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With hundreds of varieties and colors of flowers available, choosing the right combination for your bridal bouquet can be a daunting task. Add to it budget constraints and a myriad of styles, and you just might opt for walking down the aisle swinging your arms, rather than holding a bouquet. But what fun would that be? And keep in mind that flowers will wind up being one of your most beautiful accessories. Here are some tips to make choosing your perfect bouquet easy and fun: A REASON FOR THE SEASON: Think hard about when you are going to be carrying those flowers. “Pick in-season blooms,” says floral designer Denise Herker of Leigh Florist in Audubon. “You can get most flowers at any time, but the quality is never quite as good as when they are in season.” If you need convincing, think of the look of the first daffodils and tulips of spring, exploding out of the ground in yellows, whites, reds, and purples, or of crimson and orange chrysanthemums melding with the golds and reds of the changing autumn leaves. Bottom line: No one does it quite as well as Mother Nature. WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER: Floral designer Michael Bruce of Michael Bruce Florist in Collingswood suggests asking yourself this question: “How important is it to have the bridal bouquet in reasonable shape at the end of the evening?” Bruce adds that, “Sometimes the most beautiful flowers are more ‘fleeting and ephemeral.’ For example, a bundle of white sweet peas or colorful poppies or stephanotis are more delicate than roses. For some brides, flowers lasting through the beginning of the reception are adequate, while others want perfection to the end of the night.” Your answer to this question will help decide your choice of blooms. TRADITIONALIST OR TRENDSETTER? Are you drawn to all-white arrangements of classic wedding flowers like roses, lilies of the valley or orchids? Or do a few big blossoms in bright colors, like shocking pink Gerbera daisies paired with blush-pink dahlias, catch your eye? Go with your instincts. Current wedding trends dictate that almost anything goes and it’s okay to be a little unique. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. “The color and choice of the gown material play into the composition of a bridal bouquet,” says Bruce. An ivory-colored spaghetti-strapped, slip dress in crushed taffeta, for example, will look great with a bundled bouquet of purple and pink-hued wildflowers, while a gleaming white, intricately beaded, silk princess gown may look best with a cascade of white calla lilies. IT’S A TRUST THING: When it comes to choosing your bouquet and wedding flowers in general, Herker and Bruce agree: Find a florist with whom you feel comfortable and that you trust. Not only do they know flowers, but they can offer you suggestions and tips that are invaluable. Herker encourages brides to list what flowers they like and don’t like, the color ranges of their gown and their bridesmaids’ attire, and their preferred styles, but to also trust the florist’s judgment. “Be open to suggestion, open to the season, and flexible,” says Herker. “Sometimes gorgeous flowers come in at the last minute from a local farmer or grower.” A quick substitution can make your bouquet even more beautiful, fresh, and vibrant than you and your florist originally planned. BIG ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER: Your florist is also knowledgeable about much more than flowers. For example, Bruce offers this sage advice: “Ever notice how so many of the bouquets you see in photographs are too big for the bride? Why is that? Typically, the bouquet stands between the bride and the camera lens. The bouquet is that much closer to the lens, so it appears much larger. Slightly downsize the bouquet. Though it may still appear bigger than it is, the downsized proportions will photograph better.” Great advice. Now, instead of an exercise in frustration, choosing your flowers will be like a walk among the daisies…or the dahlias…or the daffodils!