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NOTHING SAYS IT LIKE FLOWERS

Picking Perfect Blooms for Your Wedding

by Rose Budd

Fresh - Blooming - Blossoming...all words to describe something new, a beginning. And hence, the centuries old poetic tradition comparing a new marriage to the springtime is continued to this day when every new couple enhances their wedding ceremony with flowers.

HOW TO BEGIN

The first step to deciding on the floral accompaniments to a wedding is to develop a basic concept based on the personal tastes of the bride and groom. Generally, this begins with a discussion about which are your favorite flowers. Then, decide on a basic approach: extravagant, tasteful, modest, etc. A good place to start accumulating ideas is in the bridal magazines such as this one and floral arranging books at your library. One thing to consider right up front is whether or not the flowers you'd like are grown locally, and if so, would they be in bloom during the season in which you marry. This could prove to be a big cost factor later on.


CHOOSING A FLORIST

Because your floral arrangements (pun intended!) can be taken care of months in advance, it's never too early to contract with a florist. After your final decisions, it's one thing you'll never have to worry about again before the wedding. The florist will take care of the delivery to wherever the bride is preparing, to the ceremony, and to the reception, and take care of all the preparation and presentation at each location. Recall weddings and other events you've attended where you liked the floral approach and find out which florist handled the arrangements. Consult bridal guides and The Yellow Pages to set up appointments with several different companies. Their consultants will have photo albums (and sometimes even videos) of past presentations and more than likely, you'll see an example of just what you had in mind for an overall approach. And like every other area in wedding planning, price shop.

FLOWERS FOR THE BRIDE (and Bridal Party)

The Bridal Bouquet (and flowers for your hair or headpiece) is probably the most important item on your flower list. The flowers you carry or wear will be determined by the color and style of your gown and so the final decision(s) must wait until you're settled on the dress. The florist must be able to see a good photograph of the garment (or even the dress itself) to make sure you're getting exactly what you want. This is not to say that the other floral plans can't move ahead before you've settled on the gown; you can save this to be your last decision. (Another thing to consider is that the common approach is to coordinate the boutonnieres for the groom and attendants with the bouqet and so the plans for their tuxes or suits must be in place as well as the gown.) The bridal attendants and other members of the extended wedding party for whom you wish to provide flowers must all be coordinated as well. This, of course, depends on what each person is wearing and, for instance, it may be necessary to provide the mother of the bride with a flower matching her dress as opposed to matching the rest of the party.

We'd like to point out that the latest trend in bridal bouquets continues into 2002/2003: according to just about everybody, is a return to traditional white, but not necessarily in a traditional arrangement! From all white, to setting off the white with anywhere from one to an equal amount of a chosen color (most impressive is the use of the rare "sterling" rose, a silvery gray flower which is stunning), to setting off the flowers with greens, ribbons or an unorthodox or personalized carrier, the style is up to you. The natural or "garden" look and the flowing or "romantic" look have already been spotted this year! Cascading bouquets are making a strong comeback (but remember that they're really hard to get airborne if you plan to toss your bouquet out to your single guests). Another non-traditional arrangement making much headway in popularity is the wrist or forearm bouquet. It is of course a smaller arrangement, but it is virtually hassle free - you don't have to put down or hand off your flowers everytime you want or need to do something. This is especially popular with brides who are marrying in a less elaborate wedding gown or other formal or street wear.

Always remember to check into the latest arrangements with your florist. And also remember, you are not required or expected to follow the latest trends. Do this only if you have a real desire to contemporize your ceremony. Otherwise, go for what you want, letting your personal style set the tone.

CEREMONY AND RECEPTION

Your principal arrangements at the altar or place of the actual ceremony will form the basis of the arrangements at the reception when transported by the florist after the event. Therefore, both locations must be taken into consideration for size and style. If a common ground can't be found, you could wind up springing for two entirely different setups. Most florists will be familiar with area churches and reception halls, but if not, they'd more than likely be willing to visit the location(s). Other than the decorations for the entrance/receiving line and head table or bridal party table, other uses for flowers are as the centerpiece for your guests tables (always a fun part of the event as you can either play a game for the centerpiece or present it to the woman whose birthday is closest, etc.) or to give out flowers as favors for your female guests. Outdoor weddings and/or receptions are a bit easier to plan as you more or less have free rein over your choices because coordination is not as big a factor: you have lots more room to spread things out!

FINALIZING YOUR PLANS

Always keep cost in mind. There are many other wonderful uses for flowers at a wedding such as a miniature copy of the bouquet atop the cake, strewing flower petals in lieu of rice, or garlands for the head table and entrances. But all of these things cost money. If you're using local flowers, it might be possible to go all the way, everything you'd like. But if you choose rare or out-of-season flowers, the costs could skyrocket with storage and shipping charges. Your florist will help you to set a budget and stick to it and a good florist will make suggestions without ever overwhelming your original ideas. Once your arrangements are finalized, you'll have a worry-free item crossed off your big list of things to do and be assured of one more job well done so that you can concentrate only on having a good time on the most important day of your life!


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