A Guide to Wedding Flowers | Part 1
A Guide to Wedding Flowers
We posed a question to our readers a while back on our Instagram page. What features would YOU like to see on Bride Club ME? By popular demand, a guide to wedding flowers was one of the top requested feature ideas.
We can understand why too. When I was engaged, deciding which flowers I wanted was quite a task. Not all of us are botanists and know what blooms work best during which season. I knew I loved the look of one particular flower, but had no idea what it was called; in the end, my florist told me and I learnt that my favourite bloom is the ranunculus.
Here, floral designer and founder of Flowers.ae, Martin O’Gara, offers advice on popular wedding flowers and their seasons. This feature is EPIC, so we have split it into two parts.
The peony has long been a favourite for weddings and comes in a wide variety of colours. Although no relation, it is often referred to as a peony rose because of its multi-petal structure. Peonies are native to Asia, Southern Europe and the west of North America.
The original colour is blood red, but the most popular shade for weddings is white. The Sarah Bernhart variety is a beautiful pink with a very delicate perfume. Season: Traditionally May through July, but throughout the year there is some availability at a price.
There are about 600 species of plants in the Ranunculaceae family. Nowadays there are literally hundreds of commercially grown colours available; most popular for weddings is white, but there are spectacular shades of orange, pink, purple and yellow.
Season: December to May (very limited in December and May).
Cala lilly (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
This is one of the world’s most iconic and widely known flowers. Although commonly known as the arum lily or calla lily, it is actually not a lily at all, but an aroid, with brilliant white spathe (floral bract) surrounding the central pale yellow spadix (floral spike) bearing tiny flowers.
This very attractive and elegant flower has been known since at least the 1660s. White is the most popular colour for weddings, however, nowadays it is available in a huge range of colours. Its most spectacular variety is probably the Green Goddess. Season: Generally available all year round, but they are most plentiful in April to September.
So where do you start with orchids? There are simply so many varieties, shapes and colours that originate from spectacular locations all over the globe. The most often used varieties are Dendrobium (often referred to as ‘Singapore’). Then there is the traditional, reliable Cymbidium orchid, noted for its large head. The Phalanopsis variety is really fashionable for weddings, and there’s also the Vanda orchid, which comes in vivid shades of lilac.
Season: Believe it or not, orchids are a winter flower. However, generally they are available all year round, with limited availability in June and July. December is the most plentiful month.
In the wild, Helianthus is a widely branched annual plant with many flower heads. The domestic sunflower, however, possesses a single large inflorescence head like a daisy. Van Gogh’s painting is the most iconic image of this flower, which exudes summer. Several multi-headed varieties are now cultivated, so small heads can be found for delicate headdress work.
Season: Sunflowers are now available year round, but the best are still grown from July to September.
When I was young, and that wasn’t recently, it would have been unthinkable to use hydrangeas in a wedding bouquet. They simply would not stand being out of water. Now, it’s the darling of bridal blooms, with huge bouquets of clustered flowers, in various shapes from mophead to lacecap, available. Varieties of hydrangea differ in size of plant and flower panicle as well as colour. Most popular for weddings is white and you can choose from numerous different shades of white. Green is hugely popular too. And if you’re looking for ‘something blue’ – think hydrangea!
Season: Available almost all year round from one of the many producing countries, in so many fabulous colours and shades.
The rose has long symbolised love in societies all around the world. The sheer variety of colours is astounding. Commercial cultivation in places such as Columbia, Ecuador and, more recently, Kenya and Ethiopia ensures a plentiful supply every day.
Season: Available all year round
David Austin Roses
The ‘garden type’ rose most often used in wedding bouquets is the David Austin Rose. David Austin is a rose breeder who lives in England. His emphasis is on breeding roses with the character and fragrance of Old Garden Roses. The roses are now grown commercially around the globe under strict licensing rules to ensure quality and perfection. The range of varieties has also been vastly increased. As a result, they are now widely available for use in wedding bouquets. Their big attraction is that David Austin Roses look and smell just like a rose should, if picked straight from the garden. They are, however, the Rolls Royce of roses and you can expect to increase your budget.
Season: In recent years, these have been adapted to flower repeatedly throughout the year and consequently are available all year round. However, do not delay in confirming your order. Demand always outstrips supply.