Wedding Flower Etiquette

Wedding Flower Etiquette

A huge thanks to Gwenda from the The Vintage Floral Design Co. for this guest post:

There are many points of etiquette and protocol that a couple may encounter during the wedding planning process. I frequently encounter couples who aren’t sure who should get what kind of flowers or where they can be used – this little piece is intended to demystify the floral choices available to you.

Wedding Flower Etiquette

OK, so the Bride’s bouquet needs no introduction!  You may have a clear idea of the style you would like, but it’s also possible to be guided by the shape of your dress (for example, an arm sheaf for a column dress or a domed posy for an A-line skirt); steal a moment away from your intended to discuss your dress with your florist.

If you plan to preserve your bouquet but would also like to follow the tradition of ‘Tossing of the Bouquet’, you might like to consider a smaller/cheaper version to fulfil this purpose.

Wedding Flower Etiquette

Bouquets are also the most popular choice for adult Bridesmaids. Usually smaller in size than the brides, their colour and style may be led by the colour and style of their dresses. For younger Bridesmaids, a petite bouquet may be just the job to make them feel all grown up. Flowergirls may be happier with a basket or perhaps a wand (cheaper and much more fun to pretend to be a fairy with!) Brides and their entourage alike may like to partake in the trend for hair flowers, be it small sprays or a full garland.

Wedding Flower Etiquette

Wedding Flower EtiquetteCorsages for Mothers (and/or Stepmothers) are a nice thing to offer. A traditional lapel corsage may be secured with pins or super strong magnets, depending on the fabric it is intended to affix to. If this type of does not suit the colour or pattern of their outfit never fear, there are alternatives which may help them feel included in the bridal party.

The aforementioned hair flowers are an option, or perhaps a corsage on a handbag or the wrist may be more to their taste. The latter also makes an elegant alternative for adult Bridesmaids. My advice: unless you have a fixed idea of what you want the Mothers to wear, ask them what they would like – having a little bit of input is often a gesture that is much appreciated, as is extending the offer to Grandmothers, Aunts and Sisters.

Wedding Flower Etiquette

Next it’s boutonnieres for the boys, or buttonholes if you prefer. Aside from the Groom, the leading contenders are the Best Man/Men, the Ushers and a mini version for a Page Boy (which may also be attached by magnets to avoid any unfortunate pin-related incidents!). The Fathers (and/or Stepfathers) are usually included and the courtesy may also extend to Grandfathers, Uncles and Brothers.

How far you choose to go down the family line is another facet of ‘wedding day politics’, right up there with the much-dreaded seating plan! Few people these days provide them for all male attendees, but it is a lovely inclusive touch if budget and inclination allow for it (and in some cases, it may be a smart political move, too!).

Wedding Flower Etiquette

NB – Boutonnieres are worn on the left lapel with the stems pointing downwards; they are never to be passed through the buttonhole that still appears on some traditional jacket designs. Conversely, corsages are worn on the right hand side (a fraction below the shoulder), usually with the stems pointing upwards.

Now onto the venue and yet another myriad of opportunities to use flowers decoratively. Let’s start with the ceremony, which could be almost anywhere these days! An arrangement on the Registrar’s table or the altar is a popular choice; frequently, this will echo the style of the reception table centres, for continuity’s sake.

wedding flower etiquette

Chair row or pew ends are a relatively inexpensive way of uniting your colour scheme and/or theme.  Pedestal arrangements can be used at the entrance and/or either side of you as you take your vows, creating a lovely frame in the photos. One caveat worth taking note of: if your ceremony is in a Church, check first that they are happy for you to decorate with your own flowers. Aside from pew ends, some have stern rules about their own parishioner ladies creating all the displays and no florist would dare to tread on their toes!

Most of the ceremony arrangements may be recycled into useful decorative elements for the reception. Though the altar arrangement is usually left as a gift to the Church in civil contexts, this may be taken and reused elsewhere, either as a table centre, on a bar, or on a dessert or present table. The chair row/pew ends may become chair backs for the top table and the pedestals could help to create another grand entrance or frame the bride and groom at the top table.

Table centres are the reception flower staples. Their design will be largely influenced by the shape and size of your tables; for example, a traditional long top table will require different treatment to round guest tables. During the groom’s speech, the giving of ‘Thank You’ presentation bouquets to the Mothers and/or other helpers are a nice way of rewarding their help in making the day come together. Finally, from a simple cake topper to a more elaborate display, flowers can make an added feature of your wedding cake.


Naturally, there are many other opportunities for flowers to be involved in your day and these depend entirely on the location. A good floral designer will aim to meet you at the venue itself so that they can discuss the options with you in context, which will help you visualise the finished result much better.

A thorough consultation will enable you to get an accurate quotation and the key to working successfully is communication. Bring colour/fabric swatches of your wedding attire and any images you have gathered which inspire you – there is no such thing as too much information as far as a floral designer is concerned! Most importantly, have a realistic budget clear in your mind – whatever it is, there should be no limit to the creativity employed by your designer to create the flowers your heart desires.

Gwenda x

Editor’s Note:

A huge thanks to Gwenda from the The Vintage Floral Design Co. for sharing her knowledge and expertise. As these images and her advice prove, she really is a wonderful florist and we happily recommend her! Gwenda has a new creative venture too, Fearless Florals – take a look and prepare to be inspired!

February 26, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

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Category: Floral Design

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  1. Grace says:

    I really love the cake and the lavander motif. I find the article useful as well. I did not know wedding flower etiquette is that important.

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