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Please Do Not Toss That Bouquet -- WSJ

29 Apr 2017 6:32 am

Some brides opt for 13 pounds of unusual herbage
By Sara Randazzo 

Wedding bouquets are going wild and free.

For some brides, long gone are the days of tightly wrapped, ball-shaped bunches of roses or calla lilies that get joyfully thrown over one's shoulder at wedding's end to the delighted crowd.

Now, gigantic, earthy bridal arrangements are moving into the aisle, with some looking a bit more like assemblages of landscaping than traditional wedding décor. And these oversize bouquets definitely aren't made for tossing.

"I would have knocked someone out," said 24-year-old Chandler Banas at the thought of throwing her oversized arrangement of pink peonies and greenery at her Texas barn wedding last summer. Not wanting to chuck the tradition entirely, Ms. Banas had a more modest bouquet made expressly for the toss.

"The bigger, the bolder, the more dramatic the flowers, people just stop in their tracks and say wow," said Jen Fariello, a wedding photographer based in Charlottesville, Va.

Wedding planners, florists and photographers say brides are increasingly looking for that showstopper moment and see flowers as a way to stand out. The practice has also bloomed as couples incorporate more locally sourced products throughout weddings, which in florals can mean wildflower blooms as well as branches, vines, succulents and even local fruits and vegetables.

When Hayley Terris told her family that she was planning an intimate wedding surrounded by redwoods in Big Sur, Calif., "My dad joked, will you be walking down the aisle holding a bunch of kale?" Ms. Terris said. Little did he know, he wasn't far off. Ms. Terris's centerpieces incorporated artichokes and lines of baby pomegranates, and her self-described "huge, organic, big bouquet" was a lush array of peonies, garden roses, and foraged elements like cascading rain tree pods.

The flowers perfectly matched the earthy vibe Ms. Terris, a producer, writer and comedian in Los Angeles, said she envisioned for her November woodland wedding. "The thing was so massive, I felt so terrible I could only use it for a day," she said, so she strutted around all the next day at the beach and at a restaurant carrying the bouquet, which now hangs dried in her bedroom.

During the ceremony, her sister bore the brunt of both her own blend of greenery and Ms. Terris's bouquet, which she said was surprisingly heavy. "It's like she's carrying a toddler of plant matter," Ms. Terris recalled.

Internet commenters erupted in excitement after a photo appeared online last year of a bride holding a mix of garden roses, pepper berry vines, jasmine and amaryllis that subsumed her entire midsection. Branches jutted off the three-foot-wide arrangement and strands of greenery flowed down toward the ground.

Brides-to-be asked the Virginia florist behind the design, Sherry Spencer, for a bouquet just like it -- and weren't deterred when told that the model in the photo is actually holding a 30-pound table centerpiece, a suggestion by Ms. Fariello to get a dramatic shot. "They couldn't get enough of it," said Ms. Spencer, a part-owner of Southern Blooms.

The shift toward large, free-flowing bouquets is being driven in part by the ascendant role of the internet in wedding culture, those in the industry say. Wedding blogs, Instagram accounts and photo-sharing websites like Pinterest spotlight the most dramatic weddings and newest ideas, which are then replicated across the country.

Adding to the drama is the rise in recent years of styled wedding photo shoots, which use models rather than real couples and can push the boundaries beyond what an everyday bride may want. Such shoots serve as inspiration for real weddings and help wedding vendors publicize their work.

"I do styled shoots for the bride I want to get," said Marisa Kozak Ringe, owner of Revel Petals in Los Angeles, which only uses locally grown flowers. Once, she even grew oyster mushrooms to incorporate into a model's florals.

But even Ms. Kozak Ringe said that while she often likes massive bouquets as a statement piece, they can go too far.

"There's a border we're crossing where they can be so unruly they're almost taking over the fashion of the dress," she said.

Erin Benzakein, owner of Floret Flowers in Washington state, said that in some of the styled shoots she sees, she thinks, "No one can carry that, it's like a tree."

Florists say the oversize bouquets aren't always more expensive, though it takes more skill and construction to create designs that look loose but won't fall apart. Large bridal bouquets can range from around $150 up to $350 or higher, depending on the market.

Couples spent an average of $2,354 on wedding flowers and décor last year, according to a survey from wedding-planning website The Knot, which represented just over 7% of total wedding budgets.

Actress and youth facilitator Candice-May Langlois said that when she planned her wedding last year atop a mountain in British Columbia, "we just went very big." That applied to her bouquet, a colorful array of proteas, air plants, daisies and greenery that was wider than her body and covered part of her bohemian, floor-length dress.

Ms. Langlois said she didn't consider the temporary burden the unwieldy arrangement would place on her maid of honor, who had to hold the bridal bouquet, along with her own flowers, throughout the 20-minute ceremony. When the wind picked up atop the mountain, the bridesmaid also held on to the bride's veil, resulting in photos of her inundated friend standing tall despite the heavy load.

"This poor girl," she said. "She was just handling it so well with a big smile on her face."

Sometimes, the excessive bouquets can double as a wedding-day workout.

As one bride wrote on Twitter in December: "I literally could not lift my right arm for 2 solid days after my wedding because of how heavy my bouquet was. #Dedication."

When San Francisco florist Natasha Kolenko designed a 13-pound, cascading bouquet of eucalyptus, protea, banksia and passionflower for a high-school acquaintance who wanted to go big, the bride joked that the weight wasn't an issue because if it was heavy, her arms would look better because they'd be naturally flexing.

Now, the florist has nabbed that line "to sell other brides on doing something more dramatic and fun."

Write to Sara Randazzo at sara.randazzo@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 29, 2017 02:32 ET (06:32 GMT)

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