Floral arrangements have played an integral role in bridal traditions since ancient times. Brides have carried everything from beautiful bouquets of roses and ivy, symbolizing never-ending love, to noxious herbs meant to frighten away evil spirits (shudder). Creative combinations of flowers and greenery continue to grace wedding ceremonies around the world to this day.

Discuss wedding flowers with your fiancé and determine what’s important to you both. A simple bridal bouquet and perhaps a boutonniere for the groom are more than enough for some. Others see flowers as a major part of the celebration and have no problem with setting aside a large percentage of their wedding budget to cover floral expenses. You may find that the two of you fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. In that case, this is the perfect time to practice that all-important marriage skill: compromise! You may, of course, find that your significant other falls into the “Whatever you want, honey” category. In this case, more (flower) power to you!

Selecting a Florist

Where to Start

Florists that specialize in weddings don’t usually need to be booked as far in advance as some other industry professionals. But do reserve yours three to six months before the wedding. Allow more time if your date falls between the ever-popular months of June and September.

Ask family and friends – even casual acquaintances – for referrals. They may not have planned a wedding, but they may have attended some recently and can offer leads. Personal recommendations just can’t be beaten. And don’t forget to talk to the wedding professionals you are already working with. They should be able to name some qualified florists who are good to work with.

Narrowing It Down

Call potential candidates and screen out the ones that are already booked for your date. Ask the available florists for references. You’ll want to find out how former clients remember their wedding flowers. Were they happy with the designs? The service? The quality of the blooms? You can also ask if they would do anything differently. You might get some valuable insight into the planning process.

When Meeting Florists

Your goal is to find a florist who will understand your vision and can suggest ways to tailor floral designs to your theme and budget. Visual aids such as pictures of your wedding dress, detailed descriptions of your sites or examples of arrangements that pique your interest can also be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask about less expensive versions of what you like. And look at samples and photos of the floral designer’s past creations. You might get some great ideas that you hadn’t thought of.

Get it in Writing

As with all wedding services, make sure details and commitments are put in writing. There are a lot of things to remember and having a contract protects the interests of both you and the florist.


Floral arrangements have long symbolized everything from eternal love to new life and fertility. During the 1800s, flowers took on additional significance as lovers began using them to send messages to each other. Each flower conveyed a different meaning and this became a popular basis for many of today’s bridal bouquets.

Floral sentiments include:

    • Acacia (Red or White) - Elegance and friendship
    • Acacia (Yellow) - Secret love
    • Acanthus Artifice - Fine arts
    • Agrimony - Gratitude
    • Allspice - Compassion
    • Althea - Consumed by love
    • Amaranth - Constant, unchangeable and immortal
    • Amaryllis - Beautiful and proud
    • Apple Blossom - Better things to come
    • Arbutus - Only you
    • Azalea – You’ve won me
    • Baby’s Breath - Pure of heart
    • Bellflower - Constancy
    • Betony - Surprise
    • Bluets - Contentment
    • Borage - Talent
    • Camellia - Gratitude
    • Camellia (Red) - Excellence and innate warmth
    • Camellia (White) - Perfect
    • Carnation - Fidelity, fascination and love
    • Cattleya - Mature grace
    • Celandine - Joys to come
    • Centaury - Delicacy
    • Cherry-Blossom - Spiritual beauty
    • Chrysanthemum (Chinese) - Lovely and cheerful
    • Chrysanthemum (Red) - I love you
    • Chrysanthemum (White) - Truth
    • Clematis - Beauty of mind
    • Cornflower - Refinement
    • Cowslip - Comeliness and grace
    • Crocus - Gladness and mirth
    • Cyclamen - Modesty
    • Daffodil - Hope, love and high regard
    • Dahlia - Elegance, dignity and forever yours
    • Daisy - Beauty and innocence
    • Eglantine - Genius and talent
    • Fern - Fascination and sincerity
    • Flax - Fate and kindness
    • Forget-Me-Not - True love and remembrance
    • Fuchsia - Confiding love
    • Furze - Love for all occasions
    • Gardenia - Refinement
    • Gentian (Closed) - Sweet dreams
    • Gentian (Fringed) - Heavenly
    • Geranium - Gentility and friendship
    • Gillyflower - Bonds of affection and lasting beauty
    • Gooseberry - Anticipation
    • Hawthorn - Hope
    • Heliotrope - Devotion, faithfulness and eagerness
    • Hibiscus - Delicate beauty
    • Honeysuckle - Generous and devoted love
    • Hyacinth - Lovely and constant
    • Iris - Eloquence
    • Ivy - Fidelity and wedded love
    • Jasmine (Cape) - Too happy
    • Jasmine (Indian) - Attraction and attachment
    • Jasmine (Spanish) - Sensuality
    • Jasmine (White) - Amiability
    • Jasmine (Yellow) - Grace and elegance
    • Japonica - Loveliness
    • Kingcup - Riches
    • Lady’s Slipper - Capricious beauty
    • Lady’s Smock - Ardor
    • Lilac (Purple) - First love
    • Lilac (White) - Youthful innocence
    • Lily (Water) - Purity of heart
    • Lily (Calla) - Modesty and beauty
    • Lily (Day) - Coquetry
    • Lily (White) - Purity and sweetness
    • Lily (Yellow) - Coquetry and flirtation
    • Lily Of The Valley - Purity and return of happiness
    • Linden - Wedded love
    • Lupine (Rose) - Fanciful
    • Lupine (White) - Always happy
    • Magnolia - Love of nature and benevolence
    • Moonflower - Dreaming of love
    • Mulberry (White) - Wisdom
    • Orange Blossom - Purity, chastity, eternal love and marriage
    • Orchid - Popular and attractive woman
    • Pansy - Modesty and think of me
    • Peach Blossom - Your captive
    • Periwinkle (Blue) - Early friendship
    • Periwinkle (White) - Harmony and pleasing memories
    • Pink (Double-Red) - Ardent love
    • Pink (Indian) - Always lovely
    • Pink (Mountain) - Aspiration
    • Pink (White) - Fascination and talent
    • Plum (Wild) - Independent
    • Poppy (Scarlet) - Fantastic extravagance
    • Poppy (Variegated) - Flirtation and dreaminess
    • Potentilla - Claiming your esteem
    • Pyxie - Life is sweet
    • Rose (Austrian) - Lovely
    • Rose (Bridal) - Happy love
    • Rose (Cabbage) - Ambassador of love
    • Rose (China) - New beauty
    • Rose (Coral) - Desire
    • Rose (Damask) - Young and brilliant
    • Rose (Dark Pink) - Thankfulness
    • Rose (Deep-Red) - Admiration
    • Rose (Musk) - Capricious beauty
    • Rose (Pale Pink) - Grace
    • Rose (Peach) - Modesty
    • Rose (Pink) - Secret love
    • Rose (Red) - Unity and romantic love
    • Rose (Orange) - Fascination
    • Rose (White) - Purity and innocence
    • Rose (Wild) - Charming simplicity
    • Rose (Yellow) - Friendship
    • Rosebud (Red) - Pure and lovely
    • Rosemary - Remembrance
    • Saffron - Voluptuous and lovely
    • Salvia (Blue) - Wisdom
    • Saxifrage - Affection
    • Smilax - Constancy
    • Snowdrop - Hope
    • Speedwell - Womanly fidelity
    • Stephanotis - Happiness in marriage
    • Stock - Lasting beauty
    • Stonecrop - Tranquility
    • Sunflower (Large) - Splendid
    • Sweet Pea - Delicate pleasures
    • Tulip (Red) - Declaration of love
    • Tulip (Variegated) - Enchantment and beautiful eyes
    • Tulip (Yellow) - Perfect love
    • Violet (Blue) - Love and loyalty
    • Violet (White) - Candor, modesty and hope
    • Virgin’s Bower - Filial love
    • Water Lily - Purity of heart

This list is by no means complete (there are a lot of flowers in the world!). There are a few more flowers listed here but if you don’t see the ones you’re looking for, ask your florist about them. Even if there is no traditional sentiment tied to your selections, they can still mean something special to you. Flowers – like every other element of your wedding – are a personalized expression of your style and taste. You want black roses? You go for it!

Things to Consider

There are no set-in-stone rules when using flowers in your wedding, but here are some general guidelines you might want to keep in mind:

  • The bride’s bouquet should complement the style of her gown, as well as the theme of the wedding. For example, a cascade design would best complement a formal, full-length bridal gown
  • The groom’s boutonniere is designed with the same flowers as the bride’s bouquet.
  • The bridesmaids’ flowers reflect the wedding colors and tend to be smaller than the bride’s bouquet.
  • The groomsmen’s boutonnieres complement the bridesmaids’ bouquets.
  • Parents and grandparents receive corsages or boutonnieres that complement the wedding colors.
  • If the bouquets contain delicate flowers that won’t withstand hours of heat or a lack of water, have the florist use a bouquet holder to ensure they stay fresh.
  • If using lilies for corsages, put a protective shield under them as the pollen can stain fabric.
  • Be careful when using alstroemeria for corsages as its sap can be dangerous if it enters the bloodstream.
  • Avoid using too many alliums as they contain the aroma of onions. You don’t want to be known as the stinky bride!
  • Don’t use highly fragrant flowers – like jasmine – on tables where food is being eaten as they may conflict with other aromas.
  • Having said this, some brides like to use fragrant flowers elsewhere – like in the bouquet – so that, in the future, whenever they smell that flower, they’ll be reminded of their wedding day. Sweet scents come from lilies, freesias, lilacs, roses, sweet peas and orange blossom, to name but a few.
  • If you are decorating your cake or cake table with flowers, make sure that you use nonpoisonous ones and blooms that have not been treated with pesticides. A 911 call in the middle of your reception would really put a damper on the celebrations!

The Bridal Bouquet

A bouquet is a bunch of pretty flowers that you hold in front of you, right? Well, yes… but there’s a bit more to it than that. A bouquet can come in many forms – here are a few of the basic styles: Cascade. The traditional cascade flows downward from the cluster of flowers and is the most formal design.

  • Presentation. This style lies along the length of the arm with a slight spillover of flowers or greenery.
  • Nosegay. This popular design is smaller than the others and usually has very little greenery. It’s tightly packed and is usually about 16-18 inches around.
  • Posy. This is a smaller version of the nosegay and it’s well suited to delicate flowers or a bride with small hands.
  • Round. A fairly large bouquet that accommodates larger flowers. It’s tightly packed and when held forms a circle in front of the bride – the stems are not visible.
  • Hand- and Loose-tied. This informal style of loosely tied flowers offers a “just picked” illusion.
  • Pomander. A four-to-six inch ball of compact flowers, this bouquet is held by a loop of ribbon like a purse. This bouquet is usually held by the bridesmaids rather than the bride.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Florist

Are you the florist who will be working on my designs?

You want to know if this is the actual florist who will create your arrangements. Ask to see photos or sketches of their work. Also ask if they will be the one handling the set-up of flowers on location. Will this florist or another representative be on hand throughout your day if there are any difficulties?

How long have you been in business?

You may have seen samples and talked to their references, but you’ll still want to get an idea of their level of experience.

Do you schedule more than one wedding a day?

Florists that book multiple weddings could be spreading themselves too thin to offer personalized service. And a candidate who is difficult to schedule time with or who keeps you waiting could be a source of problems in the future.

Are you familiar with my site(s)?

You may get lucky and find a florist who has been to your site(s) and knows what types of arrangements will work best there. Regardless, you need to know if there are any restrictions at your sites. Many places do not allow arrangements to be placed on the altar or pews. And some venues are subject to strict fire codes or other laws. Find out – and make sure that your florist considers this information.

What flowers are readily available on my date?

Many flowers are less expensive and easier to get at certain times of the year. You want to consider the availability of your favorite flowers at the time of your wedding. Ask your florist for alternatives in case your selections become unavailable at the last minute. Which season, which flower? Find out at

What suggestions can you offer?

Describe the tone or theme of your wedding and ask for suggestions. You want to find an imaginative florist who can help you create the wedding of your dreams. You might also ask about using less expensive alternatives to flowers such as candles, balloons, mirrors and plants. For your floral checklist, visit

Do you provide accessories?

Many florists provide aisle runners, chuppahs, stanchions, candelabras and other accessories. You’ll need to measure the aisle length if you plan on using a runner.

Are there any special considerations we need to discuss?

A good florist can explain any selection limitations you might have based on your flower choices, wedding colors, fragrance combinations or site décor. The florist should also be able to point out seasonal and budgeting considerations.

Can you preserve the bridal bouquet after the ceremony?

Some brides like to preserve their bouquet. Discuss this option with the florist and decide if it’s right for you. You will need to have a second arrangement created for the “bouquet toss” during the reception if this is a tradition you’re going to uphold.

When will the flowers be delivered?

Arrange to have your flowers picked up or delivered. You will need your bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres for the formal pictures so be sure they arrive before the photographer.

What is the estimated total cost of all my selections?

You’ll need to get an idea of how much your bouquets, boutonnieres and other arrangements will cost. Make sure the fees include delivery, set-up and accessories. Also ask if there are any charges for substituting flowers for different ones prior to the wedding date.

When do you need a deposit and when will you need the balance?

Avoid paying your entire balance up front. It is much better to pay off the bill after you have received the flowers. Also ask about cancellation policies.

What are your guarantees regarding freshness and availability?

Make sure that all guarantees are written in the contract.

Can you deliver my reception flowers to a hospital after the wedding day?

Rather than giving them to friends or family – or leaving them to die at the site – some couples like to donate their flowers to people who may need cheering up.

What is your contingency plan in case of an emergency?

The florist should have a back-up plan in place to cover emergencies such as sudden illness, transport trouble or wilting flowers.

For more advice on meeting with a florist, visit:

Costs Involved

Many florists will tell you that wedding flowers should account for 10% or more of the overall wedding budget, but many people spend considerably less. It’s really a matter of how elaborate your wedding will be and how much you choose to spend.

There are three basic categories of flower expenses:

  • Personal. These include all the flowers for the wedding party including the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres.
  • Ceremony. Arrangements and accessories used for the wedding site including candelabras, pew decorations and aisle runners.
  • Reception. The reception expenses include arrangements for the guest book table, wedding cake serving table, centerpieces for guest tables, and any other decorations.

The Contract

Make sure you meet everyone’s expectations by documenting all arrangements in writing. This will ensure that no details slip through the cracks and that you have legal recourse if promises are not kept. Review your contract carefully. Point out discrepancies and ask questions about anything you are unsure of.

Your contract with the florist should include:

Name of the florist who will be available on your wedding day. Ceremony and reception details including date, time and locations. Itemized list of all floral arrangements. Acceptable alternatives in the event that a specific flower is unavailable at the time of your wedding. List of any accessories to be provided such as centerpiece vases or trellises. Set-up times at the ceremony and reception sites. Delivery details for the bouquets and boutonnieres. Delivery and set-up fees, as well as any overtime charges. Provisions for the return of any floral accessories. Deposit amount and due date. Balance amount and due date. Total cost and payment schedule. Cancellation and refund policy. Name, contact information and signature of the florist.

Flowers by Color


  • Marguerite Daisy
  • Chamomile
  • Stock
  • Chrysanthemum, “Rebonnet”
  • Cosmos
  • Lily, “Casablanca”
  • Stephanotis
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Lisianthus, “Double White”
  • Ranunculus
  • Lilac
  • Cymbidium Orchid
  • Anemone
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Carnation
  • Hyacinth
  • Paperwhites
  • Euchar is Lily
  • Calla Lily
  • Peony, “Duchesse”
  • Freesia, “Ballerina”
  • Rose, “Akito”
  • Snapdragon
  • Dahlia
  • Iris, “Casablanca”
  • Hydrangea
  • Mini Calla Lily
  • Delphinium, “White Centurion”
  • Cattleya Orchid
  • Gardenia
  • Veronica
  • Lily Of The Valley
  • Dendrobium Orchid, “Big White”
  • Tulip, “Casablanca”
  • Sweet Pea
  • Tuberose
  • Amaryllis, “Mont Blanc”
  • Rose, “Vendela”


  • Mini Calla Lily, “Schwarzwalder”
  • Orchid, “James Storie”
  • Gloriosa Lily
  • Mini Gerbera Daisy, “Salsa”
  • Anemone, “Mona Lisa Red”
  • Rose, “Black Magic”
  • Rose, “Grand Prix”
  • Rose, “Black Beauty”
  • Zinnia
  • Red Rover
  • Tulip, “Ile de France”
  • Cockscomb
  • Ranunculus
  • Gloriosa Lily
  • Spray Rose, “Tamango”
  • Peony, “Red Charm”
  • Dahlia
  • Sweet William
  • Santini Chrysanthemum, “Tigerrag”
  • Carnation
  • Amaryllis, “Red Lion”
  • Astilbe


  • Asiatic Lily, “Justice”
  • Dahlia
  • Football Mum
  • Stock
  • Mimosa
  • Carnation
  • Protea, “Pincushion”
  • Snapdragon
  • Santini Chrysanthemum, “Reagan Sunny”
  • Alstroemeria, “Yellow King”
  • Sunflower
  • Daffodil
  • Freesia, “Grace”
  • Ranunculus
  • Tulip, “Monte Carlo”
  • Tulip, “Winterberg”
  • Gerbera Daisy, “Luna”
  • Cymbidium Orchid
  • Iris, “Golden Beauty”
  • Rose, “Alsmeer Gold”
  • Calla Lily, “Best Gold”
  • Zinnia

Orange & Peach

  • Spray Rose, “Macarena”
  • Gerbera Daisy, “Darling”
  • Gerbera Daisy, “Optima”
  • Stock
  • Alstroemeria
  • Asiatic Lily, “Elite”
  • Calla Lily, “Mango”
  • Poppy, “Happy”
  • Poppy, “Simona”
  • Rose, “Versilla”
  • Rose, “Orange Unique”
  • Tulip, “Anthony Eden”
  • Tulip, “Apricot Beauty”
  • Santini Chrysanthemum, “Reagan Orange”
  • Ranunculus
  • Dahlia
  • Carnation
  • Gladiolus
  • Tuberose


  • Spider Chrysanthemum, “Shamrock”
  • Zinnia
  • Santini Chrysanthemum, “Kermit”
  • Lady’s Mantle
  • Hydrangea
  • Bupleurum
  • Tulip, “Webber’s Parrot”
  • Rose, “Emerald”
  • Viburnum, “Snowball”
  • Dendrobium Orchid, “Fatima”
  • Bells Of Ireland
  • Cymbidium Orchid
  • Calla Lily, “Green Goddess”
  • Mini Button Pom Flowers
  • Carnation
  • Lady Slipper Orchid
  • Thistle
  • Cremon Bulk
  • Limonium
  • Mini Pineapple Flower


  • Peony, “Dr. Alexander Fleming”
  • Peony, “Baroness Schroeder”
  • Astilbe, “Europa”
  • Cherry Blossom, “Kwanzan”
  • Zinnia
  • Spray Rose, “Evelien”
  • Cockscomb, “Persimmon Chief”
  • Cymbidium Orchid
  • Cattleya Orchid
  • Gerbera Daisy, “Rafaella”
  • Dendrobium Orchid, “Pompador”
  • Tulip, “Angelique”
  • Tulip, “Toronto”
  • Carnation
  • Watermelon Pink Spider
  • Ranunculus
  • Nerine
  • Sweet Pea
  • Rose, “Charming Unique”
  • Rose, “Ravel”
  • Alstroemeria, “Capri”
  • Lisianthus, “Mariachi Pink”
  • Delphinium, “Princess Caroline”
  • Anemone
  • Hyacinth, “China Pink”
  • Tulip, “Peer Gynt”
  • Oriental Lily, “Barbaresco”
  • Dahlia
  • Celosia
  • Ranunculus
  • Cally Lily, “Parfait”
  • Snapdragon
  • Hydrangea
  • Waxflower
  • Yarrow Cottage
  • Cosmos


  • Lilac, “Sensation”
  • Lisianthus, “Polestar Purple”
  • Santini Chrysanthemum, “Le Mans”
  • Delphinium, “Harlequin”
  • Hydrangea
  • Fiction Purple Novelty
  • Hyacinth, “Atlantic”
  • Hyacinth, “Delft Blue”
  • Hyacinth, “Eliza”
  • Sweet Pea
  • Tweedia
  • Larkspur
  • Carnation
  • Anemone, “Galil Blauw”
  • Scabiosa
  • Lavender
  • Rose, “Allure”
  • Tulip, “Dreaming Maid”
  • French Tulip, “St. Tropez”
  • Spider Mum Lavender
  • Stock
  • Iris, “Hildegaard”
  • Freesia, “Skylight”
  • Vanda Orchid
  • Spider Chrysanthemum

For more inspiration, visit: