By ALEXANDRA MATZKO

Near the end of the marathon of wedding planning are the final details.

You’ve tackled your priority list, and now you just have a few things left. For me, these were the flowers, the cake, the invitations and the hair and makeup.

Let’s talk flowers and cake!

Even though I wasn’t overly concerned with these elements, it’s still important to do your research to make sure you hire responsible vendors who will deliver and set up these items on time and in mint condition. You don’t want to worry about flowers or cake on the wedding day!

Flowers

Flowers and decor will be personal to your taste. My first recommendation would be to figure out what your vision is. Getting married in the summer, I knew I wanted a color palette that was light, elegant, and muted.

I didn’t care about the types of flowers but rather the colors. I was looking for greens, whites, and blushes. I compiled several pins from Pinterest to flesh out my bouquet, centerpiece, and head table look.

Flowers allow you to get DIY if you’re the crafty type. I’m not. Luckily, my mother-in- law is all about flowers and floral arrangements, and she’s super talented. She did our head table, complete with a floral runner, and it was insanely gorgeous.

However, I didn’t feel comfortable putting her to work on the entire wedding. Having her, and the rest of my family, enjoy the day was one of my biggest priorities.

My mom and I got a quote on pricing from the floral boutique Branching Out ($3,000+ YIKES), and we were definitely not going to spend more on flowers that die than on pictures that last forever. No thank you!

That’s when our invitation lady told us about a florist at the Kroger in Green Hills named Wade. Yes. Flowers from a Kroger! We met Wade, and I knew he was perfect for us. Here’s why and what you should look for in a florist:

1. He was affordable – $1,400 for all the bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and church flowers.

2. He delivered and set up – He set the scene at the church and reception, even adding flowers to the cake, for just $100. Everything went off without a hitch, the flowers looked great, and he was such a professional. There was not a petal out of place.

3. He came with high recommendations – our first visit to Wade was during prom weekend, and every mom who stopped by to purchase a boutonniere could not have more good things to say about him.

3. He made mock ups – A week after meeting with Wade he made a mock centerpiece and bouquet. My mom cried just looking at it because it was so beautiful. We bought one and brought it home.

4. He knew exactly what I wanted – Like I’ve mentioned, I’m not a flower person. I don’t know the real difference between a hydrangea and a rose, and I don’t particularly care. I showed a couple pins and mentioned colors to Wade, and he got to work creating. It was awesome. It was like he knew what I wanted without me having to do much work.

Cake

Cake tasting is the stuff of romantic comedy dreams. I was excited to test out different flavors and textures, and it was the one appointment Jake was actually looking forward to attending.

Cakes can get mucked up if not done right, and you don’t want to be stuck with a stale or melting mess on your hands.

We went with Signature Cakes by Vicki and got our cake for $650.

1. Tasting – She arranged 14 different cupcakes in a spiral going from mildest to boldest in flavor. She cuts the cupcakes into quarters, and everyone tastes a slice. One thing to keep in mind: you’re about to eat four full-size cupcakes with icing if you don’t pace yourself. Same goes for large slices of cake. The cakes all look delicious and tantalizing, but you want to save room to appreciate all the flavors! Also, we were allowed to choose three flavors for the four different tiers of cake at no extra charge.

2. Frosting – You can choose from buttercream or fondant. Fondant is the fancy frosting that can be molded into all sorts of shapes. Since a showstopper cake wasn’t my thing, we stuck with frosting. I was more focused on the cake taste and texture, which were both excellent. Buttercream frosting is cheaper, and you can see it looks great in the pictures above.

3. Cake stand and cutting – Your cake is going to need a stand. Most bakeries offer this for an extra charge, so check to see if your venue offers one for free. Ours did. Also, you need to figure out who will cut the cake. Some venues charge extra for slicing services. Make sure to double check on this.

4. Cake delivery and refrigeration – How does the bakery store the cake? How far in advance is it baked? How many other cake deliveries are happening on the same day?

You want to feel sure that your cake will be fresh and well taken care of. Vicki has a van for transportation and a great work ethic. She was great!

5. Storing that top tier for your anniversary – Ask your baker to give you specific (even written) directions on how to store that cake top for your first anniversary. Vicki gave very clear and precise directions to keep the cake fresh. They involved what to wrap it with, how to freeze it, and how to defrost it. This isn’t an intuitive step, so make sure you do it right.

These final details may seem small, but they’re important. Doing them right will help your day run super smooth, and your guests will be talking about that cake for years!