Wedding checklist: bouquet of ideas

Fulfilling your bridal floral fantasies may be easier — and more affordable — than you think.

Lavish displays of fresh flowers are very much in vogue when celebrities exchange vows. Streamers of orchids cascaded from the ceiling above the couple at Liza Minelli’s Manhattan wedding. Just-married Paul and Heather McCartney departed the church in a shower of roses and peonies.

Few brides have the means afforded these couples to indulge their floral fantasies.

Still, there are countless opportunities to bathe the day in the beauty of fresh flowers.

Besides bouquets for the bridal party, hair decorations, the wedding cake, the re-ception, pre-wedding gatherings — all should be on the bride’s checklist for wedding flowers.

Hair flowers will enhance the beauty of the bride and her attendants. It may be a single flower such as a gardenia, or a winsome halo of miniature roses.

“For a really stunning effect, consider hydrangea petals raining down the back of a cathedral veil,” said Leighsa Smyser of Branch Out Flowers in San Francisco.

Decorating the wedding cake with fresh flowers is another way brides can carry their floral imprint throughout the day. Some choose a bouquet to top the cake, instead of a miniature bride and groom, with individual blossoms or tiny nosegays placed around the base of each tier.

“Red rose petals falling down over a white tiered cake has a very dramatic effect,” said Paige Benjamin, owner of Passiflora Designs in Millbrae, Calif.

Architectural features at the wedding and reception sites are often overlooked for the placement of flowers. Mantles, arches, and staircases can be graced with garlands. The reception bar and buffet also should be considered for floral decorations.

For a martini bar, Smyser floated miniature candles and a few blossoms in a vase that resembled a martini glass.

“For a buffet, it can be something simple like a glass vase filled with white callas and bear grass, or something elaborate like a tall urn overflowing with roses, orchids, and hydrangea,” Benjamin said

Even small touches make a significant contribution to the ambiance. Tuck flowers around candles, into napkins, or beneath pedestal serving plates. Place a fragrant vase arrangement at the guest book table.

Flowers can carry the mood of the event away from the wedding setting. A hospitality basket of flowers, fruit, and soaps is a gracious gesture in the rooms of out-of-town guests. Floral arrangements can bring a light-hearted note to a rehearsal dinner that contrasts with the solemnity of the wedding itself.

Whether simple or lavish, fresh flowers lace a wedding with the natural loveliness that the occasion deserves. Is your checklist complete?

For more ideas on wedding flowers, visit the web site of the California Cut Flower Commission at www.ccfc.org or send a SASE to CCFC, P.O. BOX 4003, Aromas, CA 95004 to receive a free brochure, Floral Reflections, Wedding Flowers That Reflect Your Personal Style.