Weddings Weddings Weddings

The argument for artificial flowers

Flowers, flowers and more flowers. Beautiful blooms and foliage are usually an integral part of decorating and setting the mood for a wedding. They're part of centerpieces, adorn the wrists or lapels of wedding attendants and decorate churches and ceremony aisles. It's hard to envision a wedding without flowers.

Flowers are abundant in our gardens, parks and neighborhoods, and quite affordable when purchased at a local nursery in their planting containers. Something happens to flowers once they are cut and prepared for bouquets and centerpieces, however. They become one expensive commodity. As a result, many couples consider different floral options when trying to fit flowers into their wedding budgets. They may wonder if artificial flowers are more affordable.

The topic of artificial flowers elicits different responses from different people. Some people feel there are many pros to using silk flowers, while others cringe at the idea of something seemingly "cheap" at the festivities.

Silk flowers vary in price and quality. Typically, the lower the price of the flowers, the less realistic they look and the less durable they are. These flowers can be found at 99 cent stores, close-out shops and local craft and hobby stores. As silk flowers become more intricate in design and quality, their prices increase. Some silk flowers rival fresh flowers so much that it can be difficult to tell one from the other without touching or smelling the bloom itself. There are many online vendors who specialize in the sale and distribution of very realistic-looking flowers.

According to PriceHelper.com, an inexpensive bouquet of silk wedding flowers typically costs between $20 and $100, depending on the size and flowers used, while lifelike bouquets can cost more than $300. In comparison, fresh flower bouquets may be just a few more dollars. The national average for a medium to large-size fresh bouquet is anywhere from $150 to $350, depending on the flowers and whether they're in season. Also, basic bouquets can be bought at supermarkets or wholesale warehouses from around $20 to $30.

There are different pros and cons when it comes to selecting artificial flowers over real ones. The debates are similar to choosing a real Christmas tree over a fake one. Here are some points to consider.

* Real flowers are good for a few days before they're past their prime. Artificial flowers can last a lifetime when stored away properly.

* Artificial flowers are usually part of a do-it-yourself wedding. Couples who prefer the look of a professional centerpiece or bouquet may feel fresh flowers are the better choice. The price of fresh flowers includes the expert arrangement of the florist, who is knowledgeable in complementary colors and placement.

* Fresh flowers that are out of season may have to be shipped in from outside of the country, which will increase the price significantly. No such problem exists with artificial flowers.

* Artificial flowers sometimes carry a stigma, and some people might feel you took the cheap route by choosing fake flowers -- even if the flowers themselves were not cheap.

* Fresh flowers have a distinct aroma that artificial flowers can't provide. But fresh flowers may trigger allergies whereas artificial flowers will not.

* If you want artificial flowers to be professionally arranged, you could have difficulty finding a florist to do so for you. After all, they're in the business of selling fresh flowers.

* You may compromise appearance if you select less expensive varieties of silk flowers. An alternative is to simply use fewer fresh flowers you will then still have the benefit of the real thing.

* There is no expiration date on artificial flowers; therefore they can be purchased in advance and stored until you are ready to create arrangements.

Ultimately, the choice between fresh flowers and artificial ones is largely a personal preference. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and because they are relatively similar in price, their subtle differences may solidify one choice over the other.