Nothing is more romantic or classic than a perfect red rose. Its beauty is undeniable and it is a timeless symbol of love and devotion. While many bridal floral designs are complicated, textural, and packed with flowers, sticking to one type of flower and one deep color is a simple way to ensure a good design, and to also ensure a successful do it yourself project. I purposefully omitted ribbons, bows, and sparkles to allow the perfection of each flower to shine, and to make the construction of each piece less daunting for the novice.
This project showcases a hand-tied rose bouquet for the bride overflowing with more than two dozen flowers, an elegant single blossom corsage, and a handsome boutonniere. If you choose, you can scale down the bride’s project to make bouquets for each bridesmaid, or embellish each project with your own signature wedding style.
3 dozen roses for the bridal bouquet; 28+ for the bride, with the extra to keep on hand
1 rose each for the bride’s attendants, the groom, and his attendants
Stems of greenery such as ferns
Fiskars Micro Tip Pruning Snip
Bark-wrapped wire, 6′ or any other trim or ribbon
Floral preservative not shown here
Note on Materials: While some of the materials, including floral tape, wire and boutonniere pins, are specialty items strictly for working with flowers, they are inexpensive and can be found at most craft stores.
Choosing the best roses is crucial. If you are able, purchase the flowers from the grower themselves, or at a flower mart. Flower marts are immense markets where flowers are sold, and can be found in most major cities. Otherwise, work with a trusted florist to order your roses. If you choose flowers from a florist, much of the work in preparing the roses will have already been done for you!
Note on Color: Any color of roses can be used, obviously. But lighter-colored roses tend to show bruises more readily than darker-colored roses. White roses, in particular, really want to be handled with kid gloves; every slight crack in their petals will quickly discolor. The dark red flowers used in this project mask imperfections very, very well, making them the best choice for a first-time florist.
Note on Timing: Timing is everything with wedding flowers. These projects will save you money, and are simple, but in the hours before a wedding, trying to wire even the most simple bouquet can sometimes cause a lot of stress. I designed these projects to be fairly foolproof, and they rely on the beauty of the flower, not the creativity of the florist. So they lend themselves to the DIY bride, or DIY bride’s BFF. For the absolute freshest and most beautiful flowers, make the bouquet the day of the wedding. But, if your roses are very sturdy and fresh, these particular projects can also each be made the day before the wedding, and stored in a cool, dark, and humid room.
Purchasing and Caring for the Roses:
If your wedding is on a Saturday, purchase the flowers on Wednesday or Thursday, to give them ample time to open and adapt to life outside of the florist’s cooler.
Only buy very fresh, mostly closed flowers. Inspect the cut ends of the stems. Make sure they are firm and green, not mushy and brown. Roses are sold in several “classes.” The roses I used are graded “Extra Fancy,” meaning they have the longest stems and the largest buds. You will need fewer stems for the bouquet if you use larger flowers, but they cost more than the smaller ones. So check out the prices, and buy the nicest roses you can afford.
On the day you buy your flowers, take them home, fill a large vase or bucket with fresh, lukewarm water and the corresponding amount of floral preservative. Before you put the flowers in the water, unwrap them from their paper or cellophane and remove all the leaves below the water line. Then cut each stem on the diagonal, with your very sharp shears. Immediately plunge them into the water.
Keep the flowers in a cool, dark room. If they are very closed buds and are not opening “on schedule” by the second day, you can expose them to warmer temperatures for a few hours to “rush” them.
Prepping the Flowers:
On the day of the wedding, prepare the roses by removing the remaining leaves, the thorns, and any ugly petals. To remove thorns, many florists use a rose stripper. But here’s the thing: if you are not skilled with a rose stripper, you could damage the stems. That is why I recommend just taking your time and cutting off the thorns with sharp shears. You only need to remove the thorns from the flowers used in the bouquet. The corsage and boutonniere roses will be cut very short.
Roses will often have guard petals. Guard petals are the rougher, thicker petals on the outermost layer of the bud. Gently grasp any unsightly petal in your fingers and tug it firmly down toward the stem. Try to snap off the whole petal in one go, but if you pull too hard, you can sometimes end up snapping the whole bud off. Remember, you bought extra flowers to keep on hand, in case of “oops!”
Directions for the Bouquet:
Step 1: The shape of this bouquet is a loose dome. It’s not crucial to have the face of each flower level. This makes it easier for the novice, and is still beautiful. Gather 3 roses into one hand. Hold them loosely and add more a few more. Gently arrange them in your hand, adjusting how they press against each other, while also keeping the stems straight.
Step 2: Once you have a grouping you like going, add a few more. As you add roses, check the underside of the bouquet to make sure the flowers are even from the bottom too. Work as many flowers into the bouquet as you like, but make sure it remains in proportion to the bride’s height and dress. Once you have all the roses in position in your hand, take a final glance, and make any last adjustments.
Step 3: Wrap the stems with floral wire. Start about 2.5″ from the bottom of the flower, and wrap wire around the stems for about 6″–8″. Cut the stems about 1.5″ below the bottom of the wire.
Step 4: Wrap the stems with floral tape. Floral tape is stretchy and grips to itself. Start at the base of the flowers, and with slightly stretched tape, tightly wrap the flowers, directly over the wire. Overlap the tape as you go around the stems, until you get to the bottom of the wire. Cut the tape and press it to itself to hold down the end.
Step 5: Now cover the floral tape with the bark-wrapped wire. Start the wire at the top of the floral tape, and tightly and evenly cover all the tape with the wire. Wrap all the way down to the bottom of the tape, and then back up again to the buds. Tuck the end of the wire into the top. If you choose to work with ribbon, use boutonniere pins to secure the ribbon right into the stems, or try a low-temperature glue gun and glue the ribbon onto the floral tape. Cut the stems flat.
Step 6: Store the finished bouquet in a heavy vase with about 1″ of water covering just the bottom of the stems. Spray the heads of the roses with water to keep the flowers looking dewy.
Directions for the Corsage:
Step 1: Select a single stunning blossom for each corsage. Break off the green bits that hang directly beneath the bud. Cut the stem to about 1″. Cut about 1.5′ of floral wire. Pierce the dead center of the stem with the wire, as close to the flower head as possible. Push 3″ of wire through the stem. Re-cut the stem to about 1/3″.
Step 2: Fold the 2 ends of the wire down and then bend them together into a curve.
Step 3: Make the new stem long enough to wrap around the wearers wrist. Wrap the new wire stem of the rose tightly with floral tape, at least twice.
Step 4: Store the finished corsage in a cool place and mist it with water, but don’t let the tape get soggy. To wear it, just wrap the wire stem around the wrist, and then twist the stem around the rose to secure it.
Directions for the Boutonniere:
Step 1: Choose a medium-sized bloom and a piece of greenery for each boutonniere, and cut the stem to 1.5″.
Step 2: Add the piece of greenery by holding it close to the stem and then wrapping them both together with the tape. If you like, match the boutonnieres with the bride’s bouquet by covering the tape with extra bark-wrapped wire, or ribbon.
Step 3: Store the boutonniere with the corsages, and don’t let the tape get soggy. Pin it to a lapel with the boutonniere pins.
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