Guide To Wedding Flowers
‘The earth laughs in flowers,’ said the 19th century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The beauty of flowers is part of our daily life, and none more so than at a wedding. Early in the planning stage, it’s good to understand the basics before meeting the florist.
Do your groundwork first by working out what you would like: types of flowers, the colours, the kind of arrangements and, more importantly, the look you are after.
Let the venue influence your floral decisions since the arrangements need to look as if they belong there. For example, calla lilies would look too formal and out of place in a rustic setting – wildflowers would fit in better.
The sort of tables you use at your venue, either round or long, will influence the shape and style of floral centrepieces.
Start to find a florist early, about six to eight months in advance, as good florists are in demand.
Go on recommendation to find the right one, whether by word of mouth or online reviews, or look in bridal magazines. Wedding planners or co-ordinators will also make suggestions. Make appointments to see at least a couple of florists and have a look at their portfolios.
Tell florist your budget
If you have an eye for design or are using a wedding planner, a regular florist will probably be the best solution, while a floral designer is more likely to fit the bill if you want not just the arrangements made but help with designing the look for the whole day. Your budget will influence which person you choose.
At the start of the meeting tell the florist what your budget is. If you love flowers and are looking for impact, plan to spend more on flowers and less elsewhere. If your favourite blooms aren’t in season look for an alternative.
When you’ve drawn up a shortlist of two or three florists, have a follow-up consultation with them to go through details such as the cost of the exact flowers, setting up costs and breakdown costs. The florist should put together a detailed cost based on your vision and budget. If there are a lot of ideas in the mix, ask for two proposals: high end and bare minimum. You can always create a mid-range package by adding more to one area and reducing on another. The final quotes will be sent and then the choice about who to go with is yours.
Give as much information as you can to your selected florist by using inspirational photographs, a fabric swatch of the bridesmaids’ dresses and a photograph of your wedding dress. Again, this will help build up a picture of the look you want.
Expensive flowers give more impact
Be open to changes and suggestions, especially about the flowers. See what’s in bloom when you are getting married and ask how hardy they are as you’ll need your flowers to be able to last. Some blooms need more care and hydration than others. You will pay more for out-of-season flowers and those freighted a long way. Flowers are cheaper if you order at least six weeks ahead of your wedding.
Don’t be afraid of expensive flowers: they often cover more space and have greater impact. An example of this is that one cattleya orchid can have more impact than a bouquet of roses.
Flowers reflect your style: tighter bunches of traditional blooms such as peonies and roses look classic while big soft blooms such as hydrangeas convey a more romantic look. It’s more modern to use a sleek architectural variety of flowers in a minimalistic design, compared to creating a rustic feel with clusters of vibrant flowers and greenery. Experiment with floral alternatives such as fruits – great at an autumn wedding – feathers or wheatgrass.
Pastel flowers are very feminine and vintage chic, vibrant shades have a modern feel and soft green paired with white is a timeless, classic combination. Choose one colour, a pair to match your palette or mix various shades together. Flowers are a great place to choose an accent colour; for example, a lime green against a lavender bridesmaid’s dress would work amazingly well together and look great in the photos.
Don’t let flowers dominate
Look for ways to bring meaning into your flowers: lily of the valley – happiness; myrtle – true love; light pink rose – joy of life; red rose – love and desire; white rose – purity and innocence.
When it comes to your bouquet, don’t let your flowers dominate if you are small. Similarly, if you are wearing a ruffled dress, be sure that your choice of flowers and size of the bouquet work well with flouncy details. It’s also important to check that your bouquet isn’t too heavy and too fragrant. Blooms such as freesias, lilac, gardenias should be used in moderation. Fragrant herbs such as lavender and eucalyptus are a good addition to greenery.
Logistics on the big day are crucial. Co-ordinate the delivery of the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres with your photographer’s arrival as you will want them captured in the photos. Follow advice from the florist to keep the flowers fresh and away from direct sunlight.
If the ceremony is in a different place to the reception, talk to the florist about reusing arrangements as it’s a shame to leave them after the ‘I dos’ are over.
When it comes to the centrepieces on the tables, don’t let the flowers get in the way of a good conversation – too small and the table will feel empty; too high and they will block people out.
One of the mistakes that florists often talk about is last-minute panic when brides try to DIY their flowers and become overwhelmed by arranging loads of flowers in dozens of vases and keeping the flowers fresh. Turning to professional help at a late stage can become more expensive than hiring a florist from the start.
Your floral arrangements are an opportunity to add an individual touch. Where would a wedding be without glorious blooms?