I’m a sucker for the written word. So when I decided to investigate the world of the floral, naturally, I fell back on my literary leanings. Meaning means a lot to me. I mean, if you can incorporate items that have a personal, symbolic significance, it means that much more, right? (Sorry, I’ll give you each a quarter if I use the word “meaning” one more time.) I’m still stuck on the idea of having live plants as centerpieces, so I’ve been on the search for flowers that look decent in their live natural form (a.k.a. pretty flowers they need to look good in planters.) Here are the contenders under consideration:
The Incumbent: The Peony
I’ve pretty much settled on the navy and pink color deal for spring. It feels preppy enough for the country club setting, and leaves plenty of room to be jazzed up with some splashes of peachy colors and patterns. I figured that these full-bodied flowers would emulate the liveliness and vibrancy of the spring itself.
But of course, I had to vet the contenders, despite their pretty faces. So I turned toward my trusty source for innane knowledge, good ole’ Wikipedia. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the origins and symbolic meaning of this popular bridal beaut.
The peony is among the emblems in Chinese culture. It’s also often paired with the koi fish — for tattoos, apparently…okay, kind of weird…but I kept reading. Apparently, this popular Japanese imagery (of the fish with the flower, etc.) was coined in the early 1800s by Japanese Artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. The peony was conveyed as a masculine motif, associated with “a devil-may-care attitude and disregard for consequence,” says Wikipedia…even more weird. Plus, they grow on bushes, which isn’t really conducive to the “live plant” look I wanted to go for. But wait a minute, there’s hope…TheKnot.com’s article on “Top 10 Wedding Flowers” paints a different picture for the peony, saying that during the Victorian era, the peony represented bashfulness. Ehh, that still doesn’t really shout “us.” Let’s move the peony from the “most definitely” list to the “maybe pile,” shall we?
The Contenders: Who else is in the ring, you ask? Only every other inexpensive plant imaginable… because let’s be honest, flowers are expensive and the likes of Wegmans, Sam’s Club, etc. have an awesome and affordable selection to choose from. I’ve been scoping out their plant collection for the past nine months now and decent options abound. I found a lot of pretty blooms at the Farmer’s Market, which I’ve shared here. Begonias, baby’s breath, ranunculus, gladiolus, cylamen, gloxenia, hydrangeas, succulents, herbs…there are plenty of possibilities.
If I do have to go the cut plant, flower-arrangement route, which I’ve kind of already come to terms with (at least for the bridal bouquets) there are a lot of great choices out there. Ideally, I’d love to do my own arrangements, following a tutorial akin to the one I found here. I’m still ridiculously inexperienced with flower-arranging (as is evidenced here), but for someone who used to be petrified of taming wild blooms, I think I’ve come a long way. Future Husband’s wise and savvy aunt recommended speaking with Ziembiec Wholesale Florist at the Rochester Public Market, which sells to many a well-known Rochester florist. We’ll reach out to them a few months before the wedding, to talk through the seasonal options and place the dreaded, but inevitably worthwhile, order for flowers. But which flowers to get? Well, that’s still TBD.
The Winner: The Esteemed Orchid
When I told my wonderful wedding planner, Kelli Berg of Simply Beautiful Events, that I really wanted to keep the wedding natural with potted plants, she suggested orchids without missing a beat — Phalaenopsis Orchids, to be exact.
I started looking into it, and was caught off guard by the Orchid’s rich history as an elegant, romantic and uniquely exquisite embellishment. As it turns out, these buggers have a proud historic heritage:
“Exotic orchids have been part of our culture for more than 200 years…they have a magic whose secret will always elude us, a blend of witchcraft and romance, that sets is apart, from all other plants.” (Luigi Berliocchi, The Orchid in Lore and Legend)
Witchcraft, eh? Well I’m not so sure about that, but perhaps, one could adapt a somewhat similar synonym: Can we call it whimsical? I may be stretching it, but hey, as Cartman from South Park says, “Whateva, I do what I want.” So take an orchid plant, adorn the soil with some succulents, find a chic vase and bam — you’ve got yourself a might perty centerpiece. And a Martha Stewart-backed centerpiece, to boot. Plus, this delicate and exquisite flower has been the subject of several-a-cool movie, including Adaptation:
Here’s a pretty thoughtful quote from John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper: “Point is, what’s so wonderful is that every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. There’s a certain orchid look exactly like a certain insect so the insect is drawn to this flower, its double, its soul mate, and wants nothing more than to (connect with) it…And neither the flower nor the insect will ever understand the significance of their (reunion). I mean, how could they know that because of their little dance the world lives? But it does. By simply doing what they’re designed to do, something large and magnificent happens. In this sense they show us how to live – how the only barometer you have is your heart. How, when you spot your flower, you can’t let anything get in your way. ”
Lovely quote, isn’t it? That romantic notion of the soul mate is so touching (and true) during a wedding celebration. That reference gives the orchid some cool street cred, am I right? So here comes the assessment: hipster stamp of approval…check; historic significance and literary relevance…check; and finally, for the final attribute, did it get a thumbs up from the queen of classy decor, Mrs. Martha Stewart?…why yes, yes it did. Ding ding ding. Friends, I do believe we have a winner.