Dig into why certain blooms are so beloved by the betrothed, the old wives' tales that sprouted up alongside them, and new ways they can wow in your wedding flowers.
This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in December 2019.
Flowers are distinct in their ability to set the mood of a wedding. They can dial up the drama. Soften the scene. Strategically infuse color or add depth to a monochromatic scheme.
Whatever way they’re working for you, flowers add personality to any event because they have so much of their own. Here’s a look at 20 of the most popular picks for contemporary wedding floral arrangements and the uniqueness they can bring to your blooms.Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.
The OG romantic. Nothing says “I love you” like a rose. Singularly sensual, this legendary flower comes in many varieties, the hybrid tea rose being one of the most visually complex and identifiable, with its layered and pointy petals. The garden rose looks a little more bulbous and wild, while spray roses are smaller with multiple blooms per stem. These spring bloomers sometimes produce flowers again in the fall, but their popularity means they’re widely available year-round. The rose, ever the generous lover, is giving when it comes to colorways too, with myriad full-color (from champagne to ebony) and tipped-edge options ready to roll year-round. Bonus: Yellow roses symbolize friendship, making them a perfect pick for the wedding party.
A spring and summer beauty. What looks like one spherical flowerhead is actually several four- or five-petal blooms, with a small dot center, bunched along one stem, comprising the colorfully diverse hydrangea (blues, purples, pinks, you name it). The bloom’s abundance packs a powerful punch from a distance—even one or two hydrangeas can offer texture and depth to a big bouquet.
The tulip’s cup-like shape, kindly reputation and legacy as metaphor for everlasting love have made this flower a spring and summer wedding staple. Available in a range of colors (both full and tipped-edge), tulips look lovely on their own, with their stems evenly cut and tied in a bow, or in a wild bouquet among a spray of other cheerful blossoms.
The daisy is most recognizable as the version with the spotty yellow center and pluckable white petals (he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me—we’re getting married!). But the lightweight daisy is a heavyweight in versatility, available in a spectrum of bright colors, including incredible jewel tones, that practically burst forth from a bouquet. The popular Gerbera daisies keep the love coming almost all year long, in season from the beginning of spring through the end of autumn.
Dainty darlings that they are, sweet peas have a famous floral fragrance and are one of the few flowers that come in blue—from navy to periwinkle. They also come in creamy whites, purples, pinks and peachy oranges, making them a nimble floral choice for just about any palette. They’re best picked on St. Patrick’s Day, as the old wives’ tale goes, which means they’re pretty sweet options for weddings in the transition weeks between winter and spring proper.
At once charismatic and demure, the lisianthus has layers of oval-shaped petals with asymmetrical edges, giving these blooms a ruffled look that’s a simply stunning contrast with a sleeker flower, like a rose or ranunculus, or a more rounded one, like a hydrangea. The lisianthus’ symbolism is rooted in its origin on the prairies; it represents traditional values, peace and warmth. Depending on the climate, lisianthus bloom from late spring through early autumn.
In the language of flowers, the gardenia is a total romantic. Boasting layers of long, lush petals and a fragrant perfume, it represents purity, love and refinement. The gardenia is in season during the spring, with some varieties growing through autumn, and comes in several colors, including white and yellow.
THE BOUQUET’S BFF
Amaranthus red spike
Amaranthus red spike flowers are just what they sound like: bearers of burgundy, spiky flowers and foliage that are especially wow-worthy against a white wedding gown. Fuzzy and feathery, they look glamourous when styled to hang from a summer bride’s bouquet.
This darling of bridal bouquets is everywhere you look lately, and with good reason: It’s generally budget friendly all year. Silver dollar, which has large, round leaves, and seeded, which sports light green seed stems and long leaves, are among the most popular varieties. Shake things up with the stacked look of baby blue eucalyptus (actually a soft olive color) or the silvery hue of gunni eucalyptus.
Trendy succulent greens have thick, fleshy bodies. Their various shapes evoke the perfect blend of masculine and feminine and provide an unconventional floral arrangement filler or work as a standalone centerpiece or guest gift.
When it comes to a floral filler, it doesn’t get much better than a baby’s breath, a genus of the carnation family with tiny white or pink flowers that, when bunched together, look as soft and supple as a cloud. Available year-round and affordable, the versatile baby’s breath can also be creatively carried through to the table centerpieces.
Lavender, which symbolizes serenity and devotion, is a popular way to add a punch of purple and a romantic, soothing scent to a bridal bouquet—whatever the season. Its thin stem is a convenient silhouette for a boutonniere bloom.
Hypericum berries have a waxy, strong exterior. They can imbue color and texture into an arrangement and are seasonally popular at winter weddings; however, that doesn’t mean they hibernate in spring and summer. These small, circular accompaniments come in warm-weather colors too, like white, pink, green and orange, among others.
The national flower of Mexico, the dahlia offers artful splendor to any style thanks to its multi-layer, geometrically swirled, gently curled petals. According to the Victorians, the dahlia symbolizes a long, lasting bond and commitment. The midsummer-to-autumn blooms have a rainbow of color options and can range in diameter from 2 to 15 inches.
Peonies have been the belle of the ball for the past several years. Their bombastic, voluminous shape is a particular favorite for spring weddings, which is when these flowers are in season and, thus, at their most affordable. Though their pink and white varieties are the most recognizable, peonies also come in shades of green, copper, coral and yellow.
The ornamental orchid comes in many colors and sizes, with March typically its best month to bloom. The ancient Greeks associated these delicate flowers with virility, beauty and strength. Orchids are one of those rare breeds that can look truly elegant as the only flower in an arrangement, but they play well with others too, including freesia or amaryllis.
Calla lily petals are smooth like fondant icing, and their asymmetrical shape offers a truly unique visual dynamism to any arrangement. The spring blooms come in a variety of colors, though the white ones have long been considered a good luck charm. The thick yellow pistil (the doing, according to lore, of none other than Greek goddess of love Venus) symbolizes gratitude.
Brightly colored with a contrasting center and multiple layers of petals, anemones were a favorite for impressionist painters like Henri Matisse and Claude Monet. They’re in season from October through May. At night, anemones, a wildflower, close up and only open again in the morning light—thus, they most commonly signify anticipation and appreciating that for everything there is a time, a season, a moment.
Ranunculus’ petals are thin as crepe, soft as silk, and most often grow in dense layers, as if they are constructed of rows of beautiful paper that seem to go on forever. Ranunculus are available most months, though best to buy in the first half of the year. Available in warm shades of red, pink, orange and yellow—plus white and purple—the ruffly ranunculus can be a budget-friendly alternative to peonies and pair beautifully with roses.
If you’re looking for a wildflower feel that doesn’t seem too simple, scabiosa is an excellent selection. They’re commonly called pincushion flowers because of the pinhead-shaped stamens at their center. The perennial flower can be found in late summer through autumn and can come in a range of colors, including a bold blackberry or softer sherbety shades.