For most brides, creating the perfect bridal bouquet comes second only to finding the perfect wedding dress. Your bouquet will be with you all day, appear in most of your photos, and become an integral part of your wedding memories. No pressure but…you really want to get it right!
In this post we’ll talk you through the steps to assembling a balanced and beautiful bridal bouquet, and we have plenty of pictures (scroll down to see). If you’re anxious about floral design, rest assured this is something you can do! If you want an especially large bouquet, enlist a friend’s help–so much the better if that friend has large hands. You’ll see why in a minute.
Let’s start at the verrry beginning: bouquet design. Think about a few things:
1. What time of year is your wedding? Certain flowers have a brief growing season–peonies/ranunculus/anemones, I’m looking at you! Many of the hardest-to-get flowers are also favored for bridal designs, so just be aware that you will pay more for these beauties if you insist on having them out of season.* Ask yourself if you have to have exactly what you saw in the bridal magazine, or if it’s really just the color, mood, or bouquet shape that attracts you. Those aspects can likely be recreated with flowers that are easier to find.
*We’re writing this from our perspective as a family-owned business in Iowa. There is a chance that in larger urban areas or moderate climates flower availability may work more in your favor.
2. What is your vision for the wedding as an event? Do you expect your guests to come in boots, ready to “scoot and boogie?” Or is yours more of a high heels and coattails kind of evening? There are no hard-and-fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t have, thank goodness, but you may want to consider the “mood” of your bouquet in the context of your whole event. We think you’ll agree that it would look kind of funny if a bride walked down the aisle dressed in a crystal-laden, cathedral-train gown and carrying a little tussy-mussy of daisies. No one is saying she can’t, but you know what we mean, right? Some things don’t seem to work as well as others.
3. What bouquet shape do you prefer? This one goes along with the second question but deserves its own treatment because, for the most part, any flowers can be arranged into any design shape. We’ll tell you right now that if you want a cascade like any of these, your best bet is to hire a professional. Each flower must be wired in to a cascade to create that luscious, draping shape, and–you guessed it–they’re a real pain to make! They can also be more expensive than a simpler design, but you may think it’s worthwhile to pay for such a showstopper and then save money by making simpler bridesmaid’s bouquets yourself. Also consider your own size and shape. A petite bride can easily be overshadowed if her bouquet is too large. Your flowers should be stunning, but you should steal the show!
Order your flowers as early as possible, especially if you’re using flowers your local florist doesn’t order on a regular basis. We have to book flowers in advance with our suppliers to give them time to find a grower who has the right thing. (Much as we’d like you to think we do this all by magic, it really takes a bit of planning!) Call your florist to confirm your order and make sure everything is pre-booked at least two weeks before your wedding.
Beware that after this final confirmation you may be locked in to your order. In other words, if you change your mind about what color of roses you want you may still be expected to purchase the ones you originally ordered. This is especially true if your florist doesn’t think she can sell the special-ordered flower in the store. Talk up front about the latest date for making changes, and be sure each of you clearly understands the agreement. Be sure to add to your order any florist’s supplies you need.
When you pick up your flowers the week of the wedding, be sure to condition them according to these directions. After they’ve properly hydrated, assemble your flowers and tools on a work surface. We recommend something at least the size of a dining table or kitchen counter. You may be surprised how much a project like this can spread out!
One more list, real quick–you’ll need:
1. Flowers, obviously. Some greenery too.
2. A sharp knife.
3. A pair of garden shears or snippers.
4. Quick Dip if you’re using any roses.
5. Waterproof florist’s tape (to bind the bouquet). This is the dark green stuff with threads running through it, not the soft stretchy stuff.
6. Satin ribbon in a color that matches your dress or complements your bouquet. We almost always use either white or ivory.
7. Pearl-head straight pins.
8. Crowning Glory in a spray bottle.
9. A friend with large hands, maybe? Or a friend with wine and chocolate! Then again, why choose? Invite them both.
ASSEMBLING THE BOUQUET
Have everything you need?
Okay, first step:gather some greenery in one hand.
We used flat cedar and seeded eucalyptus for this romantic February wedding.
Now visualize the finished project you are about to create and, based on that image, decide which flowers you want to use first. We usually add flowers one type at a time, layering with greenery as we go. For this bouquet we started with red hypericum berries.
Loosely hold the stems in your fist, pulling them up or down a little to position them nicely. Add some more greenery if you need it. Next, layer in another flower type. We moved from berries to tulips. Insert the new stems in around those you’re already holding, with a view toward spreading out the new type amid the first type. Unless you’re going for a really artsy or contrived look, you’ll want to avoid having a clump of this next to a clump of that; you want things nicely balanced and blended.
Just keep going. Layer in each new flower type, with greenery as needed for support and aesthetics. This is where a large-handed friend may be your lifeline. You may not think so now, but it can be very tiring for your hand to grip a bundle of stems once that bundle exceeds the circumference of, say, a rolling pin. It gets sort of heavy too. At least at your wedding you get to hold your bouquet with two hands!
We had so many flowers to include that two of us ended up cooperating to complete this bad boy.
When you have all the blossoms positioned prettily, have your friend help you bind the bouquet with waterproof florist’s tape. Start as close to the tops of the blossoms as you can. Don’t worry; you’re going to hide the tape next. Wrap snugly so there’s no flexibility for a stem to slide out of position. Wrap twice for good measure.
Next, gather some greenery and make a little “collar” of leaves around the top of the taped bouquet. Arrange stems of greenery all around the bouquet’s perimeter, making it look finished–and covering up the tape that’s holding it together. Tape this greenery in position, but place the tape near the middle of the stems’ length this time, not up at the top.
Now you can wrap the stems in ribbon and all the tape will be hidden! Beautiful, no?
After wrapping the ribbon several times around the stems, working with slight overlaps from top to bottom, we fold under the end of the ribbon and pin it in place. We usually use pearl pins, but if you want to use something else go for it! This is the time to use shears to trim the flower stems to an even length so the bouquet looks finished. Keep it in a couple inches of water until the ceremony. Remember to pack paper towels to dab the stems dry before holding them near your dress!
So what do you think? Is this a project you’d take on? Any ladies who made their own bouquet, or made one for a sister or friend, chime in with anything you learned from your experience!