Wedding bouquets are a lot like wedding dresses. Every bride needs one, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they take a big bite out of your budget. But how do you find a bouquet that fits with your theme, consists of the blooms you'd like to use and still expresses your personality?
First, you need to decide if you want a formal, semiformal or casual bouquet. A good rule of thumb is to match the size of your bouquet to the length of your train or gown. Long-stemmed, formal bouquets go well with fuller, more elaborate gowns, and smaller, more casual bouquets are better coordinated with more informal dresses.
These are the most popular types of bouquets:
- Cascade - Also known as fountain, shower or waterfall bouquets, cascade bouquets are rounded at the top with a stream of flowers flowing over the bride's hand for a cascading effect. Just about any type of flower can be used with this style, though large-petaled blooms like roses, calla lilies, lisianthus and orchids are very popular because they give the impression of abundance and drape more naturally. The cascade bouquet is one of the most formal and traditional types of bouquets.
- Nosegay - Nosegays consist of small, rounded, sparsely packed flowers. These bouquets frequently incorporate more green than other arrangements because they emphasize the flowers' petals and stems. You'll see a lot of irises, tulips, lilies and roses in nosegays. Ribbons can be used to trim these bouquets or to wrap around their stems. Nosegays can go casual or formal.
- Arm sheaf - An arm sheaf or presentation bouquet is made with long-stemmed flowers that the bride cradles alongside her inner arm. Orchids, long-stemmed roses, gladiolus, delphiniums and calla lilies are often used in these bouquets, which, despite the fact they've been around for more than a century, are still considered perfect for chic and modern ceremonies.
- Flower bracelet - Also known as wrist corsages, flower bracelets consist of small groupings of flowers, usually orchids or roses, and are attached to an elastic wristband. These bouquets are perfect for brides who'd rather not be encumbered with a bouquet they have to hold. Flower bracelets are stylish in the warm spring and summer months and look great when paired with casual, short-hemmed gowns.
Not all bouquets work with every body type. It's important to keep your bouquet relative to your frame as you want your flowers to complement your dress, not obscure it. Go too small, however, and you'll look like you're carrying a child's posy instead of a once-in-a-lifetime arrangement! Taller women should stick to longer arrangements, like arm sheafs or cascade bouquets. Women of shorter stature, on the other hand, should hold onto more compact bouquets, and those with a larger frame will look best with fuller flower groupings.
You can pick flowers based on their appearance or choose ones infused with specific meanings. What sentiment best represents your union? Love? Use red roses. Fidelity? Twist in a little ivy. Passion? Incorporate yellow irises. Forgiveness? Go for white tulips. Whatever you're feeling, there's a specific bloom that signifies your sentiments, and even though the bulk of your wedding congregation will remain clueless, the day will be even more special if you're holding onto flowers blooming with symbolism. Plus, the pictures will be more meaningful.
Your bouquet has style, shape and significance, but if you'd like to personalize it even more, add a few mementos. Family heirlooms, like earrings and brooches, can be pinned to the bouquet wrap. And you can wrap the bouquet with a special swatch of fabric, like a piece of your mother's wedding dress or a strip of the dress you wore on your first date with your fiancé. Of course, you can always go for style over meaning and match your bouquet to your wedding's theme. Shells and starfish make great accents for beach weddings, and ivy, a butterfly pendant or maybe a small, tasteful ladybug pin will transform your bouquet into garden party-ready blooms.