Blooming Large

How to Pick the Ultimate Bouquet

Learn everything you'll need to know about perfecting a bouquet that fits your personal style.

Look at you! Your gown's a stunner, your veil's amazing and your sling backs are simply a beauty to behold. Well done. But there's still one more must-have accessory you'll need to make your bridal look complete--a magnificent bouquet of flowers.

Here's how:

Play off your gown

Your blooms will depend a lot on the design of your dress, the style of your celebration, even your body type. So, bring swatches of your dress fabric or a photo to your first meeting with a florist, as well as photos of your ceremony site and any other details you can provide.

Why? The flowers should complement your dress, not compete with it; an ornate gown might cry out for clean-looking flowers, while a simple dress might be perfectly matched with a more extravagant arrangement studded with crystals and silk ribbon streamers.

Explore various shapes

Bridal bouquets can be fashioned into various styles and sizes, from nosegays or cascading bouquets to tight pomanders (great for a petite bride) or a free form, hand-tied style (which is usually less expensive and looks less formal). Each of the styles can serve a purpose and work wonders, depending on the style of wedding.

Not just for the hand

By the way, some of the most eye-catching floral accessories aren't carried in the hand at all--from a ravishing boa wrapped around the bride's shoulders to a gentle halo of blossoms woven into the hair or wired to a comb used in an upswept hairstyle (freesias, gardenias, roses and stephanotis work best in this way).

Bejewel that bounty!

Whatever posies you choose, bouquets can also incorporate beading, ribbons, sparkling crystals and countless other decorative accessories.

Fabric from the bride's dress can even be fashioned into buds and interspersed with real blooms (especially impactful during a winter wedding using jewel-toned hues) The options are limitless.

Stem appeal

Adorn the stems to complement your blooms. Why not finish the bouquet handle as another element to express style and details? Wrap them tightly in a carefully braided ribbon or swathed in a gorgeous piece of fabric that corresponds to the color scheme of your entire affair.

Just make sure the handle doesn't look too long (it may look like another limb in photos!) or too puny either. (But if you do prefer an elongated shape, long-stemmed flowers such as delphiniums, roses, calla lilies and French tulips work best in hand-tied bouquets.)

On aroma

As you glide down the aisle, would you like to inhale a particularly heady perfume of heirloom lilacs--or something more citrusy? Consider the aroma of your flowers as part of your impact. 

Flowers slim you down

Remember to hold your flowers as low as possible. It's natural to be nervous when you're the center of attention. Many brides inadvertently pull their bouquet into their bellies or up to their chests--it's almost a protective mechanism.

This stance makes the bouquet look like it's growing out of your stomach, cutting your body in half and making you look shorter and--horrors--possibly heavier than you actually are. Hold the bouquet below your waist so it sits low on your gown and you've just shaved a couple of more inches off your waistline. Who doesn't want to look taller and thinner?

Thwart wilting

Flowers are fragile and can perish easily. That's why many bouquets are fashioned from hardier stock like roses, peonies, and lilies. But if you select more delicate varieties, like gardenias, viburnum, lily of the valley, or hydrangeas, take precautions.

Hydrangeas need to be kept in water as long as possible. Lily of the valley and gardenias bruise easily and need to be kept upright and not resting on its side. And viburnums need their stems smashed so it can hydrate well before being fashioned into a bouquet.

Timing is everything

The bouquet should be made the day of the event for optimum freshness and kept refrigerated until the very last moment before the ceremony. If you'll be taking photographs before the ceremony and your flowers are delicate, ask your florist to make two bouquets.

Preserve the memory

Your bridal bouquet can be professionally preserved by your florist or dried by yourself. For DIY: Simply remove the foliage; retie the bouquet with cotton string and hang it upside down in a dry area where it will not be disturbed. The process usually takes several weeks. Or, you may use a desiccant, such as silica gel or borax. Get instructions from your florist in advance of your wedding.

If you intend to preserve your bouquet, plan ahead so that it can be done as soon as possible after your wedding. During the reception, have your mother or a friend mist the bouquet lightly and refrigerate it in order to keep it fresh.

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