided attention so I don’t a word. Twenty years ago I started helping my friends with limited wedding budgets by providing flowers from my garden, plus a few purchases. I continue to this day, each year doing a couple, and each approached it with trepidation. I am finally getting comfortable, knowing that things always work out. This year will be the best as I will be taking so many of your ideas. Your arbor reminders are so timely as I approach my first arbor this year. Thank you, again, neighbor, for your inspirations. As I drive the open air roads of Mt Vernon, I often wonder which driveway is yours.

  4. Sara on

    Wire! Heavy-duty, thin, spooled, straight…I always have lots of wire in my kit! Can use to attach stuff, to fix a broken stem– so many uses!
    Thanks for the great list.

  5. Laurie Garza (Fleurie) on

    I bring almost all of what you mention plus extra ribbon. I have a thing for ribbon. The extras bucket IS a security blanket for sure.

  6. Jen K. on

    Bookmarking this for sure! I just started doing weddings for friends and I love the idea of the drop cloth, pipe cleaners and zip ties. I also have a tackle box with extras, clippers, sharp scissors, ribbon, wire in varying gauges, rolls of tape, etc.

    I’d add floral glue and a small spray bottle of floral finish to the list-especially in the summer. Floral finish saved us when we did a wedding in the recent 90 degree heat and the bouquets and centerpieces were all delicate flowers like sweet peas.

    I also make an extra corsage and boutonniere or two (depending on the size of the wedding party), just in case. So far it has served as a magic talisman against disaster.

  7. Carli @ Wild Rabbit Flowers on

    Awesome post and it made me laugh. Just this April I had a bridal bouquet get splashed with water and the silk ribbon was sopping wet. I had forgotten to pack extra ribbon. I sat in my car drying it by holding the whole damn thing up to the air conditioning vent with a mitten on because it was freezing my hand. My kit now has enough ribbon in it to wrap all the bouquets ever in all the land. Also I have a small fold up table that I leave in my car and bring out so I’m not using up one of the venue tables.

  8. Eunyse on

    Thank you! Super helpful tips – especially like the shower curtain/drop cloth idea. Can you tell me what toolbox/bag you use? I’m trying to find a good one with lots of compartments. I’m currently using my old Caboodle!

  9. Carolyn Thompson on

    I am a just starting this adventure and I have been asked to provide flowers for a wedding in August, I’m flip between being very excited and sick with nerves but this article and all the comments were great to read and have me a little more prepared.

  10. Katie on

    This is such a great and helpful list! I never would have thought of pipe cleaners, but that is a great idea! I second the 3M hooks. Those are great for hanging wreaths and other arrangements on the walls. They come in variety of sizes and hold all sorts of different weight. And they remove easily off walls without damaging them.

  11. Ella on

    I love this!

    This flowering biz is such a mix of practical and creative. We all love a good list.

    I also include a pop-up bag for green waste and a tiny table-top dustpan + brush for brushing away bits from the laid up tables.

    I’ve got some new top tips from your list and the comments – thanks for your generous sharing, as ever.

  12. Full Bloom Flower Farm on

    I carry the same in a giant bag with my favorites in a little bucket. I’ve made last minute bouquets, glued broken heels with floral glue and used more pins than I thought possible. The herbalist in me always brings a bottle of hydrosol to spray my face and neck and I know this might sound harsh, but I put a piece of yarrow in every handheld bouquet, even if unseen, to protect maids and brides from the stress of other people. Also bobby pins because someone always needs one or five.

    • Jen on

      The yarrow is so sweet! I usually tuck in a forget-me-not… in case the bride “forgot” her something blue or new.

  13. kim on

    what a great post – we also include a small first aid kit in our tool box along with benadryl- topical as well as capsules and bug spray .

  14. Christina Hartman on

    Love this list, Erin, but I think I love the picture of your daughter holding that beautiful bouquet you are wrapping the most.
    I also carry small, clean pebbles and some river rock in a bucket because we have crazy wind here and it can really do some damage. I will add them into centerpieces etc. if necessary, although I try not to use in clear glass unless it is too windy. I too carry lots of tapes, double sided as well. U-gloo dots are pretty cool too. I have to say a well packed tool box helps put my nerves at ease.

  15. Honor on

    Thank you so much for this informative and well written article. I always enjoy reading your thoughts!

  16. Megan on

    I carry everything you mentioned plus command hooks and removable foam strips (both by 3M). Those suckers are amazing and so helpful for installing garland or lighter weight hanging pieces on walls or around doorways where there aren’t enough existing spots to hang from.

  17. Lace Faerie on

    Thanks for the advice! My daughter’s wedding is next month and her aunties & I are doing the flowers. I’m starting to get nervous!

  18. Ann on

    You are very generous with tips and advice, thank you.

  19. Stephanie Karadzhov on

    Love the list. I think the only thing I don’t have on this list is a drop cloth/tarp and pipe cleaners. Both are good suggestions. I’m always looking for a broom to clean up my mess. My pink basket always has a misting bottle or two in it as well as a few lighters and a good pair of ribbon scissors.

  20. Kim on

    My kit is a huge plastic tackle box named Big Jim or Jimmy. We have all of the above with pins in the top layer but there are a few more things I have in Jimmy that have saved my skin many times…

    Sharp scissors for cutting ribbons

    A small first aid kit (normally gets used for groomsmen who tend to do silly things on the day in their attempts to help but is meant to be our back up! Haha)

    A spritzing bottle that packs to a flat plastic pouch to revive tired blooms if the wedding is outdoors and mid-summer

    A large lead weight to tie string or fishing gut onto and throw into trees for very large tree installations

    Extra ribbons in wedding shades in a ziploc bag for disasters of the floral or cake kind, ziploc bag a must so ribbons don’t get wet

    Plasters for when you snip your hand instead of that rose stem

    A picnic lunch in the car because after all that set up I am normally hypo and starving!!

    • Floret on

      These are great additions to the list!

  21. Elizabeth Hendricks Montgomery on

    Great article, Erin! Extra vases have become a new item on my emergency kit! We had one break in transit last April, yikes it was crazy! Thanks for sharing your awesome tips!!!! :)


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