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Inspiration Pics vs. Real Flowers


Photo Credit: Stephanie Dee Photography from a Poppy wedding in Washington, DC in August 2022.

Flowers So Gorgeous, They Can’t Be Real (and They’re Not)

The natural first step in planning your wedding flowers is looking at inspiration pics. You might scroll Instagram and bookmark images you love, or create a Pinterest board to collect your favorites. You’re looking at colors, styles, stems, shapes and vibes that speak to you. 

When you notice common elements among your most-loved images – the same palette, for instance, or the specific flower that appears in every bouquet – you begin to edit your bookmarks and boards. No more wildcard purple stems or ultra-modern centerpieces when everything else is terracotta boho. Now you’re looking strictly at desert tones and everything you can do with pampas grass. 

You’re a diligent couple that’s done the homework; you’re prepared with pics and links to show prospective florists. So, you’re crestfallen when you learn that they won’t be able to create the bouquet of your dreams. It turns out the gorgeous, rusty-pink rose you’ve been saving over and over in photos is…fake? 

Resetting Your Expectations

This happens more often than you’d guess. There isn’t an authentication check for real flowers online, and photos of artificial flowers or heavily edited photos of real flowers get posted all the time. Many couples unknowingly present faux flower inspiration to a designer who works with real flowers, and they have to change their expectations. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that creative, seasoned floral designers can use fresh flowers to surpass your initial expectations. 

Fresh flowers have a delicacy and breathtaking beauty that comes from being organic, just-for-this-moment-in-time gifts. For centuries, weddings have incorporated flowers as symbols of joy, romance, friendship, devotion and more. Beyond their symbolism, fresh flowers will be a precious parcel to hold as you walk down the aisle, or to adorn the tables at which your family and friends will share food and drink as they celebrate you. 

Let’s set you up for success before you fall madly in love with a flower that doesn’t exist, or with an arrangement that can’t be executed for some reason. We’ll point out some giveaways you’re looking at faux or impossible-to-emulate flowers, and we’ll also prepare you for the “I can’t do that, but here’s what I can do” conversation you might be having with your wedding specialist. 

Giveaways That Pic is Too Good to Be True

One of the first clues you might be looking at faux flowers, or at an edited or filtered image is a highly saturated color. For example, the recent trend in wedding photography of moody hues was just that: a photography trend. It wasn’t supported by the sudden availability of dark burgundy or inky blue flowers. By contrast, very light or bright colors might not be authentic, either. If you’re looking at the faintest-blush dusty rose, chances are it’s a filter achieving that effect – not a specialty stem. 

Be wary of arrangements consisting of flowers that look highly uniform. Natural flowers have flaws and variations. One ranunculus is going to look different from the one next to it. Furthermore, your floral designer will make real-time choices about which petals or leaves need to be plucked or trimmed so that your bouquet has the right shape and looks as fresh as possible. That might mean stripping away some similarities between blooms.  

Season and Budget Affect Your Floral Reality, Too

Another factor that influences whether your inspiration pics match the reality of your flowers is seasonality. Say you’re having a winter wedding. You have your heart set on evergreen boughs framing the altar and a huge bouquet of snowy white peonies to complement your faux fur bolero jacket. In reality, peonies bloom in the spring. If you contract with a florist who can get them in the winter, they will be very expensive. Or, they will be available in a different color. 

If the flower of your dreams is available in your season – take cafe au lait dahlias, for instance – your venue might clash with the stem’s needs. One of our Poppy floral experts describes dahlias as gorgeous but temperamental. Ironically, dahlias are a summer-blooming flower that hates the heat. They need to be cut – just right. Stored – just right. Watered – just so. Consequently, they can wilt or fade. A bouquet with cafe au lait dahlias will come with the expense of ordering extra flowers just in case some dahlias give up in the heat. 

You’re not settling – you’re compromising. 

Now that we’ve dispelled some myths around inspiration pics vs. real flowers, let’s talk about the compromises you might be making as you plan your very real wedding flowers. 

It can be hard to envision a different floralscape beyond the one on your boards and bookmarks. Your wedding specialist is experienced in helping you gently release those expectations and get excited about a new vision. Here are a few things you might discuss. 

First, allow the specialist to introduce you to new flowers that work within your budget, season, palette and vibe. 

Many specialty flowers come with high prices, and no one expects you to be an expert on flower costs. (There aren’t prices on Instagram bouquets, so how could you know?) A bouquet or centerpiece can be built to showcase a specialty flower and filled out with companion blooms that complement color and style, but at a lower cost than stuffing them with the most expensive stems. 

Next, if you remain fixed on a certain look with specialty flowers, prepare to increase your budget. Almost anything is possible with a large enough budget, and your wedding flowers are no exception. Your dream photo can be a reality. Highly structural arches, massive bouquets, flower clouds everywhere. Yes, yes and yes at this price plus the cost of replacement flowers if your chosen stems are so delicate as to be temperamental in a certain environment or when configured into a high-level installation. 

Trust the Experts

Last, put trust in your designer. At Poppy, every member of our team is highly knowledgeable about flowers. From your initial conversation with your wedding specialist to the designer’s delivery of your finished pieces on your wedding day, you can trust that every Poppy expert shaping your vision, fulfilling your order and designing the wedding will be working to ensure you have the most seasonally appropriate, budget-possible, farm-freshest flowers. We have a huge portfolio of Poppy weddings (1,000 and growing!) that we can show you to explain how various wedding styles come to life with fresh flowers that check all your boxes.

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