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Chapter 18 Wedding Flowers.

The custom of using flowers at weddings has long been an important tradition. Flowers add beauty and sentiment to special events, and weddings are no exception (see Figure 18-1). Beautiful, fragrant flowers enhance the romance and theme of the wedding and at the same time, make a lasting impression. Even though years after the wedding day, much will be forgotten of the celebration and festivities, the beauty of the flowers will live on, not only in the photographs and video, but in the memory as well.


Because weddings are a traditional part of the florist business, floral designers must be knowledgeable about various wedding designs and be trained in many specialized arranging techniques. A professional wedding flowers consultant must have the ability to consult with brides-to-be to plan all of the floral decoration details of the ceremony, reception, and other events connected with the wedding. Although weddings occur year-round, promotion and advertising are key elements in increasing sales and building business for the retail florist.

Floral Romance

The history of romance identified with flowers has a rich heritage in bridal flowers. History records the use of flowers to celebrate romantic occasions as early as the 16th century. Flowers have been a messenger of love and romance since the beginning of time. The romantic implications of flowers became popular during the 1800s in the Victorian era. A courtship was often started by sending a flower nosegay or tussie-mussie. Lovers selected blossoms discreetly to convey a proper romantic message. Courtships flourished through sending nosegays that expressed progressive messages of love.

The romantic and sentimental meaning of certain flowers became the essential consideration in selecting blossoms to be used in a Victorian nosegay. Specific colors conveyed explicit romantic messages. Romantics selected flowers only for the meaning associated with them. Luxurious reds, blues, and purples, favored colors in the Victorian era, conveyed love and passion. Red roses, for example, expressed ardent love. White symbolized innocence and purity. Lighter color values expressed sincerity and fidelity. Each variety of flower had an expressed meaning, and people selected flowers to articulate a message of romance.

During the early 1900s, wedding flowers were still greatly influenced by the Victorian era. Large, heavy wedding bouquets with numerous ribbon streamers, called "shower bouquets" were popular. The Art Nouveau movement from 1890 to 1910 with its main theme of curvilinear and graceful, natural patterns was sometimes reflected in wedding bouquets and decorations. However, the massive cascade and arm bouquets, overflowing with flowers and asparagus fern still remained popular with brides.

World War I, the Art Deco movement, and changes in economy and society brought about changes in wedding flower styles. Although the large shower bouquet remained a favorite, smaller, tighter, and more streamlined linear and geometric designs became popular as well. The round bouquets that were once known as tussie-mussies during the Victorian era became fashionable again but were renamed "colonials" and colonial bouquets. Novelty or specialty bouquets, such as hat and arm basket bouquets, prayer book and Bible bouquets, and muff and corsage bouquets were creative floral options presented by florists to brides.

After World War II, wedding flowers became more of a fashion statement than an expression of romance. With the emergence of floral design schools and the "professional art" approach to design, instructors, students, and floral designers emphasized "artistic styling" of wedding party flowers. The various styles of bouquets became the focal point of bridal work. Designers placed less importance on the romance and symbolism of flowers and paid more attention to the mechanical construction of the bouquets.

Although wedding styles have changed and evolved over the years, flowers have remained an important part of the romance and celebration. The professional florist must keep up with fashion and style changes in order to compete in the wedding flowers market. Successful florists attract wedding customers through promotion, advertising, and word-of-mouth. Professional, friendly, and knowledgeable consultants and talented floral designers have the power to transform the bride's wishes into the wedding of her dreams.

Promotion and Advertising by the Retail Florist

An essential part of becoming a profitable wedding florist is attracting and selling to prospective brides. Brides-to-be must first be attracted to the flower shop and then convinced to purchase flowers there. Selling wedding flowers to a targeted clientele requires specialized selling techniques, including unique promotion and advertising strategies. While word-of-mouth advertising is an essential ingredient in successfully promoting the sale of wedding flowers, appropriate, aggressive advertising must be targeted at the wedding market and promotional efforts must reach out to individual customers.

Promotion is a show-and-tell activity. In-store promotions help to attract customers to the floral shop. These promotions may include window and interior displays simply serving as reminders to customers of wedding flowers. Or promotion may be more elaborate, with the staging of a bridal show in the floral shop. All of these promotional efforts help a flower shop highlight its wedding products and services. A flower shop can also cooperate with a bridal shop, a photographer, a caterer, a limousine company, and others who serve the wedding market to present a bridal extravaganza in a large area, such as shopping mall or hotel. This approach helps the flower shop become more visible to a large population of prospective brides in a short period of time.

Effective promotion includes a presentation of the actual product with personal interaction or printed communication with brides-to-be. Giving door prizes, donating flowers for a bridal program, or doing permanent flower bouquets for mannequin displays are public forms of promotion, outside the floral shop, more specifically called publicity.

Advertising is communication through the use of media (newspapers, direct mail, computer web sites, brochures, radio, and television). The market for wedding flowers is a clearly identified customer audience. Therefore, the more direct the advertising, the better a florist's chance for producing positive results. A wedding brochure, as shown in Figure 18-2, when given out to in-store shoppers and browsers, will promote interest among patrons who are already in the shop and may be potential wedding customers. When these brochures are given out at bridal shows, they advertise targeted wedding customers. An aggressive wedding floral shop uses direct mail advertising, follows engagement announcements, and sends prospective brides a brochure introducing its bridal services.

Another form of advertising and soliciting business targeted at the wedding market involves networking with other professionals who offer wedding services. Networking involves interacting with related businesses to share information and services. Once a good working relationship is established with another business, a joint effort in attracting prospective brides through promotional and advertising methods becomes less expensive and often a more effective way of advertising. Other professionals serving the bride and groom include photography studios, videography companies, bridal salons, tuxedo shops, catering companies, bakeries, department store bridal registries, and jewelry stores.



The Wedding Consultation

The wedding consultation is the process of helping a bride select appropriate flowers for her wedding (see Figure 18-3). This extensive planning session is conducted by a wedding consultant who is experienced in sales and is knowledgeable about flowers, bouquet styles, ceremony and reception decorations, and profitable pricing. Further, the professionally trained wedding consultant is competent in color theory and knows how to incorporate this color knowledge in planning distinctive weddings. The qualified floral consultant stays up-to-date with bridal fashions.

A competent wedding consultant is the foremost factor in developing bridal business. The consultant communicates the image of the flower shop as he or she presents bridal services to prospective customers. The way a wedding consultant introduces a shop's wedding flower services influences buying confidence and a bride's willingness to spend appropriately for the proper flowers. A consultant should be a good listener. A qualified consultant understands the bride's personal desires for her wedding and helps her make decisions about her wedding flowers. The consultant should encourage the bride to share her thoughts and ideas about the flowers for her wedding. The consultant must have practical experience combined with the vision to translate the bride's wishes into beautiful floral designs.

The consultation is generally conducted by appointment only, to ensure that the florist will be able to devote full attention to the customer. When setting up the consultation appointment, general information about the wedding, such as dates, times, and locations of the ceremony, reception, and other events are recorded on the order form.

At least one hour should be allowed for this lengthy planning session. For the meeting to go undisturbed, the consultation should be conducted in an area of the shop away from telephones and in-store customers. The consultation area must be clean and organized. Set up a table and enough chairs to accommodate the consultant, the bride-to-be, and one or two other people (usually the mother or a friend of the bride-to-be). Some consultations include the fiance and his parents. It is important, however, to remember that too many people present at the consultation may lead to confusion and frustration for the bride and the consultant and drag out the consultation session.

It is important to see to it that the bride is comfortable and feels welcome. Offering refreshments may help to ease the tension.

During the consultation, the florist will use a wedding order form, bridal selection books, photograph albums of floral designs, fresh flower examples, and sometimes silk flower replicas, and ribbon swatches to help the bride select design styles and colors. Having the items on hand will not only ease the selection process for the bride, but also expedite the selling process for the consultant.

The Wedding Order Form

During the consultation, the florist gathers information and records it on a preprinted wedding planner. This order form lists the major design and accessory categories for weddings. A variety of preprinted forms are available or may be printed by the individual florist (see Figure 18-4). The purpose of this form is to organize the wedding plans and provide information to all the designers who will eventually prepare the floral designs. Most order forms also indicate who is financially responsible for each item.

Items of Discussion

Starting with general information--names, addresses, and telephone numbers --as well as the specifics of the ceremony and reception--dates, times, and locations--the qualified wedding consultant controls the sequence of discussion. The first floral designs discussed are the flowers for the bride and her attendants and others in the bridal party and family. After completing the decisions about personal flowers, the consultant moves on to ceremony decorations, then reception decorations, and concludes with home flowers, rehearsal dinner flowers, and other additional decorations.


The first floral item discussed is the bridal bouquet. Generally, the bride has definite ideas and has given a lot of thought to the kinds of flowers and the style of bouquet she will carry (see Figure 18-5). A description of the gown will help determine appropriate floral styles. For example, an elaborate full-skirted gown with a lengthy train is accented beautifully when the bride carries a cascade or crescent bouquet. The style of bouquet and the colors should be decided before selecting specific flowers. Some flowers, because of shape, size, or longevity, will work better in certain bouquet styles. Seasonal availability of certain flowers is also a factor and may affect the bride's selection. The consultant should remind the bride of other floral pieces to coordinate with the bridal bouquet, such as a floral piece for the bride's hair, hat, or veil (see Figure 18-6). The florist may suggest a toss bouquet in matching colors for the bride to throw to the unmarried girls following the ceremony or reception.




Some brides select the same style bouquet for both the bride's and the attendants' bouquets. When the styles of bouquets are similar, the bridal bouquet usually features different flowers or colors than the bridesmaids' bouquets. Often, brides select contrasting bouquet styles for the bride, the honor attendant (maid or matron of honor) and the bridesmaids. Generally, the bridesmaids' bouquets are modified versions of the bridal bouquet and coordinate with their gowns (see Figure 18-7). Hair pieces may be needed for the bridesmaids and should be made to coordinate with bouquets. The number of attendants and their first names should be recorded on the order form to lessen confusion for both the bride and the consultant, especially when there are several bridesmaids.

Flower Girl

Because the age and size of the flower girl varies, her age and height should be recorded on the order form. This information will help the florist prepare an appropriately sized design for the flower girl (see Figure 18-8).




If a chaplet is needed for the flower girl, it is helpful to have a head circumference measurement as well. A miniature version of the bridesmaids' bouquets is common for the flower girl, or a small basket with loose petals or a small floral arrangement are also popular selections. Floral items should be lightweight, easy to wear or hold, and securely constructed.


Boutonnieres are traditionally worn by the male members of the wedding party and close relatives. The groom's boutonniere is discussed first and may or may not be more elaborate than the others. Generally, the groom's boutonniere is different in some way from all other boutonnieres. The flowers selected for his design generally match those in the bride's bouquet. The boutonnieres for the groomsmen may coordinate with the bridesmaids' bouquets. Boutonnieres for the fathers, stepfathers, ushers, grandfathers, brothers, and other men, including the organist, vocalist, clergyman, servers, and those helping with registration, are often the same type, lending a uniform look and easing distribution prior to the ceremony. The boutonniere for the ring bearer should be smaller, proportionate to his age and height. A ring pillow is often carried by a ring bearer in a ceremony. A floral and ribbon accent is constructed similar to a corsage and pinned to the pillow (see Figure 18-9).



Corsages are ordered for the various female family members and close friends. Often more elaborate, the corsages for the mothers should coordinate with their gowns. Over-the-shoulder designs are popular; however, the style, color, and fabric of the gown will influence the style of corsage and where it is worn. A wristlet or purse accent is sometimes selected.

When the bride-to-be desires to have her going-away corsage made a part of the bridal bouquet, it is made so that it may be removed from the bouquet. The going-away corsage is a floral remembrance worn by the bride as she leaves with her husband for the honeymoon (see Figure 18-10). Generally, however, a corsage becomes badly worn by the end of the wedding events. It is advisable to make a separate corsage for her going-away outfit.


The consultant should remind the bride that other close female relatives and supporting members of the ceremony and reception traditionally are recognized and remembered with corsages. Corsages for stepmothers, grandmothers, sisters, and other female family members are often designed the same to ease distribution of the flowers prior to the ceremony or reception. Corsages may also be ordered for the organist, vocalist, servers, hostess, and those who assist with the registration. Because colors of dresses for all the women are unknown, designs are generally made to match the wedding colors. Often the florist will include an extra corsage and boutonniere with the wedding order.

Ceremony Decorations

The ceremony sets the ambiance for the entire wedding. The floral decorations for a wedding ceremony may be elaborate or simple. Whether the ceremony takes place in a church, chapel, hotel, home, or outdoors, when the guests arrive they should quickly catch the spirit of the wedding through the floral decorations (see Figure 18-11). During the consultation, the florist must ask several questions in order to envision appropriate floral designs and determine the types, sizes, and number necessary. Questions regarding the size of the ceremonial site, the height of the ceiling, the style of architecture, and regulations of flower use will provide important answers relative to the types of designs necessary. Churches often have rules that must be followed in decorating. Some churches require that their flower guild decorate the sanctuary or chapel. An experienced consultant is familiar with any of the ceremony decoration limitations and works within these guidelines. The consultant should know the specific features of the various local churches and offer suggestions to the bride.


The focal point of any ceremony decoration is the area where the bridal party processional culminates and where the couple exchanges vows. All decorations should carry the eye to and support this point of visual attention.

In discussing ceremony decorations, the florist should encourage the bride to think of where the guests enter the church or ceremonial site and where they will be seated. Planning decorations for the entryway, registration area, and the aisle is important. These other decorations will help support the theme of the flowers surrounding the altar area and provide visual impact and cohesiveness. A typical large, formal church ceremony may include many elaborate decorations for the altar area and the aisle. All decorations should lead the eye to the center altar table, the point where the wedding ceremony takes place.

The altar decorations must have strong impact to focus the attention of the audience on the center of the altar and the bridal party. These floral designs should be large enough to be seen by all the wedding guests since they are often some distance away. One large floral arrangement may be placed on the altar table or on the rail directly behind it. Generally, a pair of large altar bouquets, one placed on each side of the altar table, is needed. These provide dignity and help to visually frame the bride and groom during the ceremony. Candelabra are popular altar decorations, especially for formal evening ceremonies where the soft glow of candlelight provides a romantic feeling. Often candelabra are decorated with floral and ribbon accents. Large potted plants or large foliage arrangements are often selected to help decorate broad or wide altar areas.

Decorating the center bridal processional aisle, which leads to the point of the ceremony, completes a ceremony decoration effectively. Depending on the type of marriage ceremony and the place where it will be held, decorating the processional aisle might include garnishing the ends of pews, chairs, and benches. Often decorated with bows and floral accents, these decorations provide a feeling of unity between the couple and their guests during the ceremony. As shown in Figure 18-12, the pew or bench decorations may be made simple or elaborate. Rather than having decorations on all pew ends, they are generally placed only on every second or third pew, with ribbon draping between the bows. Simple bow decorations are generally attached with chenille stems. A variety of holders are available that provide either a water tube or a floral foam cage in which to hold floral arrangements. Aisleabras, or aisle candelabra, are effective decorations that add formality to an evening ceremony. The aisleabras are posts that hold a single candle enclosed in a glass hurricane cover. (Because of fire safety, these candles are often battery operated.) Aisleabras are often decorated with flowers and ribbons.


For outdoor ceremonies where guests stand, a lovely bridal processional aisle can be created with freestanding single candelabra decorated with flowers. If candles are not appropriate, aisleabras can serve as aisle posts, decorated with flowers and ribbons draped between the posts to create a bridal processional aisle.

A canopy or arch may be desired for certain wedding ceremonies. In the traditional Jewish wedding, the bride and groom are married under a canopy, or chuppah (see Figure 18-13). In most cases, the canopy is a freestanding unit. Many flower shops specializing in wedding flowers have canopies as part of their rental equipment. Some canopies are metal frames that need to be totally covered with flowers and foliage. Other canopies are covered with fabric or vines and require floral embellishment. Wherever the canopy is used, in a synagogue, hotel, country club, or outdoors, it is the focal point of the decoration. A floral arch may be used in a variety of ways for the wedding ceremony. Often an arch is placed at the rear of the center aisle, and visually frames bridal party members during the processional and recessional.

The floral consultant may wish to make further suggestions to the bride-to-be for floral decorations at the site of the ceremony. Depending on the church or other setting, the registration area, windows, and other areas may be decorated with floral designs to add touches of beauty and accent throughout the ceremony location.

For the home wedding ceremony or one held at a country club, often the fireplace is the focal point. Depending on the formality of the wedding, the fireplace can be decorated with a central arrangement and accented with flower and foliage garlands. Garlands placed throughout the ceremony area help to unify the wedding colors and theme.


Reception Decorations

The wedding reception follows the wedding ceremony. It is a time of celebration with friends and family. A reception is a joyous occasion and may be simple with cake and punch or more elaborate with a formal dinner and dancing. Simple receptions sometimes require only flowers for the cake. The formal dinner reception calls for an array of floral decorations to help make the celebration beautiful and festive.

Regardless of the size of the reception, the professional consultant pulls a theme of flowers and colors through the ceremony, the bridal party, and the reception (see Figure 18-14). This coordination of a flower theme and color scheme gives the entire occasion visual unity and a flair of memorable style.

Typical decorations for the reception include flower accents for the cake and cake table, gift table, serving and buffet tables, punch and champagne table, guest tables, and the head table (see Figure 18-15). A floral arrangement will also be beautiful at the guest book or registration area of the reception. Larger floral designs, arches, and other decorations are often needed to visually frame the bride and groom. These larger designs will create a beautiful backdrop and setting for photographs.

The wedding cake is a focal point and one of the most important components in the reception decorations (see Figure 18-16). As shown in Figure 18-17, wedding cakes may be decorated in a variety of ways. The style of cake will determine the style and amount of the floral accents. If the bride desires a porcelain or blown-glass figurine on top of the cake, it may be accented with flowers. Floral decorations may also be added between the cake layers and around the base to unify and enhance the entire cake.

Flowers may be loosely arranged between cake layers, on top of a paper doily, mirror, or plastic separator, to keep the flowers off the icing of the cake. The base of the cake may be decorated with a garland of flowers and foliage, a layering of loose flowers and foliage, or preconstructed floweraccent clusters. The cake knife and server may also be accented with flowers and ribbon. Flower cake tops are a popular choice and may be easily made in lace-trimmed holders (see Figure 18-18).





At a sit-down lunch or dinner, generally there is a separate table for the bridal party, called the head table. This table is a central element in the decoration. The placement of the table in the room and the decorations should make the bridal party table stand out with prominence. Often the floral decorations designed for this table are more elaborate than those for the guest tables, giving emphasis to the bride and groom. Flower arrangements used on the table should be kept low so guests do not have difficulty seeing the bridal party. Though the style of decorations on the guest tables will be different than those on the head table, they should be created with the same flowers and colors. The guest tables continue the theme of the reception throughout the reception room. The size and shape of the guest tables will often determine the type of centerpieces needed.

The punch and champagne table is an area of activity at the reception. Often the punch bowl is decorated with flowers around the base, similar to the cake. The toasting glasses for the bride and groom may be decorated with bows and floral decorations tied to the stems of the glasses.

The buffet table is also an area of activity. Floral arrangements and loose flowers and petals are commonly used to decorate and accent the buffet table and food trays. The consultant needs to know if guests will be serving themselves from one side or from both sides of the buffet. This information will help the designer know whether to make centerpieces all-sided or one-sided. Generally, the buffet floral designs are elaborate, giving emphasis to the table.

Table skirt decorations are beautiful accents to the buffet and other tables. They provide accenting spots of color throughout the reception. Garlands of ribbon are commonly used to decorate the tables. Table skirt decorations are usually pinned to the skirting of the table and must be secure so they will remain in place as guests pass by the tables.

Because a receiving line is generally part of a formal or semiformal reception, decorations will help to emphasize the bridal party as they greet guests. Special floral arches will accent and frame the bride and groom. Receiving line decorations are generally large in scale. Personal flowers are also worn and held by the bridal party in the receiving line. These corsages, boutonnieres, and bouquets are usually the same flowers used at the ceremony; however, sometimes new flowers may be needed.


Additional decorations may be desired, depending on the spaciousness of the room or area of the outdoor site. Most wedding order forms list additional areas that may be decorated with flowers, such as the registration table and lobby area (if there is one), the powder room, the dance floor and bandstand area, the gift tables, the pool, tent, and the get-away car or carriage. Other floral items needed at the reception may include a toss bouquet for the bride, personal flowers for the band members, emcee, vocalist, and service personnel (waiters, waitresses, hostess, and bartender).

Rehearsal Dinner

Many couples choose to hold a rehearsal of the wedding ceremony. Following the rehearsal, a dinner is generally hosted and paid for by the groom's parents. Floral centerpieces may be needed for the rehearsal dinner. The consultant may also suggest small hand-tied bouquets for the bride and her attendants to carry during, and to keep after, the rehearsal.

Conclusion of the Consultation

When the consultant and the bride have discussed all of the floral designs needed, prices and terms of payment are discussed. It is best for the florist to offer three different floral prices (a high, medium, and low price) for each floral item, giving options to a wide variety of budgets. It is important however, that the bride understands the differences in the floral designs for the various prices.

According to traditional wedding customs, the groom pays for the bride's bouquet, the men's boutonnieres, and the mothers' and grandmothers' corsages. The bride is traditionally responsible for paying for the bridesmaids' and flower girl bouquets, the groom's boutonniere, corsages for all females (except the mothers and grandmothers), and decorations for the ceremony and reception.

The professional florist seldom gives a prospective bridal client any of the specific floral details and prices in writing until the bride engages the shop to create the flowers for her wedding. This procedure discourages the practice of going to a professionally qualified bridal florist to plan the wedding, then taking these plans to a less qualified florist for fulfilling the plan. Many professional flower shops will not give a final estimate on a wedding until they know they have the job.

Because weddings are labor-intensive, the cost of servicing the wedding and reception--delivering wedding flowers, installing and removing large floral decorations, and decorating the cake, cake table, and other onsite designing and setup--must be added into the cost of the wedding.

Most professional flower shops charge a fee for the wedding consultation. When a bride completes her flower plans and makes an appropriate deposit (usually 20 percent) to reserve the wedding date, the florist generally applies this consultation fee to the total.

Styles of Bouquets

In wedding work, the term "style" connotes the form or the physical appearance of the bouquet. Form in floral design is the combination of the three dimensional structural characteristics of the design that creates its individual, physical identity. For example, a colonial bouquet is a round, circular form. This form gives the bouquet its structural characteristics. All names of bouquets that describe the style--colonial, cascade, crescent, arm, clutch, and others--identify the form or the physical shape of the bouquet.

Additionally, there are terms that further explain the selection and placement of flowers within the bouquet. Words such as "classic" and "traditional," "conventional," or "contemporary" will also dictate a "style" or the "look" of a design, beyond its shape or form. Often the classic interpretation of any style imposes a formal, structured approach to the design. In classic styles, certain flowers are more appropriate than others. Calla liles, for example, are an excellent choice for a classic arm bouquet (see Figure 18-19). A classic cascade bouquet is often made all white, with orchids or gardenias, stephanotis, and trailing ivy strands.

A conventional style is often the "typical" bouquet, or one that has remained extremely popular. It is not as formal as the classic style. For instance, a conventional cascade bouquet for the bride may feature an all-white bouquet of roses, spray carnations, and white filler flowers, or it may also be various colors in these typical flowers.

In floral design, contemporary style displays informal or relaxed form instead of structured form. Contemporary styling allows freedom in flower selection, colors, and presentation. Usually, the contemporary application of any bouquet style incorporates generous areas of negative space and emphasizes forms and lines. Often the design will have a relaxed, airy appearance. Contemporary style is more expressive and less structured than either the classic or the conventional styles. For example, a contemporary arm bouquet for a bride may include a combination of white delphinium, pink larkspur, pink roses, a stem of white lily, two or three pink gerbera, and Queen Anne's lace. A contemporary hand bouquet might consist of a single stem or an informal gathering of a wide assortment of seasonal flowers in a pleasing color harmony.


Whatever the style, the bridal bouquet should complement the occasion and draw attention to the bride while providing an accent to her gown.

Bouquet Construction

Construction techniques for many bouquet styles are similar. As shown in Figure 18-20, bridal bouquets are generally designed in one of three ways: (1) flowers may be individually wired and taped and then assembled together; (2) flowers may be tied together with ribbon or string; or (3) flowers may be inserted into floral foam holders. Some bouquets require several construction methods in combination. Most floral designers use a bouquet holder with saturated floral foam for creating bridal and attendant bouquets. Flower stems can be placed directly into the wet foam. The moisture in the foam keeps flowers fresh. Sometimes the designer wires and tapes some flowers and then places them in the foam. When using wired and taped stems, and flowers with fragile stems that do not hold fast in the floral foam, place these materials on wooden picks and then insert the pick into the foam. The moisture in the foam expands the wood pick and anchors it in the foam. It is essential to anchor all stems securely in the foam. Otherwise flowers might fall out of the bouquets as the bridal party proceeds down the aisle. The steps of construction for assembling a cascade bouquet in a bouquet holder (shown in Figure 18-21) can also be applied to the colonial and crescent designs as well as many other bouquet styles.

Perennial Favorites

Although wedding bouquet styles have changed with fashion, many bouquet styles are classic and have remained popular. These perennial favorites include the colonial, cascade, crescent, clutch or hand-tied, and arm bouquet.

The colonial or round bouquet is perhaps the most widely selected bouquet for both brides and bridesmaids. This style is fashioned after the nosegay designs of the English-Georgian and Victorian periods (see Figure 18-22). Many other bouquet styles are some form or variation of the colonial. Often, colonial bouquets are circled with a collar of lace.



Featuring dominant descending line movement, the cascade is a popular bouquet style for brides and bridesmaids (see Figure 18-23). Gardenias, orchids, and other favorite flowers dominate the bouquet, while cascading lines of stephanotis and other flowers and foliage radiate gracefully from the center. The cascading portions of the bouquet may be short and simple or long, full, and flowing. The bride favoring white roses often selects this style for her bouquet.

The crescent style is a variation of the cascade and shaped in a crescent-moon form, as shown in Figure 18-24. Although not as popular as the colonial, cascade, or clutch bouquets, the crescent form is an excellent choice when working with a limited number of flowers that have distinctive shapes. Whenever a unique or expensive flower is the point of interest, the crescent style provides maximum visual value with an unobtrusive flair of design.

Considered the most natural bouquet for the bride and her attendants, the clutch or hand-tied bouquet is a casual gathering of blossoms tied into position with ribbon or string (see Chapter 13). Providing a natural, garden-picked appearance, this style of bouquet has gained new popularity in recent years (see figures 18-25 and 18-26).



Another perennial style, the arm bouquet (see Chapter 13), is favored by brides who object to structured styling and prefer a more natural, but luxurious presentation of flowers (see Figure 18-27). Also called a presentation bouquet, in its purest form, the arm bouquet is a gathering of flowers on natural stems that gives the appearance of being picked from the garden and placed in the arm. Appropriate for both the bride and her attendants, the arm bouquet can be created with almost any flower and presented in a number of traditional or contemporary styles.


Specialty Bouquets

Bridal and attendants' bouquets with unconventional themes appeal to some brides. These novelty or specialty bouquets are not of major importance in most flower shops. Still, a professional floral designer must be familiar with novel designs and be qualified to suggest and create them when appropriate. Some unique specialty designs include the basket bouquet, wreath bouquet, muff, prayer book or Bible bouquet, fan bouquet, parasol bouquet, and pomander bouquet.

A basket of flowers is a preferred bouquet for brides who want an informal flower look for an afternoon wedding (see Figure 18-28). The basket bouquet has a long-standing tradition for being the best selection for attendants to carry in garden and outdoor weddings. Because it can be used after the ceremony on the reception table, the basket bouquet has gained popularity for indoor ceremonies as well.




Symbolic of the wedding ring and never-ending love, the wreath bouquet is generally made on a wire ring in an appropriate size for the bride and her attendants (see Figure 18-29). All flowers and foliage used in a wreath bouquet are generally wired and taped and then attached to the ring. Foliage strands are often intertwined, providing a fuller, more natural appearance.

Placing a cluster of flowers on a muff is a high-fashion approach to a bridal bouquet. Generally reserved for the winter months, it is usually the choice for an informal second marriage, a small wedding, or any ceremony in which the bride wears a suit (see Figure 18-30). The cluster of flowers for the muff bouquet is created like a corsage and pinned to the muff.

The prayer book or Bible bouquet require a miniature bouquet that can be completed and then easily anchored or tied to the book (see Figure 18-31). For this style of design, flowers must be wired and taped and then assembled into a bouquet.




Fans may be decorated simply or elaborately with flowers and used as a bouquet (see Figure 18-32). A variety of fans are available at floral supply and wedding stores. Flowers are generally wired and taped, assembled into a bouquet similar to an exaggerated corsage, and then attached to the fan. Foam holders are also available. These unique designs may have a variety of cascading floral treatments or smaller floral accents.

Brides who seek a novel bouquet for a garden or other outdoor wedding sometimes select a parasol bouquet (see Figure 18-33). Floral supply and wedding stores stock several styles of umbrellas that can be embellished with flowers. Some umbrellas are designed to be carried closed while others are decorated with flowers and carried over the shoulder in a full-open position.


The pomander bouquet is a specialty bouquet that is sometimes made for brides, bridesmaids, and flower girls. Also called a flower ball or kissing ball, it is more commonly ordered for winter weddings. It is a spherical or ball-shaped design that is often highly fragrant. It hangs from a ribbon, cord, or rope and is sometimes made in double variations, as shown in Figure 1834. The pomander bouquet is generally chosen when it unifies a theme and other pomander designs are hanging in selected locations for the ceremony and reception. (For instructions on how to make a floral pomander, see Chapter 12.)

Servicing the Wedding

The purpose of servicing a wedding is to make certain that all flower details are presented effectively. Depending on where the ceremony is held, the responsibilities of servicing a wedding differ. Some churches have wedding guilds that service all weddings. In other settings, the florist plays an important role and attends the rehearsal and may actually direct the wedding.



In all decorating, whether it is a church, club, hotel, or home, the florist must respect and protect the property. Carelessness in spilling water, scratching furniture, and installing decorations that are not appropriate for the surroundings creates serious problems and a negative image for florists. When furniture and furnishings need to be moved to install decorations, it is important to receive approval to make these alterations before moving ahead with the decorations.


In a typical situation, the florist who services a wedding sees that the ceremony decorations are in order, makes sure the candles are lit at the proper time, and pins on the corsages and boutonnieres. (Personal flowers should be name tagged, to ease distribution.) The florist may even see the bridal party down the aisle, a final touch of personal service that cements customer satisfaction. The florist who services weddings is often seen at the event and this exposure generally brings many referrals.

The florist who services the wedding ceremony also generally services the reception. Placing arrangements on various tables, decorating the cake and cake table, placing designs and decorations throughout the reception room, and distributing personal flowers are services carried out by the florist.

Another aspect of wedding service is the labor required to install and remove ceremony and reception decorations. Depending on the requirements, these decorations require the services of a driver and often designers. The labor involved must be added into the cost of the wedding at the time of the consultation.


The florist who wants to build wedding flowers business must develop a market niche through advertising and promotional efforts. Like all other fashion-oriented markets, the style of wedding flowers changes. The professional florist keeps up-to-date with all trends. To be successful in the segment of the wedding flowers market, which can be profitable for a full-service flower shop, a florist must offer bridal customers the newest ideas. A professional floral designer is familiar with all the basic styles of wedding bouquets. Each style may be expressed in a variety of ways, depending on the requirements of the wedding. A qualified wedding consultant applies knowledge, creativity, skill, and productivity in creating flowers for the wedding party, the ceremony, the reception, and other events connected with the wedding. The desire and ability to serve a bride professionally and competently are the key characteristics that enable a florist to be a wedding flowers specialist.

Terms to Increase Your Understanding



altar decoration

arm bouquet

basket bouquet

Bible bouquet



cascade bouquet



clutch bouquet

colonial bouquet

crescent bouquet

fan bouquet

going-away corsage


hand-tied bouquet

head table

muff bouquet



parasol bouquet

pomander bouquet

prayer book bouquet

presentation bouquet




receiving line


specialty bouquet

table skirt decoration

toss bouquet

wedding consultant

wreath bouquet

Test Your Knowledge

1. Define promotion, publicity, and advertising as they apply to developing wedding flowers business. Give three examples of each.

2. Name qualifications necessary for a competent bridal consultant.

3. What items are necessary and helpful and should be on hand during the bridal consultation to ease the selection process for the bride and expedite the selling process for the consultant?

4. List the basic flower arrangements and bouquets that would be used for a typical church wedding and reception.

5. What are important considerations in servicing weddings?

6. Name other professional businesses that may participate in networking to achieve greater wedding flowers business.

Related Activities

1. Select a picture of a bridal gown and an attendant's gown from a current bridal magazine. Plan the flowers for the bride, attendants, the ceremony, and the reception. Choose a flower and color theme and carry this theme throughout the wedding.

2. Using bridal and floral industry magazines as your source, make a reference manual illustrating different examples of various bouquet styles.

3. Hold a mock wedding consultation, discussing an entire wedding.

4. Construct a colonial or cascade bouquet using a foam holder. Make a matching boutonniere.

5. Make a clutch or hand-tied bouquet.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Section 4 Beyond the Basics
Author:Hunter, Norah T.
Publication:The Art of Floral Design, 2nd ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Chapter 17 Contemporary design styles and techniques.
Next Article:Chapter 19 Sympathy flowers.

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