The Antique Anti-Bouquet

April 17, 2012 in handmade and vintage goods

Amy Merrick
Amy Merrick

Amy Merrick's respect for natural grace is inescapable in her work as a floral designer and stylist. She creates evocative tablescapes of flowers, foliage, fruits and branches for weddings and events throughout the northeast, often traveling and gathering materials herself from the surrounding landscape. As a stylist, she frequently draws on her attraction to antiquity, and with a fresh eye, she reimagines photoshoots for web and print.

A big ol’ bouquet can sometimes feel fussy for a bride who wants, you know, full use of her hands. I mean, if it was me, I’d want a bouquet the size and shape of Texas, but I am a florist, so I am professionally biased. Not everyone wants to carry around five pounds of floral bliss, so here is an old fashioned alternative that bucks convention while winking at it, too.

The word “corsage” strikes fear into the heart of all. A tangle of sweaty arms at the prom; itchy elastic, polyester tulle, baby’s breath all contained in a take-out container stashed in the fridge. It didn’t match your dress, obviously, and by the end of the night you had claw marks all over your arm.

Like most everything awful in the world, the corsage started as something good. A small nosegay of flowers pinned to a Victorian bride’s dress was the original bridal bouquet, close enough that she could smell them. She could hold hands with her sweetie but still be decked out. Done and done.

Making a modern interpretation is easy but requires a little know-how. A well considered corsage should be made as close to the ceremony as possible and kept cool. Testing all of the flowers ahead of time for shelf-life will keep you sitting pretty through the last dance.

You will need:
Ribbon ½” wide
Corsage pins
Floral tape
Floral stem wire, 22 gauge
A few stems of wilt-proof flowers. Examples are spray roses, ranunculus, freesia, stephanotis, scabiosa, and hellebore. I used spray roses, hellebore and spirea branches.

Step 1: Wiring the Flowers
Wiring gives you control of the stems that will be your focal flowers, and the tape helps to trap moisture, keeping flowers fresher longer. It also cuts down on bulk. Cut an 8” piece of 22 gauge floral wire and bend in half, forming a bobby pin shape. Pierce horizontally just below the flower head with one end of the wire. Pull wire through the stem, stopping at the half way bend. Clip off the stem, leaving a ½” piece below the wire.

Step 2: Taping Stems
Using floral tape, wrap the place where the wire and stem meet, pulling slightly to activate the adhesive in the tape. You may have to try a few times to get the hang of making the tape sticky! Spiral the tape down the rest of the wire stem, and trim to size. Repeat several times on several flowers. Options in size and color are nice!

Step 3: Making a Bouquet
In your hand, make a little bouquet from a variety of flowers. I used two roses, a few rose buds, and a handful of multicolored hellebores. A piece of flowering spirea acts as the base and also provides some much-needed dimension.

Step 4: Securing the Stems
Wrap your small bouquet in floral tape, making sure to have several wired stems at the base. Clip off ½” below tape.

Step 5: Wrapping the Ribbon
Using a corsage pin, wrap and secure the ribbon by angling the pin upward into the flowers. Make sure the sharp end is hidden and not in danger of poking out. Bend several of the stems upward to hide the attachment.

Step 6: Attaching the Corsage
Turning the corsage so that the ribbon end is at the top, use a large corsage pin to catch the ribbon and floral tape. You want the pin to travel into and out of the ribbon, using an extra pin to secure. Take time making sure it’s solidly attached.


Enjoy your wedding with your hands unencumbered! High fives down the aisle.

All photos by Amy Merrick.