Poho Flowers stands just off a street that bustles and blows after dark. During the day there is a muffled hum that settles over Potts Point. At its centre, Poho stands blossoming with fresh cut flowers and carefully arranged bouquets awaiting pick up for delivery. One will be travelling all the way to the northern beaches of Sydney, the other sits in silent promise of the bouquet Tonia and Sara are planning to put together for us on this gloomy Monday morning. Their smiles stay fixed to their face throughout the meaning as they bustle around the shop. Tonia is trying to show us her favourite but she can’t decide, freshly distracted by each shelf of flowers. She tells us the sweet peas are always popular and the shredded edged tulips share a similar kind of nostalgia. Bridal bouquets these days aren’t always the classic white, although there is still a while wall devoted to white roses, chrysanthemums and cascading arches of orchards.
Tonia says that recently brides have wanted colours and more looseness in their bouquets, a reflection of the popularity of bohemian chic themed weddings and the more casual walk down the aisle towards the married future.
The bouquet we order turns out to be a bit of a challenge: we’ve come without a specific brief. Looking around the store, we ask for colour and seasonal blossoms (after begging and being gently refused a pink pineapple at the centre of our tropical bouquet. ‘It’s probably more appropriate for a table setting.’ I finally concede). We settle for citrus fruit to add bulbous thickness through the middle.
Tonia’s preparation is smooth with experience. She holds the growing bouquet in one hand, while she strips the tulip stems of leaves with the other and tells us how the shop has recently changed ownership. Jai is likely to stay for a while. He used to work behind the counter with her, now he’s the boss. Talk quickly devolves into how much Tonia loves her job. The whole time she hasn’t stopped smiling and I tell her I’m ready to give up everything to become a florist. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ she says, ‘I love my holidays too.’
The bouquet has rapidly grown into a loose ball of bright colours. And that’s the thing about going to a flower boutique like Poho – especially one that has experience in providing flowers for the bridal bouquet and decorative flowers for the day – they know exactly what they’re doing. While I want to add every exciting flower and colour, Tonia gently eases me back. ‘We generally stick to a monochromatic colour palette.’ Then she adds from there. The only time she stops, suddenly unsure, is to decide whether to add purple. ‘I like it.’ Sarah says firmly. Then it’s a question of what kind of purple of flower to add. Once they’ve settled on the perfumed sweet peas, the wrapping of the stem begins. A string keeps the bouquet together and a ribbon is tightly wrapped around the centre, leaving bare stems poking out the bottom, in keeping with the loose, dangling volume that is something of a house style at Poho flowers. A more traditional bouquet would be around the base of the flowers to the bottom of the stems in a ribbon that matches the brides dress. The ribbon at the middle of our bouquet marks a good place to hold the flowers.
I’m surprised by the weight of it once it’s been wrapped and tied again with another ribbon around the paper (I have a new found respect for the co-ordination and grace of women in high heels and dressed in their best, with the weight of the whole day on them, as well as a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle).
Wrapped in paper with water soaked tissue at the bottom, the bouquet fades during the day. At home in water the stems stand upright to life once again. The care and life expectancy will vary from flower to flower. Generally speaking, you’ve got one or two days after they’ve been cut for your bouquet, though they’ll still be standing well in a vase of water.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Your florist will need to know when, where and the quantity of flowers they need to provide;
- What kind of flowers you want. If you have a theme and a brief, they’ll love you to bits. If you’re not sure, most boutiques will be happy to have a chat, maybe called ahead to let them know that you’ll be taking up their time;
- Ask about care instructions for your flowers and bouquet to make sure they can last as long as possible;
- You’re paying for quality and a weight off your mind.
But maybe you’re more like me and you prefer going down to the flower market in the morning and chewing through your breakfast while you pick out the flowers that you want to be carrying down the aisle later that day. Whether it’s putting together your own bouquet or arranging table settings, I imagine there’s something quite therapeutic about keeping your hands busy with something living while your mind able to race ahead.
There are some cons to doing it yourself though. Without a florist, you’re doing away with years of expertise. That beautiful stroll to the markets isn’t going to end well if you get there and the flowers you want are out of stock. You’ve got to weigh up for yourself if you really have the time amongst everything else you have to do, to do this yourself as well. There’s also no guarantee that purchasing a small amount of flowers from the markets is going to be that much cheaper than working with a florist.
Still want to build your own bouquet? Here’s a DIY Flower Bouquet Guide for a more formal wedding bouquet.
Choosing your flowers
Remember that flowers are seasonal so their availability and quality will vary depending on the time of year. Make sure to ask your vendor about flower care specific to the kinds of flowers you purchase.
Another thing you might like to consider – if you’re interested in perfecting all the little details – is the meaning that are sometimes attributed to flowers. Our own little bouquet was probably sending out some mixed messages: the red tulips are said to be a declaration of love (so we were doing okay), but while the sweet peas are generally considered to represent a kind of pleasure, they also indicate a goodbye or gratitude for a lovely time that’s coming to an end (hmm…).
A traditional bouquet will probably include roses or chrysanthemum. The meaning of these flowers tends to vary between colours.
The white rose signifies purity, while the yellow represents friendship, red passionate love. Combined, red and white flowers are said to signify unity.
In contrast, the white Chrysanthemum signifies truth, yellow means a secret admirer, red signifies sharing.
Traditionally, the wedding bouquet was much simpler, using wildflowers and herbs that represented fertility.
Watch out for the 80s comeback of Baby’s Breath. As a head piece, in a bouquet or in table arrangement, it’s said to represent festivity.
Choosing your colour
When it comes to colour, a lot of it has to do with taste: what do you like? What colour is appropriate for the style of your wedding? Do you want to be using colours that have significance?
In the end, some colours just go together better than others. Remember, Tonia at Poho said they usually try to stick to a monochromatic colour scheme.
To start, you will need floral shears, floral tape, bouquet pins and some kind of bouquet wrap, which would be a basic kind of tape that will be covered later with decorative ribbon.
- Remove foliage from the stem. Don’t forget the thorns if you’ve gone for classic roses
- Cut the stems to roughly the same length. Try between 25cm and 35cm
- Use 2-4 flowers as a base or anchor by bunching the stems together and wrapping with floral tape. Make sure to leave 3-4cm of exposed stem below the flower, and 10-12cm from the bottom of the stem
- Build the bouquet by adding flowers around the anchor, as you like. Keep in mind the size as you wrap the flowers to the base
- When you’re happy with the size and structure of the bouquet, wrap with floral tape from the 3-4cm gap below the flowers, to the base
- Use the floral tape as a guide to wrap the ribbon or fabric you’re using as a bouquet wrap, and pin into the tap and stems as you wind down
And so you have a very special, custom wedding bouquet!
The problem with doing it yourself is partly the mess, but mostly the risk that your DIY handy work isn’t quite the same standard as a professional florist. Try a test run while you’re still in the planning phase and see if creating your own wedding bouquet is really worth the possible trouble.
In the end, the trick to flowers is making sure they complement everything else you’re trying to achieve on the day. Stick to the golden wedding planning rule: do what’s right for you, and everything should work out from there.