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Two Great Arts: How Your Wedding Gowns Inspire Your Flowers

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When you met with your florist about your wedding flowers, you likely shared your color palette and favorite blooms. But planning your ceremony and reception floral design is about so much more than pink peonies from a Pinterest board. For pro florists, inspiration comes from elements beyond the botanical, and they like to take guidance from the style of your dress.

“It’s the way the bride wears the dress and how she carries herself and moves in it,” says Becca Atchison, creative director of Rebecca Rose Events. “When an individual stem or flower can either mimic or enhance that movement, there’s a magic that happens when those elements are gathered together in just the right way.”

Here are five ways your dress will inspire your floral design.

The overall style of the event

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The style of your dress informs how your designer will approach your event. Modern and clean lines on a gown will lean toward contemporary floral elements, like the distribution of flowers and shape of the vases, while a traditional ball gown may call for classic flowers, such as roses and hydrangeas, interspersed with candelabras. Atchison says that the formality of the dress commands in the formality of the entire event. If a bride walks in a short party dress, the vibe is set at festive and fun, but not necessarily black tie. So she can be more playful with the flowers than a bride walking down the aisle in a glamorous gown with lots of embroidery, which signals a more upscale affair. 

The important details

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For the details of the day, Vikram Paniker, a senior designer at Birch Event Design, noted how influential overlays, lace, ribbons, and color on a gown can be, like those of the Veronica. Floral shapes featured on the dress’ lace can be used in vases on the dinner table and also echoed on tabletop design elements like napkins, China patterns, and paper menus. Colors, even shades of white, dictate the hues of other linens, and, yes, flowers.

“The style and tone of the dress is a great insight into a bride’s tastes,” Paniker says.

Your bouquet as an accessory

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Paniker compares the bridal bouquet to a “good piece of jewelry,” so finding the right size, shape, and elements goes hand-in-hand with the style of the dress. First and foremost, the flowers need to be beautiful on their own, but not distract from the bride and her gown. Florists pay close attention to the cut of the dress, waistline, and fine detailing to ensure the bouquet works as a simple accessory, like a shoe or a bag. You don’t want to hide the sheer corset and hand-embroidered lace of the Nirvana or the dramatic cutout on the bodice of the form-fitted Nadia gown.

Atchison says that a bouquet created without insight into a gown can be “noticed in all the worst ways,” like a wild bouquet with thistle and foraged foliage paired with a sleek, shimmering gown.

“The bouquet is never meant to upstage the fashion, only to enhance,” she adds.

Boutonnières matter too

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Like the bouquet, boutonnieres can pull inspiration from the gown’s design, even if they are worn by a man. The complexity or simplicity of the dress design and the fine detailing informs the types of flowers in a boutonniere, which should coordinate with the bouquet to feel cohesive. But a boutonniere can have its own flair to reflect the personality of the groom, member of the wedding party, father, or other important guest wearing the floral accessory—and sometimes that’s an element of the dress not used in the bridal bouquet. 

Small elements, big impact

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Paniker says that he has looked at the structure of a dress when designing a floral installation for the ceremony or reception space. Appliques, patterns, trim, and lace can be reinterpreted as flower types, shapes, and general aesthetic in larger botanical moments, such as a floral chandelier above a dance floor or an escort card table at the entrance of a reception venue. For the ceremony, that may mean that the blooming floral embroidery on a skirt, like that of the Evelyn ball gown, is used in the arch framing the couple or under the aisle for a dramatic entrance on a walkway made of thousands of flowers.

“Fashion is art, and so is floral design,” Atchison says. “ I find it such a beautiful challenge to combine both works of art into one cohesive look that is highly personalized, speaks to the gravity of the moment, and elicits the perfect emotional response.”

“The overall look, then,” she adds, “is always couture.”

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Emmy Tendler | June 15, 2023

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