A Florist’s Guide to Wedding Flowers

A wedding florist shares her advice for choosing the bridal bouquet, centerpieces, and more.

By Sarah Stebbins
Bouquet of parrot tulips and sweet peaPhoto: Steve Giralt; Flowers: Belle Fleur

Selecting flowers, a focal point of wedding décor, can seem foreign and costly to many brides. Here, floral designer Meredith Waga Perez of Belle Fleur NY offers advice for picking the right arrangements for your big day.

What do you need to know before you start planning the flowers for a wedding?
The venue and date are obviously important so we have an idea of what will work stylistically and the flowers that will be available. It’s also helpful to know what the dress looks like, but that shouldn’t be rushed. If necessary, we can start on the overall scheme and wait until the gown is selected to decide on the design for the bridal bouquet.

What should brides bring to the initial meeting with their florist?
Before the first meeting, we ask brides to collect items and images that might inspire the palette and mood. These don’t have to come from traditional sources. You could bring in paint chips, tear sheets from interior design magazines, or pictures of gardens you took on your iPhone. One thing that’s extremely helpful is when a bride creates inspiration boards on Pinterest. I recently joined the site, so people can take images from my boards as well. With everything laid out clearly on the screen, it’s easy to edit the ideas down to a concise concept.

What are your favorite bouquets to pair with different dress silhouettes?
There are no rules, but I personally love the way a cascading bouquet echoes the long lines of a sheath dress. If the gown is really modern and clean, a minimalist, single-flower bouquet, such as tightly clustered mini calla lilies or French ranunculus, can also look stunning. With a ball gown, I prefer a traditional, round bouquet that mimics the shape and proportions of the skirt. A-line and empire silhouettes are simpler and can work with any bouquet. The thing to keep in mind is the level of embellishment. If the dress is ornate, I’d go with fewer varieties of flowers and maybe a matte duchess satin or sheer silk organza wrap. If the gown is on the plain side, you might want more texture in the bouquet and some sort of beaded fabric or embroidered lace trim. Think of the bouquet as an accessory that complements, but doesn’t overshadow, the dress.

 
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Talk to your venue before renting any items. Ask if you’ll be charged additional fees for using outside vendors and if the site can accommodate additional setup and breakdown time for special lighting, ceremony chairs, or hanging lanterns.