Wedding flowers are a big budget item, and one of the first things your guests will notice as you walk down the aisle.

You have a great idea about what type of bouquet you want to carry. You also want your bridesmaids' bouquets to complement your arrangement perfectly, and you want to make sure that the centerpieces at the reception will reflect your good taste. There are a hundred details to keep in mind. Being a picky bride is hard work.

It's your day. You want everything to be perfect, including your flowers. However, things can go wrong. Very wrong.

Wrong flowers, or the right flowers, in the wrong colours. Wilting flowers. Flowers that stain your dress. A heavier than expected bouquet making you feel as if you are holding a small bowling ball instead of your beautiful, heavenly flowers. Broken stems. Sudden allergic reaction. Allergic reaction of bridesmaid(s). Husband-to-be suddenly in tears (also allergic--who knew???)

Many of these horrible scenarios have probably crossed your mind. Perhaps I've added a few more. I'm sorry.

But I'd like to suggest an alternative. One that more and more discriminating brides are discovering. Premium silk flowers. Botanically correct. Incredible orchids that feel totally real and would fool anyone. Lush peonies and roses.

Think about it. No last minute surprises. No worries about substitutions, for whatever the reason. Instead, you can plan ahead. Let your designer know what you would like, or let them suggest a design for you, according to your taste and preferences. Then, a few weeks later, you receive photos of what they've created. You can then make sure that they've assembled the bouquet you were wishing for. The bridesmaid bouquets are too similar to yours? Now's the time to make those changes. So when you receive you wedding package, it will be just as you'd hoped your flowers would be like. Perfect. No surprises.

A good floral designer will work with you, helping you create your perfect floral arrangements. They should be able to offer you a choice of selecting a bouquet from their catalogue that you can customize, or having them create a new arrangement. They should be able to send you a sample of a flower or flowers you would like to use (for a small fee)upon request, and offer to send you photos to ensure that you are pleased with the results.

There you go. One less horrible scenario to keep you up at night!

Andree Lapare runs Mulberry Design http://www.mulberrydesign.ca, a small rural company specializing in sophisticated, premium silk wedding bouquets and arrangements that make brides shine.