Vol.1, No.11

Silk bridal bouquets vs fresh flowers

Choosing between fresh and silk flowers for your bouquet and other wedding flowers depends on many factors as well as personal taste.

Silk flowers in a wedding decoration
Photo Credit: Anna Chelnokova
The decision whether to use real flowers or fake flowers at your wedding can involve many factors, from cost to smell to the type of flowers you'd like and if you would like to preserve them. There are pros and cons to going each route. This guide will help you decide if real or silk flowers are right for you and your wedding.

First off, let's get rid of the notion that fake flowers are cheap. If you want good-looking silk flowers, you might end up paying as much or more for fake flowers than you would for real ones, depending on the types of flowers you'd like to use, the season and the supplier you work with. You can find absolutely stunning silk flowers theses days that people will have to touch or try to smell before they realize they aren't real. But you'll pay a lot of money for these.

I considered silk flowers for my wedding, but when we talked to a florist it was about the same price to get real flowers so I opted for those instead. My flowers were not expensive because I used wildflowers and very few expensive flowers like roses, calla lilies and others.

Why would people want to use fake flowers, then, if it's not any less expensive? Perhaps you or someone in your family or in the wedding party is allergic to real flowers. You don't exactly want the best man or the minister to be sneezing all through the ceremony or red-eyed in the pictures.

Or it could be impractical or too expensive to have real flowers. If you're getting married in December in Alaska and you want roses, it would be much less expensive to have silk flowers than to have a bunch of flowers imported for your ceremony. If your ceremony is going to be in a remote location it will be easier to make stable floral arrangements from fake flowers than from real flowers, and they travel much better. Likewise if you're getting married in the heat of summer and have no place to refrigerate the flowers before the ceremony, fake flowers may be your best option (since they don't wilt).

Another consideration is preservation. If you want to keep your wedding flowers forever, the easiest way to do this is to have fake flowers. They'll always look good and can be a treasured keepsake of your special day. Depending on the types of flowers you use, you can dry them or have them freeze-dried or otherwise preserved, but they usually won't look as good and in some cases (especially with white flowers) will look downright unappealing. If preservation is not an issue for you, real flowers are fine.

Using real flowers lends an air of romance to your celebration. The colors, shapes and smells seem to let people know something special is going on. If you don't have a huge budget for flowers, consider only getting flowers for the bride, a smaller bouquet (or none at all) for the bridesmaids and small boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen. You don't need altar flowers or flowers on all tables. You don't need a special bouquet to toss (unless, again, you want to preserve your flowers, but you could always just not have a bouquet toss).

To save more money, buy flowers that are in season locally. Buying from a florist saves you time making bouquets and boutonnieres yourself, but it can be cheaper to buy directly from a grower. Visit your local farmers' market as well as florists to get the best price. It's easy to tie an informal bouquet with a wide piece of ribbon, and boutonnieres go together in a snap with a flower, a spring of greenery and some green florist tape wrapped around the stems. It might not be your idea of the best activity for the day before your wedding, but it can save you a lot of money if you're watching your budget.

If you want flowers everywhere and don't want to settle for just what's in season, perhaps a combination of fresh and silk flowers will suit your needs. You could carry fresh flowers and have fresh flowers for the wedding party, but use different types of silk flowers in the altar arrangements, on the tables at the reception, at the ends of the pews and wherever else you'd like a splash of color.

When combining silks and fresh flowers, make sure you know what your fresh flowers are going to look like before you start choosing silks. You don't want the colors to clash with each other, even if they won't be that close together. Everything should look like it belongs together, even if the flowers come from very different places.

And if you really want to go all-out, have fresh flowers everywhere. Flowers are great for setting the mood for your event, from an informal garden party to a formal black-tie gala. The help of an experienced florist can make a world of difference in selecting the right flowers and the right amount of flowers to make your event perfect.

The bottom line when it comes to flowers, or anything else when it comes to your wedding, is that you need to do what will make you happy. What do you want to remember thirty years from now? If you don't think you'll care that there were flowers on every surface of the church and reception site, spend your budget elsewhere. Don't blow your budget on flowers just because someone else in your family likes flowers. Very few people who attend your ceremony will remember what kinds of flowers you had, so do what makes you happy because you will remember.

Research is the key to getting what you want. Know what flowers are in season, what colors you want and what other preferences you have in terms of scent, height, etc., before you talk to a florist, and let them help you turn your vision into reality.