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Wedding Flowers: A Glossary of Terms

Meeting with your florist to discuss the big day blooms? Look out for that language barrier -- get to know these flower terms.

Photo: Wendell Webber

Heading to the florist to discuss your wedding flowers? Make sure you know your nosegay from your ikebana. Our glossary will help you finesse your floral lingo.

Bridal Bouquets


A tightly arranged nosegay consisting of concentric circles of various differently colored flowers. The blooms are wired into a holder, with one flower variety per ring.


A waterfall-like spill of blooms, often composed of ivy and long-stemmed flowers, that is wired to cascade gracefully over the bride's hands.

Classic bouquet:

A dense bunch of blooms that can be anchored in a bouquet holder, wired, or hand-tied.


A handmade creation in which different petals or buds are wired together on a single stem to create the illusion of a giant flower.


Composed of one full flower and a flowering stem, often orchids, wired together to form a slender handle that can be held in one hand. Designed as either a full crescent -- a half circle with a central flower and blossoms emanating from two sides -- or a semi-crescent, which has only one trailing stem.


Small, round bouquets, approximately 16 to 18 inches in diameter, composed of densely packed round flowers, greenery, and occasionally herbs. Nosegays are wired or tied together.


Special foam used in flower arrangements. Oasis fits in a bouquet holder and retains water like a sponge, hydrating flowers for extended time periods.


A bloom-covered ball suspended from a ribbon. Ideal for child attendants.


Smaller than nosegays but similar in design, posies often include extras like ribbons or silk flowers. Perfect for little hands.


Also known as the pageant bouquet, this is a bunch of long-stemmed flowers cradled in the bride's arms.

Taped and wired:

Arranging technique for bouquets, boutonnieres, headpieces, and wreaths. The head of a flower is cut from the stem and attached to a wire, which is then wrapped with floral tape. Taped and wired flowers are more easily maneuvered into shapes and styles.


This copy of the bridal bouquet is used solely for the bouquet toss ritual.

Tussy mussy:

From the Victorian era, a tussy mussy is a posy carried in a small, metallic, hand-held vase. Today, the term is often used in reference to the holder itself.

Other Flowers & Arrangements


A single bloom or bud (or several small buds) attached to the left lapel of the jacket. Boutonnieres can be worn by grooms, attendants, ushers, and the bride's and groom's fathers.


A floral centerpiece created at the base, neck, or top of a multi-armed candelabra. Such a centerpiece is usually touched with flowing greens or ribbons, depending on the wedding's style.


A single bloom (or small cluster of blooms) arranged against a lace or tulle doily and/or accented with ribbon. Corsages come in pin-on, wrist, and hand-held styles and are typically worn by mothers and grandmothers. Orchids and gardenias are popular choices.


The centerpiece at the head table (where bride and groom are seated), which drapes to the front of the table for visual effect.

Fish bowl:

Low centerpiece style that consists of flowers clustered in a glass bowl.


Centerpiece featuring abstract wildflowers. The composition is airy and less full than other designs. Lisianthus, hollyhock, rambling roses, digitalis, and smilax are well suited to this arrangement style.


Elaborately woven rope or strand arrangement, typically used to adorn pews and doorways. A garland can also be paraded down the aisle by two or three little ones.


A wedding canopy decorated with flowers that is an integral part of the traditional Jewish ceremony.


Japanese-style flower arrangements that are aesthetically in unison with space, size, earth, and air.


Flowers or foliage trimmed into geometric shapes, often resembling miniature trees or animals.


A woven wooden frame used as a screen or support for climbing plants and flowers.


A ring of flowers or other decorative materials that can function as centerpiece, headpiece, or door hanger.

-- The Knot

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