New book outlines how to DIY wedding flower arrangements

DIY-wedding-flowers-bookIf you DIY wedding flowers, you can save a bundle on your wedding cost. But how will they look?, you might wonder. If you carefully follow the recipes (instructions) in The Flower Chef: A Modern Guide to Do-It-Yourself Floral Arrangements (Grand Central Life & Style, March 1, 2016), they’ll look pretty spectacular. Author Carly Cylinder’s comprehensive guide to floral design is for anyone interested in working with flowers, from decorators, party planners and photographers to brides- and grooms-to-be, DIY home designers to budding florists.

It’s Cylinder’s belief that flower design should be accessible to everyone. In her book, she teaches the basic techniques, using materials found in supermarkets and bodegas, to make beautiful, professional-looking arrangements. Each design in the book is presented as a “recipe,” in which—as in a cookbook—the “home cook” is provided the list of ingredients, instructions, amount of time it will take, the level of difficulty, the cost, and the seasonality of ingredients used.

The Flower Chef teaches readers everything they need to know about DIY flower arranging, including tips on how to buy and care for flowers, how to cut and prepare them, and how to use floral foam, vases, and various other decorative elements in their pieces. 

Cylinder works with flowers every day at her floral business, Flour LA, and we’re excited to share one of her easy-to-follow flower recipes with you for fabulous wedding centerpieces. Pick up a copy of her book for more fun instructions, inspiration and ideas, including making your own wedding bouquet!




This is like a classic, basic pasta recipe, where you start with pasta (hydrangea) and toss in all your random veggies (a variety of other flowers) to come up with a delicious, easy meal. Simple and straightforward, it’s a good starter recipe for even the most inexperienced flower chef.


While vases are most commonly lined with leaves, you can also line the inside of a vase with long flowers such as Bells of Ireland and branches such as curly willow. You can even cover the outside of a glass vase with paint or fabric. For this recipe, I add curly willow inside to complement the unisex palette of plum, white, and green.


PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 20 minutes

SEASON: Year round


COST: $$$



5 stems of white hydrangea

1 bunch of plum or red dahlias

1 bunch of light pink spray roses, ranunculus, or lisianthus

1 bunch of dark pink or plum spray roses

1 bunch of Bells of Ireland (or 4 to 5 stems)

Curly willow

Optional: lemon leaves or seeded eucalyptus

Clear floral tape

6″ to 8″ square or round glass vase


  1. Wrap a few strands of curly willow around your hand and insert it into the vase, letting it expand to fit the interior of the vase.


  1. Fill the vase three-quarters full with water. With the tape, create a 3 x 3 grid over the opening of the vase.


  1. Prep and cut the hydrangea so that the blooms are slightly above the top of the vase.


  1. Place one hydrangea in each corner, angled outward with the stems pointing toward the center. Place the last hydrangea in the middle of the vase. If any hydrangeas are leaning over the vase, reinsert them more toward the middle.


  1. Prep and cut all the other flowers to about 8″ to 10″ long. Keep the flowers separated by type.


  1. Place the dahlia stems through the hydrangea heads so that the dahlia blooms rest on top of the hydrangea. If the dahlias are sticking out, recut their stems so they fit snugly among the hydrangea heads.


  1. Add the roses (or ranunculus or lisianthus) evenly throughout the arrangement, placing stems near the dahlias and clustering a few blooms together for impact. Rotate the arrangement midway through to make sure it looks balanced.


  1. Add in the Bells of Ireland. To give the arrangement more shape and dimension, choose 2 stems of bells that are curving to the right and place them on the right side so that the blooms are slightly angled up and out. Choose 2 stems of bells that are curving to the left and place them on the left side so that the blooms are slightly angled down and out.


  1. You can add one last stem of bells curving around the front of the arrangement. Place the stem in on the right side of the vase and curve it along the rim toward the left side of the vase. Tuck the top of the bells into the vase to secure it in place.


  1. If using, add in the eucalyptus or lemon leaves to accent the flowers and break up the colors.



If your curly willow branches seem dry or brittle and you’re having trouble wrapping them, you can run hot water over them in the sink. That will soften them and make them more pliable.

Photo: Teri Lyn Fisher

Excerpt and book cover courtesy of Grand Central Life & Style / Carly Cylinder