For centuries we have associated different flowers with the emotions which underscore the union of two souls - the rose has always symbolized the love between two individuals, for example. Blossoms and greenery have adorned churches, homes, gardens and parks, enhancing the backdrop where lovers wed.
But, the bridal bouquet remains the real focal point for the bride and the florist. Strict rules about bouquets have all but vanished, leaving brides free to design any sort of arrangement they prefer. Flowers are no longer limited to white or cream, although pale blossoms are often chosen because they fit the spirit of the occasion and don't draw attention from the bride. Fall weddings inspire even bolder palettes. For example, burgundy roses arranged with pale, peach-colored blooms make for a stunning and very romantic bouquet. Other color additions include a touch of blue or lavender. Lilacs and hydrangea are popular choices. Red roses and poinsettias remain popular for holiday weddings.
One recent trend has been to simply hand-tie a mass of like-colored roses with ribbon so they look graceful, yet unpretentious. This simple, elegant look has been extremely popular for the past several years and gives the bride more of a natural appearance, as if she just stepped from the garden.
Another new approach is a herb bouquet. An herb bouquet, which also contains flowers, might include a combination of sage, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, orchids and twigs. It smells lovely and will make a wonderful keepsake.
Experts say the choice of your wedding bouquet depends a great deal on the style of your gown. For instance, a bride dressed in Victorian-inspired white lace might select an old-fashioned cluster of sweetheart roses and violets for the bouquet. On the other hand, a bride in a country-style gown might want a more casual profusion of wildflowers and daisies. The most traditional and formal bouquets, however, are usually all white. However, white bouquets can include a bit of fern or ivy for color. The bouquet size should also be in proportion to the bride. Too large an arrangement will overpower and clutter the look of the bride.
Florists advise against making a firm decision on flowers too early in the planning process. As the bride will probably attend weddings and get many ideas from wedding publications, it can be premature to select flowers a year in advance. Color schemes change and ideas change often over a year's time, which can lead to confusion. Four to six months prior to the wedding is usually a better time frame.
It's helpful to a florist if the brides bring in photos (or other visual aids) of the floral arrangements they like, as well as samples of dress fabrics of the bride and attendants.
Florists are now seeing a trend toward having flower decorations at all phases of a wedding, from the ceremony to the reception. Some florists will move flower arrangements from the ceremony sites to the reception sites, then rearrange existing displays into centerpieces or use them to embellish doors, tables, stages, or other areas.
Bridesmaids, mothers, the groom and groomsmen should all wear flower styles which match the theme of the wedding and the bridal bouquet. Bridesmaid flowers should not upstage the bride's ensemble, but it is recommended that the maid of honor have a larger bouquet with a distinct arrangement.
Most popular flowers are associated with a desirable quality. The list below includes some flowers and their special meaning.
Apple blossoms - good fortune
Baby's breath - pure heart
Bluebell - constancy
Blue Violet - faithfulness
Daffodil - joy
Gardenia - joy
Gladiolus - generosity
Iris - wisdom
Lily of the Valley - happiness
Magnolia - nobility
Orange blossom - purity and fertility
Orchid - beauty
Rose - deep love
White daisy - innocence