If you're in the early stages of planning your wedding and you already know you want to save your flowers...then YAY, YOU! Honestly, I love you already! (If you're further along in your planning process, I love you too! We still have LOTS to talk about!)
If you want to be sure to choose wedding blooms that will press well, the good news is, MOST flowers press beautifully. Phew!
There IS a SHORT list of flowers to avoid if you want to preserve your bouquet as a pressed botanical collage...
For the most part, you'll want to avoid tropicals (there's a BIG, BEAUTIFUL exception that we'll talk about in a minute). Anthurium, orchids, lilies, plumeria and succulents, in general, do not press well. The reason? Because they're native to hotter climates, they've adapted to hold a lot of moisture and excess moisture makes it very difficult to preserve flowers. If you choose calla lilies or orchids in dark colors, they MIGHT press well, but it requires some hoping and praying and sometimes leads to disappointment.
The big, beautiful exception to the tropical troublemakers? Protea. Appearing in many sizes and shapes, they were named for the Greek god, Proteus, who was able to change his appearance at will. Protea are native to South Africa, where local lore says they represent change and hope. How fitting to feature these majestic, and unexpected beauties in a wedding bouquet! They also bring a unique texture and stately structure to a pressed botanical collage.
Flowers by I Do Flowers | Wedding photography by Alison Marie Photography
Did you know that when working on a botanical collage, I take the flowers in your bouquet apart, press all the pieces individually and then put them back together petal by petal? By pressing the pieces separately and reconstructing the flowers, I'm able to preserve the essence of their shape, sculpting them in a way that they nearly burst out of the frame. (Thank you, art school, for teaching me to approach my work with patience and precision!)
Although I'm not technically a botanist, I'm an enthusiastic student and ardent admirer of Mother Nature and consider it my responsibility to honor her perfect work. I've spent years of trial and error perfecting my process of preserving and celebrating protea! They are challenging, but also incredibly satisfying to work with.
Original bouquet by Enchanted Florist in Nashville, TN.
White flowers are fine to press — peonies, roses, ranunculus, hydrangea—but keep in mind that white flowers don't dry to white. These flowers will turn a winter white, tanning in the presses.
Want to know the secret to picking flowers that will press beautifully?
Color. The richer and deeper, the better! Sometimes the colors in flowers become even deeper during the pressing process—especially dahlias, ranunculus and peonies.
The woody varieties of hydrangeas, like those from the coastal regions of Cape Cod and New Jersey hold their color especially well too.
As you try to decide which flowers to feature in your wedding, it's fun to do a deep dive into the floral world and get lost in the possibilities. Since all of the details can all get a little head-swimmy, I'd like to share Flora-Ly's Guide to Flowers that Press Nicely with you. It will remind you of your options if you think you might want to preserve the memories or your special day with a botanical collage. So, keep it on hand and share it with your flower designer, your wedding planner or your trusted helpers.
Good luck and happy planning!
Love these ideas? Pin them to your planning boards!
When you’ve been working in the wedding business for as long as I have (which is a long time), you see flower trends come and go. What did I see in 2019? I saw people listening to their hearts, honoring their past, their families, their friends. I saw imagination, intention, creativity and deeply personal choices. It was an honor to work with so many clients who chose their wedding flowers with care and approached the process of preserving the memory of their wedding day with just as much joy.
There are a lot of reasons I love my work, but the thing that gets me out of bed every morning is the opportunity to be challenged anew. There’s an endless variety of ways I can coax a story from the ephemera of flower, memory, and emotion and capture that story in a timeless piece of art. There are as many ways to approach a custom botanical collage as there are couples who choose to work with me.
This year, I had the privilege of working with 40 clients from all over the country. Each and every one of them (and their flowers!) was welcomed into a collaborative process rooted in respect and care.
Here are a few highlights from the studio last year…
I was invited by Sarah Glick of Brilliant Event Planning to visit her clients’ farm in Western Massachusetts to pick flowers from their garden so I could press them to make a 36” x 24” guest book and 30 custom botanical table numbers. This creative and meaningful guest book hangs in their new home – soon to be joined by a custom collage from the pressed petals of her lovely bouquet, designed by Winston Flowers.
These olive branches and delicate flowers traveled from the other side of the world tucked in a book and packed in a suitcase. Gifted by a special person from a sacred place, these flowers held great meaning to the well-known morning TV host who carried them home with her. This collage is nestled into a custom-made shadow box that carefully holds the precious blooms and the sentiment they were presented with.
Katherine brought me her awe-inspiring bouquet from New Leaf Flores in Boston. Resplendent with the most vibrant pink and red Peonies ever to grace my studio table, the abundant bouquet provided blooms aplenty to create an impressive collage for the newlyweds plus smaller collages and custom necklaces for members of the family. Gifting pieces from the bouquet was an especially meaningful way for this sweet couple to share the memories of their elopement with the people they love.
Think it might be too far to ship your flowers to my studio in Massachusetts? Not a chance! Kim’s a flower farmer in Nevada who made a lovely bouquet for her sister’s wedding in California. From there, the flowers were shipped across the country to my studio, where they pressed beautifully. I shipped the finished collage back across the country to Oregon, where the bride lives. Those petals traveled 6,500 miles in total before finally ending up in their forever home! Phew! Much gratitude to the USPS and FedEx! And Kim – whose beautiful flowers were a joy to work with!
More ketubahs please! Have I told you lately how much I love to work in circles? It’s probably why creating a custom ketubah from wedding flowers is such a satisfying process. I have to dig deep for the patience to respect the natural curve of a flower stem. The open spaces are a challenge for me too, but the end result is a beautiful reminder of the wedding and poignant reminder of a sacred agreement between two people who choose each other.
Every collage I create is a labor of love, but this one was maybe even more so because the flowers belonged to my daughter’s childhood friend. Astrantia are always a favorite of mine to work with – explosions of petals atop a sturdy stem. Peonies with just the slightest blush of pink, and lavender grown by her mother (a long-time friend of mine). It’s fitting that the lavender, the sentimental heart of the bouquet, became the foundation for this piece. Those beautiful, long stems pushed the piece taller than I usually work, with very happy results.
What do I predict for 2020? Love. Because, always love. Care. Because the meaningful little details are the ones couples remember forever. Challenge. Because each custom botanical collage is waiting to be discovered in the flowers that come to my studio. Respect. Because your wedding flowers matter to you and preserving them forever matters to me.
Love these ideas? Pin them to your wedding planning board!
At the beginning of 2017, I had high hopes for a great year. More than hopes, I had PLANS (capital P, captial L, capital A-N-S.) But my most earnest dreams for 2017 were merely a shadow of the vibrant, soul-renewing, heart-busting year it became.
I added new presses to the studio this year to keep pace with bouquets coming in from all over the country. Wedding flowers came in from California, Alabama, Pennsylvania and every corner of Massachusetts. It makes me giddy to think about the bouquets that were packed with care and traveled hundreds of miles to arrive at my studio.
Even with more presses, they were constantly full as I pressed thousands of flower petals and reconstructed hundreds of flowers to make over 40 botanical collages this year! I made small collages and large collages that celebrated beginnings and memorialized passings. I worked on designs that challenged me as an artist, stretched my skills and grew my confidence.
Each of the collages I created this year represents another heartfelt connection with the people who entrusted their flowers to me. New clients became new friends and I have been forever changed by their love for each other, their courage in the face of challenge and their hopeful new beginnings.
I created over 20 lockets full of tiny pressed flowers that were gifted to friends, partners and mothers.
The 2017 Flora-Ly Calendar of Flowers sold out!
I introduced hand painted, custom wedding invitations to my products & services.
I was a guest on a wedding pro podcast and invited to participate in a wedding inspiration photo shoot for a blogger in California.
I designed the wedding flowers for my beloved son and his equally beloved new wife. Of course I pressed them and created a botanical collage for their home. (Talk about a labor of love!) I also created custom painted wedding invitations for them!
One sweet client wrote in the memo line of her check, “Best botanical collage ever!” If you visit my studio, you may or may not find a photo of that note hanging on my bulletin board. ;)
I’m grateful for every moment of joy, each challenge, all the words of encouragement and even tho glimmers of doubt that filled the past 12 months. I’m grateful to you, my friends, my business besties, my clients, my family.
I continue to be humbled and honored by the trust and faith that is placed in me to save these flowers that hold so much meaning and memory for you. I never take it lightly.
"And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been."
I relish the new and open space of time before me. Clients and friends I’ve yet to meet, weddings yet to happen, flowers yet to be saved, new collages to design, discover and send to their new homes, to remind, inspire and delight.
I wish you a sweet and peaceful new year. I hope our paths will cross in 2018 and if they do, let's have fun and create something lovely together!
In a moment of quiet during these gradually lightening days after the winter solstice, I send you love, warm thoughts and a hopeful wish for peace for all of us in the ways we most need it.
When my friend, Jill invited me to her wedding and asked me to create a collage with her flowers and her ketubah, I was intrigued. Ooooh! I’ve never done anything like that before!
A ketubah is a beautiful and essential part of a Jewish wedding that dates back about 2,000 years. It describes a husband’s responsibilities and a wife’s rights within their marriage and it’s a whole lot lovelier than your run-of-the-mill modern day prenup. Couples will often choose to have their ketubahs done in calligraphy or painted and hang them in their homes as a beautiful reminder of the sanctity of their commitment.
Jill and David's idea to adorn their ketubah with their preserved wedding flowers is a modern, personal approach to this time honored tradition. Their 'blank' ketubah was purchased from MPArtworks.
They were married under a tree on an idyllic college campus surrounded by blue hydrangeas and local, organically grown flowers from Old Friends Farm. After the reception I gathered up all the flowers (even the sweet little sprgs of rosemary and lavender that had adorned the dinner napkins) and brought everything back to the studio.
I wanted to get them into the presses straightaway!
Because I had witnessed the signing of the ketubah, I knew I'd be a creating a circular design, so I carefully guided the flower stems into a gentle curve before pressing them. I envisioned an elegant circle of flowers and I hoped that curved flower stems would create an effortless, natural flow to the piece.
With all the pressed petals laid out, the art of design is as much in choosing what won't be included as what will.
I auditioned different blooms for feature roles in the piece. The yellow Gerbera Daisy at the bottom center of the circle was only partially reconstructed before I realized it wasn't the direction I wanted to go in.
It's important to hold space for all the possibilities and move on when something isn't coming together!
I fell in love with the balance of the three rich dark pink Peonies that formed a triangular balance while off-setting the unbroken symmetry of the circle.
Nothing is predictable right? Not love, not life, not marriage! So I love to throw some unexpected elements into a design as a visual metaphor that even the bumps in the road can be beautiful!
I also opted for a less-dense, more open feel to the flowers in the circle. Allowing for the beauty of the white spaces gives oxygen to the finished piece. Like the space between two people gives them room to grow together...(I can come up relationship and flower metaphors aaaaaalllll day. Because, you know, LOVE and FLOWERS, gah!)
Jill and David came into the studio mid-way through the process to choose their frame. They look pretty pleased with it, I think!
I think one of my favorite things about this collage is the way, when viewed from a distance, that little bloom on the left, near the top, looks like an exhuberant dancer who just MIGHT NOT be contained, and could, at any moment, leap out of formation to spin and whirl in their own little solo before rejoining the chorus.
Ah. life. Love. Flowers.
Well, here we are! After three months of pressing, talking, designing and building, KC & Mary’s botanical collage is complete!
When KC & Mary showed up at my studio with two coolers bursting with flowers, two things were obvious to me. First, they LOVED their flowers — they held a tremendous amount of meaning for them—and second, I was going to be making something unlike anything I’d ever made before.
See how it turned out...
What started out as an order for an 11”x14” collage made from KC’s bouquet, became a 20”x20” shadow-boxed piece containing a whopping 27 flowers built out in layers.
I wanted to capture the way KC and Mary lit up when they told me about their wedding day and how much their flowers meant to them - joy, utter, complete, unapologetic joy. I wanted to create that for them in an explosion of color, texture and dimension that would transport them back to their wedding day.
This collage was challenging, not just in the huge amount of work involved—pressing thousands of flower petals and reconstructing 27 flowers from them—but deciding which flowers to use and which (sadly) not to use.
There were the technical challenges of creating depth by building the height of the flowers, creating a shadow box for the frame and getting everything JUST right. (Someday, I’ll tell you the story of the one tiny flower that just wasn’t EXACTLY where I wanted it to be and the lengths I went through to move it.)
And there were the design challenges…how to create balance AND joy, order AND effusiveness, structure AND raw, powerful emotion?
Watch KC & Mary see their collage for the first time...
1In the end, it’s a piece that invites you to step closer and experience every inch. It welcomes you into a world, a celebration, a beginning…and it rewards you with something new to see each time you stop to take a look.
Isn’t that what LOVE really is? When we’ve found our soulmate, isn’t it like that too? Always something new to discover in this person we’ve chosen and how richly we’re rewarded when we stop to look more closely!
Whether a couple brings me six flowers or six dozen flowers, I strive to make art that resonates with their love and transports them back to the moment they said, "I do."
It was transformative to work with KC & Mary. Just as every creative experience I share with my clients fills my heart--it's been deeply gratifying to move in parellel with them for a small part of their journey together.
Dear ones, thank you for taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers with me!
P.S. - Experience the process from beginning to end, by watching part 1 and part 2 of KC & Mary's story.
Do you know what a tussy-mussie is? If you guessed a Victorian-era turn of phrase for what you see in that first, half-waking glance in the mirror each morning, you’re HALF-right!
A tussy-mussie is a Victorian-style bouquet placed in a metal vase specifically designed to be carried. During the Victorian age, there were some highly practical (malodorous) reasons for ladies to carry sweet smelling posies when out in public, but it also became quite fashionable for young ladies to carry flowers given to them by their suitors in these ornate metal vases.
My mom collected tiny tussy-mussies which could be pinned to a hat or lapel. I remember my child-self breathlessly turning those brooches in my hand, the ornate patterns caught by the slanting afternoon sun in her room. I imagined in exquisite detail what elfin bouquets I would place in them and how it would feel to wear them out in the world. Surely, that must be what it means to walk in beauty, I thought.
When I found these glass lockets, my child-self was breathless again, struck by the beauty of possibility…oh! The perfect place to carry sweet, tiny, pressed flowers next to your heart. To walk in beauty and carry with you the sweet memories of those fresh blooms…
I was moved and inspired and excited and couldn’t wait to offer these beauties to my customers.
I imagined them being a thoughtful gift for a mother-of-the-bride. Or a new mother-in-law. But this summer, I had a customer who loved them so much, she ordered nine—one for herself and each of her eight bridesmaids—and asked me to fill them with purple hydrangeas.
What a wonderful way to bring even MORE botanical beauty into her wedding! Not only would they each carry flowers, they would wear them too! AND have them to keep forever!
I offer the lockets in three shapes; oval, square or round with gold-plated findings and a 32” gold-filled chain. Each shape is available with blue, purple, pink or white Hydrangea with Queen Anne’s Lace and a single, tiny leaf.
These flower-filled lockets can be the perfect gift for someone you love--your mom, wife, sister or best friend. (Whether or not there’s a wedding in your recent past or immediate future.) Imagine, as the snow falls outside, you put another log on the fire while your loved one opens the gift of a summer day…
Want to give THE GIFT she’ll talk about for years to come? These lovely lockets are available in the store now.
May she walk in beauty...
She Walks in Beauty
By Lord Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Find pressed flower lockets in our online shop...
For more botanically inspired gifts, consider our Year in Flowers desk calendar!
Each year when I create the Flora-Ly Calendar of Flowers I choose a quote that suits the mood of the time in the studio.
This quote embodies how I have been feeling for months and will surely continue to feel into 2018. My heart is full of gratitude. I recognize it daily. Grateful for my happy children, my new daughter-in- law and my husband who keeps me fed and makes flower presses. I am grateful for the clients who have sought me out, entrusted me with their precious flowers, heaped praise, cried happy tears, told their friends – who told two friends – who told two friends. Grateful for colleagues who enlighten, challenge and enrich my business. It's been a fun, colorful creative time. So every day my heart does feel like a summer day. Riding my bicycle, swimming with friends, playing in the waves and creating beauty for appreciative people. Thank you for being here.
I've been in business for a smidge over five years and if there's one thing I've learned (there isn't, there's waaay MORE than ONE, but it's just a saying...) it's that there is something magical that happens when you find other wedding pros that share your aesthetics, values and drive to hone their craft and serve their clients. Through our conversations, we learn, we grow and we discover things that never would have occurred to us on our own. These are the people I turn to with questions or frustrations, to share info and celebrate successes.
I love my people so dang much that I want to share them with you!
You're going to love them too!
This brand new series of videos will introduce you to wedding professionals who are amazingly good at what they do. You'll meet bakers, planners, floral designers, photographers, jewelers--people from every corner of the wedding world!
The thing I love about each of these people is the heart with which they serve their customers and practice their art. During this season of gratitude, it feels right to express thanks for these friends who inspire me, teach me, listen and learn along with me.
Sometimes we're fortunate enough to sit on the same couch for these chats. Other times we depend on technology to shrink the miles between us.
Today, I'm so excited for you to meet Sandra Costello of Sandra Costello Photography. (Go on, click the link! She's got an AH-MAZING website!) We sat down to talk about what we do, why we do it and what sets us apart from other professionals in the wedding world. Sandra is passionate about the heartfelt way she connects with her clients. Sharing herself fully with her clients and forming a deep connection with them creates a sense of trust that allows people to open up so Sandra can capture the essence of a couple and the emotions in the moment. (Seriously, look at the pictures on her website, you'll totally understand what I mean!)
Sandra's the one who urged me to put more energy into creating a heartfelt connection with my clients. Now, when people come to me to preserve their wedding flowers, I spend the time to listen and learn about their love, their wedding and how their flowers embody the emotions of the day for them. As my friendship with Sandra has deepened, it has enriched the relationships I create with my clients. And that has fed my soul as an artist as I create botanical collages that are inspired by the essence of who my clients are and the love that brought them together.
Sandra was ALSO the one who suggested we interview each other on video since it's easier to explain your work in conversation with a friend than it is do a full-on video sales pitch (and much more pleasant!). It so dang much fun that I decided to make a habit of it.
I hope you enjoy this first episode of Heart-to-Heart!
KC & Mary had brought me two coolers full of flowers from their wedding.
I pressed just about everything they'd given me and when the flowers came out of the presses, I'd joked that I might need a bigger table. Then, of course, I was quick to point out that if bigger tables were required to hold more flowers and more love then (metaphorically speaking) we should ALL have BIGGER tables!
I stood back to take in the scope of the botanicals I'd taken from the presses. There had to have been a thousand petals in front of me. I bit my lip, intimidated by the sheer volume of the possibilities.
I took a deep breath. Just as every journey begins with a single step. Every botanical collage begins with one petal.
Shhh, here's a secret...when I get a bouquet, I pick apart all of the flowers and press the individual petals. Weeks later, when they come out of the presses, I re-build the flowers petal by petal.
Watch the process here...
I had reconstructed about 20 flowers when it became clear that the 11"x14" collage KC & Mary had ordered wasn't going to be big enough to hold this botanical abundance. I sent them an email to explain. I asked them to consider a bigger piece. "Think about where you're going to hang this in your home. Do you want one large piece, or maybe a series of smaller ones?" They said they'd talk about it and get back to me.
I expected KC & Mary to deliberate awhile to consider the possibilities. I was suprised when I heard back from them the very next day. They wanted a 20"x20".
"We want to capture that feeling of abundance we had throughout the day. Not only the abundance of flowers, but love and laughing and so much fun!"
For KC & Mary their flowers represented the total joy of their wedding day and they wanted their collage to capture that feeling so they could hold on to it forever.
As much as it thrilled me to hear how excited KC & Mary were about their collage, I was a little bit terrified. No lie. 20” x 20” is a large piece of artwork when your medium is pressed flower petals.
I needed to get busy building more flowers.
After I've reconstructed the flowers, it's time to design the collage.
But, before I begin to the design process, I set an intention.
I take a few moments and sit with the flowers. I think about the people I am creating for and what they want.
I think about love; deep love that makes one person say to another, you're the one for me.
I listen to the flowers. They witnessed the moment. They soaked up the joy. The flowers were there and now they're with me, imbued with the emotions of the day.
As I was designing KC & Mary's collage, I started to giggle. There ARE joy in the flowers and it's CONTAGIOUS!
I'm following the lead of the flowers and we're having a grand ol' time here at Flora-Ly Studios.
Here's a little glimpse of the piece in process...
I'm Linda, keeper of the flowers.