How I Designed My Bridal Bouquet (Designing Wedding Flowers: Part 1/3)


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My wedding day bouquet! Photo credit: Gregory Woodman of Woodman Weddings

I had so much fun designing my bridal bouquet and other floral arrangements for my wedding and wanted to share that experience with you all in case there are any brides-to-be out there wondering whether or not they should DIY their own flowers, and if so, where to start. Here is a little three-part mini series describing my process so that you can have an idea of what it was like for one bride to go through it all. I can’t speak for all brides nor do I believe that my process is one size fits all. However, hopefully this series will give you some ideas to consider and you can decide for yourself if you want to DIY all things floral or outsource some or all of it to others.

For the first part of this series, I will discuss my bridal bouquet, which I LOVED! Every time I look at our wedding photos I remember that day fondly… and I also stare at my bouquet a lot. Fresh flowers don’t last long, but I am thankful for photos that can capture their temporal beauty!

Deciding what the bouquet would look like required a lot more thought than I had anticipated. However, part of the reason this was rather time-consuming is because I am quite detail-oriented, particularly when it comes to aesthetics.  I’ve created the following list to outline my process and hopefully help you in yours:

How to Design Your Bridal Bouquet:

1. DRESS:

Choose your wedding dress first. I strongly believe that a bridal bouquet should complement the wedding dress and not the other way around. So order or buy your dress before designing your bouquet. Remember to have pictures taken of yourself in the dress so you can look at the pictures when considering the bouquet.

2. WEDDING COLORS:

Choose your wedding colors. If you know in general what colors you would like for the wedding party but are not sure how to incorporate them, consider incorporating some into the dresses, some into the tuxes/suits, and some into the flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, etc).

3. COMPOSITION:

Now, with some pictures of yourself in your wedding dress in hand (or in your phone) and colors established, consider the style and structure of your dress and the style and structure of your bouquet and how they will work together (composition). Yes, we are getting artsy here. I have a background in art so forgive me if I use some foreign terms.

Let me use my own dress as an example. Originally I thought I wanted a huge, whimsical bouquet with a lot of different types of flowers and greenery.  I couldn’t wait to plan my wedding so that I could finally have The Bouquet of My Dreams. However, the more I considered the dress I had chosen, the more I realized that the bouquet in my mind would not work well with the dress.  I really liked how clean-cut, modern, and minimalistic the front paneling and silhouette of my dress was, and a large whimsical bouquet would cover up or distract from the simple and sleek look of the dress.

I had also considered a cascading bouquet, but since I liked the clean, smooth drop of the front of the dress, I decided on a round bouquet to contrast with and highlight the vertical drop.  And although the “organically round” bouquets are very beautiful (like the ones with eucalyptus or other greenery sticking out of it), I figured a bouquet that was precisely round would work better with the structure and crisp lines of the dress. So consider how you want your bouquet to complement your dress and how you want the two to work together!

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Me in my dress!

4. BOUQUET COLORS:

Consider the color(s) of your bouquet and bridesmaid bouquets. Most wedding photos I have seen usually have the bridal bouquet look very similar to the bridesmaid bouquets, except the bride’s is bigger. I personally think having the colors of the bridal bouquet be a bit different from the bridesmaid bouquets is a better contrast than size and draws the eye to the bride instead of the bridesmaids. See my next point on size for why I believe this.

As I mentioned in my post Top 6 Things I Don’t Regret Spending Money on for Our Wedding (post coming soon), I had considered wearing a colored gown on my wedding day, but finally decided to stick with the traditional white dress. With a white dress, however, I was craving bold and vibrant colors and really wanted to add some to the bouquet. Originally, I was going to have a bouquet intermixed with the different colors I had chosen for the wedding party but that seemed too visually chaotic for the simple and structured look I was going for. I finally understood why British royals like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle went with small bouquets of white flowers for their wedding day – the bouquets drew the focus to their dresses, not to the flowers. So I considered a white bouquet for a while. But I really wanted my bouquet to drip with color.

Then inspiration hit. What if I designed the bouquet so that it looked like it was literally dripping with color? If it had a color gradient, the bouquet would have both structure and vertical movement (which would complement the structure and movement of the dress) while also providing vibrant color. Yes! I did a quick internet search but couldn’t find many bouquets that had a gradient to them at the time (although now there seems to be more of them).

Nevertheless, I went to work designing it using the wedding colors I had established. The color fade would start with white at the top to provide a natural transition from my dress to the flowers and to match with my husband’s white boutonniere. Then soft golden peach would follow, which is also the color I chose for the boutonnieres of my fathers, grandfather, and pastor. Then came light pink, medium pink, and medium-dark pink. These pinks were the colors I chose for the bridesmaids bouquets and groomsmen boutonnieres. I also wanted pink and peach for the corsages of my mothers and grandmothers. Lastly, the bouquet faded into bright red and then dark red / burgundy. The bright red was my color only, but the burgundy matched with the groomsmen’s ties and the dresses of my mother and mother-in-law.

By this point, I had decided to hire a florist to take care of all the corsages, half the boutonnieres, and to put together my bridal bouquet, because I would be too busy making the bridesmaids bouquets and the rest of the wedding floral decor. So without very many helpful photos, I wrote highly detailed instructions to the florist on exactly how I wanted the bouquet constructed, what specific colors to use (we worked together to finalize the flowers – I wanted mostly roses but with different forms/types to create different textures), and how to organically weave the colors together. I probably gave them a headache with all of my detailed directions but they patiently and kindly followed them to a T and the bouquet was perfect, EXACTLY like I had envisioned it in my mind. I am so glad I hired them to construct my bouquet! If you’re going to hire someone to put together your design, find a florist you trust and communicate with them to make sure they understand your directions.

5. SIZE:

Consider the size of your bouquet. Think hard about this one. In many of the Pinterest wedding photos I have seen, the bride is holding a very large and beautiful bouquet in front of her. The flowers are stunning, but do you know what I don’t notice? The bride’s dress. Her dress is merely a white background to gorgeous flowers. A large bouquet can cover up her entire upper body, depending on how it is held.

Wedding dresses are very expensive and after all the time you spent trying to pick out the perfect dress, do you really want to obscure it with a huge bouquet? Huge all-white bouquets are even worse, especially when the bride is surrounded by bridesmaids. The bride ends up looking like The Big Fluffy White Thing in the middle, while the bridesmaids look cool and elegant in their colorful dresses, completely unobscured because their bouquets are so small.

In general, I recommend a bridal bouquet with a diameter smaller than the width of your waist. If you’re still not convinced, again, look up the wedding photos of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Those were royal weddings and you know what bouquets they chose? Tiny, simple white ones. And do you know what stands out in the pictures? Their faces and their dresses.

The only two exceptions I would make are:

A) If you really want a huge bouquet, go for it! Don’t let me stop you. Big bouquets are gorgeous. You can always take pictures while holding the bouquet at your side, or without holding it at all.

B) If you can make the composition work in favor of your dress, go for it. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where the bride wore an A-line gown and carried a huge horizontally-shaped bouquet. She carried it quite low so it didn’t block her upper body and the horizontal composition of the bouquet complemented and contrasted well with her dress. Just keep in mind that a huge bouquet is very heavy and you will need to hold it for a while (I held my friend’s bridal bouquet in addition to my own bridesmaid bouquet for a large part of the ceremony and got quite the arm workout).

And there you have it! That is how I designed my bridal bouquet and some things you should consider when designing yours. Part 2 of this series on designing my bridesmaids’ bouquets is here.

Categories: Art, Life, WeddingTags: , , ,

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