The tradition of bridal bouquets originated during the times of the ancient Greeks, when brides carried herbs or grains (especially wheat) as signs of fertility and symbols of good luck. More recently, greenhouses and express delivery have made the choices for wedding flowers and bouquets nearly limitless. Today's bride may have exotic orchids and lotus flowers flown in from Hawaii, or armfuls of dendrobium flown in from Thailand; or she may opt for an elegant yet simple array of stately calla lilies loosely tied with a scalloped ribbon.
Gone are the days of prom corsages. Modern-day brides and grooms are encouraged to be creative: Pin fragrant freesia on your gown, adorn your lapel with a single miniature tulip wrapped with grass, wear a wreath of flowers, scatter orange blossoms in your hair, or weave delicate blooms into a knot of hair worn at the nape of your neck. Be daring. There are a hundred ways to incorporate flowers into the ceremony.
Many florists steer away from highly elaborate bouquets that might be visually overpowering. Remember that you want the focus to be on the bride's radiant smile, and that the bridal bouquet should complement her dress and personal style.
Although bridesmaids' bouquets are usually designed with a similar theme, they needn't be mini versions of the bride's bouquet. Add color and style by tying each of the bridesmaids' bouquets in a dazzling array of ribbon streamers; or try adding a nontraditional flower, such as sweet peas, in a rich palette of natural colors. Antique lace, organza, tiny pearls, or even butterfly or dragonfly pins may be used as accents.
Your bouquets may be hand-tied in bunches with the stems showing (a casually elegant and popular style), or carefully arranged with the stems wrapped in ribbon or fabric. For an added touch, Michelle Kratz of the Ketchum Flower Company advises finishing dangling streamers with tiny love knots.
Regardless of your choice of style, be certain to seek the advice of a professional florist. Stems should be cut down and wired so that blooms stay in place. And all thorns must be nipped from the stems of roses or other prickly blooms. Alison Inch of Plan It bridal consulting suggests that your wedding coordinator or maid of honor briefly check each bouquet for droopy blooms, mashed stems, or a leaky holder before handing it out to the bride, a bridesmaid, or the mother of the bride or groom.
A biedermeier is a tight cluster of blooms composed in concentric circles and wired into a lace collar or other cuff, which may be embellished with ribbon, pearls, or jewels. A composite is a single flower fabricated from hundreds of real petals (rose or other) that are wired together to look like one enormous flower. A cascade or shower is an elaborate arrangement of ivy and long-stemmed flowers designed to droop gracefully from the bride's arms. This type of bouquet usually requires two hands, or the entire length of one of the bride's arms, to carry.
Nosegays are round bouquets composed of a wide variety of flowers and greenery all wired or tied together. Many nosegays are now finished with open stems for a simpler look of understated elegance. Fresh herbs or fragrant blooms of hyacinth, lilac, or tuberose may be added as accents. A posy is a smaller version of a nosegay, and a tussy mussy, established during the Victorian era, is a posy carried in a small metal vase.