Embrace the wild:
Wedding flowers take cues from nature

Many believe June nuptials are the most popular, but September actually is the busiest wedding month of all.

The challenge for florists with autumn weddings is a more limited selection from local nurseries and gardens, as the abundance of summer blooms wanes. Yet, the various flowers still in season along with non-floral botanicals such as cattails, pussy willows, curly willow, coleus, ornamental cabbages, lichens, ginger, even bare branches, provide an ample assortment with which to create distinctly original accessories and displays.

Shutterbugs PhotographyIroning and waxing leaves such as maple, oak, chestnut, ash, aspen or fruit trees is another way to capture a riot of fall foliage colors through October and even well into November. Preserving a collection of the smallest leaves of any deciduous species is an alternative to the typical petals strewn by the flower girl. Also using mint, eucalyptus or bay leaves incorporates the dimension of aroma to enhance the occasion’s memorability. Scattering leaves atop the dining, gift and dessert tables also helps to carry the autumnal theme into the reception.

Asters, which symbolize love, faith and wisdom, is September’s official flower, but numerous other options abide: ranunculus, which is often mistaken for roses, along with black-eyed Susan, coreopsis, dahlias, late-blooming lilies, hydrangeas and cultivars like orchids, anthuriums and roses. Other ideal autumn wedding colors can draw from the rich palette of the changing leaves, including scarlet, russet, sunny orange, marigold, aubergine and chartreuse — perfect for casual or semi-formal events.

E.C. Campbell PhotographyShades of brown like cocoa, espresso and dark chocolate can be balanced with a lighter hue, such as sage green or a bright beige to render a more sophisticated look. A slate grey or steel blue wardrobe with wine-colored flowers can be paired with a pale neutral.

Nancy Rondel, owner of A.R. Pontius Flower Shop in Harbor Springs, said late summer and fall weddings are on the rise.

“What I’m seeing is that brides are doing smaller weddings and using a variety of different types of material, asking for more texture and unusual designs. It’s neat. Up here this summer we saw lots of natural materials — pods, ferns even birch bark — paired with white flowers and a few bright pops of color, like hot pink and orange. It was really fun.”

Rondel predicts this penchant for quirky combinations “will carry over into fall and winter.” Of course, roses are still a favorite in any season and suppliers are cultivating “larger roses, with great staying power. Once they are open they’re very dependable. They’re also breeding roses with fragrance once again. It’s really wonderful,” she said. 

Currently, textural interest is very much in vogue. Sydney Wormell, floral designer and owner of Upsy Daisy Floral shop in Boyne City said she’s noticed an interesting trend.

“I’m seeing plenty of colorful, traditional fall flowers: mums, gerbera daisies, hydrangeas or snow ball bushes, but the trend is toward a light, more neutral, understated style, like sepia toned-photographs, capturing more of an of English antiquey look,” Wormell said.

Monotone color-on-color arrays using contrasting textures is a very popular device right now. For example, Wormell incorporates sprays of berries, pods, ornamental grasses and eucalyptus into her designs. The harder, sturdy surface of bamboo juxtaposed with the delicate fragility of ferns can make a dramatic impression, along Queen Anne’s lace against the shiny, waxy finish of succulents.

Jackie Burrell, proprietor of Flowers From Sky’s the Limit in Petoskey, said brides exercise greater freedom of choice today, with much less conformity to proscribed expectations.

“Girls are doing less ‘matchy-matchy’ stuff. Really there is no right or wrong, but a definite trend toward a more eclectic mix of bouquets,” she said.

For example, instead of the ceremony flowers, sprays, corsages and table decorations all being essentially identical, each attendant in the wedding party may carry or wear individualized nosegays or boutonnieres in different proportions, shapes and styles loosely based on the bride’s bouquet. Centerpieces may be different on every table using just one type of flower or a single color from the bride’s bouquet tied together with the same greenery.

Burrell agreed with Wormell that texture is a key consideration right now. She achieves this goal by interspersing traditional flowers with “big clumps of baby’s breath — no longer just a filler — hens and chicks and other succulents, wheat, rosemary, mint and other herbs,” Burrell said.

It’s all about making eclectic creations, she said.

Burrell often uses slightly off-beat containers such as canning jars, milk glass or whatever appeals to her idiosyncratic tastes. Recently she assembled several large arrangements, all in assorted copper pots of varying sizes, shapes and proportions. Rustic settings like country churches, open fields or township halls can be accentuated with floral arrangements in buckets, milk canisters, baskets or even hollowed-out pumpkins that contain dried wild flowers, wheat, rye or ornamental grasses to create inexpensive designs, she said. Also with a harvest-time wedding theme, cornucopias stuffed with fruits, vegetables, grapevines, gourds and flowers can perfectly symbolize prosperity, good fortune and bountiful lives.

Once the snow flies, brides and wedding planners can choose from a vast array of flowers imported from Hawaii, Central and South America, an almost unlimited number of blooms. Winter is an excellent time for rich, darker jewel tones in clothing and flowers, experts said. Some brides embrace traditional holiday colors with red flowers and berries, Christmas trees, garland, holly, ivy and evergreens festooned with fairy lights, silver and gold cords or ribbon.

Others prefer more seasonal color schemes, such as navy or midnight blue, jade, black, burgundy or dark green sometimes accented in striking contrast with pale pink, silver, touches of taupe or pure white. Pine cones as place card holders or scattered across the tables with bare branches — whether or not sprayed gold, white or black and further decorated — help bring nature indoors.

“We see more crystals, metallic accents, and faux jewels in the wintertime,” Wormell said.

Tatum Photo and Design


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