The Bridal Bouquet

The bridal bouquet is one of the most important elements of the bride's attire and deserves special attention. Start by selecting the color and shape of the bouquet. The bridal bouquet should be carried low enough so that all the intricate details of your gown are visible.

Options: There are many colors, scents, sizes, shapes and styles of bouquets to choose from. Popular styles are the cascade, cluster, contemporary and hand-tied garden bouquets. The traditional bridal bouquet is made of white flowers. Stephanotis, gardenias, white roses, orchids and lilies of the valley are popular choices for an all-white bouquet.

If you prefer a colorful bouquet, you may want to consider using roses, tulips, stock, peonies, freesia, and gerbera, which come in a wide variety of colors. Using scented flowers in your bouquet will evoke memories of your wedding day whenever you smell them in the future. Popular fragrant flowers for bouquets are gardenias, freesia, stephanotis, bouvardia, and narcissus. Select flowers that are in season to assure availability.

Things To Consider: Your flowers should complement the season, your gown, your color scheme, your attendants' attire, and the style and formality of your wedding. If you have a favorite flower, build your bouquet around it and include it in all your arrangements. Some flowers carry centuries of symbolism. Consider stephanotis -- tradition regards it as the bridal good-luck flower! Pimpernel signifies change; white flowers radiate innocence; forget-me-nots indicate true love; and ivy stands for friendship, fidelity, and matrimony -- the three essentials for a happy marriage.

No flower, however, has as much symbolism for brides as the orange blossom, having at least 700 years of nuptial history. Its unusual ability to simultaneously bear flowers and produce fruit symbolizes the fusion of beauty, personality, and fertility.


Selecting Your Florist

Here are some great tips to help you in selecting your florist.

Before you begin your appointment with the florist, look around their shop.

. What is the decor of the shop like?
. Is it nicely and creatively decorated?
. Do they have interesting floral arrangements?
. Do they use unique vases or baskets in their arrangements?

Next, look in the cooler...

. Do the flowers look fresh?
. Do they have interesting varieties of flowers or just your standard roses or carnations.
You are not just buying flowers, your buying style and creativity from the floral designer.

Your florist should listen and offer ideas and suggestions. Here are a few questions you should ask your florist:

Ask to see photographs of other weddings done by the florist. Do they look different or do the arrangements all look the same? Be sure to tell the florist what you like and what you don't like about certain arrangements.

Ask about their service the day of the wedding. Who will be setting up the day of the wedding? Ask how many weddings are done in one day. Ask if they are familiar with both the ceremony and reception location. If not, can they make arrangements to visit them prior to the wedding?

Ask about delivery and set up times. This is especially important when it comes to the hotter weather. If the flowers are dropped off too early they can wilt and won't stay fresh throughout the entire reception.

When you choose your florist, make sure that your contract or receipt details: All of the arrangements, bouquets and any other decorations that the florist is to provide. A detailed description of the color and variety of flowers to be included in the bouquets and floral arrangements. You don't want to ask (and pay for) roses and end up with carnations and lilies.

Make sure delivery time and the number of hours of set up time is specified in your contract or on your receipt. Try and find a florist whose style (and price) you like. Be specific about your tastes and what you want. Don't just say, "I'd like a bouquet that's white with roses." There are so many different styles, shapes and sizes, you don't want to be disappointed when you open the box.


Bridal Bouquet Basics

A beautiful and fragrant bridal bouquet is the perfect compliment to your bridal attire. The bridal bouquet should enhance the beauty of the gown, not overpower it.

A "traditional" bridal bouquet is designed with all white flowers so that it does not draw attention away from the bride and her wedding gown. However, there is an increasing trend toward adding color to the bridal bouquet from soft pinks and pastels to fuchsia and ruby reds.

The bridal bouquet should compliment the personal style of the bride as well as the overall theme and atmosphere of the wedding. If hot pink suits your personality, there should be nothing stopping you.

Bridal bouquets now come in all colors, shapes and styles. Here are some of the basic designs for bouquets…

The Cascade Bouquet -- The most traditional and formal style for the bridal bouquet. As the name implies, it resembles a cascade or waterfall with the flowers flowing downward. Traditional wedding flowers used in the cascade bouquet are white and include roses, stephanotis, white or calla lilies, and mingled with some greenery. The bouquet has the appearance of being loose and free flowing.

The Nosegay or Round Cluster Bouquet -- Round in shape and usually smaller than the other styles. It can be created with a single type of flower or a mix. A popular version of this bouquet is the tight round cluster in white or pastel pink roses. This type of bouquet usually has very little greenery.

The Hand-tied or Lose-tied Bouquet -- A little less formal than the others. It gives the illusion of a "just picked" bouquet of spring flowers tied loosely with delicate ribbon or lace. The bouquet is put together with a variety of different types of flowers. In this bouquet, the flowers can actually have some movement, or just the appearance of being free flowing. It all depends on the preference of the bride.


Tips for Choosing A Bridal Bouquet

Select flowers that are in season. This will keep costs down tremendously. Consider purchasing silk flowers if you have your heart set on a flower that is not in bloom.

Some brides choose silk flowers because they are often less expensive than fresh flowers and the bouquet can be kept and displayed in their home after the wedding.

Select flowers that will hold up for the entire day. Particularly if you are taking pictures before the ceremony or outside, you want to make sure that you select flowers that will hold up to the sun and wind and still look gorgeous when you walk down the aisle. Another option is to use a bouquet holder, which will keep your flowers hydrated with water for most of the day.

Don’t let your bouquet overwhelm you. A beautiful waistline will be covered by a large, cascading bouquet. If you are petite, the weight of a large bouquet could become a problem during the ceremony. Consider your gown and your stature before making selections.

Show the florist what you like. Don't just tell your florists the gowns are "pink"... bring in fabric swatches if at all possible. (There are more than 50 different shades of pink and you will want the flowers to match as closely as possible so be descriptive.) You can also cut out magazine pictures of bouquets you like and some that you don’t. This will give your florist a feel for your particular tastes.

Select flowers with special meaning. Most flowers have a specific meaning. For example, ivy means fidelity, friendship and marriage, violets mean modesty and hope, zinnias mean thoughts of absent friends, jasmine is for happiness and tulips mean enchantment.


Boutonnieres

Boutonnieresare meant to designate your ushers, best man and special family members. Typically, the father and grandfather of both the bride and the groom wear boutonnieres. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your boutonnieres:

Boutonnieres can range in price range anywhere from $3.00 - $15.00, depending on the type of flower(s) and the intricacy of the design. If you are on a budget, stick with a simple style.

The groom’s boutonniere should be different in style, color or type of flower from the other groomsmen. For example, a white rose can be used for the groom and a colored rose (possibly to match bridesmaid attire) can be used for the best man and ushers.

The most popular flowers used for boutonnieres are roses. Other flowers that can be used include; small orchids, stephanotis, freesia, or carnations.

Many times, a flower in the bride's bouquet is also used for the groom’s boutonniere.


Corsages

Corsages are meant to designate special family members. Typically, the mothers and grandmothers of both the bride and the groom wear corsages. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your corsages:

1. The price of corsages can range anywhere from $15.00 to $30.00 or more, depending on the size and type of flowers. If you are on a budget, stay with a simple corsage.

2. Be careful not to make the corsage so elaborate, that it becomes large and heavy. Today, there are many delicate fabrics, such as silk, that can not withstand a pin through the fabric or the ability to support a heavy corsage. In most cases, when it comes to corsages -- smaller is better.

3. Corsages can be worn in many different ways. They can be pinned to the dress, attached to a purse or worn around the wrist. It's a good idea to ask the person who will be wearing the corsage, which style they prefer to wear. You might also ask about the color of their dress. Then, give all this information to your florist.

4. A great alternative to the corsage (and cost effective too) -- give that special person a single rose or very small bouquet tied with tulle and ribbon. The hand held flower or bouquet looks great in the wedding pictures and when the mothers are escorted down the aisle.

Corsages are meant to designate special family members. However, you may also give corsages to special friends or those participating in your wedding ceremony, such as your readers, soloist or musician.


Decorating With Balloons

Balloons are an inexpensive and festive option for reception decorations. Here are a few do-it-yourself ideas as well as ideas you can share with your balloon decorator:

On your own:

1. For centerpieces, string up four helium-filled balloons that coordinate with your wedding colors. You can use bags filled with sand as your anchor or rocks covered with tulle and ribbon.

2. Create a canopy above the dance floor using tulle and multi-colored balloons. Consider releasing the balloons during a strategic part of the reception.

3. With wire, fashion the shape of a heart. Tie small helium-filled balloons to the wire, clip the string so it can’t be seen and hang with decorative ribbon from the ceilings.

With the help of a professional:

1. Accentuate your dance floor with a pillar of balloons at each corner. You can choose two colors and create upward diagonal stripes.

2. Make your grand entrance through an archway of balloons. For a more spectacular appearance, line up several arches in a row to create a balloon tunnel.

3. Frame your wedding cake with a heart archway. The heart is anchored to the cake table, made with helium-filled balloons and should be large enough that the cake can easily fit underneath.

4. String rows of balloons diagonally from each corner of the reception hall. In the middle, make a cluster of balloons that will act as the focal point of the entire creation.

Clusters of balloons can also be used to cover up unsightly spots at your reception site. So, instead of talking about cracks in the wall or the messy DJ table, your guests will be raving about the gorgeous and creative decorations.


New Flower Trends

Brides are no longer relegated to choosing the traditional bouquet of plain white flowers with ferns. There is an unlimited variety of beautiful flowers to choose from.

1. Think about using some flowers as a pleasant way of saying "thank you". Corsages and boutonnieres can be given to your close family, friends or to wedding participants who have helped in the coordination of your wedding day. You could also offer a corsage or boutonniere to your organist and officiant.

2. Some brides are choosing to write romantic messages with their flowers. Selecting flowers with special meanings is an old-fashioned and sentimental way to express your feelings. Sweet peas, musk rose and lisianthus all offer a great way to personalize your flowers.

3. You not only want your flowers to look good, they should smell good too. Fragrance is becoming an important consideration for many brides, who are choosing the flowers in their bouquet to give a lovely scent. Some of these fragrant beauties include: gardenias, peonies, stephanotis and tuberoses.

4. The classic and timeless all white bridal bouquet is still a popular choice for some brides. This bouquet generally includes lily of the valley and orchids. The flowers are arranged into a soft and romantic style of bouquet. The bouquet can be held in the hands, or cradled lightly in the arm.

5. One new trend that you might like to consider, is the "champagne wedding". With this theme, both the bride and attendants carry all-white, fragrant bouquets.

6. In contrast to the trend-setting theme of the "champagne wedding", rich, deep floral colors are also rising in popularity. Many bride's and attendant's bouquets are now being chosen in the rich, saturated colors of rose, burgundy and deep violet.

7. If you are looking to have a modern style to your wedding, consider some of the more modern bouquet looks. Some favorites include: large, yellow sunflowers, or colorful posy bouquets consisting of many different kinds of flowers. If you have chosen a gown with a simple, but stylish, line you may like to carry one single lily.

8. The Victorian influence is also becoming more popular. The Victorian style includes romantic, soft colored blush roses and baby's breath. These flowers can be placed in the bride's hair, as well as in the bouquet, and can also be carried by the flower girls. Mothers of the bride can be given a single flower to carry, or can be offered a simple, pretty nosegay.

9. Many brides are coordinating their florist with their caterer and cake baker to provide floral decorations for their cake and buffet table. You may like to have flowers on your cake knife, goblets, or serving plates. Adding this type of floral detail can truly make a difference to the appearance and festive atmosphere of your reception.