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How to: Choosing Your Wedding Flowers
Picking out wedding flowers tend to be that kind of thing that completely divides brides: either they look forward to it with mounting excitement, or they look ahead with disproportionate anxiety and end up lying face down on the lounge-room floor for 45 minutes straight. In either case, help is at hand! We've put our heads together to create the easiest-ever guide to picking out your wedding flowers.
First and foremost, it is of paramount importance that you remember that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices. Whilst there is absolutely a ‘language’ of flowers, this should be treated as a great additional feature of your choices, if you choose to adhere to them at all. At the end of the day, flowers are there to look beautiful and simply enhance/reflect the atmosphere of the wedding itself. The only thing that will guide your choice aside from your taste is your budget and theme.
So where do you actually begin? As with just about every other aspect of the wedding planning, the answer is research. But the great thing about flowers is that this should be restricted to glossy magazines and the internet- inspiration is all around you. If, for example, on your way to work you see a flower that you'd love to include, snap a shot of it and document it somewhere. Same goes for any photo clippings or printouts you happen upon. Store all pieces of inspiration in a specific folder for easy access. Whether you know the flowers names or not (chances are you'll find it in this article, though), it's worth showing your florist as they may be able to identify it and potentially incorporate it into your arrangement. Additionally, a great approach is to consider getting a private tour of the Botanic Gardens or check out any flower markets to see what they look like in real life.
Divvy it Out
Consider your budget. If you have no idea how much money you should be devoting to flowers, many wedding planners use the 10% mark as a good place to start. This will change depending on how big a role you want the flowers to play: i.e., if you want a minimal look, you’ll probably set aside less than 10% of your overall budget. If your want a total floral paradise, feel free to adjust the numbers again. The most important thing, however, is that you maintain financial balance- if you prefer to spend it up here, some other area will have to be (partially) sacrificed. If you’re working with a fairly strict overall budget, it is absolutely essential that you do not go overboard- once you pick a number, stick with it.
Consider How the Flowers Will Fit In
Once you've picked out the core flowers you're including, you need to think about how they'll 'match' the dress. Generally speaking, the aim is to complement your gown, not have the flowers compete with it. So, if you have a simply gown, for example, you can afford to make your bouquet as ornate as you like. If you'd like the focus to remain primarily on an intricate gown, however, stick to simple flowers with strong lines, such as calla lilies. Similarly, a feminine gown will look best paired with feminine looking flowers, such as baby's breath and carnations. A simple, strong gown would be best paired with equally stand-alone, elegant looking flowers, such as orchids or roses.
Colour Me Gorgeous
The flower’s colour is probably its most distinguishing feature. But just because you may be wearing white doesnt necessarily mean any colour will look as good as the next with your outfit.
The first factor to consider is your overall colour scheme. If you're using wedding has yellow accents throughout, then by all means, try to stick to a yellow pallet for your flowers as well. Sticking to one dominant colour will ensure visual cohesion (though using smaller amounts of additional other colours does not detract from the dominant colours and generally looks great). This same principal of having one dominant colour throughout your floral arrangements similarly applies to all your bouquets, centrepieces, decorations and boutonnieres, etc.
Your dress itself should also influence you colour choice. If the dress has cold undertones (such as a true white dress), using cool- coloured flowers- such as blue, greens and whites- will pick up this colour and emphasise the crispness of the dress. Likewise, if your dress had warm undertones (such as cream or ivory), warm- coloured bouquets- like red, orange and yellow- will enhance the undertones of the dress and make the entire outfit look more cohesive. An excellent way to match up your flowers to your dress precicesly is to bring either a photo of the dress (in natural, bright lighting) and better yet, a sample of the material as well. This way, you can optimise both you and your florist's time, get a professional's opinion on what will look best, and skate past any avoidable mishaps.
Lastly, the time of day can also have an effect on how your flowers look. In general, bright, cold colours look fresh and crisp during the day, whilst warm- coloured flowers visually pop at an evening wedding.
Note: pinks/ purples and yellowy greens can be used in both warm and cool coloured arrangements.
A basic flower- by- colour guide:
White: rose, sweet pea, camellia, stephanotis, narcissus, gardenia, orchid, lily of the valley, jasmine, and gypsophila.
Yellow: daffodil, sunflower, tulip, gerbera, lily, and freesia.
Orange: lantana, fritillaria, blackberry lily, helenium, Iceland poppy, 'Klondike' cosmos, Asiatic lily, butterfly weed, and marigold
Pink: rose, ranunculus, peony, sweet pea, carnation, tulip, protea, boronia, and lily.
Red: gerbera, rose, dahlia, poinsettia, and amaryllis.
Lavender: lavender, lilac, anemone, statice, iris, delphinium, and hydrangea
Purple: African violet, crocus, dahlia, pansy, rhododendron, zinnia, toad lily, purple statice, Japanese bellflower, princess flower and meadow rue.
Blue: morning glory, iris, hyacinth, mertensia, ceanothus dark star, blue orchids, english bluebells
Green: Queen Anne’s lace, gladiolus, santini mum, cymbidium orchids, bupleurum, gloriosa lilies, lady's Mantle; and cockscomb.
For a more complete guide, check out this useful article.
Of course, flower varieties vary seasonally. The cheapest and freshest flowers will be those within a close geographical proximity to you, so consider what will be naturally available and plan ahead. Flowers can absolutely be flown in from all over the world, but, this will a) make your flowers exponentially more expensive, and b) complicates the whole process- they might not arrive in great condition, and, generally, there’s little time to rectify this. Also, consider the effects on the environment on sourcing local produce vs. international fare. Flowers seem like an appropriate place to reciprocate respect for the environment.
A brief guide of seasonal flowers:
Spring flowers: amaryllis, anemone, daffodil, freesia, gerbera, lily of the valley, orchid, ranunculus, stephanotis, and sweet pea.
Summer flowers: anthurium, carnation, chrysanthemum, gypsophila, lily, magnolia, peony, rose, and sunflower.
Autumn flowers: agapanthus, aster, clematis, daisy, hosta, hydrangea, passion flower, and pinks.
Winter flowers: camellia, euphorbia, iris, nerine, pansy, poinsettia, snowdrop, tulip.
All year round flowers: calla lily, carnation, gypsophila, orchid, protea, rose, and tulip (although this list may vary by region).
Organise Which Flowers Go Where
This pertains to both your wedding ceremony/ reception location as well as who wears which flowers.
Firstly, the location:
Flowers can be as simple or elaborate a decoration as you choose. In all cases, they should of course reflect your individual tastes and personality.
Some flower- placement ideas for your wedding venue:
For indoor weddings, flowers can be placed: At the end of pews/ on the backs of chair; on the altar (depending on your religious leader’s opinion); chancel steps; windowsills; around candelabra; tables at a sit- down dinner, etc. The larger the space, generally, the more flowers needed to be noticeable. Note: If you’re on a tight budget, you many want to consider the option of splitting the cost of the flowers at your religious venue- provided that there is more than one wedding being held that day. Speak to the administration team from your religious centre and see if this is possible.
Generally speaking, registrars or registry office buildings are hesitant to allow personalised flowers, but it's definitely still worth asking if you can bring in one special arrangement of your own.
For outdoor weddings, your options are much more open. In addition to using the suggestions for an indoor wedding (e.g. flowers on the backs of chairs), you can also play around with your environment more. A decorated bridal arch or arbor makes a simple, yet dramatic statement, as does a carpet of petals, for example. Your imagination really is your only limit.
Secondly, the flowers to be worn by your wedding party
- Most importantly, decide on which flowers will make up your bouquet.This should include the key flowers you're using throughout your venue as well as those worn by all others- it's the ultimate floral accessory that ties all other flower arrangements together.
- You’ll then have to consider your bridesmaids’ bouquets. The point of the bridesmaids’ bouquet, ultimately, is to complement the bride’s bouquet. This can mean that the bridesmaids carry a miniature version of the bride’s bouquet, be made up of different flowers yet still maintain the same colour scheme, or even in a different colour that still reflects the same overall wedding theme colours. The aim is for visual coordination, without sacrificing the bride’s individuality.
- Get your groom, groomsmen, page- boys and fathers of the couple’s flowers organised. Although there is less emphasis on the groom’s need for flowers, it’s still an important aspect of pulling the overall look together. These flowers, worn as buttonhole/boutonniere, are normally a combination of flowers present in the bouquet. This is also another place to splash out- more expensive flowers are used to both match the bride’s bouquet as well as used as stand- alone pieces (as few flowers are needed for the boutonniere). Like the bride’s bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere should vary slightly from his groomsmen's. A nice idea- if you have the time, money and inclimation, is to leave boutonnieres in a dish for all of your guests to wear as they enter the wedding.
- Similarly, mothers of the bride and groom as well as close aunts and grandmothers often wear matching corsages made up of the same family of flowers.
- Lastly, the flower girl's flowers need to be considered. Whilst a basket full of flowers or petals is a classic way to integrate her with the floral decorations, flowers can just as easily be tied to wrists with some beautiful ribbon to keep up the flower theme (this is especially helpful if your flower girl is particularly young to avoid any basket- related mishaps). Another variation is to get her to wear a flower bracelet or ornament, or put real flowers in her hair (bonus: she’ll love this special touch). A great idea is to also give girls under five a stuffed toy that’s holding on to some flowers- This will make the flowers easier to carry, and also serves as a thank- you gift for participating in your wedding.
If you wanto to cover absolutely all bases, as your florist if they can organise a mock- up bouquet using your flowers.
This is sometimes available, depending on the particular florist and flowers being used. You can see how this particular piece of the puzzle fits by organsing a mock- up of for your table setting, and bringing the flowers with to compare. This should give you a good idea of how cohesive your overall look is, as well as some idea of how far along you are in terms of your organisation.
Your flowers will make up a large portion of how the overall wedding looks, so invest your time now to ensure you look brilliant on your big day, as well as in the photos you'll be cherishing for the rest of your life!