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What would a wedding be without flowers? With their heavenly combination of sight and scent, they are an essential part of any bridal assembly.
Start shopping for a florist early – ask to look at photos of previous work they have done. Discuss with them your style of dress (take fabric samples if possible), theme of the wedding and any particular likes or dislikes you may have.
Historically, flowers were chosen for the message that they conveyed … you might be superstitious enough to ensure that you are sending the appropriate signal to your future husband.
Today’;s bouquets are usually variations on 4 basic shapes:
- Classic Teardrop Bouquet – wide at the top, with a trail of flowers, it is said to represent a tear of happiness
- Trailing Bouquet – A slender flowing arrangement from top to bottom
- Posy – Round shaped arrangement of tightly packed flowers – surrounded with foliage or lace
- Sheath – Elegant bouquet of flowers carried over the crook of the elbow
Remember, if you would like to preserve your bouquet as a sentimental reminder, to have a simple bouquet made up to throw at the end of the reception.
A few other tips for setting the stage:
- Begin planning no more than six months before the wedding (ideas, like flowers, begin to wilt after too long).
- Visit the florist in person and check for sloppy workmanship. Two bad signs: visible floral foam at the bottom of an arrangement and designs that appear skimpy or sparse.
- Discuss a budget and ask for an estimate. A bridal bouquet, four bridesmaids’; bouquets, arrangements for 20 tables and flowers at the ceremony will cost anywhere from $7,500 to $15,000.
- You wouldn’;t dream of wearing a gown you have never laid eyes on, and the same should be true for buying flowers. Request to see a sample centerpiece a few weeks before the wedding – when your flowers are in season – to ensure that there are no surprises on the big day.
Hints for selecting flowers & floral arrangements
- When you are shopping for flowers, consider the season and location of your wedding. Some flowers are extremely expensive and very hard to come by during the autumn and winter months.
- Decide on the church and reception, as well as your dress style, before you start choosing your flowers. It is far easier to decorate when you know the size of the venues and which styles the flowers need to suit.
- Brides often prefer not to throw their actual bouquet. You should talk with your florist about arranging a smaller, simpler version, may florists include this “throw away” bouquet at no extra charge.
- When selecting flowers for the head table or the cake table at the reception, consider using the bridesmaid’;s bouquets placed along the front. This adds more to the table and saves on the cost of additional flowers.
- Make sure no one in your wedding party is allergic to a certain type of flower.
- If you have any unusual or personal requests, don’t hesitate to ask! By communicating with your florist, you can be confident that your wedding flowers will be just what you hoped for.
- If you have a large area to decorate, consider renting shrubs, trees or plants. It is much less expensive than using large floral arrangements and still looks very attractive. Also, balloons make for a cost effective means of decorating.
Using Flowers to Define Your Color Scheme
Question – “I want to use my favorite color– deep violet purple –as the main color for my wedding. I know that I also want to use another color as well, but I’;m not sure what. My gown is white, the maid of honor will wear violet, the grooms men will wear black, and I want a lot of color (not much white) in my bouquet for a dramatic effect.What other color would you suggest?’;
All brides have to make similar decisions to yours. Their specific needs and circumstances are different, of course, but all need to consider how their use of color combinations, flower varieties, textures and proportions will effect the impression their flowers create.
You could use varying shades of purple with white and lots of greenery to make the bouquets stand out, but that probably would not create as much contrast as you want. A second (or even more) accent colors will help provide the impact and interest you wan t, and will help the flowers to stand out visually from the maid of honor’;s gown. What colors are best will be up to your tastes, and the mood you want to create.
Purple and yellow are traditional companion colors because of their opposite positions on the color wheel. This combination can be fresh or bold, depending on the depth of purple and yellow shades you choose. The stronger the yellow, the more vibrant the effect. Your purple choice will depend largely on the color of the maid of honor’;s gown fabric, because purples must be matched carefully.
Purple could be attractively paired with various shades of red as well, and even with red AND yellow. This has a very strong effect, and might work well for you if you like flowers which traditionally come in red or burgundy. The addition of yellow might be in the form of a tiny yellow “filler” flower to brighten the bouquets, or in proportions equal to the red and/or purple.
A really deep violet often looks strikingly fresh and pretty with hot pink or fuchsia as a contrast. These pinks have been very popular with brides in the past few years, and they look great with a bright white gown. Rose and paler pink tones are also har monious with purples, but they create a softer impression.
All of these considerations, of course, will be affected by the flower varieties you choose. Flower types have “moods” as much as colors do, and the combination of flower sizes, shapes and textures will be important to creating the drama you seek.
Roses, for example, can be dramatic or charming, depending on their size and variety. Lilies are clean and formal, but are strong because of their size and substance. Orchids are also strong in form and substance, and a few come in very bold and unusual s hades. Gerber daisies and ranunculus provide a bright, intense “spot” of color. Iris, hydrangeas, liatris and peonies all have unusual shapes which tend to direct the design of the arrangements they are used in. Smaller, busier flower textures are useful in softening the effect of bold flower shapes, or for injecting a small amount of a lighter or contrasting shade.
Whatever color scheme and flower varieties you decide to use, you can customize your floral statement even more by varying the amounts of different colors and textures you use in different arrangements– more color or greenery in your bouquet, perhaps, to help it stand out against your gown; more of the contrast color than purple in the maid’;s bouquet, for the same reason; more white in cake decorations to look like “part of” white frosting; lots of strong purple at the altar to draw the eye from a drab o r distracting church setting; or whatever appeals to you and is appropriate for your situation.
Preserving your Bouquet
When deciding on the flowers for your bouquet you may want to keep in mind some flowers and greens are easier to preserve than others.
A popular but costly method is freeze-drying. The freeze drying machine freezes the bouquet to around 30 degrees below zero. It creates a vacuum, which evaporates the moisture from the petals. The water changes from a solid state to a gas, a process called substatiation. When the moisture is removed, flowers keep their shape unlike air-dried flowers. The flowers are also treated after freeze-drying to prevent moisture from returning to the petals.
You can also choose pre-freeze dried roses, although the white roses tend to look more like ivory.
Roses are at the top of the list for preserving, as they are easily air dried by hanging upside down.
Silica drying can be done using a silica gel, which is available from craft stores. Freesias and carnations can be successfully dried using silica gel.
Green plants can be preserved using a glycerine solution. 1 part glycerine to 2 parts boiling water, add green food colouring to keep the colour. Leave the greenery in the solution for up to 2 weeks. With ivy, make sure it is completely submerged.
Extend the life of your flowers by keeping them out of sunlight. Storing and presenting them in a shadow box or glass container stops them from being covered in dust and protects them from being broken.
Practice on flowers and greenery long before the big day.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh flowers on your wedding day. The beautiful perfume of freesias lilies and roses can set the mood for the perfect day. With careful drying and preserving you can keep your special momento forever.