Preserving Your Bouquet

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Flower Basics

Preserving Your Bouquet

Why let something so beautiful fade with the day? Here's how to keep your bouquet in tact!

When your wedding day is over, what will you do with all those beautiful flowers? Carefully set in glass domes and elegant frames, your precious wedding mementos can be admired for years to come. Whether you're a "do-it-yourself-er" or the "leave-it-to-the-pros" type, we have creative ideas and expert advice on preserving your bridal day bouquet.

Forever In Bloom

There are a few different methods you can use to preserve your flowers.

Microwave drying
requires you arrange a few, thin blossoms between paper towels. Heat the blooms for 1-2 minutes, then let them cool. Repeat as necessary, until the blooms are dry.
Silica gel, an agent that hastens the drying process, can also be used in the microwave. Silica pulls moisture out of flowers, resulting in spectacular dried blooms. You can buy silica gel, a granulated substance with cobalt blue crystals, at your favorite craft store. It's fairly easy to use and it's economical. Apply the gel to flower heads, place a thin layer of blooms between paper towels and microwave from 1 to 3 minutes. Let your blooms cool for 30 minutes, or according to package instructions. When the drying process is complete, use a small, soft brush to gently brush away any remaining gel from petals. 
To use Silica Gel without a microwave, first select a container for your blossoms. Pam Seaberg of the American Roses Society and author of "Drying Roses," advises you start with an ordinary egg carton. The separated egg "cups" work well to support the shape of individual blooms and buds. Pour a thin layer of silica gel into the bottom of each cup, pop a bloom in each, and cover with more silica. Be careful not to pour the silica gel directly onto the petals -- instead gently spoon it around the buds, filling air pockets and open space. Your final layer of silica gel should be 1-2 inches over the top of the flower. If your container is airtight, make sure it is completely closed. If you have used an egg carton, you can keep it airtight by carefully wrapping it in a plastic bag. Drying time is usually three to seven days.
When we hang roses upside down to dry, we're using techniques that go back to the days of ancient Egypt. The secret to the air-drying method is to get to work on your flowers as quickly as possible. If you wait too long, petals will begin to drop off and otherwise damaged blooms will be difficult to handle in dried arrangements.
To dry your flowers, remove all lower leaves from their stems. Next, bundle the flowers together in small bunches, securing them tightly with rubber bands. Make sure the blooms do not touch each other. Hang the bundles upside down in a dark, dry room or closet. Air drying times vary with humidity, but your flowers should dry within five to ten days.
Flower pressing is another time-honored technique you can use to preserve your blooms. Barbara Gaffney of Massachusetts-based Everlasting Pressed Flowers carefully presses and reassembles bridal blooms, taking care that the position of every petal and leaf is lovingly recreated in a beautiful display. Among other backgrounds, your pressed bouquet can be mounted on a piece of your wedding gown, bridesmaid dress, or invitation stock.
Says Gaffney of her method, "I prefer pressing flowers on Japanese pressing pads, which retain a beautiful color and style. After carefully and quickly drying the blooms, I can duplicate the original bouquet on any color mat board and frame under glass in either oval or rectangular frames. I also work on tiles, which are fast becoming our best seller. The key however," she says, "is to get the flowers to whomever is going to preserve them very quickly."
At the far end of the thermometer is the freeze-drying method. Flowers are dried in a special chamber at extremely low temperatures. The blooms are flash frozen -- a vacuum system pulls all moisture from them. The treatments used in the freeze-drying process are water-based, non-hazardous and biodegradable. Typically, freeze-dried arrangements must be kept in a bubble frame or under a glass dome.

Color Cues

The colors of your dried flowers will probably look a lot different than they did when the flowers were fresh. When deciding which flowers to use in your keepsake arrangement, remember this rule of thumb: the brighter the original color, the longer that color will last. Usually, you can expect the final dried color to be at least one shade darker than the original color. Bright orange roses will dry into gorgeous reds and oranges. Vibrant pinks will come alive with passionate pink and purple tones. On the other hand, lighter shades of yellow and pink have a tendency to brown and dark reds turn black. White is unpredictable as it can change into either a pretty ivory or a yellowish brown.

Prices

The cost of flower preservation services varies by arrangement size, company, and region. Although price is a concern to almost every bride, try not to let cost alone determine the company you choose. Instead bank heavily on word-of-mouth referrals and reputation. Ask the company if they provide references, or if they will facilitate contact with previous customers. Be sure to compare prices, reputations and quality. We've assembled some average price ranges to help you get a ballpark estimate of cost. However, make a point to compare prices in your area to gain a more specific idea of price range.
  • For a small 6"x6" bouquet, you can expect to pay between $65-$95.00
  • For a medium 10"x10" bouquet, you can expect to pay between $75-$125
  • For a large 12"x12" bouquet, you can expect to pay between $95-$150.00
  • For a single rose or flower in a gift box, the average price is $7.95
  • For one dozen long-stemmed roses, the average price is $60.00
  • Dried petals are priced on average at $5.00 an ounce
Whether you send your flowers to a professional for preservation, or do the work yourself, remember:
  • Please! Handle flowers with TLC -- tender loving care!
  • Pack your bouquet in a cooler with ice and contact the preservationist to determine the ideal method of delivery.
  • Don't let the bouquet actually touch the ice.
  • Opened buds will dry better than tight buds.
Timing is everything, literally, if you want beautiful results!

See More: Flowers , Bridal Party