A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and if you are planning for a wedding you can surely identify with this. Making initial and crucial decisions about the date, the site, and the timing can seem a bit daunting and more difficult than you first expected. Whatever the location or timing, fresh cut flowers are the perfect way of creating the right atmosphere and enhancing the ceremony. With a little planning, you’ll find the perfect floral arrangement to suite your needs.
When to Choose the Site
Having set your date, the next thing to do is to decide on the location and time of your ceremony. Traditionally the wedding was held close to the bride’s home, but if the bride and groom are arranging the wedding themselves, they may choose a place that is special or local to them, especially if the bride has been living away many years.
The ceremony is the soul of the wedding, where you and your fiancé pledge your love for and loyalty for one another. Wherever you choose the ceremony, there will, at some stage, be an exchange of vows, and this is the spiritual part of the day. The specifics of the ceremony will depend on your beliefs and preferences, and you may well have the opportunity to make this unique to you. Due to the immense range and style of wedding ceremonies, the choice of decoration also varies enormously. It may be that you have for a backdrop the hillside beside an old country church. No matter where you choose, flowers, such as fresh cut roses will enhance any site. Whatever religious preference and budget, there are certain ways that you can make the service more spiritual. The use of candles outside the site in hurricane lamps or inside on stands adds ambiance. Even if you do not have a traditional place of worship you may wish to simulate an aisle or have your guests in a circle with you and your groom in the center.
Couples watching their costs may decide to forgo the expense of ceremony flowers and spend their resources on flowers for the reception, which will of course be enjoyed over a longer period. Alternatively, they may choose arrangements that they can take on to the reception and get the benefit of them for longer. There are limitations to this, as large flower arrangements do not travel well and you require your florist to move them there for you—this will incur added transport and labor costs on the day.
Choosing To Marry Outdoors
When planning an outdoor wedding it helps to think like an architect or theatre designer. Make sure that everyone can see and that there is adequate seating and protection from the elements. If you are on a limited budget, have one large arrangement on your altar or by the celebrant’s table or, for a Jewish wedding, decorate only the top edges of the huppah.
An example of an effective outdoor wedding might have a huge urn of pink hydrangeas and an aisle scattered with pink rose petals. The aisle could be closed off with ribbon until the bride and her father arrives, so that guests enter via the outer ends of the rows of chairs, making the rose-petaled path sacred to the bridal party. In civil ceremonies, flowers can be an important part of the proceedings, for example, being offered to your new family. Sometimes, roses are given to each of the parents, uniting them in joyous celebration. The custom has its origins in Asia, where neck garlands are offered as a symbol of unity.
Choosing the Right Flowers
The color of your ceremony flowers may be determined by a number of influences. It may be that the location you choose—if your ceremony is outdoors in the full summer sun then you may opt for brightly colored flowers or rich colors that will stand up to the bleaching effect of the bright sunlight. In a temperature climate, the popularity of the all-white garden is reflected in the frequent choice of white-and-green color schemes for wedding flowers; both trends are influenced by a need to work with lower light levels. White and lime green are quite luminous together and work well in dark churches.
Apart from the light and weather conditions, traditional or cultural beliefs may inspire your wedding color choice. In China, red and fuchsia are lucky and are the colors of marriage and good fortune. The luck associated with the humble shamrock in Ireland makes the green color of good luck and fertility. In India, where color is essential in the Hindu religion, brides are sprinkled with yellow turmeric; yellow and gold clothes are worn; and even yellow food is eaten to bring good fortune and health to the bride and groom. Or, the color you choose may be distinctively personal—you may think of red as the color of love—or you may just select your favorite color to make your day special.
Choosing Flowers for a Church
Many buildings can be magnificent buildings in themselves, and a few well-chosen flowers will increase the sense of occasion and pleasure. The flowers do not have to be costly or elaborate; a few pitchers of scented blooms in a country church can look charming. If you have a limited budget, when planning the decoration for a medium-sized church it is better to have one or two major displays, rather than lots of small arrangements dotted around the place which will tend to get lost in their surroundings.
The larger the church, the more important the scale of any flower arrangement you include is, so if you are planning to hold your nuptials in a cathedral, think grand! If you really want to go to town and have a very flowery ceremony, then list all the places you would like flowers and see what fits the budget. It is especially welcoming to greet the guests with flowers at the entrance. Some churchyards have metal archways across gates where flowers can be attached, or swags can easily be attached to the gates themselves. The doorway to the church is a great place to construct an arch of flowers, which then becomes a fantastic frame for photographs. But if the budget will not stretch that far, place some small flower arrangements in the alcoves to welcome the guests inside on top of trees either side of the door.
Most churches have flower arrangements of their own and you should have the opportunity well before the wedding to see what level of skill they have. Some churches have bands of very talented and enthusiastic flower arrangers, who can do wonders with a few flowers and are often very generous, cutting plant material from their garden. But others are very amateur and you may not want them for your decorations.
The Christian calendar may influence the color of the flowers displayed in a church. For example, yellow and white flowers are traditionally arranged in Easter. The only other considerations that might affect your choice of color are the altar cloth and any carpet. It is customary and polite to leave the wedding flowers for the enjoyment of the congregation for the Sunday service.
Choosing Flowers for Jewish Ceremonies
Officiated by a rabbi, Jewish weddings can take place almost anywhere, so long as they are beneath a huppah. Some brides like to create their own huppah from tulle or embroided fabric. Others ask florist to create an arbor or floral canopy, and these types can work effectively for outdoor weddings.
Because the canopy is not fixed and is only set up in the synagogue on the day of the wedding, it is advisable to use a professional to decorate this. Normally floral decorations are hung at the top of the four poles. Sometimes the poles are garlanded, and they are occasionally totally covered with more elaborate decorations. If the budget allows, two larger arrangements may be placed at the arc of the synagogue and a trailing decoration included for the bima, where the register is signed.
Choosing Flowers for Civil Ceremonies
A judge performs a civil ceremony, and this can take place anywhere, except for a place of worship. In some countries, the area has to be licensed to hold such an event, but others (like the United States) are much more liberal about this, and you can get married wherever you like. Civil ceremonies can be just as spiritual and moving as religious ones, of course, and they can be more personal, as in some cases you have the freedom to write your own vows rather than be restricted to a prescribed wording.
The higher the ceiling in the ceremony building, the grander any flower arrangements need to be, especially in terms of their height, in order to make an impression. It is better to have one grand arrangement in a large space than ten small insignificant ones. It is always tempting to want an abundance of flowers all over the place, but always consider how the room will look when filled with people. One single, large arrangement that can be seen by everyone will say a lot more.