Photos courtesy of Marie Labbancz Photography
In May of 1972, my mother walked down the aisle at St. Patrick’s Church in Malvern, PA with her full, fragrant bouquet of Lilies of the Valley. A young couple, only both 21 years of age, money was tight. My mother’s beautiful arrangement was a collection of a clusters of Lilies gathered from her parents and neighbors gardens. A local florist assembled it for $5.
Fast forward to 2011 and the most watched wedding to date. I had a feeling Duchess Catherine Middleton would choose the traditional Lilies for her bouquet. Once I saw the look of her floral design, I was on speed dial with Donna O’Brien of the prestigious floral design and event firm Beautiful Blooms, located in Northern Liberties.
Donna agreed to import the exciting array of flowers—via Europe—to give Philly and Main Line brides the full effect. O’Brien’s interpretation retails for $1,250. Middleton’s arrangement was a stark contrast to that of the late Princess Diana. In 1981, Diana chose a cascading arrangement of three orchid varieties for her wedding to Prince Charles.
Donna O’Brien of Beautiful Blooms:
It should be no surprise that here at Beautiful Blooms Events we are major wedding junkies! Being that, we felt absolutely compelled to devour every single last bit of Royal Wedding coverage from the weeks prior to the day itself. And to be truthful, once it was over and we changed out of our pajamas and went to work, we felt a little sad that it was all over. We then got the bright idea to recreate Kate’s stunningly intricate cascade bouquet! We wanted to know what was in it, how it was made and how much one of our brides might have to pony up to hold it on her wedding day. We put our very own, amazingly talented studio director Bill Schaffer to work on the project and here is what we came up with.
Middleton’s bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly, the florist who decked out the royal couple’s Westminster Abbey venue with eight maple trees. It was composed of blooms native to the U.K. selected for their significance according to the Language of Flowers. The main component, Lily of the Valley, indicates a return to happiness and Sweet William, a nod to her beloved means Gallantry. There were also hand-wired Hyacinth blooms (consistency of love), Ivy leaves (fidelity), and Myrtle (the emblem of marriage; love.) The Myrtle used were stems from a myrtle planted by Queen Victoria in 1845—a royal wedding tradition.
The other amazing thing about Miss Middleton’s bouquet was that it was completely hand-wired. For those of you that aren’t florists that means the designer took each individual stem or flower, taped it to a piece of wire and then wrapped all the wires together. Certainly well over 200 wires!
For our recreation, we decided to use the very same blooms but to work in a bridal bouquet holder instead of hand-wiring all the blooms. The main difference there is that the holder, topped with wet floral foam, allows the flowers to draw water throughout the day’s events. By using a bouquet holder we dramatically lengthen the life expectancy of the bouquet. It’s quite possible that Kate could have had two or three duplicates made to switch out throughout the day if hers became wilted. At a retail price of $1,250 each though, we commoners thought one bouquet would be enough!
The Beautiful Blooms Boutique is located at Liberties Walk, 1021 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, Pa (215) 925-3111 . You can join them on their facebook fan page by clicking here.