Roses: A beginner’s guide to the romantic bloom in your bouquet

Most brides can’t imagine their wedding floristry without a rose or two, so swot up before meeting your florist

Wild Flower Workshop adds some drama to this rose-centred arrangement with the addition of foliage and dark blooms (photo: Caro Weiss)

If you’re struggling to pen your wedding vows, I have to say it’s not really a surprise – sometimes language simply can’t do your feelings justice. Whether it’s the ecstasy of love or the agony of heartbreak, even the efforts of history’s most talented wordsmiths can seem inadequate during life’s highs and lows.

That’s probably why you’ll find one constant presence at weddings and funerals alike: “Flowers have been used for centuries to express how we feel when our emotions are too intense for words,” believes Willow & Wisteria Flowers’ Liana Cardillo. “Be it love, grief or gratitude, blooms always find a way.”

At nuptials, it’s likely that the variety used to convey these sentiments will be the humble rose, a staple at w-days the world over. But why is this, and what options do couples have should they choose to embrace the flower? If you’re lost, our rosy run-through will set you right.

“It’s thought that roses were first cultivated in China over 5,000 years ago; since then, they’ve become a symbol of love and romance,” says Lavender + Rose

Why are roses so popular in wedding floristry?

The wedding industry has changed massively over the past ten years, but here at Tie The Knot Scotland we still chat to legions of couples who want to maintain some traditional elements come the big day – and more often than not that includes flowers.

“Brides usually take advice from their mothers, aunties and grannies when planning a wedding, and normally the rose was a feature of their relatives’ wedding bouquets, which they then want to carry forward,” says Liana.

That’s all fine. However, there is an overwhelming number of ways to incorporate this ubiquitous flower into your day – so where to start? “There are thousands of varieties of rose, but they all fall into two camps: spray and single-headed,” says the aptly named Rosie Conroy at Lavender + Rose.

“Spray roses have multiple heads on each stem and are typically smaller blooms, while single-headed roses are often used as focal flowers in bouquets and centre-pieces because of their larger size. We like using both in our wedding projects for a varied look.”

What roses work for weddings?

Are there any roses that are particularly suited to wedding florals? “We find that garden roses, like the David Austin varieties, are the most popular choices for couples,” says Rosie.

“That’s because they smell incredible, which adds to the ambience of the big day, and they come in a whole range of muted, pretty shades which work well with just about any theme. The shape is more varied too, with some that open out to reveal their centres and others that are packed with layers of ruffled petals.”

“Roses are a classy flower that can add elegance and beauty to any wedding bouquet,” says Liana Cardillo at Willow & Wisteria Flowers (photo: Emma Gray Photography)

If you’re planning a day that’s a little off the beaten track, you can pay homage to this most romantic of blooms but still keep it a little different. “I would recommend vintage roses to put a spin on the classic,” says Liana. “Memory Lane, Quicksand, Amnesia and Blue Curiosa can add lots of texture and tonal difference to your wedding posy, ideal for both contemporary and rustic affairs.”

Will seasonality will affect the price?

There’s no doubt that roses remain a popular choice for weddings (hardly surprising when you take into account how beautiful they are), but does this increased demand have any impact on the price you can expect to pay? “The cost fluctuates quite often, and it depends on the time of year,” explains Liana.

“Roses are very expensive in the run-up to and after Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and the Christmas period. Varieties like the peony, garden and David Austin are all more expensive compared to standard flowers as they are lusher in quality, look and scent.”

Rosie also points out that roses only bloom during the summer months in the UK, so if you’re looking to be more sustainable in your planning, you’re more likely to secure Scottish stems if you’re getting hitched between June and August. 

As you’ll no doubt be aware, flowers are not just to have and to hold – they also play a crucial role in venue decor. Here, too, the preference for roses shows no sign of dimming. “Because of their size – not too big, not too small – roses are also good for tables; and on larger pieces like archways and installations they can be grouped together to make a really pretty impact,” says Rosie.

“They’re also rather robust compared to many flowers: we often use them in wedding work without a water source and they’ll hold up perfectly for a full day sans drink in most cases.”

Beau Bouquets makes stunning faux-flower arrangements

What are artificial roses like?

You might be sold on the idea of rose-centred arrangements but nevertheless struggling to part with your hard-earned cash for something that won’t last past the first few days of marriage.

That’s where going faux can be a godsend.

“Artificial flowers are fabulous for hay-fever sufferers, or those whose favourite flowers are not in season on their special day,” says Michelle Maclean, owner of Beau Bouquets.

“It also gives the couple the ability to plan ahead and save money by decorating a venue themselves, since such flowers obviously never wilt and are easily handled. And, most importantly, it means the bride will always have a permanent keepsake.”

If you do choose to go down the artificial route, there’s no reason why your bouquet and decor can’t include whichever specific blooms you’ve got your eye on.

“Roses lend themselves well to replication, and good-quality ones come in various fabrics (silks, velvets and Real Touch), with numerous rose varieties duplicated, like David Austin, Avalanche and English,” offers Michelle.

Though high-calibre faux creations can potentially be more spenny than the real thing, the increased cost is offset by their longer life: imagine repurposing your original bouquet for a vow renewal or gifting it to your daughter when she marries decades down the line. The possibilities are endless. 

Real roses can’t live forever, unfortunately, but you can take steps to preserve them. “Hang your flowers upside down in a dark, dry place and leave them for a few weeks,” recommends Rosie. “Once dried out fully, they’ll last for years.”