Romantic, nostalgic bouquets that are anything but old-fashioned.
Bouquet of mauve anthurium, ‘Schwarzwalder’ and ‘Vermeer’ miniature calla lilies, antique carnations and ‘Hypnose,’ ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Quicksand’ roses by Bella Rugosa.
The very nature of a wedding is to look forward to: the ceremony, the honeymoon and a future as husband and wife. But when it comes to flowers, many Seattle brides are increasingly looking back, to a more romantic era when dusty-hued blooms were gathered from a manor garden, loosely arranged and tied with silk brocade.
“Brides are revisiting elegance,” says floral designer John Gardner of Aria Style in Lower Queen Anne. “Arrangements are looser, less sculptural, with sumptuous ribbon treatments and brooches. They’re like something your grandmother might have carried.”
In fact, designers encourage brides to borrow not only the style of their ancestors, but mementos such as heirloom brooches or ribbons as well. “I ask the bride if she has any jewelry from her mother, grandmother or great-grandmother,” says Jodi Macko of Woodland Flowers in Duvall, who has integrated heirlooms into bouquets of peonies, tea roses, tuberoses and ranunculus dressed with raw silk and antique lace.
Daniela Fagét, of Seattle–based Bella Signature Design, might wrap the stems of ‘Demitasse’ miniature roses or tea roses, fluttery sweet peas and elegant gardenias with a piece of lace from the bride’s mother’s veil. “It is imperative to find out what is nostalgic for the bride,” says Fagét, who once used sweet peas in a bouquet at the behest of a bride whose mother had often tucked the sweet-smelling flowers into her lunch box.
Centerpieces, too, are celebrating found objects, with mismatched antique and vintage vessels overflowing with flowers in gauzy shades of ivory, beige, blush and plum. Jean Louise Paquin Allen of Lower Queen Anne–based Juniper Flowers envisions antique silver pitchers bearing “cream-colored andromeda as a drippy element, as well as jasmine on the vine to create the effect of flowers tumbling out and over the pitcher’s edge.”
A wedding that borrows from the past is not only au courant, it can lend itself well to a smaller budget. “I love the opportunity to save the bride money by using collected containers, such as small silver vases from a flea market,” says Fagét. “The deconstructed look can be full of garden and romantic flowers, such as dahlias, tulips or garden roses, which can be less expensive than a contemporary arrangement of all roses, for example.”
Though centuries-old manor gardens may be sparse in Seattle, Aria Style’s John Gardner believes many local sites are perfectly suited for a wedding with weathered elegance. Lush garden venues are a natural fit, as are more traditional sites such as the Fairmont Olympic Hotel or the Ruins.
Perhaps the best settings are buildings that are mostly unadorned, allowing brides and their designers to conjure their own statement. “You can take some of these blank slates and transform them,” Gardner says. To create a scene of Victorian elegance, he might use sparkling crystal chandeliers and lush topiary, adding a slight industrial edge with rusted ironwork and garden wire urns.
Woodland Flowers’ Macko might set tables with Gothic-style flower stands or pillars, and lace and damask linens, while Fagét favors liberal use of candles, “but instead of matchy-matchy sets of votives, brides are heading for mismatched pieces collected over time.”
And that, perhaps, is the secret of achieving a wedding that is romantically nostalgic without being old-fashioned: Borrow bits and pieces from the past without abiding by the wedding conventions of yesteryear. “It’s a rebellion against the rules,” says Gardner, but also an opportunity to honor forgotten eras with a modern aesthetic.