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Wedding Flowers: Bridal Bouquet Ideas

Photo: Erin Hearts Court, Pasadena

It’s true: We’ve come a long way from the days when brides carried bouquets down the aisle to ward off evil spirits (yes, that’s how the tradition started). Though some trends have blossomed and others have wilted, one thing remains true: Flowers are a great way to make a highly personal statement, whether it’s a bloom’s more abstract Victorian meaning or just that it comes in your favorite color. Here are six easy ways to draw inspiration for your bouquets.

Tip 1: Channel History
Ever wonder why many brides carry stephanotis in their wedding bouquets (besides the fact that the flowers are so unique and gorgeous)? These creamy, star-shape florets carry a symbolic meaning of happiness in marriage. Says who, you ask? Many such floral traditions are rooted in the conservative Victorian era, when every flower was given a symbolic meaning so that men could express their sentiments without words. Armed with a new edict, men began courting ladies not with love letters or serenades but with bouquets -- and soon a lady receiving coral-color roses knew her suitor was expressing the first signs of desire, while a young maiden receiving a dainty cluster of violets might blush at the notion that her secret admirer had expressed his faithfulness to her. Learn the meanings of these popular wedding flowers and incorporate a little bit of history into your wedding day.

Here are a few of our favorites to get you started:

  • lily of the valley = happiness
  • calla lily = beauty
  • freesia = innocence
  • gardenia = joy
  • orchid = love
  • lilac = first signs of love
  • anemone = expectation

Tip 2: Color-Code It
Choosing colorful flowers that match your wedding palette is an obvious way to personalize your bouquet. But just because you’ve picked a pretty green-and-purple combo for your wedding, doesn’t mean your flowers need to scream eggplant! Colorful adornments -- from ribbons and fabric to beads and baubles -- will make any bouquet meaningful. We love going with monochromatic blooms and bringing in color through the shape -- and shade -- of unusual additions, such as dark, rich berries, brilliant green succulents, or even jewel-tone sugared grapes. Other examples: Do as the Romans did in times of celebration and add stalks of herbs to your bouquet, such as sweet-scented, pale purple lavender. Or take a bundle of typical white wedding blooms, like stephanotis or calla lilies, and tie the bouquet with a green wrap secured with a purple snap or button. You might even string purple- and green-accented paper cranes (for good luck) from your bouquet.

Tip 3: Check Backgrounds
Flowers can speak louder than vows -- in all the pictures, at least. Another way to personalize is to choose flowers that match your personalities or are expressive of your backgrounds and beliefs. For instance, you may choose to give a nod to his Norwegian heritage by including purple heather -- Norway’s signature flower -- in your bouquet and on the guys’ boutonnieres. Or you might pair your birth-month blooms like lily of the valley with chrysanthemum, because he was born in May and you in November. Or maybe your bedroom is always awash in tulips -- your favorite bloom (a good choice, as they represent “consuming love”). Include these (you’ll find them mainly in three popular varieties -- French, Dutch, and Parrot -- though there are 3,000 varieties) in your bouquet. Did he propose while you were road-tripping in Georgia? Consider carrying a nosegay of peach-hued roses.

Tip 4: Keep It In The Family
Delve into your own family history and elevate the personal factor of your bouquet. Give your wedding flowers a homegrown flair by picking peonies from your mother’s garden; or you may choose to carry a cluster of white French tulips because your mother did so, as did her mother and her mother’s mother. There are also less obvious ways to incorporate familial elements into your bouquet: Wrap the stems of your flowers in your favorite fabric topped off with your grandmother’s vintage hat pin, or create a bouquet wrap from an heirloom silk scarf. (Remember though, fabrics may be damaged by water and pins). Consider threading a relative’s pearls around soft rose petals to add sophistication to your wedding; or simply your the florist to take silk ribbons monogrammed with both of your initials and loop them through the bouquet.

Tip 5: Remember To Remember
Keeping in sync with your fiance and your bridesmaids will help you pick personalized flowers. Start by recalling a favorite date that you and your fiance had. Was it the time you enjoyed an afternoon picnic in the park and he brought along a bouquet of your favorite flower -- daffodils -- to commemorate the occasion? Consider carrying these blooms down the aisle. Or maybe he brought you daisies for your first date? Make sure your bouquet is bursting with them. Is his favorite eau de toilet that you wear lavender scented? Ask your florist to incorporate sprigs of sweet-scented lavender into your bouquet and onto his boutonniere. You might even ask your attendants what their favorite flowers are -- you could include each of their favorites into your own arrangement.

Tip 6: Use Your Environment
Gather inspiration from the everyday elements around you. Some fresh takes: Dress a bouquet with faux freshwater pearls because you’re marrying at the beach, or dot your arrangement with small fruits for a touch of spring (we love kumquats, lemons, even cherries). Is your fall fete taking place in a botanical garden of sorts? A motif like butterflies might be an appropriate thread for your details -- let ceramic or fabric ones peek out from behind the flower petals as a nod to the season. We’ve planted the seed -- you’ll need to take it from here.

-- Allison Micarelli

See More: Wedding Flowers