Before and After: Flowers

24 Jul

InspirationFlowers were one area of wedding planning where I felt absolutely stumped. Not only do I not know anything about flowers, but I’m also a danger to them; I’ve killed every plant we’ve ever had in our apartment, to the point that we don’t even bother buying new ones anymore. As such, choosing the stems and style for our big day blooms is one task I found completely daunting. So here’s how one bride (moi) went about deciding and how it turned out, in case you’re feeling a little stuck, too!

When we started out wedding planning I was convinced that, in order to save money, I would be happy to go to the supermarket the morning of the wedding and simply buy some of their ready- made bouquets. However, once I started browsing wedding website galleries and got caught up in a Pinterest frenzy, I decided I would prefer something more matched to the theme of our day, and opted for getting something customized by a florist.


I had seen diagrams of different shapes for bridal bouquets, but nothing jumped out at me until I noticed a trend in the photos short- listed to my inspiration board… everything was in the “round” style (also known as “posy”). The round look just seemed cute and neat to me. I considered a “pageant” shaped arm sheaf (the kind where the flowers are cradled in your elbow) as they are generally much cheaper, but I felt a more traditional round shape would fit better with our formal wedding theme.

Real vs Fake
A key consideration for me was whether the flowers would be fresh or artificial, simply because I wanted to be able to keep my bridal bouquet as a memento. I could have happily dried any fresh flowers afterward, but living on the other side of the world to where the wedding would take place meant dried flowers would be unlikely to survive the long flight back.

I went back and forth for months trying to decide between a bouquet in colors that matched our wedding palette or the more elegant all white/ivory style that Jacqueline mentioned in her blog post last week. Seriously, this kept me up at night. Eventually I decided that I wanted something a bit more vibrant, that wouldn’t simply become invisible in front my wedding gown. Our wedding colors were beige, powder blue and royal blue, and I decided to mix these with white and ivory (my gown was ivory). I soon dismissed royal blue from the mix as the dark color seemed out of place among the other blooms. I considered adding pale purple to give the bouquet a bit more visual “texture”, but the florist didn’t have one in a color that matched the shade of blue we’d chosen. This picture below became my inspiration.

The bouquet that became my inspiration!

The bouquet that became my inspiration!

Choosing the actual flowers was the hardest part. Other than tulips, roses, frangipanis and gerberas, I don’t know any flowers by sight, so this would be tough! Fortunately I found that the galleries of flowers on The Knot list in their captions the types of stems used in the bouquets. Saved! I used that to shortlist my key contenders.

I started off with a process of elimina- tion. Frangipanis, sunflowers, gerb- eras and billy balls didn’t match our formal style (or our colors), and I just plain didn’t like the look of dusty miller, carnations or hydrangeas (which ruled out one of the few options for light blue). Calla lilies and dahlias somehow seemed a bit… pointy. :O What I did like were cabbage roses, tulips, lilies of the valley, gardenias, peonies and lisianthus. Roses also seemed like a particularly meaningful choice for me, as from every significant bouquet I’ve received (one-month anniversary from my groom, a housewarming gift from my in-laws) I have saved one rose to dry and keep together in a vase. 🙂

The color I started off trying to figure out was beige. There aren’t many flowers in beige, and it’s easy for anything that color to come off, well, kind of dead looking. On my florist’s website she had an amazing picture with what she called “copper” rosebuds, and I absolutely fell in love with the bouquet. That bouquet also included red roses and large ivory open roses… so, seeing that they went well together, I decided to go with open roses for my ivory option. Easy! Next was adding in white. We already had enough roses in there, so I asked the florist which of my shortlisted blooms would work best; she recommended gardenia or cabbage roses, and we settled on the former since the latter would be more expensive. Next was getting blue sorted. My original thinking was delphinium, but when the florist sent over a picture of her first draft the delphinium were clearly too dark a color to suit the other flowers. She suggested a baby blue orchid instead, and her next draft looked fantastic! We settled on adding a few more copper rosebuds (and then taking some of those away again), scattering the blue more throughout, and adding extra foliage around the bottom. And done!


Wondering what size bouquet to get? This is my 10-inch (25 cm) bouquet.

When I first contacted florists asking for price quotes, they asked what size I wanted. “Ummm… wedding bouquet size?” I had no idea what size one needs, and The Knot galleries weren’t exactly getting into the specifics of meas- urements. So I simply held a ruler in front of me in the mirror and tried to figure it out that way! One florist’s website suggested a 6-7- inch (15-18 cm) bouquet for junior bridesmaids, so I figured our bou- quets should at least be bigger than that… but of course every extra inch of diameter adds to the price. I eventually settled on a 10-inch (25 cm) bouquet for me, and 8-inch (20 cm) bouquets for my bridesmaids. You can see how that looked in relation to my dress and body size above.

I didn’t think twice (or even once) about the “language” of my blooms until I saw a wedding newsletter article about it. I thought to myself, “Flower meanings? Pfff! As if I’d care about that! Ooh, unless it’s a bad meaning, and then I’d want to know…” Although flower messages are a little broad, a quick online search informed me that the white rose conveys purity and innocence (nothing came up on ivory in particular), the orchid means refined beauty, and the gardenia shows joy or secret love. Good enough for me! (Check the meaning of your big day blossoms here.)

Bridesmaid bouquets
When my florist finished up my bouquet, she asked, “Now, what would you like for your bridesmaids?” Jaw drop! Other than bridesmaids’ bouquets being slightly smaller, it hadn’t dawned on me that theirs could be different from mine. I ummed and ahed for a while, considering whether to take out the blue orchids since the bridesmaids would already be wearing blue. However, creativity failed me in the end, and I realized that their dark blue dresses wouldn’t overlap too much with the light blue flowers, so the girls simply got smaller versions of my bouquet.

I had no idea that I would have to consider accessories for my bouquet. Sure, ribbons for tying it all together are obvious, but you also need pins to hold the ribbon in place, and you can also opt for berries, beads, vines, brooches in the shape of flowers, buttons, paper flowers, ribbon buckles and more. I considered copper wiring at one point, but my groom pooh-poohed it as not being very formal.

I wanted the ribbon two-thirds of the way down the stems (not half way, not all the way), with a satin ribbon (my florist gave me the options and I said, “er… well, my gown is satin?”), held in place with pearl rather than diamante pins (“er… I’ll be wearing pearls?”). I originally planned a blue ribbon but thought ivory would look more formal; the florist suggested a little blue bow for the top to tie the color theme together. (Yeesh! Who knew that so many decisions had to be made about a little ribbon?!)

I also loved the idea of having an antique brooch, like the one above, pinned to the stems as my “something old”. I telephoned my grandmother and asked if she would do me the honor of lending me one of her brooches for the day. She was thrilled! She asked if I had a particular style in mind, and I said that a flower could be good, or one in blue or even purple to match the color of the blooms. “You know…”, she said pensively, “I think I have a brooch that my own grand- mother wore on her wedding day. Would you like to use that one?” Would I! What a fabulous thing to have for my something old! When I eventually saw the brooch she had in mind, a week before the wedding, it was a lot plainer than I expected and I nearly asked her for something else… but when I realized it was in the shape of a wishbone (wishes seemed appropriate for a wedding) I decided to go with it. 🙂



The final product!

You can see above how it all turned out! When I first saw the flowers in person I was concerned they looked a bit dull (mostly because of the beige), but they showed up quite vibrant in the photos from the day. I love them! I was quite happy with how those sizes I chose turned out. And to my delight, after the wedding, my grandma said that I could keep the brooch as a memento of the day. Just lovely! No one asked on the day if the flowers we fake, so we assume no one noticed. 🙂 The bridesmaids were also quite pleased that the bouquets were much lighter in weight than fresh flowers. And I did indeed keep the bouquet as a memento; they are in a vase on our living room corner table, beside some framed wedding photos. 😀 I’m also sooo glad that I decided against shopping for ready-made bouquets from a supermarket or florist the morning of the wedding; the day was already hectic with enough things to do, without throwing another task into the mix!

Anything I would have done differently? I do kind of wish the florist had found a good purple flower to add more color to the bouquet, but the end product stuck better to our wedding palette and I still think they look gorgeous. In hindsight, the arm sheaf shape still would have been perfectly fine for our formal theme; ultimately I just liked the round style more, so I’m glad I went with it!

How are you going about choosing your wedding bouquet? Are you using your wedding colors? What types of flowers will you include, and will you choose fresh or artificial blooms?

(Second image from W-Wedding Flowers. All others pictures in this post are from our guests or professional photographer, or my own inspiration boards during our wedding planning. If one of the photos is yours, please tell me and I’d be happy to credit you.)

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2 Responses to “Before and After: Flowers”

  1. Blush Rose Manchester Wedding Flowers July 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    What a lovely blog about something personal you went through, I have to be careful sometimes as I can use flower jargon that can puzzle brides. It’s something I try not to do, but you have explained it in a way that is lovely and simple for anyone to understand. Thank you for sharing this


  1. Sunday Love Quotes: You don’t need someone to complete you… | Perfect Day Wedding Planners - July 28, 2013

    […] Before and After: Flowers ( […]

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