Bouquets To Remember

Bouquets to Remember

I love back stories. Particularly as it comes to my favorite topic: “Weddings!”
Any idea where the term “Nosegay” originated?

If you can imagine….in the Victorian era of propriety, ladies traveling through streets lined with open sewage gutters would hold a cluster of fragrant blooms. If the stench became stifling in the closed carriage, she simply inhaled the fragrance to make her nose “gay/happy” again.  Thus, the term for small bouquets became “Nosegays.”

Specific blooms became tagged with virtues i.e. yellow roses signify “Friendship,” while red ones, “True Love.” The specific flowers in the nosegay became as important as the reason for its creation.

However, the past few years has seen a cookie cutter assembly line production of what I term “the snowcone” style i.e. tight balls of flowers held with a central stem. No imagination required and certainly nothing for a guest to remember as personalized or unique.

Snowcones Collage
These are your typical “snowcone” bouquets.


When brides ask me for options to the snowcone…I love to share some of my favorites. Floristry was my early exposure to the wedding industry and after working at seven shops, I opened my own in Columbia, Missouri. Nolte’s Flowers ran next door to Nolte’s Bridal for 13 years.

During those years of multi-tasking on steroids, I enjoyed designing bouquets that were unique…bouquets that evoked an “Ooooahhh!”

Here are some that have inspired me:

Queen Elizabeth II’s bridesmaids carried my all-time favorite: showering cascades of all orchids. With the texture of the little silk blooms on the dresses, these bouquets echoed that light and airy look. (Did you know why she is standing there empty handed? Someone forgot the bouquet in the carriage.)

Queen Elizabeth Bridal Paty
Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh on November 20th, 1947.


Princess Diana carried an almost floor length cascade of gardenias, stephanotis and orchids. On a plain front panel skirt…this is a gorgeous fill in.

Diana Collage
Wedding of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer on July 29th, 1981.


Sarah Ferguson carried a crescent bouquet that framed the front panel of embroidery on her skirt. This half-moon shape was very popular in the 60’s and today has a clean architectural look to it.

Fergie Collage
Wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on July 26, 1987.
Crescent Collage
Crescent bouquets.

Arm bouquets are wonderful if they are full enough. A few stems of calla lilies does not make an arm bouquet. But a dozen long stem roses mixed with snapdragons or larkspur is “Oh la la!”

Good Arm Bouquets Collage
These are what arm bouquets should look like.

In the 20’s, this style was de rigueur and finished with zillions of narrow ribbons tied in “love knots.” For the bride, the love knots often included sweetheart roses.

20's boquets

Glameila bouquets are another one of those “Oh my gosh!” elements seldom seen at weddings! They appear to be an oversized single bloom that is composed of either rose or gladiola petals that have been taken apart and glued back into the shape of the most gorgeous rose you have ever seen. They are a retro look but very hip and chic now!

Glamelia Collage
If the above mentioned styles: cascade, crescent, arm or glamelia bouquets aren’t affordable, there are a couple of ways to make the typical round bouquet more unique.

Keep the edges loose and airy, not tight. And the stems/handle, should be as small as possible.

Bouquet 1


Big Bouquet Handles Collage
Examples of handles that are too bulky.

Add streamers! The graceful movement in the breeze or while dancing adds so much to pictures. Additionally, they jazz up a rather plain dress.

Steamer Bouquets

Historically, debutantes and brides always carried their bouquets while dancing (a tradition I think is so beautiful as it just says “Wedding”). The bouquets are carried in the left hand and showcased on the tuxedo clad shoulder of the groomsman. (Another great chance for guests to enjoy the flowers.)


At the reception: don’t clump the bridesmaids’ bouquets at the base of the cake…it covers up the bottom tier and are seldom spaced evenly. Likewise, don’t put them in vases to do double duty as “centerpieces.” (Everyone can tell that they are the bridesmaids’ bouquets now filling what were empty vases when the guests entered the ballroom.)

Bouquets around cake base
Example of what not to do.


During dinner, they can be grouped near the guest book, intermingled with ancestor wedding pictures or to embellish the display of engagement or pre-bridal portraits. (Easy to retrieve then for Bridal Party Dance.)

Just as maids should keep their shoes on, they should keep their bouquets in hand during the cocktail hour. Again…think “pictures that tell a story.”

So there you have it in today’s blog: some backstory, some “new” shapes to consider and some bouquet protocol tips! Enjoy!  Next time: “My Favorite Flowers and Why.”