Artificial vs. Non-Floral Wedding Flowers

Before we start talking polymers and foams, let’s make the distinction between artificial flowers—individual stems designed to replicate real flowers—and non-floral wedding bouquets. Non-floral bouquets are composed of different, unusual elements that aren’t supposed to look like flowers. Here are some examples of non-floral wedding bouquets:

  • Rhinestone “brooch” bouquets
  • Seashell bouquets
  • “Bauble” bouquets made from holiday ornaments
  • All-greenery bouquets, including: tropical leaves, ferns, grasses, or herbs
  • Fruit or vegetable bouquets
  • Succulent or air plant bouquets
  • Feather bouquets
  • Cotton bouquets
  • Paper flower bouquets (see more below)
  • Fabric bouquets (see more below)

If you’re going for an alternative approach to your wedding florals, a non-floral bouquet is a great way to add some personalization and creativity to your overall wedding style. Not to mention many non-floral bouquets are more practical for a lot of the same reasons that artificial flowers are: they can be more economical, can be prepared earlier, will last longer, won’t wilt or die in extreme temperatures, and are available regardless of blooming season.

Pros and Cons of Artificial Wedding Flowers

Pros

  • Can be more affordable
  • All flower varieties are available in all seasons
  • Last forever
  • Greater control over flower types and colors
  • Can order and prepare them in advance
  • Won’t wilt or attract bugs during outdoor summer weddings
  • Good for those with allergies
  • Don’t require water, so easy to transport and keep looking good
  • Easy to practice (and re-do) any DIY arrangements

Cons

  • Can look tacky or cheap
  • The best-looking varieties cost as much as (or more than) real flowers
  • Lack the same feel as real flowers
  • Lack real-floral scent
  • Real flowers will always be more breathtaking

Types of Artificial Wedding Flowers

If you think going with artificial wedding flowers cuts down on the number of choices you’ll have to make, guess again: just like non-floral bouquets, there are many types of artificial stems to choose from. This means that their quality and appearance can vary quite a bit—from the often plasticy-looking ones you see at the dollar store to incredibly realistic versions that will cost you as much as real flowers. Below you’ll find description for every type of artificial flower and the pros and cons of each.

“Silk” or Fabric Wedding Flowers

The most familiar type of artificial flowers, these faux blooms are known as silk flowers—however these days they’re no longer made from silk, but most often a variety of polyester or nylon.

__Pros: __

  • Huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles
  • Widely available
  • Easy to mix and match with real blooms
  • Slight variations from flower to flower make them look more realistic when nestled together

Cons:

  • Edges can fray easily
  • Feel very unrealistic to the touch
  • Quality varies quite a bit from seller to seller
  • Flower stems are usually thick, steel wires wrapped in plastic, creating a very heavy bundle to hold

Foam Wedding Flowers

These faux blooms are composed of very thin foam petals that are dyed a specific hue and glued around a styrofoam center. Foam flowers are most often seen as roses, and useful to fill in the center of bouquets and arrangements.

Pros:

  • The cheapest artificial flower
  • Very lightweight, malleable, and easy to work with
  • Look realistic when used to fill in the center of arrangements

Cons:

  • Messy and not attractive when seen from the side or underneath
  • Sold in packs, rather than individually
  • Every flower looks identical, allowing for less realism when placed side-by-side

Wax-Coated Wedding Flowers

Wax-coated artificial flowers are high-quality silk flowers that have been coated with a special wax to make them feel (and look) like real flowers. The level of detail on the petals, such as veining or slight impressions, combined with the real-touch feel make these some of the most expensive artificial flowers available.

Pros:

  • Very lifelike and high-quality

Cons:

  • Expensive (up to 3 times more than their silk counterparts)
  • Since they are still fabric flowers at heart, edges can still fray

Latex Wedding Flowers

Similar to wax-coated flowers, latex artificial flowers are coated in a thin wax and have very lifelike details, making them both look and feel pretty close to the real deal. Latex flower petals are actually made from latex, rather than polyester fabric, so they don’t run the risk of fraying at the edges.

Pros:

  • No frayed edges
  • Very realistic appearance and feel
  • Can be made to mimic thick or thin petals

Cons:

  • Lack of variety in flower types
  • Hard to find
  • Pricey

Fresh Touch (Polymer) Wedding Flowers

The most expensive type of artificial flowers, fresh touch or real touch flowers are designed to look, and feel, as close to the real thing as you can get. They’re made from a blend of foam and latex

Pros:

  • Look and feel most like real flowers
  • Each flower has slight variations for greater realism when arranged together

Cons:

  • Most expensive
  • Less readily available (must go through a pro florist)
  • White or ivory shades can look aged over time
  • Petals can be easily crushed when packed too tightly

Paper Wedding Flowers

Paper wedding flowers are exactly what they sound like: flowers that are constructed out of paper. Paper flowers can be extremely delicate and lifelike, to the point where you have to get very close to the flowers to tell they aren’t real—these varieties are sourced from speciality shops or online vendors. On the flip side, paper flowers can also be dramatic and theatrical through the use of bright colors, patterns, or oversized shapes. These less-realistic versions can more easily be DIYed if you have an artistic hand.

DIY paper wedding flowers can be used for great impact as a decorative focal point, since they are generally inexpensive to create and their uses are limited only by your imagination. Here are some ideas for ways you can use paper flowers to replace (or augment) your wedding floral decor:

  • Create a floral wall backdrop for your ceremony, sweetheart table, or photobooth.
  • Create paper flower streamers or garlands to suspend from your ceremony or reception spaces.
  • Create large-scale tropical leaves and palm fronds from paper to decorate a beachy, island-themed wedding.
  • Cover your ceremony arch in a rainbow of brightly colored paper flowers.
  • Craft boutonnieres or small bouquets from specialty paper to match your wedding theme, such as pages from a comic book or sheet music.

To check out real-life examples of these and other paper flower ideas, check out our blog post recounting 7 Times Paper Wedding Flowers Won Our Hearts.

Fabric Wedding Flowers

Similar to paper, fabric wedding flowers are on the DIY-approved list if you’re on the artistic side. Fabric flowers are harder to make, however (fabric is less forgiving than paper), and therefore it’s wiser to use fabric flowers in small doses, such as bouquets, boutonnieres, and hair accessories. You can also find fabric wedding bouquets on online craft sites. Satin roses are a common type of fabric wedding flower, as are flowers made from tulle, burlap, felt, cotton, and lace.

Artificial Wedding Flowers Costs

As you may have already figured out, having artificial flowers at your wedding doesn’t necessarily equate to major savings. A lot of factors will determine your final floral costs, whether you opt for all real flowers, all artificial, or some combination. Make sure you sit down with your partner (and wedding planner, if you’ve hired one) to set your floral budget before heading too far down the path of deciding on flower types.

While it’s difficult to offer specific price points for artificial wedding flowers considering there are so many different types that fluctuate dramatically in cost, here are some general price estimates that should help you determine if artificial flowers are right for you:

Personal Flowers:

  • Bridal bouquet, inexpensive silk flowers: $20-$100, depending on size and number/type of flowers
  • Bridal bouquet, expensive real-touch flowers: $300+
  • Bridal bouquet, expensive paper: $288+
  • Bridesmaid bouquet, silk: $10-50
  • Bridesmaid bouquet, real-touch: $150+
  • Boutonnieres, silk or real-touch: $3-$20
  • Boutonnieres, expensive paper: $25+
  • Corsages, silk or real-touch: $5-$30
  • Corsages, expensive paper: $25+
  • Flower girl pomander, silk or real-touch: $10-20

Centerpieces and Decor:

  • Centerpieces, silk: $20-$100 each, depending on size and number/type of flowers
  • Cake flowers, silk: $25-$200, depending on number and type of flowers
  • Garlands, silk: $20-$50
  • Aisle arrangement, silk: $10-$20

Other Costs:

  • Don’t forget to factor in the cost of shipping if you order artificial flowers online, which can run up to $20 per order.

How To Make A Wedding Bouquet With Artificial Flowers

Making a wedding bouquet with artificial flowers is pretty similar to making a bouquet with real flowers. Here are the main differences between making a real vs faux bouquet:

  • There’s no prep work involved for artificial flowers, such as trimming the ends and thorns or stripping leaves and guard petals.
  • Similarly, you don’t have to worry about storing your artificial flowers in a cool location or in water (or changing out the water to keep the blooms fresh).
  • Artificial flowers have much thicker and less pliable stems, so they require more muscle to shape and will result in a thicker, heavier bundle to hold.
  • You’ll need to cut the stems of artificial flowers with a wire cutter, rather than floral scissors—again, more muscle.
  • Because of these wires, however, you can manipulate artificial flowers over (and over) again to get them into the perfect position, unlike with real flowers.
  • Bouquets made with artificial flowers can be made way in advance. Real flower bouquets should be made very close to the wedding day and stored in water.

For tips on how to arrange a bouquet yourself, read our Step-by-Step Guide To Creating A Wedding Bouquet.

Tips For Using Artificial Wedding Flowers

Sure, using artificial flowers might save you money, be better for the planet, and allow you to hold on to some of your wedding flowers for days (or years) beyond the day itself. But there are some thing you should consider before making the leap to the artificial flower camp.

  • Don’t use them in high-priority places that will get photographed a lot or seen up close (bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, cake flowers, etc.), if you can help it.
  • Mix them in with real blooms in large arrangements that require filler.
  • Use them in distant applications that won’t be scrutinized up close or seen at eye level, such as at the ceremony altar, in decorative draping, hanging from the ceiling, or scattered down the aisle.
  • Use them boldly in one or two full-scale decorative elements, and fully embrace their fauxness. For example, use artificial or paper flowers to create a wildly textural floral wall to use as a backdrop for your photobooth or ceremony—a focal point that would bust most people’s budgets to pull off with real flowers.
  • Consider non-floral options mentioned above like oversized leaves and grasses, herbs, feathers, air plants, or even elegantly oversized balloons. There’s no rule that says wedding decor has to include flowers, or that it can’t include man-made objects of whimsy and beauty.
  • If you can’t afford high-quality artificial flowers, commit to the cheerful, campy, almost humorous style that obviously faux flowers can lend. Create a fake flower “garden” (complete with AstroTurf and miniature garden gnomes) and nestle your escort cards in rows among the faux flowers, or create one massive, crêpe-paper flower to decorate an otherwise simple wedding cake.
  • Browse the portfolios of florists who use artificial flowers to see how their bouquets and arrangements photograph. Some artificial flowers look practically undecipherable from their real counterparts on film, while some look glaringly unrealistic when documented in good light and sharp focus.
  • In general, arrangements that are more tightly shaped and compact (such as round bouquets) work better with artificial flowers; bouquets and centerpieces that are more wild, unstructured, and require a lot of movement (such as cascading bouquets) are harder to replicate with faux blooms.

Pro Tip: To get the best of both world, especially if you really crave a cascading bouquet, mix faux blossoms with real greenery. It will give you the look you want at a lower price point than you’d spend on real flowers.