Preserving your Bridal Bouquet
One of the most iconic symbols of your big day is that beautiful bouquet of flowers in your specially selected wedding colors. Luckily there are several ways you can preserve that look for years to come. Some can be done yourself, while others require a professional. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure you plan ahead so your bouquet doesn’t get forgotten in the rush of the day!
When you’re choosing your flowers, keep in mind that some flowers preserve really well and others (like chrysanthemums, lilacs, and some daisies) don’t. Ask your florist if you have any questions about what flowers to use and which preservation methods are best for your floral arrangements. After the reception, flowers can be kept in the refrigerator to help them stay fresh until you or someone you trust can take care of them. And don’t forget to have a separate tossing bouquet on hand at your reception so your wedding bouquet doesn’t get battered and bruised!
If you want to keep your bouquet looking just like it does on your wedding day, the best option is a fairly new process called freeze drying. It’s definitely the most expensive way to go and it can only be done by professionals with the correct equipment, but it can preserve your bouquet for years looking almost exactly the same as it does in your wedding pictures. The flowers will shrink slightly and some colors may change, but many professionals also offer color-enhancement to bring the colors as close to the original as possible. Your florist can be a great resource for recommendations to find a high quality company. There’s a special spray that needs to be applied to the flowers to help them retain moisture until they can be freeze-dried, so you’ll need to contact the drier ahead of time to get the spray and arrange for delivery. The flowers will need to be delivered within two days for best results, and the whole process can take up to 8 weeks. For some flowers (calla lilies, hyacinth, and bird-of-paradise, for example) freeze-drying is the only reliable method of preservation. If you’re concerned about the cost, consider freeze-drying a few flowers instead of your entire bouquet.
Pressing flowers is probably the easiest way to preserve your bridal bouquet and you can do it yourself! The best flowers for pressing are already flat, like pansies, daisies, and violets. Many fuller flowers, such as roses, may press better if they are split down the middle first. Disassemble your bouquet and place the flowers between two pieces of plain white paper, paper towels or blank newsprint. This helps absorb the moisture and prevents staining or transferring the colors. Place the paper and flowers in between two pieces of cardboard on a shelf or table where they won’t be disturbed and put a heavy book or two (phone books, dictionaries, and encyclopedias all work well) on top. Small flowers can dry within a week or so, but larger flowers can take up to two weeks or longer to completely dry. When the flowers are dry, you can arrange them in a frame to look like your wedding bouquet or use them to make sachets. You can also hire a professional to press, arrange and frame your flowers, if you’d prefer.
Another option is to dry the bouquet, though you need to be aware that the colors will darken or fade somewhat and the flowers can become very brittle. Take a few pictures from different angles so you can put the bouquet back together later and then hang each flower upside down individually in a dark place. You could also simply hang the entire bouquet upside down, but separating the flowers helps them retain their shape better. When the flowers are completely dry (in about four to six weeks), spray them with a silica gel or shellac to keep them looking nice and reassemble your bouquet. Many craft stores or framing shops sell domes or glass cases so your bouquet is better protected while on display.
Finally, you can dry your flowers with silica gel, available at most craft stores. Cut the stems to within one inch of the flowers; you can attach fake stems or use floral tape to rearrange them in a bouquet after they’re dry. Pour a one- to two-inch layer of silica gel in a container with an airtight lid and place the flowers face down into the gel. Add enough gel to cover the flowers completely and then seal the container. Leave it alone for three to five days and then check to see if the flowers are dry. If not, simply reseal and check again in a couple of days. You can speed up this process using a microwave, but every flower is different and there’s some trial and error in finding the right heat setting and length of cooking time. Only do this if you have a chance to practice on other flowers first!
However you decide to preserve your flowers, make sure you keep them away from direct sunlight and bright halogen lights, avoid humidity and never let them get wet. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, there are many ways you can keep your wedding bouquet around as a reminder of that wonderful day!
♥ Emily H. Geddes
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