The bride’s wedding bouquet carries enormous historical and emotional significance. In ancient times, brides carried sheaves of wheat to invoke fertility.

While today’s bride no longer adheres to this tradition; hand bouquets still represent the beauty and symbolism of wedding rituals dating back thousands of years. While there are thousands of types of bouquets, the brides we consult with are usually introduced to two main arrangements:

THE HAND-TIED BOUQUET: a grouping of fresh flowers that the designer gathers and creates a very attractive, natural look. Most hand-tied bouquets have ribbon-wrapped stems and a bow.

THE WIRED BOUQUET: Flowers are cut short, and then floral wire is inserted through the back of the blossom and covered in stem tape. This allows the designer to shape the bouquet. This is perfect for cascading bouquets or ones that are wider than they are long.

I usually suggest the wired bouquet for the bride, who has so much going on, that the one thing she should not have to worry about is how to hold her bouquet. As a matter of practicality, I recommend hand-tied bouquets for the attendants.

Bridal bouquets usually are constructed of white or off-white flowers, with perhaps as many as 90 percent of blooms in this tonal family. There are brides who want colors, sometimes a pale blush in peach or pink. There is also the bride that wants a colorful bouquet in bright tones. These often are of red roses. (I think this has to do with the fact that red roses are usually the first flowers an aspiring beau sends to the young lady who is a candidate for a serious relationship.)

With hydrangeas and mini calla lilies coming in more colors nowadays, these are popular additions to bridal bouquets. And roses are the most romantic of all flowers. I think we use roses in about 90 percent of the bridal bouquets that we do. While mostly white roses are used, there always will be a bride who wants a rose in a stronger color, usually to match the bridesmaids’ dresses. I usually recommend clustering colored flowers together for more impact and to avoid the ‘spotted Dalmatian’ effect of a colored rose dotting the bouquet.

Roses, orchids, lilies, lily of the valley, hydrangea and mini callas are often used in bridal bouquets. There also is stephanotis, a small, bell-shaped waxy flower that usually comes in a ‘clam shell’ type of box and requires you to wire each bloom. Having a greenhouse and growing our own stephanotis is wonderful, not only for the freshness factor, but also the possibility of having cascades of fresh stephanotis is exciting for any florist.

I’m often asked to incorporate a special token into the bouquet: a grandmother’s handkerchief, a locket with special meaning or a piece of jewelry. We give the bride a wide, double-faced satin ribbon to tie around her bouquet and perhaps a few loops of a bow. We have this monogrammed with the bride’s new married initials and the wedding date. We usually do the monogram in a tone-on-tone color—I love the subtlety. Once in a while, a bride will ask to have the initials or initials and date in a shade that matches her wedding colors.

When asked about the ribbon, I usually suggest that it become a keepsake. After ironing, it can be a bookmark in the wedding album. A special thought is to have a ribbon that can be offered it to a daughter who may come along, and then she may add her initials and date above or below that of her mother’s.

Many brides tend to want to keep their bouquets (at least for a while) and will ask for a second ‘toss bouquet,’ we usually use gypsophila (baby’s breath), lemon leaf and lots of ribbon. The ribbons look great in the picture and the bride gets to keep her bouquet, rescue the ribbon, and maybe press a flower or two in the family bible.

Attendants’ bouquets are in the ‘anything goes’ category: hand-tied, wired, poseys, a single flower, pomanders, fans or hoops of flowers. Or sometimes, no bouquet at all but floral headpieces, or lanterns, baskets, muffs, dress flowers, floral purses—or even flowers as a choker or necklace, etc.

This area of planning can go either way: intensely involvedin the decision-making or the ‘I really don’t care, you and Mom pick it out…I trust her taste’ route. Rarely is someone in the middle here.

The personal or ‘body’ flowers include the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets, along with the boutonnieres and flowers for mothers and grandmothers, flower girls, ring bearers—and sometimes a bouquet for Mary in Catholic weddings. There may also be flowers for the soloist, organist, guest book attendant and anyone else the bride deems as special—a godmother, nanny or special aunt, etc.

Finishing these choices and details leaves you one-third of the way done. Only two more areas will require more choices: the ceremony décor and the reception décor.

Are you exhausted and thinking that’s a lot of gobbledygook? Just do it!

Hopefully you’ll only marry once. So this stuff—if you’re working with an experienced professional—is a piece of cake. Oh yeah, cake flowers…let’s wait on that one.