Cutting-edge floral designers were polled on how hipster brides will be styling their weddings this year. Here's a report of what's hot now.
Demure, traditional pastels are too old-hat. Brides want bold color, often in daring contrasts or deep, rich hues.
Burgundy, designers agree, is a sophisticated choice for formal weddings, along with "medieval" shades of red and purple. Cranberry or garnet-colored baby calla lilies are a perennial favorite with brides, as are dark and velvety roses like Black Magic.
An interest in orange has emerged with the adventurous set, either in hot, spicy terra-cotta tones or brilliant ones like the Ballerina tulip.
"Peach is out," declares Rebecca Cole of Cole Creates, an innovative floral studio in New York City. "It's too syrupy sweet, but pink has made a comeback with the hip, cool crowd."
Amy Crum, of Blumen in Chicago, reports the same.
"Mauve and other shades of pink are hot," she says. "Make sure they're tawny, putty-colored neither true pink nor true orange."
While the allure of classic peonies, hydrangea and roses is constant, new favorites are cropping up. There's a widespread interest in dahlias lush, round, modern, with a dense, circular petal structure to express individuality and a cutting-edge state of mind.
"I might combine them with something a little more linear," says Ken Puttbach, head designer at Botanicals Inc. in Chicago, who recommends showcasing cream-colored dahlias with light blue delphinium.
Other trendsetters: calla lilies and orchids, the superlative choice for sexy.
"I think the need for the all-rose bouquet is gone," Cole says. Ranunculus and tulips top her clients' wish lists.
"They're graphic and more architectural and are great for more casual weddings," she says. "Plus, they have these elegant, bright green stems that can be kept long and exposed."
Sweet peas or dainty lime-green flowers such as lady's mantle offset tulips beautifully.
The tight symmetry of the neat-and-perfect "biedermeier" look is loosening up, giving way to floppier bouquet styles with movement and drape.
"They don't have that hair-sprayed look anymore," Crum says.
The more freestyle, garden-gathered aesthetic makes for a larger bouquet than the perfectly wired "ball" of flowers.
Another popular bouquet style what Puttbach calls the "elongated clutch" is also hot.
"It can be done beautifully with calla lilies, amaryllis, French tulips, anything with a very long stem to begin with," he says. "You keep the stems long and elegant."
For a petite bride, Puttbach might de-emphasize and soften the line with additional flowers, transforming the bouquet so that she can carry it cradled in the crook of her arm. Across the board, stems are still showing, either tied or tightly wrapped with French or dyed silk ribbons, satin cording, tassels, even raffia.
As bridesmaid dresses no longer look exactly the same, the bouquet "rules" are also undergoing revision. Keeping the flowers monochromatic is the latest way to create a unifying theme.
For example, each bouquet can feature different flowers in different shades of pink (one pastel, one a coral, another a hot pink).
Designers are also considering bouquet compositions to allow for individual style and personality, just as a bride might allow each maid to select the dress silhouette that best flatters her figure. In this instance, the designer will choose a basic assortment of somewhat similar flowers and custom-create a bouquet to suit each member of the bridal party.
Brides and their floral designers continue to toy with traditional table-decorating ideology. For many designers, the notion of the lump-sum centerpiece is becoming obsolete. Favorite alternative strategies include grouping a series of small arrangements in clusters, juxtaposing tall with short.
Brides are also abandoning the matchy-matchy mindset and favoring asymmetry instead: Tables no longer need to display the same flowers, colors or configurations. At a stylish wedding, it's common, for instance, to see a cluster of chocolate cosmos on one table, black calla lilies on another.
Playing with context is another way to liven up the look of the table. Taking unusual containers such as antique garden urns, kitchen utensils, ceramic pitchers or blue glass jars out of their natural habitat can make straightforward arrangements more dynamic and imaginative.