Q. What’s the very first thing you should consider?
Lee Talbot and Tina Ward: Your budget. Decide how much you want to spend in advance and relay it to your florist. Prioritise flowers into “must have” and “nice to have” — e.g. “must have flowers for the wedding party” and “would be nice to have flowers for every table”. This allows the florist to choose types and amounts wisely and avoids disappointment later.
Q. How important is the theme of the wedding?
Sherri Hicks: Very. As an example, gerbera bouquets wouldn’t work with a vintage or “shabby chic” theme — they work for modern, contemporary weddings. Gypsophelia, peonies, David Austin roses and carnations are far more suited to vintage-style weddings.
Q. Are there any flowers with special meanings?
Karen O’Hara: Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) means purity and sweetness. Stephanotis means happiness in marriage. Sweet pea symbolises departure — a bride is leaving one life behind to begin a new one with her husband. The most common wedding flower is the rose, associated with love and passion. Avoid marigolds — they mean cruelty, grief and jealousy.
Q. How does your wedding dress affect your floral choices?
Lee Talbot and Tina Ward: The bridal bouquet is the ultimate wedding accessory and should compliment, and not overpower, the dress. An easy rule of thumb is the bigger the dress, the bigger the bouquet; a simple and elegant column dress looks great with a single stem of lily, whereas a full, detailed dress suits a bigger bouquet with mixed flowers. As for colour, white to match your dress with contrasting green leaves can look stunning. For off-white dresses, peach, orange and pinks are fabulous choices. You should also decide how you want your bridal bouquet to look in your wedding photos; all-white or ivory bouquets are stunning, but without additional colours they won’t stand out boldly against a white or ivory wedding gown.
Q. Should your flowers reflect the colour scheme?
Karen O’Hara: I advise brides to play with shades and tones within the colour scheme — it’s creative and sophisticated. If you want to be daring, colour blocking with reds, oranges, purples and pinks will create a colour-cocktail explosion on the day. Blues get lost very easily; when you walk into a church you won’t see the blue/purple detail in the flowers until you’re standing right next to them.
Q. How can you personalise your bouquet?
Lee Talbot and Tina Ward: Incorporate flowers that hold special meaning to both bride and groom; the Duchess of Cambridge chose Sweet Williams for her bouquet. Involve family members too; for example, if you have a broach passed down from your grandmother, attach it to the ribbon on your bouquet, or if your mother’s an avid gardener, incorporate her freshly cut flowers.
Q. What are the advantages of silk flowers?
Sherri Hicks: Gone are the days of plastic dew drop roses in garish colours; artificial flowers are now so botanically correct that it’s hard to tell the difference. They’re perfect for hay fever sufferers, and you can purchase them well in advance so there are no surprises on the day. They are easy to transport and although the cost of silk is only marginally cheaper than fresh, they can be kept indefinitely.
Q. How should the flowers for your church/civil service differ from the reception?
Karen O’Hara: The church or ceremonial area is normally a large space, so you can work with larger-headed flowers. Many brides also incorporate flowers from the bouquet on the end of the pews to tie everything together.
Q. What should you do with your flowers after the event?
Sherri Hicks: Artificial flowers never die, wilt or fade if they are kept in acid-free tissue in the box, away from strong smells and sunlight. You can, if you wish, sell your artificial flowers after the wedding to recoup some of the costs. If you don’t want to keep them, hiring artificial flowers is a good budget option.
Q. What’s your number one tip for brides?
Lee Talbot and Tina Ward: Spend a few hours at New Covent Garden Flower Market. It has a vast selection of flowers, allowing couples to see and smell flowers they may not even know exist, as well as ribbon and accessories such as diamantés, feathers and faux pearl accents, if you want a bit of bling.
Sherri Hicks: On your wedding day, spray a small amount of the perfume you are wearing onto your silk flowers for a lovely scent.
Karen O’Hara: Go to a good designer, trusting your own intuition; a true floral artist is one who understands that every bride is as individual and unique as the dress they wear.