I'm Orla from Soah Flowers - an artisan floristry studio and flower farm based in Co. Kilkenny.
It was lovely of Butler House to ask me to guest blog and I very quickly decided to write about my favourite floral piece - the bridal bouquet. Specifically, the process of choosing a wedding bouquet that will really suit your own style and make you feel incredibly special when holding it.
When a bride has a consultation with me she has usually chosen her dress and perhaps has an idea of how her hair will be styled and if she will be wearing a veil. I love to see an image of the dress as it really helps me creatively when I can imagine my client, in her dress, holding the bouquet that I have designed especially for her. I have been in business for over four years and I have never created the same bridal bouquet more than once - making each one incredibly special to me and very personal to my client.
I usually will spend a little time going through some images with my client to get a feel for the style of bouquet, the types of flowers and the colours that my bride-to-be feels a connection with. Sometimes we can start off with a tonne of images and ideas, so it is my job to go through everything and design a bouquet that has all the elements that are special and unique to my client. Don't worry if you feel you have far too many images saved - they are all incredibly useful as each one will have something that resonates with you. Sometimes a single image of a bouquet might inspire me to go hunting in my garden or at the floral wholesalers to get that extra 'special element' that I know will make the bouquet stand out and look complete.
The most popular style of bridal bouquet that I design is a hand-tied bouquet - this is created by arranging stems of flowers and foliage in a loose and natural style - it should look beautifully effortless - a look which can take hours of planning and work to create!
Other styles include a sheaf - a bunch of flowers (usually all the same variety) are loosely tied and carried over one arm - a lovely look for a very classic wedding and depending on the flower type chosen it could also be a great look for an art deco styled wedding.
An all-wired bouquet allows the florist to choose flowers that have short stems such as orchids and lily of the valley and add in lots of trailing elements. This type of bouquet can be incredibly time consuming to complete so be prepared to spend extra for this style.
When choosing the flowers seasonal is ALWAYS best! When you choose flowers that are in season they are more likely to be locally grown/have less air miles, be of superior quality and somehow they just feel right on the day. As a floral designer it is my job to know what is in season, where to source the best flowers and will always advise my client on what they can and can't have at certain times of the year.
A few examples are peonies are available from April to June, tulips from spring to early summer, ranunculus (one of my absolute favourites) are just finishing up their season which is incredibly disappointing as I could happily use them all year round - but i'll just have to wait for them to come back in season again! Roses are available year round but during the summer months I can often get incredibly gorgeous garden style roses, which though cost a premium are really beautiful to include in a bouquet.
There is currently a huge increase in the number of producers of irish grown flowers which has lead to the most amazing selection of flowers now available - I use a lot of flowers from my flower farm in my wedding work and a lot of florists are now able to source irish grown flowers, especially during the growing season - from late spring to early autumn.
This does depend on the final look you would like to create. If you have an incredibly ornate dress it might be a pity to cover it with a huge bouquet and while a simple dress might look fab with a tonne of flowers, if simple is the style you want to achieve then a smaller, sweeter bouquet would be lovely. I do a lot of boho style weddings and for these I love to create either a loose bouquet, overflowing with flowers and foliage or a 'wildflower' style bouquet (in a size that suits best) which looks like it has just been handpicked from a meadow.
I listened to an excellent podcast recently - an interview with the amazing florist, Shane Connolly, in it he had some good points about the size of a bride's bouquet.
Shane created the wedding florals for William and Kate's (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) wedding in 2011. At the time he received some criticism for her bouquet being 'too small'. But he explained why: They chose the size together in a mock-up - standing in front of the mirror, using stems of foliage they kept adding stems until Kate felt her bouquet was just the right size - for her. She wanted everything about her wedding to be simple, but incredibly beautiful and elegant and when you look back at images of the wedding day you can see that her gorgeous bouquet of lily-of-the-vallet, myrtle, hyacinth and sweet William - was just perfect for her and her dress.
Whatever style you choose the most important element is to relax, enjoy the process and to trust your floral designer to create something beautiful for you.