Always dreamed of being surrounded by your favorite spring flowers on your wedding day, but you’re getting hitched in winter? While some of the most popular wedding flowers are simply not locally available year round, there are some great “look-alikes” and imports that can be substituted for the real thing. Thanks to some floral impostors and tricks of the trade, your ceremony can be pretty with peonies and other spring favorites any time of year.
Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios; Floral Design by The Hidden Garden
Peonies are by far the most requested and beloved flower by brides. Sadly, peonies are mainly available during the months of May and June, followed by a few brief windows in winter (pending Mother Nature). Various types of garden roses have a similar folded-petal look, and they smell great, too! In fact, the Yves Piaget is a dead ringer for the hot pink peony. Best of all, they can be imported from Ecuador all year round, and are also available from local growers during the peak summer months when true peonies are at a premium.
Ah, lilac – the best spring has to offer! This flower is challenging for wedding florists because everyone loves lilac, but it’s only available for a short time. An impressive substitute for the lilac look is “stock.” Stock doesn’t have the lacey texture of lilac, but it will enhance any spring arrangement just as beautifully. Purple Buddleia is another wonderful flower that can replace lilac. If the real thing is a must-have for your bridal bouquet, you can always consider having it imported during the off-season as a special touch – just be prepared for it not to look as lush and full as the local variety.
Hydrangea in a bunch or mixed within an arrangement is simply gorgeous, and a perfect addition to all wedding decor. Locally grown hydrangea, however, is not always available. The good news is that white, light blue, and antiqued green can be easily shipped in from Columbia all year long. If you have your heart set on hydrangea, yet the locally grown variety doesn’t fit into your color scheme, your florist can add a little “color” to the blooms artificially. (This is when it pays to use a professional.) Yes, a spray paint for flowers does exist, and it can save the day when certain colors are not available. While not recommended for a long-lasting arrangement, color enhancement is ideal for a one-day event. A great example is dusting white hydrangea – which is available just about every day of the year – in blush pink, light blue, lavender, or soft green.
Garden roses are loved by all, but can be difficult to find locally at times. The spectacular Ecuadorian rose, which can be easily shipped in for your big day, opens just like a traditional garden rose. The varieties are gorgeous, the choices are endless, and you’d be surprised and delighted by how each rose opens differently depending on the variety. Their scent is just as amazing as the locally grown variety.
Gardenias are readily available year round, but sometimes not in abundance. Also, their strong scent can prove to be too much for guests, and their blooms are susceptible to browning at the edges. When gardenias are not in their full glory, a great substitute is to have your florist “reflex” the petals of a white rose (Vendela or Tibet preferred) to look just like a gardenia bloom. If you can’t imagine your napkin treatments without the finishing touch of gardenias, but are concerned about the scent overwhelming the room, this an ideal and cost-effective alternative.
Branches that blossom are also a bridal favorite, with the most requested being cherry blossoms; unfortunately, availability of this flower is extremely limited. Consider having your florist attach white dendrobium orchid blooms to curly willow branches for the same “blossom” look! Dogwood branches are another variety that is only available for a short time. If you love the pop of celadon green amongst the branches, simply substitute individual blooms of green cymbidium orchids on curly willow branches for a similar look.
Who doesn’t love these small, lacey “poofs” of apple green in the spring? When this flower is not in season, you have the option of using “mini green” hydrangea, which are available from Columbia and provide the same small “poofs” as viburnum.
No matter what time of year you’re getting married, it pays to work with a knowledgeable professional so you can adapt to nature’s surprises along the way. Flower look-alike tips can be great lifesavers, but that’s not the only reason to work with a pro. Sometimes real treasures arrive unexpectedly from local growers – possibly in the days just before your wedding – so be sure your florist is a regular at your local flower mart so you don’t miss out on any fresh flower finds!