Guide to Choosing Wedding Flowers

When a couple decides to marry, there are endless decisions to make about their big day. They must decide on the venue, date, guests, food and attire. Often times, the decorative aspects of a wedding are some of the final choices made, which due to the great variety of choices, can also be some of the toughest decisions. Floral arrangements and bouquet choices do not have to seem so confusing. Whether the event is formal or informal, big or small, modern or traditional, some flower choices are simply much better for wedding celebrations than others. When a couple takes into account the meanings behind the flowers, the most commonly used flowers in bridal bouquets, how to choose the perfect centerpiece and lastly, how to preserve their wedding flowers, the choices become much less stressful and a lot more exciting.

Meanings of Flowers

Flowers have always been beautiful to look at but not everyone knows that flowers can speak volumes. That's right, flowers have their very own language. This language is known as "floriography". Floriograhy first developed in the Ottoman Empire in Turkey during the early 1700's. During these years, the privileged and noble people of the empire were so fond of tulips that they began to display them at social functions and even in their leisure time. Slowly, tulips became a way to show nobility and elite status in society. After a few years, tulips became more accessible to all social classes and tulips began popping up everywhere in the empire. The prominence of tulips during this time period was so great, that today, the years of 1718-1730 in the Ottoman Empire are simply referred to as the 'Tulip Period'.

Though eventually, the fondness and popularity of the tulip lessened in Turkey, the meaning it had once signified did not. The meaning of the tulip spread across European countries and by the 1800's, almost all types of flowers had been given their very own meaning. In the 1800's, also referred to as the 'Victorian Era', flowers became a secret way of communication. In this era, modesty was of the utmost importance and because of this, a lot of feelings had to go unspoken. To avoid seeming immodest or improper while still getting across messages such as, "I desire you", the meanings behind the flowers said the words that one could not. Flower dictionaries began to appear around this time as well, to ensure that the sender and recipient of the flowers were aware of the same secret message. This tradition has held throughout the ages and many are aware of the meanings behind the most common flowers, such as the red rose's "I love you", the forget-me-not's "memories" and the sunflower's "happiness".

While secret languages through flowers are no longer needed in modern day society, the meanings of flowers are often kept in mind when flowers are used in important events, most commonly being weddings. Personal preference and availability is a large part of the flowers that will be used in a wedding but some flowers are better choices for weddings than others, simply because of the meanings attached to them. Red, white and dark pink roses are some of the most popular flowers due to sentiment for weddings. Red meaning a simple "I love you", white signifying innocence/purity and dark pink meaning that a couple is thankful to have found one another. Orchid (love), Ivy (fidelity) and daisy (loyal love) flowers are other popular floral choices for weddings based simply upon their traditional meanings. The meanings of each flower can vary slightly based upon the resource used to find the meaning, but generally all flowers that have good sentiments will remain good sentiments while bad sentiments may be defined differently but remain bad sentiments.

Flowers that are associated with bad sentiments are almost always avoided at weddings, simply because of the traditional superstition that the bad sentiments may come true. Some of the flowers that are generally avoided in wedding celebrations are bell-flowers (disappointment), begonias (beware), daffodils (uncertainty, unrequited love), marigold (pain and grief), and black rose (death) flowers.

Popular Flowers for Bouquets

While meaning has a lot to do with floral arrangements that are created for weddings, there are also other things to consider, such as the season of wedding and the color preference of the couple. The most popular flowers that are used in bridal bouquets are red, white and dark pink roses, Ivy, alstroemeria, delphinium, stephanotis, stock, primroses, daisies, ferns, tulips, azalea and chrysanthemum flowers. Many of these flowers come in a variety of flowers or can be dyed to match the color scheme of the event.

Once the flowers are chosen for the bridal floral bouquet, a bouquet style must also be chosen. There are a wide variety of bouquet styles. Some of the most popular styles are the cascading bouquet, the ballerina bouquet, the presentation bouquet or the posy style bouquet. The cascading bouquet is the most popular type of wedding bouquet for formal weddings. The cascading bouquet consists of a large variety of flowers, arranged in a manner where the flowers appear to spill outward over the bride's hands, cascading bouquets often contain ivy to assist with the "spilling" appearance. The ballerina coquette is a bouquet that contains few flowers with a lot of tulle or netting to give a full appearance. The presentation bouquet (a bouquet containing long stemmed flowers that are cradled in the brides arm) and the posy style bouquet (a small rounded bouquet that is either loosely hand-tied or crafted with florist wires to maintain an easy grip) are two modern style bouquets that are considered to be very fashion "chic" bouquet styles.

Choosing Centerpieces

Floral wedding centerpieces should incorporate various aspects of the other flowers that will be featured in the wedding, such as those found in the boutonnieres and bridal bouquets. Using the same flowers is important as the centerpiece flowers will assist in tying together the entire look of the event.

It is also important to take other matters into consideration such as the height of the centerpiece, the fragrance (if using fresh flowers) and in some instances, allergies. The centerpiece must be small enough that the guests will be able to see the events taking place in front of them, but large enough to be noticeable. Some flowers, such as lilies, are known to be extremely fragrant which may not be preferable for guests as they attempt to enjoy their dinner and the wedding experience. Other flowers, such as sunflowers and daisies are known to be highly agitating to allergies which may need to be taken into consideration if members of the wedding party, guests or even the bride and groom, suffer from flower allergies. If allergies are a factor, there are more forgiving types of flowers that can be used to ensure a more enjoyable experience, such as irises, roses and periwinkles. Silk or artificial flowers can also be used though fresh flowers are generally preferred for weddings.

Making Flowers Last

A wedding day is a day that will be remembered forever. The last thing anyone wants to remember about their special day is wilting flowers in their bouquet and centerpieces. The best way to ensure that the flowers will last through the event is to ensure that they fresh and properly cared for. This is especially important for the bridal bouquet. Placing the bouquet in a vase of cold water then refrigerating it overnight will ensure that no flowers wilt or lose shape before the big day. Other floral arrangements, such as centerpieces, should also be made a day or two in advance then watered and refrigerated until the day of the event. Boutonnieres, however, do not apply to the same rule and must be cut and made the day of the wedding to ensure that the flowers do not wilt and die.

There are not many decorative aspects of a wedding day that can truly be preserved for a lifetime besides flowers and floral arrangements. Often times a couple will wish to save one or two special flowers from a boutonniere, centerpiece or bridal bouquet. To do so, there are simple ways to preserve them after the event. One technique is to dip the flowers in paraffin wax, while others consist of freezing or drying the flowers. Some flowers preserve better than others, such as roses, though almost any type of flower can be preserved by use of one technique or another. Any of these techniques will ensure that the flowers used in the wedding day celebration will last for a lifetime.