Manhattan Flower District

Anyone who knows me knows I love flowers, so I wanted something especially pretty and unique on my wedding day. But the kind of wedding bouquets I wanted wasn’t going to happen because of my budget. Before leaving for New York, I had in mind two places where I’d buy my wedding flowers – Union Square Farmer’s Market and the flower district, but I really had my mind set on the farmer’s market. Here in Seattle for $5, you can buy a fresh, large dahlia bouquet. So I was hoping for the same when I got to New York. And while the Union Square farmer’s market on Saturday is enormous, on Wednesday there were only potted plants. So the flower district it had to be.

The new york flower district is on West 28th street and is nothing but dozens of shops selling wholesale flowers and flower accessories. This is where the new york flower shops purchase their flowers and this is where you want to be if you’re planning a large wedding or event. The amount and variety of flowers are overwhelming. We went twice – once to see what the area was all about and then on Thursday to actually buy my flowers. And yes, the flowers here are much more affordable than flower shops, but when you’re an eloping bride that needs just one bouquet, it gets a bit tricky. The thing is you have to buy in bulk. They don’t sell in small pieces, so it’s difficult for someone like me who wanted a little bit of this flower for the texture mixed with a little bit of that flower for color with a little bit of that for height. I needed just one small bouquet, but in order to create the kind of bouquet I had wanted, I would’ve had to buy seven different bulk bundles of lowers, which would have been tremendously expensive and wasteful. It was especially frustrating because I saw things that I really wanted; I just didn’t want to buy in bulk. And there’s no negotiating here – these folks want you in and out. And to pay with cash. Quickly.

I did see succulents like I wanted, but these are meant to be arranged by a flower professional into something.

I contemplated buying these maroon and green flowers (pictured on the left) to be mixed with some ivory flowers, but there was just too much in the bundle. But now that I’m seeing the color in this photo, I’m realizing it would have worked perfect with my dress.

And this small odd mix of balls and things pictured here was what I wanted. I liked the varying colors and textures, and more importantly I liked its uniqueness. And I liked that it was one of the few bundles that were small, perfect for mixing with one other bundle. But this is another lesson I learned at the flower district – the flowers that are there one day might not be the next. I saw these on Monday but didn’t want to buy the flowers too soon lest they die in the studio before the wedding day. When I got to the shop on Thursday, they were no longer available. Then I started to pick up other options – like a bunch of gorgeous velvety light blue flowers I’d never seen before – and of course my taste leads me to the most expensive varieties, which I reluctantly put back.

Another thing about shopping at the flower district for special occasions – you have to go early. Most of the shops open up around 5:00 am and shut down by noon or 1:00. Thursday morning was the one morning that we had a hard time getting up, and long story short, we had about 10 minutes to select and purchase flowers as the shops were closing up.  I ended up buying this bundle of white flowers shown here. It wasn’t what I had envisioned as my wedding flowers since I really wanted color but they were affordable. When I bought these, one of the owners of the store who knew I wanted the bunch of balls pictured above said to me “these white flowers are better, more classic and traditional, the other one you liked was weird.” Grant immediately responded to him “she’s far from traditional,” to which the shop owner said to Grant “so trouble begins.” Later that day we bought cheap twine to wrap around to keep the flowers in place. After our trip Grant told me he was relieved that I bought these flowers because he said “some of the stuff you were picking out were too weird.”

All in all, our flower district trips were a fun and interesting experience. I didn’t get to design the flowers like I wanted to (or rather, I didn’t want to spend the money to create my design vision), but we were introduced to new flowers and how the mega flower and events business in New York works. And there were some characters working at some of the shops – straight out of the movies.  Even if you’re not looking for wedding flowers, it’s worth a trip here.

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