|Planning Your Vintage Wedding; Flowers|
|Written by Amanda Porter|
Whenever you picture a wedding, both vintage and modern, your fancy eventually turns to flowers. For even with the bride dressed all in white, her wardrobe is simply not complete without a bouquet of fresh spring blooms.
In the past, there was but one color for the bridal bouquet—white. With many subtle shades of soft white, cream and buttery ivories to chose from, white flowers provide a lovely complement against bridal attire.
In fact, brides did not begin experimenting with color until the 1950s, with the exception of the garden bride who borrowed in season blooms from her own backyard. Luckily, many of the white flowers popular at the turn of the century are still very much in favor today, especially calla lilies, roses, gardenias and stephanotis.
When choosing your bouquet, it is not only important to think about what types of blossoms, but shape and size. Select a bouquet that provides a nice complement to the bridal silhouette, rather than overwhelming your gown and figure with a multitude of cascading blooms.
For example, a petite bride wearing a moderately full gown would do well to carry a diminutive nosegay. A taller bride in a slim gown will be well balanced with a larger, fuller arrangement.
By the same token, a simple dress can be accessorized with a more dramatic bouquet. Ornate gowns call for simple flowers to avoid an overwhelming combination.
Flowers are subject to trends just as much as clothing, and one can easily date an old wedding photo by simply studying the bride's bouquet. For example, the 1920s bride, clad in her short wedding gown and long veil, carried a lush bouquet of flowers and greenery, accented with cascading ribbon streamers and lover's knots (each ribbon is tied in several places, and a sprig of greens or small bloom is slipped into the knots.) Step into the 1930s wedding, and notice how the sleek lines of the bias cut satin gown melds with a much smaller shower bouquet, its lines gracefully trailing to the floor.
Another popular fad, long since forgotten, is the tradition of carrying or wearing orange blossoms. Once considered a symbol of fertility, the orange blossom went hand in hand with weddings, and was revived by Queen Victoria on her wedding day in 1840. Although out of favor by the 1950s, fresh or wax blossoms would make a nostalgic touch at retro wedding today. Consider tucking a few into your bouquet, or perhaps wiring a few wax blossoms in a delicate headdress.
For the bridesmaids, it is important to select flowers in a color complimentary to their dresses. Choose from a monochromatic scheme—for example, if they are wearing light pink, then have them carry deeper pink blooms. Or select an accent color instead—because red and green are complimentary colors, those same pink dresses will pop next to pale green and cream blooms.
Consider too, other forms of arrangements than the traditional bouquet. For a garden wedding, the maids would look lovely carrying baskets overflowing with spring flowers. The flower girl of course, can carry the same thing in miniature. Arm bouquets are also unique arrangements that will complement a number of bridesmaid gowns.
When tapping into tradition, it is quite simple to pick the appropriate flower for the groom and groomsmen. Often, the groom will sport the smallest flower from the bride's bouquet (white, of course) and the groomsmen will wear another white flower.
Traditionally, the groom will wear lily of the valley or stephanotis, the best man a gardenia, and the other groomsmen carnations. You may also give the groomsmen flowers to match the bridesmaids' bouquets—the look will still be quite classic.
And don't forget corsages for the mothers and other important ladies attending your wedding! Larger corsages do seem to be the prevailing choice in our much-loved decades (all the better to set off mother's lovely new frock, I suppose,) but single large blooms or several petite flowers do the trick just fine. Roses, gardenias, and lilies are classic selections, but you may also experiment with orchids, irises, daisies and camellias.
Flowers also make perfect hair accessories, particularly if you are unable to find a suitable vintage headpiece, or if your maids balk at the idea of wearing hats. Choose hardy, fresh varieties. Silks also work well—they'll hold up all evening and, because you can wear them again, they'll remind you of your wedding day for years to come!
Don't pass by the less common flowers, either. The humble carnation, now an unfamiliar sight, was a popular favorite in the past, both for its inexpensive price and ready availability. Carnations make nice filler flowers, and also work well in decorations.
Picture a lush wreath made by packing carnations into a foam base—this old-fashioned blossom is now transformed into an exotic beauty! Or, consider stringing the blooms together with greenery to form an elegant garland—that's high style on a small budget!
For decorations, flowers always make a lovely choice. One does not, however, have to max out the budget to achieve appealing décor. Actually, the 'less is more' theory works well in this situation!
Considering adorning the altar or ceremony archway with a simple wreath or small arrangement, and don't be afraid to use less expensive flowers. A good florist will be able to provide you with many budget friendly options.
Tables can be dressed with candles and flower petals, small arrangements, tall and slim arrangements, candelabrum, and either fresh or faux blooms. Why not entertain your guests with vintage pieces—candy dishes filled with blooms (or retro candies), mirrored trays dusted with petals and filled with a variety of vintage postcards, costume jewelry and the like, glass bowls filled with water and one or two large blooms—all will be unusual and appealing, and perhaps less taxing on your purse!
The Sumptuous 1920s:
The Sleek 1930s:
The Sentimental 1940s:
The Dainty 1950s:
Well, there you have it—your wedding is now sweetly scented! Next up we'll dive into the world of wedding invitations!