The romantic link between weddings and flowers dates back to ancient civilizations where garlands of flowers, leaves and vines were worn or carried by young brides to symbolize their beauty and innocence. Wedding flowers have since evolved from simple hand-held bouquets to vibrantly artistic creations used to set the mood and theme for the entire celebration.

Deciding on flower arrangements may take considerable time and imagination on your part. Guidance and suggestions from your florist will smooth the process for you, so it is recommended to book your florist a year in advance if possible.

Try to make a final selection for all your bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony arrangements and reception centerpieces at least three months before the wedding, then meet with the florist again three weeks before your wedding date to iron out all the details.

When meeting with floral designers, it is a good idea to bring fabric swatches of your gown and the bridesmaid’s dresses. It also helps to bring photographs or illustrations of specific flowers, colors and bouquet styles you prefer. If you are unsure which flowers will last and also look the best, ask your floral designer.

Since you will want your floral arrangements to last throughout the day, your floral designer’s advice will be invaluable. Some flowers hold up beautifully in the sun while others are better suited for indoors. For example, it probably would not be wise to select gardenias if you are planning an outdoor wedding at midday in June. Gardenias are as delicate as they are beautiful, and under such conditions they would wilt long before the minister says, “you may kiss the bride.”

For You and Your Wedding Party

The first item of consideration will be the bridal bouquet, since all other floral arrangements will take their cue from this piece. It not only sets the tone for the overall floral scheme, but also provides the perfect opportunity for you to bring your own style and personality to the forefront.

The Ceremony

Before making decisions regarding the floral arrangements for your ceremony be sure and check with your chosen church or synagogue for any restrictions. If you’re on a budget, it’s useful to reuse ceremony flowers at the reception site, but some churches request that altar arrangements remain on-site for weekend services. You will want to determine what you can and cannot take with you after the ceremony before you order the reception flowers. Ceremony arrangements are usually ideal for buffet, gift and head tables if using them twice is an option.

Reception Arrangements

There is a vast array of options for reception centerpieces: elegant vases filled with cut flowers; towering candelabras; topiaries; or simple rose petals scattered around flickering candles. Use your imagination to design one-of-a-kind centerpieces that express your style. Keep in mind that the height of the arrangements should not interfere with the ability of guests to converse with each other. They should either be low enough to talk over or high enough to talk under.

Placing the wedding party’s bouquets at equal intervals at the head table also provides excellent decoration. Running greenery laced with flowers across the length of the head table is another option. You might consider using this decoration for the cake table as well.

If your budget allows, consider adding a few finishing touches here and there, such as flower petals on serving trays, or garlands along the front of the buffet tables. You can also fill in a large room with potted ferns or ficus trees placed strategically and wrapped with strands of small white lights. Share all of your ideas with your floral designer, who can help you refine them to create a lavish and memorable impression that won’t soon be forgotten by you or your guests.

Seasonal Considerations

For everything there is a season and flowers are no exception. One of the most important considerations in selecting your wedding day flowers will be the season in which you intend to wed. You will find that flowers in bloom during the month of your wedding will be more available and less costly than selections that are out of season and they will also last longer.

A major seasonal consideration is the holidays since certain flora will significantly increase in price. Valentine’s Day, as you can imagine, creates a high demand for red roses, increasing the cost considerably. Easter affects the availability and price of tulips and hyacinths, while at Christmas poinsettias and holly are at a premium. Should you choose these flowers around such seasons, factor this into your budget.

Here are some popular flowers and the best season to choose them in order to help you create beautiful bouquets and arrangements for your wedding.

Winter:  Amaryllis, Casablanca lily, freesia, Gerber daisy, heather, holly (ilex), narcissus, poinsettia, rose, stephanotis.

Summer:  Anemone, azalea, calla lily, camellia, daffodil, French tulip, hyacinth, hydrangea, jasmine, lilac, lily of the valley, mimosa, pansy, peony, primrose, ranunculus, sweet pea, tulip, violet.

Fall:  Celosia (cockscomb) Chinese lantern, chrysanthemum, crosnia, dahlia, statice, yarrow (in California, most summer flowers are also available in the fall.)

Year-Round:  Baby’s breath, carnation, cattleman, chrysanthemum, cymbidium orchid, daisy, dendroblum orchid, freesia, gardenia, Gerber daisy, gladiolus, iris, lilies, protea, roses, September aster, snapdragon, stephanotis, tuberoses.

Traditional bouquets of all white can express a bride’s individuality with elegance and simplicity. You may combine a range of blossoms that are unique in shape and size for dramatic impact, or compose a delicate bouquet of one type of flower. White flower selections may include calla lilies, catalpa orchids, daisies, delphiniums, freesia, gardenias, hydrangeas, lilacs, lilies, lilies of the valley, orchids, roses, stephanotis and tulips. Most of these flowers are true white; however, like roses, some display a hint of pink or yellow.

If your heart is set on color, don’t hesitate to indulge. Colored blossoms are definitely “in” for bridal bouquets, as well as other ceremony and reception arrangements. From exotic tropical stems to gorgeous, scented garden herbs, the selections and combinations are virtually endless.

With their fragrant beauty, their wide range of hues and year-round availability, it is easy to see why roses have retained their popularity with brides. If you are considering roses, it helps to know a little bit about them before making your final decisions. Roses are produced in three grades: Select, Extra Fancy and Fancy. Select roses are top quality and last the longest. It may be worth paying more for Select, although Extra Fancy is equally lovely. Florists rarely deal with Fancy roses, found mostly in supermarkets, as they tend to wilt rapidly.

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