The Memories Collection at Aulani does not include a bouquet like it does at Walt Disney World. Instead you get two leis: A maile lei for the groom and an orchid lei for the bride.
Maybe if we’d been planning to wear, like, a Hawaiian shirt and a muumuu (you guess who’d wear what!) these would have been perfect, but I didn’t want a lei covering up the tie + shirt + vest combo I’d so painstakingly selected for Patrick (more on that later) or anything big, puffy and white obscuring the jewelry I’d gone to all that trouble to get. Disney doesn’t offer any swaps or credit for the leis, though, so I asked that they be delivered to our room so we could wear them later that night at the Starlit Hui.
I felt like I needed to be carrying something on the long walk down the pool’s edge/aisle, and I thought it would be good to be familiar with the process of obtaining a bouquet for an Aulani event so I could help future brides. I asked about adding on a bouquet, and the odyssey began…
Elena sent me the info for a florist Aulani works with a lot, Yvonne Design. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted, so I asked about dahlias like I had in my wedding bouquet, or maybe peonies. They made me a phone appointment with one of their floral designers, and I sent them a link to my Pinterest board of information. Here are some of my inspiration photos… nothing was really leaping out at me, though, except maybe this first peony bouquet.
My phone consultation with Yvonne Design’s floral designer did not go well. I knew from my wedding planning session that dahlias are not in season in February, but since Disney had been able to get me some, I didn’t think this was a huge deal. Nope. No dahlias. Peonies are also out of season then, so it was a no on those too. I didn’t understand why Disney could get out-of-season flowers but Yvonne Designs couldn’t. The only alternative she would offer was garden roses. I’m not crazy about roses, and Disney’s practice of only using barely opened ones has made me pretty rose-phobic. But no amount of prodding or pointing out images on my Pinterest board could get the designer to suggest anything else. Honestly, she sounded like she was totally uninterested in my project and could barely be bothered to stay on the phone.
A few days later I got an email estimate from Yvonne Design. Fuchsia peonies were a definite no, and they couldn’t even get fuchsia garden roses. I’d be stuck with standard roses if I wanted that color, at a starting price of $350. So I sent in this photo and asked what that would cost:
Still $350 AND the distributor couldn’t guarantee that shade of lily. It might be solid orange with dark yellow and dark orange/brown calla lilies. Ick! I dropped all my ideas and just asked what a dahlia/zinnia/peony lover could do in February and got another suggestion of pink garden roses (this time quoted at $400) or pink peonies.($450). I’m pretty sure none of the wedding guides suggest spending the equivalent of 25% of the cost of your event on the bouquet, so that wasn’t happening…
I went back to Elena and asked if there was anyone else Disney did floral business with. She gave me the info for J’Adore Floral. I was surprised when they said they said hot pink dahlias would be no problem, just possibly smaller, and that hot pink peonies might be doable too. When I asked why they could magically get flowers that Yvonne Design had claimed were impossible to obtain, they said that it just depends on the sources a florist uses. Huh!
They send out a handy PDF of sample options with prices, which I liked. Bouquets ranged from $300-$500, boutonnieres from $25-$45, but for some reason my first floral estimate from them for a large peony bouquet was $44. This seemed way too good to be true, and it turned out it was!
When you have a Wishes event at Aulani, it comes with credit toward the bouquet, which J’Adore had mistakenly applied. When she found out about the mixup, Elena offered to give me a $55 credit toward the bouquet for giving up the leis, which was really nice. However, the true price of the bouquet was $482—plus a $110 delivery fee! I was starting to realize what a screaming deal I got on my $250 wedding bouquet from the Walt Disney World Florist… But at least the folks at J’Adore were friendly and seemed interested in working with me.
Flowergirls Floral Design
The third time I asked Elena for a floral recommendation, she sent me to Flowergirls Floral Design, who offered the just-right combination of stylish, modern-looking bouquets and reasonable prices ($200–$300 for bridal bouquets, $10 for boutonnieres). Their first suggestions for my peony/dahlia request were similar to Yvonne Design’s: Peonies were out of season, and dahlias might be available, but not in fuchsia. Garden roses would be available in fuchsia, but they may have a tone of purple. With further discussion, I was offered bicolor dahlias in white/hot pink or orange/hot pink (which is actually what I had in my original bouquet); mums in white, yellow, purple and green; or zinnias in multiple pinks, if available—just the kinds of suggestions I’d been hoping for!
Flowergirls’ price for what basically amounted to a replica of my original bouquet was $250 plus a $25 delivery fee. Perfect!
My original bouquet…
When I was getting fed up with my fruitless search for a bouquet, I’d begun investigating alternatives. I looked into real-touch bouquets (too expensive and too potentially fake-looking), silk bouquets (too potentially fake-looking at my price point), clay bouquets (too expensive) and paper bouquets (so small!). Ultimately, I found a vendor on Etsy who promised me a paper bouquet large enough for my tall frame in a variety of my wedding colors, delivered straight to Aulani for $150 inclusive. I agonized a bit, but to Patrick it was a no-brainer: “You get to KEEP the paper one!”
So I ended up working with Dragonfly Expression on Etsy to make my bouquet. Chantal was great about replying to all my detailed instructions and back-and-forth (not too many turquoise flowers, no “dusty” or pastel colors, no foofy stuff around the base, no bicolor flowers, make it really big, etc.), and the price was really reasonable considering all the work she had to do to create each flower. At Elena’s suggestion, I had the bouquet sent straight to her, and she sent me iPhone photos of it when it arrived safe and sound.
I was kinda miffed that Chantal never sent me the promised photos of the finished bouquet before she shipped it (I suspect because she knew I’d probably nitpick and ask for more changes). And when I saw the final bouquet, I was bummed to see the paper colors were indeed quite “dusty” rather than the super-saturated shades depicted in the photos in her Etsy listings. The other thing I didn’t like—the wimpy, skinny handle, which I’d asked every other Etsy seller I contacted if it were possible to beef up to real-bouquet-handle diameter—I now realize I never even mentioned to Chantal, so that was totally my fault. Plus, EVERYBODY else who saw the bouquet went ga-ga for it, so basically I’m just too picky and the bouquet is fantastic. Here’s how it turned out: