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Written by Liam Barrows Last updated: November 7, 2013
After you’re married, what happens to your wedding bouquet? Do you give it to a bridesmaid or just accept that it will have to be thrown away? Wouldn’t it be better to keep your bouquet as a reminder of the happy day? Confetti looks at the modern trend of bouquet preservation and discovers your options and the costs involved.
First establish a budget. If you’ve got several hundred pounds to spend or money is no object, then look out for our professional wedding bouquet-preservation article. Alternatively, if you want to preserve your bouquet but money is tight then your best bet is to do it yourself. The following are the most tried and tested approaches.
For those who don’t want to preserve the bouquet completely but would like some individual reminders in flat relief, the traditional book-pressing of flowers is a good option. Put each flower between some wax paper, sandwiched between the pages of a large book, and then stack heavy objects on top of it. This works best when just pressing a few flowers rather than the whole bouquet and is dependent on the size and kind of flowers you decide to press. Try not to use a book that is valuable as the pressing process may stain or ruin the pages. Change the wax paper regularly and leave to flatten and dry over six weeks. You could then mount these flowers yourself (perhaps in a small frame) or leave them in books of poetry or prose that have special significance. Total cost (for the wax paper and frame) around £10.
Another flower-preservation option, and one that will work for the whole bouquet, is to dry them yourself. Unfortunately bouquets can loose their vibrancy and much of their colour this way. The technique involves fastening groups of flowers together with twine or string and then hanging in a well-ventilated area. Firstly, separate the flowers from the ribbons, keepsakes and any other special items you may have put with your bouquet. The flowers should be hung upside down, out of direct sunlight and in an area where the air can freely circulate – preferably an area low in humidity. Separate large flowers and dry separately. Try to dry flower varieties in bunches together: all your daisies in one bundle, all your peonies in another. Strip the stems of any leaves as these will retain moisture and interrupt the drying process. Leave plenty of room between the flowers for the air to circulate, otherwise your flowers may rot or succumb to mildew. You may have to retie the bunches, as stems and bundles inevitably shrink as they dry. The drying process can take up to three or four weeks depending on ambient conditions. The result: brittle yet preserved flower specimens. You could then arrange carefully into a bouquet using the ribbons and keepsakes you separated earlier. Mount your bouquet on a plinth, topping it with a clear acrylic display cube. Total cost (for the acrylic display) £30.
The glycerine method leaves bright and flexible flowers but the effect may appear artificial to some. Mix in a large tub one-part warm glycerine to two parts warm water (some recipes call for two parts glycerine to one-part warm water). Submerge only the freshest leaves, flowers and stems (make sure you crush the stem ends to encourage the solution to travel inside the flowers). Remove from the solution when the petals are supple and all signs of brittleness are gone. Re-arrange into a bouquet. Total cost (for the glycerine and display) £20.