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Beauty, Bride and Bloom

Flowers are an essential element in nuptial ceremonies and have been for centuries — either for their sheer beauty, to help ward off evil spirits or to simply act as a good luck talisman for the bride and groom. Today, floral designers and event planners are finding some exquisite trends in full bloom.

“Flowers never go out of style,” said Jennifer McGarigle, owner of Floral Art in Venice, “but the way they are arranged can look dated.” She pointed out that a long, cascading Princess Diana bouquet “would not exactly be hip or modern” and that “curly willow coming out of an arrangement and reaching to the sky would be way over the top” at a wedding today. Instead, McGarigle, who is known for her sleek, modern aesthetic, likes to blend flowers with textured materials to create a fine balance.

“It depends on the mood or look you are going for,” she said.  For a bride with an eclectic style, McGarigle will blend earthy textures with modern or vintage elements — such as lamb’s ear, poppy pods and English garden roses with vintage bottles and antique mirrors. For a bride who is sleek and elegant, she might mix modern mirrors and clear acrylic pieces with all-white gardenias and garden roses for a translucent elegance. “Two different looks, both beautiful,” she said.

According to Colin Cowie, celebrity event planner, author and founder of Colin Cowie Weddings the trend is toward diversity.  “Arrangements are a bit looser, more organic and eclectic in feel,” he said. “Brides are focused on giving their wedding a very personalized look, and bouquets — especially for summer weddings — have more of that ‘just picked, freshly cut from the garden’ flair.”

When it comes to centerpieces, Cowie noted that rather than one massive table arrangement, he is seeing more clusters of smaller arrangements on interesting table shapes such as squares or long, dramatic rectangles.

McGarigle is also a fan of smaller groupings, and for her, that translates to collections.  “Grouping collections of pieces on tables, rather than just one piece, is much more visually interesting,” she said, noting that her “tablescapes” (as she calls them) might begin with natural wood tables (or a mixture of wood and linen-covered tables), holding collections of flowers in vintage vases, along with mirrors, votives, candles or trays.

Does this new eclectic style mean that traditional wedding florals are over?

Not necessarily, according to Alyson Fox of Levine Fox Events in Beverly Hills. “I still have clients who want all white, traditional flowers such as roses and hydrangeas,” she said, “which are very bridal.”

However, Fox has seen a shift away from traditional looks as many of her clients are now going for a more “party-like” atmosphere, at least at the reception, with edgy flowers such as dark calla lilies and exotic succulents. “Today’s florals have become incredibly artistic,” she said. “Floral designers are using texture and color in ways they have never done in the past.”    

In fact, color — once used only as an accent among white flowers — may be the most crucial element in modern wedding florals.

“Color is key,” stated McGarigle, noting that flowers are given a modern twist when arranged in monochromatic colors or shades that bleed into multiple tones, such as violet to plum, and plum to eggplant. “It’s no longer about every color of the rainbow,” she said, “but about varying tones or shades within one color.”

McGarigle is so passionate about color that she has created six “color stories” for spring and summer 2012 based on Pantone color products, including “Palm Springs Punch,” a mélange of orange ranunculus, fuchsia garden roses and hydrangea, and pink peonies; and “Green Glam,” a combination of grass-green to dark green hydrangea, cymbidium orchids, and spider mums. McGarigle loves to connect the vibrant tones of the flowers with textures “to give them an edge,” the textures might include antique gold linens or a mirrored box with gold edging. 

Cowie pointed out that the fashion runways recently reinforced the “no longer all white” rule when it comes to weddings, which is good news in the world of flowers. “Brides are becoming more adventurous with color,” he said. “They are incorporating great pops of color into their bouquets to make a statement when they walk down the aisle.”

Whether it’s orange-red roses, plum calla lilies or green cymbidium orchids, flowers are like art: their beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Choosing the right ones for your special day might simply come down to sentiment.  McGarigle’s personal favorites are garden roses, peonies, sweet peas and lady slipper orchids. “Those are the flowers my mom used to grow,” she said.

Jennifer Evans Gardner
Custom Publishing Writer

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