One hard truth about wedding expenses is that flowers add up more than you think they would. I learned that years ago when I worked in the wedding industry, and I was certainly reminded of that when planning our own mini wedding.
I consider myself a Budget Bride (have you seen my DIY flower veil?) but certain things are worth spending a little more on. I believe that beautifully curated fresh flowers designed by a professional florist is one of them. When it comes to your wedding, or honestly any day for that matter, nothing compares to fresh seasonal flowers in bloom.
My overall philosophy when it comes to wedding flowers is this: save the money on the centrepieces, spend the money on your bridal bouquet. For our centrepiece, I picked up fresh eucalyptus from Metro for $4.00 and had them scattered in the middle of our dining table with some tea light candles. Done.
For my bridal bouquet…girl, I treated myself.
So, since beautiful bridal flowers cost so much…why not preserve them?
Preserving your wedding flowers isn’t just to stretch your dollar, it’s a way to actually keep your wedding flowers. The time and effort you put into figuring out your colour palette and your floral selection, wouldn’t you want to save them as a special keepsake? How heartbreaking would it be to just throw out your beautiful bridal bouquet in the trash?!
A little part of my soul crumbles whenever I have to throw out flowers or greenery, so over the past years I’ve been practicing the art of preserving them. The method I mainly use is to hang them upside down to dry, or to press them.
Hanging Upside Down
I dry flowers hung upside down in a dark and dry place, away from sunlight and humidity. Depending on the flowers, it can take up to 7 to 10 days for the flowers to dry completely. You may find that some may rot in the process or some may give off a bad odour, so you can discard those ones if they didn’t preserve well. Some may even droop down once you flip them upright. Don’t worry, that can happen!
In my experience, the flowers and greenery that dry upside down the most successfully are roses, eucalyptus, sage, baby’s breath, ranunculus, carnations, gomphrena and billy balls flowers.
I wrote a detailed blog post about pressing flowers that you can check out here, but in summary, the method I use is the old fashioned way: tucked between the pages of a heavy book. I use parchment paper as a protective barrier to make sure the excess moisture from the flowers or greenery don’t smear and stick to the pages. Depending on the flower, it can take 5 to 7 days for them to be pressed and dried completely. My advice? The longer they’re pressed, the better!
In my experience, the florals that press well are eucalyptus, sage, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, tree leaves, delphinium and wildflower orache.
A Few Tips
- You don’t need to preserve all of your wedding flowers. Choose the ones that you love the most, or that have the most meaning for you.
- Preserve your flowers and greenery when they are still fresh! You want to conserve their shape and colour when they are at the peak of their bloom.
Once your flowers are preserved, you can create such unique decor pieces for an earthy, rustic or romantic vibe. You can even offer as a gift to someone or make it part of a gift packaging. Below I share four creative ways you can decorate and display your preserved wedding flowers, or any other flowers you will ever receive or buy hereafter.
Display on a Bookshelf
My bridal bouquet was really special to me. It was one of the items that I wanted to preserve as much as I could. I was so happy that I was able to do it in two different ways. The first way was to create a rustic bouquet and display it on our bookshelf.
I didn’t want my bouquet to be too bulky, so I hand picked the eucalyptus and the spray roses that ended up drying perfectly intact. These were preserved upside down.
I love how delicate and romantic this turned out. I even kept the silk ribbon my florist used. At first I intended to display this rustic rendition of my bridal bouquet in a vase, but I came up with a better idea.
When our guests logged into our Zoom wedding, they were greeted with a welcome sign and our vintage radio with soft jazz music playing from our Bluetooth speaker, but with the allure of it coming from the vintage radio.
Since this vintage radio lives in our bookcase, I duplicated that scene and that’s where I placed my bridal bouquet. It was a meaningful way to bring some of our wedding back into our home.
Arrange in a Vase or Planter
Creating a harmonious colour palette in a vase is my favourite part about mixing and playing with preserved flowers, especially when they blend perfectly with your existing home decor.
Eucalyptus was the main floral of our wedding decor and our colour palette. This calming plant dominated our greenery theme: we had it on our signing table, our dining table and they were scattered around the backyard. Even the name of our Vow Book ribbon colour was called “Eucalyptus”, and it was incorporated in our Evite design.
Fresh eucalyptus dries perfectly when hung upside down, so I was really pleased with how these turned out. Taken out of the wedding decor context, they look so warm and earthy when placed in a terracotta planter, which happens to suit the warmer colour palettes of September that I am ready to welcome in our home.
Another flower that was successfully preserved wasn’t even part of our wedding flowers. Days leading up to our wedding, we received a handful of beautiful deliveries from friends and family. One of the deliveries we received was a burst of whimsical yellow flowers. I love yellow flowers. They preserved so nicely hung upside down, and I am beyond impressed at how the colour did not fade. Look at how bright and fiery that yellow still is!
Even though these particular flowers were not part of our wedding florals or our wedding colour scheme, they were part of our wedding experience and they are a heartfelt reminder of how strong our friends and families’ presence was felt, even though they weren’t physically with us.
Display in a Frame
Framing pressed flowers was my favourite DIY project last year, and I am beyond joyful that this was the second method I used to successfully preserve my beautiful bridal bouquet.
The flowers I handpicked from my bouquet were the eucalyptus and the Queen Anne’s lace. They press really well, and I love how the Queen Anne’s lace look like delicate little snowflakes.
I re-used the same frame and technique from last year’s project (the frames are from H&M Home). I am in love with the way this turned out. The pressed flower frames look so beautiful and delicate hung on the wall of my vanity corner.
Getting a glimpse of my bridal bouquet when I wake up in the morning, when I’m fixing up my hair or spraying some perfume adds a big boost of joy to my every day.
Display in a Shadow Box
Aside from my bridal bouquet, my husband’s boutonniere was another important keepsake I wanted to treasure. I wanted to keep the boutonniere as is so I hung it upside down to dry, and I decided to keep it preserved and protected in a shadow box.
My florist created the most adorable and elegant boutonniere. The dominant floral was the eucalyptus, and she added tiny little ranunculus and spray roses. She chose a blueish grey ribbon to match my husband’s grey vest and dark blue suit pants.
Since the boutonniere is tiny, I had plenty of room to add the remaining preserved flowers inside my shadow box. I added a mix of ivory and blush ranunculus from my bouquet, the remaining eucalyptus from the signing table florals and those bright yellow ranunculus from my friend’s flower delivery.
I love the way the yellow pops against the green frame, while the other neutral florals blend softly on the beige canvas. Shadow boxes are perfect to display on a book shelf, directly on the wall or even on a table or dresser. Oh, and those two little vases you see on the left side of the book shelf? I’ve had those up there for years. Can you tell I’m a flower-preserving enthusiast?
The shadow box is from HomeSense that I also got years ago. I used it to display postcards and Polaroids in my non-married life, but now its purpose has changed to conserving really special petals.
I am so pleased with how my wedding flowers preserved, and I hope this brings some helpful tips or inspiration to anyone who’s looking to trying this out. The thing that struck me the most about these florals as I handled them with delicate care was just how strong and resilient they actually are. Even the most fragile-looking petals ended up preserving the best. I think that’s a beautiful reminder, however which way we apply it.