The bridal bouquet, when done well, can perfectly complement a bride’s image. But many people overlook the careful thought it requires. With a little bit of smart planning, the bridal bouquet will tie an entire event together, from the moment the bride walks down the aisle to when she tosses the bouquet over her shoulders. Here are a few tips for getting it right:

Prepare for flowers early, but leave the bouquet for last
We like to plan wedding flowers as early as possible. If, for example, we have the luxury of giving our vendors a year’s notice, they can plant the flowers we’ll use, and avoid the extreme price tags of out-of-season blooms. However, of all the creatures on God’s green earth, the bride-to-be is the most fickle in our experience. While we believe in building ample time into the planning of the bigger picture (i.e., flowers, seating, venues), the bouquet is such an extremely close representation of your personality that, naturally, it will change often.

Flowers are people, too
While flowers that make up the general décor of a wedding will live happily in water throughout your big day, bridal bouquets aren’t so lucky. Remember: flowers are alive and they respond to their surroundings much the way people do.  Being out of water for 12 hours or more can take its toll. As such, we recommend going with a hearty variety for your bridal bouquet.  Lilies of the Valley are beautiful, but they will wilt before you can say “I do.” If you absolutely must go with an exotic (and fragile) bloom, consider a back-up plan, either in the form of a replica bouquet, or an alternate that employs those heartier blooms.

Remember a few simple design principles
A lot of brides go the traditional route and stick to a crème color palette. But if your personality (and your wedding theme) screams color, then don’t be afraid to incorporate that into your bridal bouquet. Whatever you choose, remember some simple design principles as you make your choices. Scale and proportion are of the utmost importance: if you’re going for a small dress, keep your bouquet subtle, lest it walk you down the aisle.

Personalize with items of sentimental value
If you’ve always wanted to get married in Grandma’s heirloom dress, but nature (and your hips) had other plans, try wrapping a cutting from her lace into your bouquet. Be creative with the components of the bouquet; it doesn’t have to be all flowers. Other elements that you might include are gems, feathers, and other adornments.

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