It doesn’t matter whether you had a blooming centerpiece adorning every table or you decided to limit any floral expenses to your bridal bouquet, a lot of time and thought went into selecting the flowers. You’ll remember them through pictures, but you might also want to preserve them in other ways. However, a quick search will show that this is not always a practical financial decision; in fact, if you decide to get your bouquet preserved in a shadow box or under a glass dome or cube by a professional company, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars, potentially way more than the cost of the flowers themselves. For those who want to keep those precious petals as well as checkbooks intact, there are several DIY options. When choosing which method works best for you, be sure to consider the type of flower you are working with as well as what you want your flowers to become—part of a framed piece of wedding art, a bookmark, a piece of jewelry— the possibilities are endless.
If you want to display your flowers with you invitations and other moments from the big day in a shadow box like this some we saw currently on sale at Michaels for under $15 (50% Off Entire Stock Display Cases & Shadow Boxes), you should think about drying your flowers. Drying your flowers allows them to retain some of their shapes, but the method that you use for drying will affect the final color that your flowers keep. Hanging flowers upside down is the traditional way to dry flowers. You can hang a single flower or a larger group, but be sure to keep them in a dark, dry area for 2-3 weeks. Gently spray the dried flowers with hairspray (the unscented kind) and move them to the vase, shadowbox or dome where you want to display them permanently. Keep in mind that this method will decrease the vibrancy of the colors somewhat and that the flowers will feel and look brittle, so handle with care when moving them. If you want to move up your timeline and preserve individual flowers that have depth and many petals, such as roses, tulips, or carnations, you can actually use a microwave. Experts suggest using silica gel, which you can buy at craft stores, to prep the flowers and leave the flowers in the gel when putting them into the microwave. The amount of time needed varies depending upon the type of flower you are drying, so be sure to find the time for the exact flower you are working with; most flowers will take between 5 and 10 minutes. After you remove the container with the flowers and silica gel from the microwave, let them stand overnight. Carefully remove the flowers from the gel the next day, lightly brushing off any excess gel.
Pressing is a great option if you want to put your flowers into a regular frame, a photo album, or use them in art projects like handmade thank you cards for the parents of the bride and groom. Like drying, pressing flowers is a technique that has been around for a long time, and nowadays, there are two main methods. The conventional way to press flowers uses weight and time. Though you can buy flower presses at craft stores, you can also slide the blossoms between two pieces of clean paper and insert them into a very heavy book. This method will take several weeks, but just as with drying, you could also use the microwave to speed up the process. For this, you will still want to put your flowers between two pieces of paper and add weight on top using a stack of microwave-safe plates in this case. Check your flowers constantly in 30 to 60 second increments to prevent overheating. For best results, take the flower pressing to nearly finished in the microwave, and then complete using the book technique. Not all flowers dry the same way. Succulents and other dense flowers with lots of layers might need to be cut before pressing will work. Once the pressing is complete, use the flowers in any way that showcases their beauty and takes advantage of their two-dimensional state.
If you want to have your wedding flowers with you all the time, turning some petals into beads might be a good option for you. A number of companies are offering this service. Simply send the company a number of your flowers (usually 1-5 flowers will do) and they can create beads, pendants, bangles, or earrings. Prices vary widely, as does the style of jewelry you will receive, so make sure to compare companies like Bloom Beads, Forever In Time, Fleurenasci and others to get the piece you want at the price you want. Etsy also has a variety of sellers that have gotten in on this market as well. If you feel like these options are out of your price range but you want to try your hand at making your own beaded keepsake, here is a tutorial on how to DIY it.
While the other ideas have focused on preserving your flowers for the long haul, you might find that you have centerpiece flowers remaining at the end of the night but you don’t have the time, budget, or need to preserve them all. You can always encourage your guests to take them home as they will easily live for several more days. Another option is to donate those flowers to a local nursing home, a nice surprise for the residents there. Although this won’t keep your flowers alive permanently, it will maximize their beauty and use by making sure they are enjoyed after the reception has ended.
No matter what option you decide to go with, it is helpful to make your plan before the actual wedding because flowers are fleeting. If you plan to take on one of the DIY projects, you might want to experiment with your chosen technique before the big day. You don’t need to use the same florist or buy the same quantity that you will for the day of your wedding, but by testing out how the process works, you will be more confident when working with flowers with real sentimental value. Similarly, if you plan on donating the flowers, make sure that you arrange beforehand where they will go and how they will get there. Coordinating these extra logistics is the last thing you will want on your wedding day.
header image courtesy ProjectWedding