A guide to wedding flowers

Flowers are one of the most important elements of any wedding, so choose your florist or floral designer carefully. Tell him or her if there are particular flowers you’re thinking about. If you are not sure of what kind of flowers you want to use, start with colour, and your florist will guide you. One thing that will help you cut through some of the confusion is getting familiar with the terms florists and floral designers use. It’ll speed things up and let you really concentrate on the blooms.

Arch
A wooden or wrought-iron form covered in flowers, twisted vines, garland or fabric. Ideal for outdoor weddings.

Boutonniere
A single bloom or bud attached to the left lapel of the groom’s, ushers’ and groomsmen’s jackets. Also worn by the bride‘s and groom’s fathers.

Candelabra
A dramatic floral centrepiece that is built around the base, neck or top of a large, multi-armed candelabra.

Chuppah
A wedding canopy used in traditional Jewish ceremonies, usually decorated with flowers. Can run the gamut from the simplest and most basic fabric canopy with either a garland or pots of flowers clustered around the canopy’s base to the most elaborate chuppas, which look as if they’re constructed entirely from flowers.

Composite
An arrangement or type of bouquet in which different petals or buds are wired together on a single stem to create the illusion of a giant flower.

Corsage
A single bloom or a small group of blooms arranged against a doily, a piece of lace or a leaf. It can be pinned on a dress or worn around the wrist. Corsages are traditionally given to mothers, grandmothers and other honoured female guests at the wedding. Orchids are among the most popular flower choices for corsages.

A guide to wedding flowers

Dais
A raised platform on which the bridal party’s table (or the sweetheart table) sits. The term is used by florists to describe the centrepiece at that table. Often features blooms that cascade over the table’s edge.

Fishbowl
A low centrepiece style that consists of flowers clustered in a round glass bowl, usually echoing the shape of the bowl. Its low height does not obstruct guests’ vision at their table and helps foster conversation.

Garden
A centrepiece featuring wildflowers. Following the nature of its lovely blooms, it is usually airier and less full than traditional centrepieces, though still quite elegant and sophisticated. Flowers include poppies, cornflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, butterfly weed, tall ironweed, thimbleweed, Canada lilies, Indian blanket, tall bellflower, columbine lisianthus, hollyhock, rambling roses and digitalis.

Garland or Swag
A woven arrangement of flowers that can be looped on pews or fastened around doorways. “Swag” refers to a type of garland that is generally draped on the wall.

Ikebana
The Japanese art of flower arranging. Unlike traditional Western arrangements, which focus on blooms, ikebana emphasizes line, shape and form by also including stems and leaves. The arrangement strives for harmony.

Oasis
A firm foam used by a florist to create floral arrangements and centrepieces. Can be used in a bouquet holder. Retains vast amounts of water, which hydrates flowers for extended periods of time.

Pew Vase
A small vase with a clamp that attaches to the end of a pew. Ideal for a small, simple arrangement.

Spray
A grouping or “spray” of branches with buds, flowers and/or berries. Often used in tall arrangements.

Taped and Wired
A technique applied to bouquets, boutonnieres and wreaths. The bloom is cut from the stem and attached to a piece of floral wire. Essentially, the wire becomes the new “stem,” but a much thinner one. This allows the bride to have a very full bouquet that she can easily hold in her hands and it helps the florist to better style and shape the bouquet.

Tussy Mussy
A very small, metal vase that holds a small bouquet or posy. The term dates back to Victorian times and also refers to a posy.

Topiary
Most commonly foliage, though sometimes flowers, trimmed into geometric shapes or whimsical formations, often resembling miniature trees or animals.

Tossing Bouquet
A copy of the bride’s bouquet that she throws over her shoulder to a gathered group of single female guests, usually toward the end of the reception. Folklore has it that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married.

Trellis
A woven wooden frame used as a screen or support for climbing plants and flowers.

Wreath
A ring of flowers or other decorative materials that can function as a centrepiece or headpiece, or may be hung on a door.