Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Kate Middleton’s bouquet has been the subject of much conversation in the floral industry. It was composed entirely of seasonal British garden flowers & greenery, locally grown, much cut from the royal gardens. Ms. Middleton gave a nod to tradition in using Victorian meanings of flowers in her bouquet as well, but the floral designer chosen was one who is known for having ecological sensibilities, in keeping with the down to earth Kate & William.  The best photo I’ve seen of the bouquet is on the Guardian’s website.

The flowers in the bouquet and their Victorian meanings were:
Lily of the Valley: Trustworthy
Hyacinths; Loveliness, I will pray for you
Sweet William: Gallantry, Finesse and Perfection (perfect for her Prince Charming, don’t you agree?)
Myrtle: Love, Mirth and Joy ("The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. 
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany.  In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today. 
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride")

Many of the conversations about the bouquet focus on the size (quite small by royal standards) and the price-tag of it over here. While the flowers were cut from the royal gardens or are in-season in England, the Lily of the Valley is an extremely expensive flower in Texas and much of the US. It may grow in gardens in the north for a few weeks in the spring (and so rampant that a friend of mine in Wisconsin said they used to mow it down,) it has a very short natural season and is very fragile, making shipping it expensive. When out of season, it must be entirely grown in refrigeration; custom ordered weeks in advance, making it something that is quite expensive and not at all earth-friendly. The size bespoke the intimate nature of the wedding, even with over 1,000 guests, it was still an intimate affair for Kate and William. Seeing them see each other, it appeared there weren't aware of all the eyes on them, only the eyes they had for each other, and it was very charming.

Her floral designer said that the shape was a “shield” to bring in the shape of her new coat of arms.
From this floral designer’s viewpoint, it was more teardrop shaped, than that of her coat of arms, but I’ll “buy” that it was generally “shield” shaped.:)

For budget-conscious brides, this is NOT the bouquet for you. I priced it at $1,000 for this week in Texas, and this is while Lily of the Valley is in season. Hyacinths and Sweet William also have a rather short growing season, and unlike Lily of the Valley, they are not grown year round on special order.

I was one of the floral designers live-posting on The Society of American Florists’ Facebook page during the wedding. After it, a question was posed- how can this bouquet be made more budget conscious. My solution is Million Stars Baby’s Breath and tuberose, hyacinth, or stephanotis (depending on the season.) I will be creating this “budget conscious” bouquet for SAF, and it will be featured in their magazine later this year.

If there is a “takeaway” from this wedding, I hope that it is “be YOU!” Kate was not a slave to tradition in this wedding. While her gown traditionally covered her arms and shoulders, from photos at the reception, it is clear this was actually a strapless gown, with an overlay. At the reception, she unbuttoned it, and it gave the gown a look of being totally modern. The d├ęcor was spring-like and very natural. Possibly more greenery than flowers were used, and many different types of greenery at that. Her gown, while traditionally covering her arms and shoulders, was basically a strapless gown with the Chantilly lace overlay, giving her tradition, but updated. It also reminded us of Princess Grace’s lovely gown.

Grace Kelley, also a “commoner” who married into royalty. Arriving by car and leaving by royal coach reminded us of that, but when she exited the car, it was clear this young woman is very “comfortable in her own skin” and she wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. She and William have dated long enough that they’re past the first blush of first love and have developed a deep friendship, which is a great basis for a good marriage. She was regal in every way, quietly and elegantly so. As the pastor said, “every wedding is a royal wedding,” and, I might add, every bride should get to feel like a princess. The key is, be you! No one is as good a “you” as YOU and you should celebrate that. Have the wedding you want, not what someone else thinks you should have. You can nod to tradition, but you don’t have to be swallowed by it.

Best wishes to all brides!