I grew my own wedding flowers — it was stressful, but I saved thousands

One Toronto bride has cultivated a new wedding tradition.

Emma Tamlin took the eco-friendly route for her nuptials, as she was concerned about the pollution generated by the flower industry and the rising price tag of bouquets. She realized she could save $12,000 by growing her own flowers for the ceremony at her family farm.

Foregoing florists entirely, the 29-year-old urban agriculturalist and her husband, Chris, 30, reported forking over about $300 for seeds and undergoing a successful trial run a year in advance of their August wedding.

“I’ve grown up on this farm and moved there when I was 9. I always said I wanted to get married there — I never dreamed of growing my own flowers,” Tamlin told SWNS. “I learned how flowers could be very bad for the environment, and they had also skyrocketed in price.”

The lovebirds decided to save thousands on their wedding day just in floral costs.Rosielle + Co / SWNS

BridesmaidsTamlin’s bridesmaids carried sunflowers grown in the family’s garden.Rosielle + Co / SWNS

Though Tamlin said she never grew plants before, she turned out to be a natural green thumb. The couple reportedly planted sunflowers, snowy baby’s breath, cosmos, dahlias, zinnias, larkspurs, mallow, bachelor’s button and pink cushion flowers.

“I work in sustainability, so I am generally very eco-friendly,” Tamlin shared.

By her Aug. 20 wedding day, the plants were in full bloom in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario — thanks to some help from her parents, Sharon, 58, and Paul, 60. The bridal party reportedly snipped their own flowers from the garden before heading down the aisle.

“My bridesmaids and I made all the bouquets on the morning of the wedding,” Tamlin explained. “It took an hour to cut and two hours to make the vases.”

“It was an incredible feeling to make my own bouquet and to put it all together,” the glowing newlywed enthused.

While the bridesmaids each carried a sunflower, Tamlin’s floral arrangement featured zinnias, cosmos, mallow and bachelor’s button.

Emma and sunflowerTamlin’s family-grown flowers were a hit among her wedding party and guests, who got to sit near the blossoms.Emma Tamlin / SWNS

The couple began the official gardening process in March 2022 — two years after their engagement — by planting the seeds indoors in trays and waiting for the seedlings to sprout, so they could be placed outside in May.

“We started seeing blooms on the first week of August,” Tamlin recalled, admitting that they had a few hiccups along the way. “We weren’t sure they would last, so [we] kept pruning them.”

Some of the sunflowers bloomed before others, while some plants “grew too well and didn’t last until the wedding.”

Sharon reportedly played a large role in cultivating the blooming bushes, spending hours weeding and watering, while Paul plowed.

“We hoped for the best. We didn’t know what would happen,” Tamlin admitted. “If everything failed, we would have had to go to another farmer.”

Couple at weddingTamlin, left, knew a professionally arranged bouquet could come with a hefty price tag.Rosielle + Co / SWNS

The allure of growing flowers stemmed from the spike in bouquet costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tamlin claimed her friends budgeted between $10,000 and $15,000 to spend on a florist for their own weddings.

Her eco-friendly wedding habits extended beyond the garden — Tamlin said she insisted on repurposing household items to avoid purchasing decorations, while other items she found on Facebook Marketplace.

While she fell in love with her gown from a sustainable Canadian designer, her bridesmaids weren’t required to abide by a dress code. Her only request was the frocks be pink.

“It was an eco-friendly tactic, as I didn’t want them to buy a new dress, or to buy a dress they’d never wear again,” Tamlin recalled. “Some bought them secondhand, and some have re-worn them multiple times.”

Tamlin said she also managed to reuse recycled yogurt containers as candle holders.

“We tried to have as little waste as possible. We used reusable cups and plates, and I went around Toronto collecting used ‘Petit Pot’ containers to use them as candle holders — they were the perfect size for a tea light,” Tamlin added.

Table arrangementsTamlin used her own flowers for table arrangements as well.Rosielle + Co / SWNS

While penny-pinching reportedly saved Tamlin thousands, she said the sheer amount of garden work sparked “a lot more stress” due to the “huge undertaking.”

“In the end it was so stunning, and I’m so thankful to my parents,” Tamlin emphasized, especially for her mom, who “felt a sense of responsibility for everything.”

She advises eager brides who are interested in cultivating their own wedding gardens to try it out on a smaller scale beforehand. She admitted weather catastrophes and city living could prevent some lovebirds from achieving similar dreams.

“I’m so happy people want to do it themselves, and they definitely can,” she encouraged. “We used a space between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet, but we didn’t use all the flowers, and we wanted to have a lush garden for photos.”

FlowersThanks to the help of her parents, Tamlin was able to have the wedding of her dreams at a lower cost.Rosielle + Co / SWNS

With the average cost of a wedding ringing in at $28,000 last year, it’s no wonder engaged couples would seek shortcuts. There has been a boom in DIY brides lately, as lovers look to cut costs and settle for secondhand outfits during the economic downturn.

Some brides reported snagging gowns for as little as $3 from thrift stores, which not only slashes the wedding price tag — it also allows them to make the vintage looks their own.