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Wedding Flowers: Bridesmaid Bouquets

The ultimate guide to choosing your bridal party flowers.

Photo: Brandy J Photography, Van Wert

Your team of bridesmaids is made up of your best friends and loved ones, each of whom in some way symbolizes an aspect of your passage through life. These ladies are a reflection of you -- where you’ve been and the choices you’ve made while getting there. So when it comes to choosing the bridesmaid bouquets, keep this spirit in mind -- their bouquets should reflect your own, either in color or in shape, and come together to create a unified look.

Flower 411

Your flowers, bouquets, centerpieces, and all of those floral touches you haven’t thought about will total about eight percent of your entire wedding budget. Your bridesmaid bouquets -- flowers for your maid of honor and your legion of attendants -- will eat up about 14 percent of that money. Obviously, the cost will depend greatly on how many maids you have and how intricate or large the bouquets will be.

knot note

Bring a swatch of the bridesmaid dress fabric to a home improvement store, and head straight to the paint department. There you’ll be awash in a sea of swatch colors you might never have dreamed up, and you’ll find inspiration by the combinations you see. Grab your favorites and bring them to your florist, who’ll be able to tell you if there are flowers available in the colors you like.


Take the big picture -- the whole party -- into consideration, when formulating ideas about the bouquets. If you’re planning on having many attendants, it’s best to keep the flowers simple (14 maids is excessive, but having each carry a seven-pound bouquet is just ridiculous). On the flip side, smaller wedding parties can afford to carry bigger and fuller bouquets. As a rule, though, you never want the flowers to overwhelm a person who’s carrying them, no matter what the size of the wedding party.

Fashion & Flowers

Perhaps the first thing that a bride starts thinking about, after her own dress, is what her maids are going to wear. And because the bouquets are going to be the bridesmaids’ biggest, most eye-catching accessory, it’s important that both the dress and the flowers work well together -- in both style and color.

Keep the size of the bouquets in check with the style of the dress. Slinky sheaths work best with smaller, sleeker bouquets (perhaps with long, elegant stems), while fuller dresses look great with rounder styles. With tea-length dresses sweeping the wedding front, matching the sophisticated airiness is important -- a heavy, cascading bouquet would look out of place with a dress that’s so light.

But perhaps more important than the style is the color of the dress. Past trends have led brides to match bouquets identically to what the bridesmaids are wearing -- a periwinkle dress to a periwinkle sweet pea. The problem with such a look is that the flowers tend to drown in the dress itself, so that the detail in both the dress and in the flowers is lost. If you’re set on keeping the color coherent, your best bet is to choose a gradation of the dress color for contrast -- picking a lavender bouquet to match a rich amethyst dress, for example.

Today, more and more brides are leaning toward flowers of complementing or even contrasting shades. Although most of us haven’t taken a design class, there is some method to the madness when trying to find colors that work together (it’s not exactly an “I like orange and purple, so I’m going to do orange and purple” kind of formula). Whether you pick monochromatic colors (variations of the same hue), adjacent colors (next to each other on the color wheel -- like yellow, yellow-green, and green), or opposite colors (a warm color paired with a cool color, like yellow and violet), do your research before you make a final decision on a palette.

Working Together

Since you’ll be standing next to your bridesmaids in every single photo, how their bouquets relate to yours is an important visual aspect of the wedding. All the flowers should work well together, forming a cohesive look -- but don’t let that hinder your decision.

The most popular choice is to create smaller, simpler versions of the bridal bouquet. For instance, if you carry a round bouquet of roses, your maids might carry smaller bouquets of the same roses in the same colors. This is the best way to make a unified statement, but unfortunately it’s also the most boring. So consider taking this theme and running with it: The bridesmaids might carry a scaled-down version of the bridal bouquet, but with different varieties of flowers from those carried by the bride (spray roses instead of full roses), or with the same varieties but in a different color (white calla lilies corresponding to yellow calla lilies).

The next step up the innovation ladder is the idea of having the bridesmaids carry different bouquets from one another but with a common theme. Play with gradations of color, giving your maids bouquets of the same flower in related hues. One bridesmaid might carry pale pink peonies, a second bright pink, and the third magenta. The look would then be punctuated by the bride’s bouquet, which might include in some way or another her own peonies. You might also consider a monochromatic look: One bridesmaid may carry purple sweet peas, a second might carry purple freesias, and a third may carry purple hyacinths. Unify this look with matching ribbon.

For the most casual weddings, many of the rules get tossed out altogether. While the bridesmaid bouquets should still complement the bride’s, how to achieve this is really up to you. Perhaps each maid totes a unique bouquet, each made up of a different flower from your own bouquet, and even in a different color.

Making It Special

Now that your ideas are in place, it’s time to get personal. Special and thoughtful touches can turn a bridesmaid bouquet from a handful of flowers into something worth holding onto. As many people now know, flowers themselves have numerous meanings. Each type of blossom says something different: The daisy, for example, signifies innocence. (Read more about flowers and their symbolisms before you choose.) You can choose your blooms based on what you would like to say to your maids -- whether a mix of your feelings that day or good wishes for the future. Flowers can also represent day-to-day things that might be meaningful to you and/or your maids. For example, cultures (the Dutch love tulips), months of the year (each girl can carry the flower representing her birthday), and states all have corresponding blossoms. Or you can allow each bridesmaid to express her own sense of style and carry a cluster of her favorite flowers in the color palette of your wedding.

Flower stems can also be showcases for significant touches. A few layers of ribbon can hold little things like friendship pins you may have exchanged as little girls, a piece of high school or college memorabilia, or even a bracelet given as a gift that can be worn after the wedding.

Once the wedding is over, you can use pieces of the maid bouquets to keep the sentimental spirit. Save a few of the flowers and press them in the center of a heavy book (a dictionary or encyclopedia, for instance). Around four weeks later, after the flowers have dried, use them to decorate the matte in a picture frame -- one, for example, that holds a photo of you with your bridesmaids at the wedding.

-- Joanna Saltz

See More: Your Bridal Party , Wedding Flowers