You painstakingly chose your wedding flowers, devoted a large part of your wedding budget to work with a floral designer, and then reveled in their fresh, abundant beauty for just a few short hours. After the last piece of cake was gone and the final flute of champagne enjoyed, it might have suddenly occurred to you that you couldn't bear to throw your flowers away.
Maybe someone suggested you dry your bouquet. So you hung them on your mirror, where you've been admiring them since. (Have you seen my "How to Dry Flowers" feature on marthaStewart.com?) While drying is a quick and easy solution to make your wedding flowers last longer and the result is lovely, they are still quite perishable. Prone to sun-fading and delicious to dust-mites, your dried wedding flowers might not last long, while exposed to the elements.
Now what? Is it inevitable that they'll end up in the dust bin, or at most, you'll salvage one or two blooms in a memory box?
Don't worry! They can still be saved — preserved for years and years — hanging in your home as a beautiful reminder the day you were married. I can help!
Sometimes couples come to me with wedding flowers that have dried, and they're hoping there's a way to protect them and create a keepsake as beautiful as their wedding day was.
This particular bouquet came to me from a bride who hadn't gotten her flowers to me in time to press. Still, she'd seen a shadow box with dried flowers I'd crafted for another couple (more on that below) and thought we might similarly preserve her flowers. Every piece I create for my clients is unique, but with her dried blooms, we have the opportunity to create something different and equally beautiful!
If you've dried your wedding bouquet, you can preserve its delicate beauty in an archival-quality shadow box for years to come.
After talking with the couple about what they might want, I went through the flowers, picking and choosing the ones that would work well for the design we'd discussed. Here, you'll see I'm working with a circular layout that will frame their wedding vows.
Picking and choosing the bits that will become part of the final design.
This wreath of flowers is done and waiting for the shop to finish printing the vows on archival paper, which will serve as the background for the final piece. After that final component is in place, I'll build a shadow box that will protect the delicate blooms under museum glass. There, they'll be safe from the elements while sweetly showcasing the sweet memories of the couple's wedding day.
Here's another example of a bouquet that came to me already dried. Stephanie, the bride, had left them in a box for a year, wanting to keep them safe. She brought them into my studio in hopes I could liberate them from the box and make something beautiful she could enjoy every day
"I am absolutely in love with the botanical collage Linda created for my husband and I. Three years after our wedding I met Linda and wished I knew of her services beforehand. Luckily my wedding bouquet was dried and intact well enough for her to create a beautiful collage with our wedding vows in the middle. Linda's work is by far the most creative and meaningful way to save wedding day memories!" — Stephanie
I think when many people see dried flowers, they might focus on what those flowers no longer are —what they've lost. Maybe they're no longer fresh and vibrant, but I think they're still full of life and possess a transformational beauty. It's possible that I especially love these dried flowers because I think of them as a metaphor for love. Love, the verb, is an ongoing process, not a beginning place for a marriage, but the purposeful work of being committed to another person.
To paraphrase Mr. Rogers, who was a wise practitioner of love...
"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
I think these dried flowers — different than they were, and beautiful as they are — are a lot like people. Like me. Like you. Like us.
Love these shadowboxes? Pin them to your planning board!
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!
“The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The circle is without beginning and without end. Ripples on the surface of the water, emanating out from a single source—a raindrop, a pebble, a water strider as it glides impossibly on the surface of the pond.
Since the ancients gazed upon a full moon with wonder, mankind has been fascinated with the circle, its perfection and the timeless mystery of that perfection. Mandalas are circular designs from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions that symbolize the entirety and utter completeness of the universe.
The recent eclipse is a fleeting moment in a dance of heavenly orbs—one circle passing in front of another.
I have spent countless hours drawing and painting circles in the hopes of coming as close to perfection as possible. Dipping the brush in ink and swirling around on the paper is meditative and satisfying. Circles are in us and of us and around us physically, metaphorically, spiritually.
When I begin to design a circle collage I feel the tension between being bound within a one foot diameter and the freedom that comes from allowing the beauty of the petals to guide me as I pay homage to the love they represent.
Large and small, light and dark, cool and warm elements balance and harmonize, like the balance we strike in marriage. Separate, but together. Two people, one and one—now, each more than they were alone.
Constant and unbroken. Unquestionably whole. The Circle is a beautiful and fitting design to preserve your wedding flowers.
The Flora-Ly Studios Walk series began with a walk in the woods.
In 2016, I created a series of botanical collages for the Mount Grace Conservation Trust. I would walk their land and gather flora along the way to bring back to my studio and press. The long, horizontal stretch of the resulting pieces reflects those walks. They were an abstract recreation of the Mount Grace trails.
When I hung the pieces for exhibition, my goal was for each guest to relive those walks in the woods. I wanted each person who viewed the pieces to be moved to remember their own thoughtful meanderings down those same trails. Or, or perhaps the collages would bring to mind the sun dappled forest paths of their childhood. The pieces were meant to be evocative of the smells, sights and sensations of walks from the past. By joining the past with the present, I intended to create a timeless feedback loop of memory and emotion.
A woodland trail is much like the aisle you walk down to join your true love in marriage. Both are a procession through a sacred space; both showing the way down an oft-trodden path—the direction marked by the footsteps of those who have gone before us. Rather than wander directionless through the forest of life, you have found your path, your way, and you are ready to walk it.
Carrying a bouquet down the aisle on your wedding day is a tradition that goes back centuries. During the time of King Henry VIII, brides carried a bouquet of herbs that were later used in a celebratory feast. When you choose to preserve your wedding bouquet in the Walk design, you honor the path that guided you to the discovery of love; the grace of tradition; and the beauty of commitment.
To hang a Walk botanical collage in your home is to give yourself the gift of revisiting that walk down the aisle, a daily reminder to cherish the events that brought you to this life. More than a memory, it serves as a reminder that this path is a life-long journey and while there may be challenges along the way, there is much beauty—if only we’re wise enough to stop and appreciate it.
Flora-Ly Studios’ Walk is 36” x 10” of floral meandering, a timeless work of art that represents the way you once walked alone and celebrates how you now walk side by side, mindful to stop occasionally and appreciate the moments of beauty along the way.
This Walk is comprised of Dahlia, Queen Anne's Lace and Hydrangea. Three flowers balanced in a thoughtful and rhythmic way.
Flora-Ly is now Flora-Ly Studios - Artisan Pressed Flower Preservation for Your Wedding Bouquet.
We are now Flora-Ly Studios!
Why have I changed the name of my business?
Because life happens, change happens and sometimes old labels can hold us back. Flora-Ly Studios is a name that reflects my growth and respects my roots at the same time.
Not only am I updating the name of my business, but I’m updating my botanical designs too! (GAH! I’m SO EXCITED!)
How are my pressed flower designs changing?
My new designs are a departure from the more traditional ones I’d adapted from my mother when I inherited her business. Prior to taking over Flora-Ly, I’d studied fine art at Syracuse University and worked as painter. With the initial effort of getting started in the business behind me, I’ve been freed up to listen more to the artist within. (Hello, beautiful!)
I’ve given myself time to play with new shapes that create space and movement in my pressed flower pieces, and I LOVE it!
What will you see in my new botanical collages?
Look for circles and all that is metaphorically attached to that ancient, organic shape; gallery collections that showcase the beauty of a single stem, one leaf, a pressed petal; wide landscape botanical collages that feel like a walk down a secret garden path; tall pressed flower designs that allow the petals to flow like waterfalls. *sigh* What you’ll see is the movement and shapes of nature being invited in to play with the botanical beauty of the wedding bouquets entrusted to me.
I’m letting my imagination loose and it feels wonderful. Come along, we’re going to have some fun!
Introducing Hand Painted Wedding Invitations!
I’m just bursting to share my newest product line with you!
I now offer custom designed, hand painted invitations for your wedding. (It all started when my son got married this summer, but that’s something we’ll talk about another day!) Over the next weeks I’ll share a video peek into my studio, to show you how I create these custom wedding invitation suites. I can’t wait!
Change can be unnerving, but don’t worry!
Flora-Ly Studios is still grounded in its original mission!
My passion remains connecting with couples who want their carefully chosen wedding flowers transformed — just as marriage has transformed them — to become something new; something elevated; a timeless work of art that will hang in their home for years. My calling is still to create truly unique, bespoke, botanical collages that celebrate love in all its infinitely beautiful forms!
The Elements of Change and the Elements of Nature
These elements of change - new name, new designs, new products - like the botanical elements in a bouquet are each exciting and beautiful in their own right. And these changes, like flowers, when thoughtfully pulled apart, reexamined and rearranged, compliment each other, becoming greater than the sum of their parts. They create something unique, exciting, deeply personal and unapologetically honest - like the pressed flower collage I hope to create with you and for you.
I invite you to follow here and on social media (@floralylinda on Instagram and @floralyflowers on Facebook) and come along on this creative journey as Flora-Ly Studios continues to grow and evolve and strive as ever, to serve and preserve the ephemera of love, commitment and memory.
Woohoo! You make the memories and pick the flowers! I’ll press those blooms and make some art!
Let’s create something beautiful together! (I CAN’T WAIT!)
I'm Linda, keeper of the flowers.