Close your eyes and think of your favorite flower. Picture the delicate petals; take a deep breath and remember the sweet fragrance. This could be the starting point of your floral selection. If you don’t have a favorite flower, an imaginative florist can help inspire you with ideas.
Because flowers will require a substantial portion of your wedding budget and because they will appear in almost every wedding photo, selecting the right florist is a top priority. Start by asking friends and family for referrals. If you have recently attended a wedding with particularly exquisite flowers, ask the bride what floral designer she used. Once you have a list of several reputable florists, make appointments with each one to talk about options and view photographs.
When you have chosen a florist, ask if he or she has done weddings at your ceremony and/or reception sites before. If so, this person will be knowledgeable about what sizes, shapes, and colors work in the space. If not, the designer may want to visit or, at the very least, view photos of the venue to get a feel for the space.
Choosing the flowers
Before attempting to choose flowers, determine your budget. When you meet with the florist to make your selections, bring along pictures of flowers and arrangements that are appealing to you. It is helpful if you have already chosen your dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses and the location for the wedding and reception. Colors, fabrics, textures and styles can help the floral designer guide your choices.
You may also want to consider the season in which you are marrying. Local, in-season flowers will assure freshness and affordability. Use less expensive flowers and greens to fill out bouquets and cut costs. If you are marrying in summer or in a humid climate, ask your florist to recommend hardy flowers that won’t wilt. If you are marrying near Valentine’s Day, keep in mind that the price of roses will be significantly higher at that time.
The bridal bouquet is the first and most important selection, and the bride’s size is an important consideration in designing a bouquet that will balance her look. While some brides still opt for traditional all white or antique shades, color saturation is the trend for today’s bridal bouquets. Consider the dramatic contrast of an all-red bouquet. Picture blue flowers paired with purple or periwinkle. Arrangements of cool contrasting colors are also a popular choice. Think mint green and cherry red.
Many brides are requesting a pavé arrangement, which is a tight cluster of flowers with very few, if any greens. Such bouquets can consist of a single type of flower in the same or related colors or it might include several different types of flowers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the hand-tied bouquet remains popular for its natural appeal and casual simplicity. Save money by carrying one or two large, stunning blooms, such as orchids, tulips, or sunflowers, tied with an elegant ribbon.
Ask your florist to create a smaller bouquet for the tossing ritual so that you might preserve the original (see sidebar, Preserving the Flowers).
Flowers for the wedding party should be somewhat coordinated, but they don’t have to be matched exactly. Consider distinguishing the best man with a boutonnière that is different from the other members of the wedding party. Or, make every groomsman’s boutonnière different, but match them with the bouquet of the bridesmaid he escorts down the aisle. You may prefer different colors of the same flower or all different flowers in the same color. Like the pavé bouquets, boutonnières minus greenery are popular. To create a more masculine look, forgo the flowers and consider boutonnières of wheat, herbs, or leaves.
The location of the ceremony and reception will also affect the number of flowers needed and the size of the arrangements. The trend toward elegant simplicity has changed the way churches are decorated for weddings. Many brides are opting for simpler arrangements at the ceremony and spending the decorating money on the reception. Most centerpieces and bouquets use flowers, but flowers can also be incorporated into many other areas, such as entryways, chairs, the cake and the buffet. To save money, choose floral arrangements for the ceremony that can be transported and re-used at the reception.
Preserving the Flowers
Considering all the thought and money you put into your floral selections, don’t toss, discard or leave your bouquet to dry up and shrivel away. With the latest technologies in flower preservation, your wedding flowers can become a permanent memento and a beautiful accent for your home.
To save your flowers, consult a floral preservationist at least two months prior to the wedding. Arrange to have the flowers delivered or picked up immediately after the wedding while they are still fresh. The preservationist should know how to handle each flower to provide you with the most “life like” look possible. Ask about display pieces that can be made using the flowers and other wedding keepsakes.