Flummoxed by florals? Follow our dos and don’ts and your wedding flowers will be petal perfection writes Beth Forsyth
Some people say they’d rather wear flowers in their hair than diamonds round their neck, but thankfully there’s no toss-up between the two on your wedding day – you can have both if you want. Jewels may have been the preserve of the rich in times gone by, but flowers, it seems, have been central to the marriage ritual for a very long time indeed. Girls in ancient Greece wore wreaths of greenery, symbolising hope and fertility, while brides in the Middle Ages toted bunches of flowers and herbs in a bid to ward off evil spirits – and to mask the inevitable consequences of irregular bathing! Fast-forward a millennium or so and even brides on the strictest of budgets will consider a bouquet and some buttonholes for the men a crucial element of their day.
Follow our floral dos and don’ts and you’ll have a wedding that’s blooming gorgeous, no matter how recently you showered…
You’ve booked the venue and ordered the dress. Now’s the time to flesh out your floral fantasies. Inspiration is everywhere, believes Anne-Maree Brennan of Tigerlily Flowers in Alness (tigerlilyalness.co.uk). She suggests that “memories of your granny’s garden, the first flowers your fiancé gave you or blooms you’ve seen in a film” could all spark notions for your own wedding flowers. Amy McMurray, who runs The Black Orchid (theblackorchidflorist.co.uk) in Glasgow, urges brides-to-be to look through magazines and browse blogs and Pinterest to get ideas to show your florist. “Keep pictures of things you like, so he or she can help you build on them to create your bridal bouquet and arrangements,” she recommends.
DON’T LEAVE IT TOO LATE
“You should make an initial approach to florists at least six months before the big day,” advises Rowena McKeown at Showers of Flowers in Glasgow (showersofflowers.co.uk). Anne-Maree agrees: “If you already have your heart set on a particular florist, have a consultation with them as soon as you can – I’ve had weddings booked a year and a half in advance. Others, mind you, just gave us a few days’ notice.” If you don’t have a favourite florist, ask your venue for suggestions or speak to friends and family who have recently got married and see if they would recommend their flower supplier. Once you have a few names, look at their websites and social media channels to get a feel for their previous work. If their style reflects your ideas, arrange to speak to them directly. “Always ask at the outset if your wedding date is still available. The most disappointing thing that can happen is that you fall in love with the florist’s ideas, only to discover they’re not free to take on the job of doing your flowers,” says Amy.
DO TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Book a consultation to visit the florist’s shop or workspace. Rowena believes that first impressions count: “Go with your gut instinct. If you like their portfolio and you have a good feeling about the florist, there is no reason to traipse around a lot of other companies.” And don’t be shy about sharing all your pictures and ideas at your first one-to-one consultation: “An expert florist will take all aspects of your wedding plans into account – the dress, venue details, a bride’s likes and dislikes,” says Anne-Maree. “The best florists will seize the opportunity to gain all the relevant information and translate this into the perfect bouquets and displays.”
DON’T FORGET ABOUT SEASONALITY
“At certain times of the year, some flowers are not available – or, if they are, it can be costly to have them imported. During your consultation, your floral designer should be able to advise you of the availability of the flowers you have in mind,” says Anne-Maree.
“Although many flowers can be sourced outside their natural season, peony roses, ranunculus and dahlias – some of the most sought-after wedding blooms – are all still very much seasonal,” adds Amy.
“Tulips, narcissus and sweet-peas aren’t available year-round either,” says Rowena.
DO PLAY WITH PROPS
The options are endless when it comes to decorating a venue, but accessorising wisely will create floral displays with maximum impact. “Props can be a great way of creating a certain mood for a wedding. If you are going for a classic look, for example, I would suggest candelabras for a table arrangement. For a vintage look, you could use tea cups and vintage jars and bottles, and finish off with bunting. There are lots of different ways of injecting a personal touch and enhancing a theme,” says Amy.
To personalise the bouquet and make it even more meaningful, Rowena suggests incorporating family heirlooms such as brooches and jewellery into its design.
DON’T BLOW THE BUDGET
“Sticking to the flowers that are in season around your wedding will ensure you don’t add any additional expense in sourcing flowers not readily available at that time of year. Your florist can advise you on the best options for keeping costs to a minimum, while also creating a look that will make your day very special,” says Amy.
“If you want lots of flowers, or large, elaborate displays which take a lot of blooms and time to create, it will have an impact on cost,” warns Anne-Maree, who suggests that it may be better to have a couple of amazing displays that can be taken from the church to the venue and used again, rather than having a few small ones that might not get noticed. Incorporating inexpensive foliage will also help to cut costs, as it allows you to use fewer flowers, but can still be really beautiful when used correctly.
DO THE STYLISH THING
…and match your flowers to the overall vibe of the day. “Garden roses, peonies, sweet-peas, hydrangeas, stocks, herbs and gypsophila continue to be popular for vintage-inspired weddings, and you can incorporate lace or pearls to complete the look,” says Anne-Maree. “You can’t beat roses for their timeless, classic style. With such an array of varieties and colours available, a relatively modest bouquet of roses always remains on trend and looks stunning.” She also thinks calla lilies have an inherently elegant feel, whether used in a hand-tie or simply draped over your arm.
At The Black Orchid, Amy uses orchids to achieve a modern, glamorous look, saying that they “always look amazing when there are a lot of them, but are equally stunning and elegant on their own.” For a ‘country vintage’ look, a mix of wild flowers works very well. Amy suggests delphiniums, wax flower, lilacs, alstroemeria, dahlias, scabiosa and cornflowers, with “a nice mix of foliage – mint and rosemary, for example – to add a bit of scent to the bouquet.”
A professional florist will take care of the set-up on the day, liaising with the venue(s) to ensure smooth delivery of all the bouquets, buttonholes, corsages etc to the relevant members of the bridal party. “If we’re dressing banisters and pillars in the venue, for example, we would normally have arranged to visit the place with the bride beforehand so the flowers tie in perfectly with the location on the day,” says Rowena.
DON’T TOSS THEM AWAY
Fresh flowers are ephemeral, but that doesn’t mean you should chuck them in the bin when last orders are called. Why not present the table-centre arrangements to friends and family at the end of the night? There are also a few companies in Scotland offering bouquet preservation, with prices starting under £100 for a basic, framed design.
Faking it with silk blooms is also worth considering if the thought of shrivelled stems gives you that sinking feeling. “Bespoke bouquets and arrangements made using silk flowers will last a lifetime,” points out Fiona Kirk from silk flower specialist Brides2Bouquets (brides2bouquets.com), and they needn’t be any more expensive than cut blooms: “My bridal bouquets start at around £65,” she says.