Onto the show.
So to make each flower, you need eight pieces in varying shapes and sizes. You cut each out of coffee filters and then somewhat painstakingly (for some reason this really made my left thumbnail sore) attach them to floral wire with floral tape. My mom, Madelyn, cc, myself and Jon cut out some 3200 pieces and separated them out into plastic baggies; we still have a ton of them left. Jon and I taped together nearly 300 roses--that's 2400 individual pieces for those of you not interested in doing the math. Most of our other helpers weren't excited about trying the flower construction, because working with floral tape for any length of time is a serious beeyatch.
If the devil had a torture tool, this would be it.
Utilizing floral tape takes some finesse to start with, because you have to draw out the stickiness by pulling on it, but not pull too hard or it will break. Plus you don't want your stems to be too bulky; you want to get the job done with as little as possible. Oh, and you'd better pencil in about half an hour after you're done to clean off the residue from your hands. And prepare for them to feel weird for the rest of the day, too. Dawn dish soap is effective on oil-slicked ocean life, but only works so-so for victims of floral tape abuse. The only good way to get it off is to scrub some really crunchy pots and pans.
I had been lulled into a sense of security with that first rose I made, because I started with a crusty old roll of floral tape from seventh grade when we made boutonnieres for all the dads at church on Father's Day. Apparently, the older and crustier your floral tape is, the better it works. We found that out the hard way when we ran out and had to buy some new stuff. It sucked! It was slippery, wouldn't stick to itself and generally was a ginormous pain. One night after a long day of struggling with it, that last rose was taking more than an hour (I was supposed to have finished getting all the petals on each one within 15 minutes to stay on track) and kept falling apart. I'd had it. I threw it on the floor, chucked the devil's spawn tape at the wall and had a good old-fashioned temper tantrum, stomping and all. Jon was there to witness that and still married me.
Soon after, it was with great luck that we happened to find a fabric store that was relocating to a bigger space and getting rid of all their merchandise. Not only did we clean up on floral stem wire, but got a huge pack of really old and crusty looking floral tape. The box it was in had yellowed a bit, so we knew it was going to be good. Thank God for that store!
My original plan of being done with the flowers long before the wedding was ludicrous--we dragged out cutting pieces until June and didn't really start the factory until July. But for most of the summer, the apartment looked something like this:
At the completion of each step, we were tempted to just leave them as they were.
M had brought us a few beautiful Pilsner glasses that she'd found--at the dollar store of all places--that would be just perfect for what we were looking for in our centerpieces. I spent the summer trolling dollar stores all around Chicago looking for more (we needed 24), but couldn't find the same ones! I just didn't want to have to order them online because we were already having bad luck with fragile items being delivered (several of our gifts arrived having broken during shipping). By the end, we were getting down to the wire and I saw some vases that would work at a great price at IKEA--I could get 30 of them and take the home in the trunk that day. Unfortunately, they were a little bigger, so instead of 8-10 flowers a vase, we'd need 12 or more. Which meant cranking out more flowers.