By Ann Wright
Photography by David Schwartz
Wedding flowers are becoming more personal as they acquire new presence and drama through bold color and inspired design. Reflecting a couple's personality and style, floral designers can fashion a unique look while getting the most out of your flower budget.
Monochromatic arrangements are replacing more traditional mixtures of colors, according to Todd Wadsworth of Black Iris Floral Events in Virginia Beach. "Clutches of flowers in the same color give much more impact. Saturated colors - rich, bright, pure colors - are becoming more popular and show well in contemporary arrangements." Notes Wadsworth, even pastels become sleek and chic when combined with a modern aesthetic.
Color has long been a unifying theme for weddings; and Shannon Hart and Mary Hancock of Palette of Petals in Virginia Beach are incorporating more of it in bridal bouquets. "Some brides are asking for the deepest, most passionate colors for their flowers and a shade or two lighter for their bridesmaids to carry," says Hart. "Brides still prefer the simple lines of hand-tied bouquets but in bolder colors."
"Aubergine - a deep, eggplant purple - is a popular color for bridesmaid dresses," explains Charlene Wallace, owner of Char's Floral Designs located in Maya Couture. "It's a nice background for vibrant bouquets. I particularly like orange against the purple."
Sandra Coburn, a floral designer at Norfolk Wholesale, is seeing a lot of navy blue gowns and black for evening weddings. "Brides are selecting both hot pinks and other vivid colors that pop against the navy and black; or they're opting for a classic look with white tulips."
Cascades are back in vogue for bridal bouquets but with a looser structure that allows plant materials to stay true to their botanic natures. "Cool new vine-y materials such as southern smilax are great," enthuses Wadsworth. Clematis and sweet peas are also graceful trailers. Grasses, succulents and berries add unusual textures. Hosta leaves give a just-picked-from-the-garden look. Amaryllis, anemones and tulips have joined the floral lineup but the pros still love orchids for their ability to stay fresh-looking up to a week out of water.
Bling is big. Sparkling crystals hang from bare branches decorated with battery-powered LED light strings. Shiny or jewel-hued wires wind through arrangements and bouquets. Sometimes the inspiration is nostalgic, with vintage brooches pinned to the ribbon; or an heirloom handkerchief wrapping the stems of the bride's bouquet.
Pinned corsages have all but disappeared. A popular alternative for mothers and grandmothers is attaching fresh flowers to a handbag; or wearing as a cuff bracelet. Nosegays, tussy-mussies and single blooms to carry still remain good choices.
"Boutonnieres are where you'll see the most changes because the boys are bringing it on," says Isha Foss of Isha Foss Events. "There is no more green sticky tape. Instead, boutonnieres run the gamut using interesting wraps and great textures."
Flowers on the church doors announce the nuptials. Floral wreaths, sometimes incorporating the couple's monogram, establish a sense of arrival at their special event. "Flowers along the aisle lead the eye to the altar but have a more immediate impact on guests than the altar flowers, which are further away," says Wadsworth.
Pomanders are an old school design re-interpreted in a fresh way. The flower-covered balls suspended by a ribbon can be hung along the aisle or carried by bridesmaids. Carnations (which come in a seemingly limitless range of colors) or hydrangeas (which are usually white, green, pink, blue or purple) are frequently used to create a round effect.
Pomanders offer a good example of how the same flowers can be easily used at both the church and the reception. Foss explains, "Pomander balls used as pew accents at the church or synagogue can be placed atop glass vases at the reception. Wreaths on the church door can be moved to the reception doors. Houpahs and wedding canopies are easily transformed as accents over the cake table or sweetheart table by hanging votives, adding up-lighting or changing the canopy cloth from white to a shade in the reception's color theme."
Foss stresses that flowers have to work within the overall concept. "Even the most artfully arranged flowers take on added importance at the reception with professional lighting and sumptuous linens. Large arrangements become outstanding statement pieces when illuminated with spotlights," she explains. "Table arrangements look their best properly lit and placed on a beautiful cloth - not stuck on a plain table in a too-dark room." With pin spots, the table flowers can be illuminated without losing the ambiance of candlelight. LED light boxes provide glowing bases for flower arrangements.
Tablescapes are a popular alternative to the standard mirror tile with votives that many venues provide. The looks range from ethereal to earthy. Collections of mercury glass, seashells, moss, bark, succulents, fruits and berries provide a lush look at both ends of the decorative spectrum.
Flower petals, loose and plentiful, have their own newfound power. Whether piled around vases in a tablescape, lining a brick walkway or marking an aisle across beach sand or artfully on a lush lawn; petals lead the way.
Todd Wadsworth of Black Iris Floral blackirisfloralevents.com
Charlene Wallace of Char's Floral Design charsfloraldesign.com
Isha Fosse of Isha Foss Events ishafossevents.com
Sandie Coburn of Norfolk Wholesale Floral norfolkwholesalefloral.com
Shannon Hart of Palette of Petals paletteofpetals.com