Photo Credit: Eastlyn & Josh Photography from a Poppy wedding in Dayton, Ohio in June 2022.
Does everyone in my wedding party need flowers? Get the breakdown on tradition, trends, and the truth.
Planning flowers for your wedding party
Whether your wedding party is comprised of two friends or twelve, everybody special enough to stand next to you for the vows will probably be carrying or wearing flowers.
It’s tradition (and it’s really beautiful)
We’re breaking a lot of wedding traditions these days. For instance, brides don’t all wear white anymore. There aren’t two little people on top of wedding cakes (OK, we haven’t been doing that for a long time!). And when was the last time you saw a groom pull off a garter and toss it to a throng of bachelors? (Good riddance to that one, honestly.)
One tradition that’s stuck around for a really long time – centuries – is carrying flowers on the wedding day. Flowers can symbolize good fortune, fresh beginnings, and even fertility. What’s more, they add recognition to the members of your wedding party and extra romance to the spot where you exchange vows.
Flowers or…what, exactly?
Not every couple has a preference or budget for wedding party flowers. In fact, not every couple has a wedding party. If you choose to include attendants at your side for the ceremony, though, you’ll distinguish them from the crowd of guests by dressing them in a certain color or shade from a certain palette, or giving them a common accessory. If not flowers, you could consider giving them objects that have special significance to you as a couple. Perhaps you’re artists, and attendants carry a bundle of paintbrushes. Or you’re academics, and they carry beautiful leather-bound books that get stacked beside you during the ceremony. You can source inspiration from wedding blogs, Instagram and Pinterest.
Budget for personals
Personals is an industry term that encompasses all the flowers attached to a person on the wedding day. This includes the bouquet and boutonniere for the celebrants, as well as bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party, corsages and boutonnieres for honored family members, and even flower petals for children participating in the ceremony.
Poppy data shows that couples spend about 25% of their floral budget on personals, so it’s important to understand what that investment is about.
The primary bouquet deserves its own focus, so we’ll only be talking about it here in contrast to the wedding party bouquets.
Differentiating the bouquets
Most wedding party members carry identical or nearly identical bouquets. The uniformity will make a visual impact at the ceremony and in your wedding photography. However, the Person of Honor might carry a bouquet that’s slightly bigger than the other attendants’ to signify the distinction.
As a general rule, the wedding party bouquets are about half the size of the primary bouquet. They share a color palette but might have a different shape.
They’ll also contain different flowers. Floral designers write recipes for bouquets, and the recipe is a list of all the stems contained within it. At Poppy, the primary bouquet gets premium stems, such as dahlias, peonies, orchids, butterfly ranunculus, and specialty roses. (The garden rose, with its exquisite texture, is a true Poppy signature.)
Bouquets are usually wrapped in silk ribbon. It can be tied tightly around the stems, or the ribbon’s ends can be left undone to trail gently for a particularly romantic effect. You might choose to keep all ribbons the same color, or you can select a special color for each member of the wedding party – or even just the Person of Honor. Another way to differentiate your wedding party members is to add a signature charm or pin to each wrap.
Bouquets after the ceremony
After they’ve made their formal entrance to the DJ or band leader’s announcement, the bridal party puts aside their bouquets. They want their hands free during the reception to eat, drink, and dance! Plan ahead for this moment; otherwise, you’re letting beautiful, pricy arrangements fall into the shadows when you could be making good use of them as reception decor.
The simplest transition for bouquets is to place them in glass cylinder vases on tables.
They can also be lined along the edge of the couple’s table like a garland.
Another idea that requires more effort is deconstructing them for bud vases. Your timing here is critical. You’ll want to photograph the wedding party with their flowers, but pass them off quickly so they can be rearranged before the reception room opens.
Traditional and trendy boutonnieres
Think about boutonnieres like you do photos: portrait and landscape. There’s a certain elegance to a vertical portrait orientation. And for a horizontal landscape, there’s a sprawling, maximal quality to the visual.
A traditional boutonniere is a spray rose with a little greenery. It’s that straightforward. It is pinned vertically to the left lapel above the heart.
If you’re looking for something fresh, consider a flower pocket square. This is a small arrangement of flowers and greenery attached to a piece of cardstock and worn inside the jacket pocket. Because of its horizontal orientation and placement, this type of boutonniere can contain a more complex assortment of flowers.
In a traditional boutonniere, the primary flower pops against a green background. In a flower pocket square, there’s a primary flower, at least a secondary flower (maybe even a third, depending), and greenery. The secondary flower adds depth to the boutonniere, making it resemble a miniature flower arrangement. In a category sometimes dismissively called filler flowers, the secondary flower might be something like wax flower or limonium. The greenery in both boutonnieres could range from rosemary to eucalyptus or even some varieties of succulents.
Unlike repurposed bouquets, boutonnieres stay on the wedding party’s jackets. Once those get tossed aside for the dance floor, all bets are off. The good news is that boutonnieres cost significantly less than bouquets, so you won’t shudder at the sight of them being crushed beneath a tight hug or dangling from a discarded jacket.
Getting your bouquets and boutonnieres on the wedding day
On your wedding day, the floral designer will deliver all personals to you. Bouquets, boutonnieres, and other corsages or loose petals will be taken directly to the wedding suite and distributed accordingly. Your floral designer can help with any last-moment adjustments to bouquet wraps or even with pinning on and tucking in boutonnieres.
Some of the most stunning getting-ready photography shows the celebrants holding or even smelling their bouquets for the first time or being pinned with their boutonnieres. Keep this in mind as you plan your photography shot list – and as you’re planning flowers for your wedding party.