Here are two ideas from an outdoor wedding I attended in a rural setting.
Making a loose, country style wedding bouquet is a matter of having the right ingredients on hand – and the more the better! In addition to gathering the flowers you want, think about adding grasses and seed pods, as well as interesting foliage.
Here is what is in the bouquet below:
Garden flowers from a northeast garden in early July: Dahlias, yarrow, sea holly, peony buds, lady’s mantle, smooth hydrangeas (they are green early in the summer), allium, lavender, gomphrena, and bugbane.
Purchased flowers: Roses, billy-balls, snapdragons, and lisianthus.
Other plants: Maple tree seeds, poppy pods, Cryptomeria foliage, Hakonechloa grass, and a wild grass from a field.
Once you have your materials assembled, start from the center of the bouquet and add flowers, one stem at a time, putting them in place with your dominant hand and holding them firm in your other hand. Keep the heavier flowers (larger shape) toward the bottom and center, and place the smaller ones over and around those. Let some of the smaller flowers, grasses and seed pods stick above the larger blooms. You can work them into a round shape or an oblong, as you see here. Once you are done, secure them with a plastic tie-wrap, cord or covered wire. After they are secure, cut the bottoms of the stems off evenly and place the bouquet into a mason jar with water to keep it fresh until the wedding. You can wrap the stems with fabric, cord, ribbon or twine to cover the tie-wrap etc and to make a more finished look.
Make the bride’s bouquet the day before the wedding and keep it in a cool place overnight.
NOTE: Make two or more versions of the bouquet. As with most creative projects, each bouquet will take on a life of its own, and each will have a different look. The bride can pick which she likes best, and the others can be put in vases to decorate the bar, table or other site for the reception.
Making boutonnieres is almost more fun than any other wedding flowers. Boutonnieres are small and they can be quirky. Here are some guidelines for making boutonnieres from your garden.
- Look at grasses and seed pods as well as flowers.
- If you use flowers and other materials that last without water you can make the boutonnieres two to three days in advance and keep them in the refrigerator. Flowers that are known to dry well are perfect.
- To test your boutonniere materials, pick them and put them on a plate in your kitchen (out of the sun) for two days. The flowers, foliage and seed heads that still look great will be perfect for your boutonnieres.
- Since these are flowers for guys, consider creative tying choices: twine, wire, pipe cleaners, and cord.
Make the groom's boutonniere a bit larger than the groomsmen's arrangements. Use at least one element from the bride's bouquet that's not used in the other guys' arrangements. Here you see Billy-balls, Eryngium, maple seeds, yarrow, a poppy pod, and lavender.
For a garden or country wedding, milk bottle arrangements can be very sweet. You can buy small, new milk bottles in craft stores very inexpensively, and vintage bottles of all sizes can be collected at yard sales, thrift stores or from online sources such as ebay. These clear glass containers suit garden flowers perfectly.
For this bouquet I used flowers from the fall garden, variegated ivy from a houseplant, and black and white ribbon.
Small milk bottles are well suited for the center of long tables, using three or four per table. If your tables are going to be round you could also use four or more small bottles per table, or a combination of a large milk bottle, two smaller containers, and assorted candles.
Do it yourself wedding brides love mason jars. They are widely available (the grocery store!), inexpensive, and casual. Today’s brides are loving a mix of rustic and sophisticated, and mason jars fit right in. Here are a couple of tips for those who love this look.
- If you want mason jar arrangements on the table, but you want people to be able to see who is sitting across from them, use the small jars, placing three on a table for 8 or ten. Tables for six could have one small arrangement, especially if there are candles around the flowers or a lace doily or other fabric square underneath. (Idea: vintage handkerchiefs are lovely for this purpose. You could choose patterned or white, lacy or plain.)
- If you want the look of pale green, vintage mason jars but can only afford clear, consider tinting the water. Important: add food coloring right before the wedding – if tinted too early the white flowers will take up the color and your pale roses or daisies might take on a greenish tint.
- Consider buying mixed flower bouquets at the supermarket and using those for a country style wedding.
This arrangement has river rocks in the jar. Pebbles not only are attractive if nature is important to the couple, but they also weight the arrangement in windy sites. Hint: put one layer at the bottom one rock thick, then add the flowers. Once the stems are in place gently push them away from the jar's edge with one hand and slip smaller pebbles in on all sides with the other. This is easier than trying to force the stems into a jar of rocks.
Here is an example of an arrangement made in a small mason jar. Two long strands of variegated ivy were cut from a hanging basket and tucked into the jar, then they were wound around the jar twice in opposite directions and tied together. Raffia was tied onto the rim after the ivy was in place. This jar was filled with roses and stock - fragrant and sweet.
There is no reason that a mason jar has to remain clear. For a bride that loves jewel-tones, consider tinting the water purple.
For garden weddings that take place in the evening mosquitoes are a real concern. No one wants the bridal party or guests to be slapping at insects during the ceremony, cocktail hour, or outdoor reception. So a few precautions are in order.
There are several granular mosquito repellents that are made of natural materials. In my experience these products work very well. They are best sprinkled the day before in the area where the wedding will take place. Remember to apply them to areas where your guests will be walking as well; paths to the tent or Porta Potties, for example, will need to be covered.
Some want to use citronella candles as well as the granular repellents but care should be taken about where these are placed. The odor from such candles bothers some people and you don’t want them too close to where the food is served for that reason. Be careful about putting lit candles in places where people can inadvertently back into them and catch clothing on fire.
Offering small spray bottle of repellents is thoughtful because there are some people who are more bothered by mosquitoes than others. How often have you heard someone say “If there’s a mosquito in the area it will find me!” A few bottles of mosquito spray that are placed where people can see them will provide those who attract mosquitoes with some extra protection.
Doing your own wedding flowers? Tired of canning jars? Time to go on a Safari!
After you decide on a container to use, start hitting the thrift stores and garage sales. If you map out local thrift and consignment stores, you can plan a fun day out, traveling from source to source looking for treasures and bargains.
Some container ideas: Small glass bottles, clear or tinted; milk glass vases; silver plate “Revere bowls” (these can be found at church consignment shops for $5 and under!); mustard crocks; and wooden berry baskets.
A collection of milk glass vases being prepped for the wedding flowers. (Hint: when using white glass be sure to get white floral foam.)
In the chill of the winter it’s hard to imagine how the garden will look and function for your wedding the following summer. Don’t panic: here are a few tips for beginning your plans in the coldest time of the year.
1. If you have photos of the garden during the summer time, put them in a folder on your computer or make a Pinterest board.
2. Use this time when you’re not distracted by blooming flowers and abundant foliage to plan logistics and make your lists.
3. Contact landscape professionals early if you think you’ll need help with pruning shrubs, lawn repair etc. Some of these jobs can be done either in late-winter or early spring and landscapers usually have more time in these seasons.
4. Winter is the best time to take care of all the other aspects of the wedding. You’ll be better able to tackle the gardens in the spring.
It's difficult to imagine that this snow encrusted hydrangea bush will be filled with pink and blue flowers in July!
Food and bouquets are improved with herbs. Although home-grown bouquets are always wonderful, adding in herbs provides charm and fragrance. Common sage, shown here, is perfect. Oregano, parsley, and basil are also lovely…plant purple or variegated basil in the spring for even more visual spice. And don’t forget the old saying that “Rosemary is for remembrance!”
Many brides want to use garden grown flowers for their wedding, but once they start thinking about the number of flowers required, they often realize that they don’t have enough. Fortunately, garden flowers mix very well with those that can be purchased. Just be sure to research which flowers will be available when you need them. There are online sources for having flowers sent directly to your house (I’ve used www.fiftyflowers.com) or you can contact a local florist or flower supply. Here are some suggestions for flowers that look good with home-grown blooms: Scabiosa, Trachelium caeruleum, Bouvardia, Delphinium, and Roses.
I used garden grown dahlias, zinnias, and hydrangeas for these table arrangements, and added roses, Trachelium, and Scabiosa ordered from Fifty Flowers.