With so many brides wanting to keep their bouquets after the wedding, I have often been asked if there is a way to keep bouquets looking great after the big day using fresh flowers instead of silk flowers.
The decision to use fresh flowers has always been the most popular way to go. Who doesn’t enjoy the fragrant aroma of Freesia, Roses, and Lilies? Hasn’t this been the dream of so many brides? Yet that beautiful bouquet can turn an ugly brown color very quickly if not stored in some form of refrigeration. Even if refrigeration is available, it is not very long before the only momento of your beautiful (and costly) bouquet is your wedding photographs.
Many brides wonder if there is a way to preserve fresh flower bouquets and the answer is,”Yes!” There are a few ways to do this and some methods work better on some flowers and greens than others. You may decide in advance to use particular flowers because they preserve better than others.
One popular method, and the most costly, is freeze-drying. This method, not widely available to every bride, consists of freezing the entire bouquet to around 30 degrees below zero. Then the freeze-drying machine creates a vacuum which causes the moisture to evaporate from the petals. The water in the petals changes from a solid-state to a gas. This process is called substantiation. After the moisture is removed in this way, the flowers keep their shape, unlike air-dried flowers that lose their shape when dried. A post-treatment solution is also applied to the flowers to keep the moisture in the air from going back into the petals.
One way to avoid this procedure is to make your bouquet using roses that have already been freeze-dried and using other materials that have already been preserved. The look is beautiful, very much like fresh flowers and greens. The only drawback to this is that white roses tend to look ivory. So if you want nice white roses you might want to stock with preserving them after the wedding day…
What fresh materials can be preserved after the wedding? In the flower department, Roses top the list. They can be air-dried (hung upside down). and silica dried (follow directions on the can of silica gel container). Freesia can be silica-dried but is extremely delicate. Carnations can be silica-dried as well. As for Orchids…maybe not. Tulips and any waxy flower are more difficult to silica dry because the waxy substance slows down the movement of moisture from the petals to the silica.
There are also some wonderful fillers that can be air-dried very nicely. Some of these are Caspia, Leptospermum, and Babies Breath. Caspia may be left right in the bouquet to air dry.
Now you are probably wondering what to do to protect the flowers after silica drying? One method is to dip individual flowers in hot paraffin. This gives them a nice protective coating and it keeps moisture in the air from getting back into the flowers.
Green plants preserve nicely with a glycerin solution. Some fauna will draw up the solution through the stems. Others, like Ivy, do best if you immerse the leaves with their stems completely in the solution. By practicing many months before the big day, you will be assured of having the correct method of glycerin preservation for the greens you have chosen to use.
I have found great success using the following Glycerin Solution and Method:
- 1 part glycerin to 2 parts boiling water.
- Add green food coloring to prevent the leaves from turning brown.
Leave the greenery in the solution until it does not drink any more solution( in the case of Tree Fern that draws the solution up through the stem), or until 2 weeks have passed in the case of Ivy(make sure it is completely covered by the solution). Leaving it in the solution longer, in the case of Ivy, would cause the leaves to look somewhat translucent and not as natural. There is no need to apply a protective coating to the glycerine-preserved greens.
In order to extend the life of your flowers, keep them out of the sun. Also, placing them in a shadow box or glass container will keep the dust off them, For the very ambitious, you may wish to try embedding them in acrylic material.
It is a good idea to practice before the big day so you will be assured of the desired results. Whatever method you try, you will have the satisfaction of having fresh flowers on your wedding day and be able to keep a beautiful memento long after the wedding day.