woman holding bouquet of flowers

How to make a bouquet

By BBC Maestro

If you have a wedding, anniversary or other special occasion coming up, a homemade bouquet not only saves money, but it also adds a more personal touch to the event.

Whether you need a showstopping bouquet for a bride or perfect little posies for the prom, creating a DIY flower bouquet is easier than you think.

We’ll take you through how to make your own bouquet in our handy step-by-step guide. From choosing blooms to the final finishing touches, here’s how you create a bouquet like a professional florist.

1. What type of homemade bouquet are you creating?

If you’re simply creating a bouquet for yourself or as a gift, you can pretty much go with the flow and choose flowers that take your fancy. However, if you’re making a bouquet for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding, you’ll need to plan it a bit more.

Most importantly, is there a colour scheme? What size does the bouquet need to be, and who is it for? Do you need to use any specific blooms to match other floral arrangements? If you’re making a bouquet for a significant event like a wedding, consider planning a practice run before the big day.

2. Choosing the right flowers for your bouquet

You might be lucky and have access to a cut flower garden. In which case, you can pick the flowers just before you start arranging them. Otherwise, it’s off to the florist’s, which has to be one of the loveliest and most fragrant shopping trips.

Unless you have a specific brief, the best way to choose flowers is to be, as florist Simon Lycett describes it, “within and amongst the flowers”. Take inspiration from the colours and scents of the florist’s blooms: even if you have a palette to work from, you can always add gorgeous accent shades.

Seasonal flowers will not only look fresher and more perfect, but they’ll also save you some money. Talk to the florist to find out what’s in season – they’ll have all sorts of recommendations and advice for you.

3. Prepare the blooms before you start

The key to a successful flower arrangement or bouquet lies in the preparation. Before you start creating the display, prepare all your stems and have everything set up neatly on your work bench.

Simon Lycett recommends building your bouquet by holding the flowers in one hand and adding stems with the other – you simply “use your hand as a vase”. He describes this as “one of the most magical techniques to learn” in flower arranging, because it enables you to see the bouquet from all angles and be really close to what you’re creating.

With one hand busy holding the flowers, it’s important that everything you need is prepped and within easy reach. Here’s how you need to prepare.

  • Trim the stems to the length you want for your bouquet and posy.
  • Take off any foliage and side stems.
  • Arrange the flowers on the bench by type, so you can grab them easily.
  • Gather anything else you might need: scissors, secateurs, florist’s wire.
  • Pour a bit of water into a bucket and keep it close to your workbench, in case you need to put the flowers down for a bit. 

4. Start with the focal blooms

When you start arranging your bouquet, begin by picking up your focal blooms. These are the stars of the show, and usually have the largest flower heads, like the roses in a wedding bouquet. Full flowers like peonies, hydrangeas and daffodils are great focal flowers, as they’re supportive as well as eye-catching.

Hold these in your non-dominant hand. With the focal blooms in place, you can now start to feed in the other stems. This is why it’s really important to strip the stems – it makes them far easier to slide in. Don’t worry about losing those pretty green touches because you can add in more foliage later.

5. Add the secondary flowers and foliage

With the main flowers in place, you can now keep building your bouquet. Slip in the complementary secondary flowers and keep turning the bouquet as you build it to make sure it looks gorgeous from all angles.

Start with the larger secondary flowers and foliage and work downwards. Any gaps? Pop in another bloom, until you reach the level of fullness that you’re happy with. Simon Lycett prefers a looser, more organic approach, which creates a natural-looking bouquet that really shows off the beauty of the blooms. Don’t feel that you have to have a perfectly rounded shape: work with the natural shapes.

6. Tie the stems of the bouquet

Keep turning the bouquet as you work. It can help to look in a mirror so you can see the effect from a distance. When the bouquet looks finished, tie the stems to hold it in place. Use paper-covered florist’s wire because this will hold the stems together firmly without cutting into them. Pop it in the bucket for a moment.

7. Tidy and trim your finished bouquet

Take a good look at your tied bouquet from all angles: is there anything that needs a bit more attention? Carefully trim any blooms or leaves that look a bit droopy, discoloured or ragged. If the colours don’t look evenly spaced, gently rearrange the flowers.

When you’re pleased with the flowers and foliage, turn your attention to the stem. Unlike a floral arrangement in a vase, bouquets are often fully on show, especially at a wedding. At the moment, you probably have a scruffy bunch of stems hanging down. Decide on what length you need, then trim them to a neat and even length.

8. Dress the stems

Paper-covered wire is practical but not very pretty. You can wrap the stems in all sorts of different ways, from classic ribbon to more natural-looking burlap or jute. For a more unusual look, use a length of lace or fabric – you can even add a string of pearls or some rhinestones, fashioned from costume jewellery.

For a traditional look for a wedding – and a bit of extra comfort for the bride or bridesmaids – you can use a bouquet holder. These range from simple plastic holders (that you may want to wrap) to antique silver Victorian editions. The latter can come with a much larger price tag, but they do add a stunning finishing touch to your bouquet. These also look stunning with a prom posy.

Now your bouquet is complete, cast your eyes over it one more time, from all angles, and make sure that the stems feel securely tied. Try to keep it in a cool place so it will last all day – some brides even pop their bouquet in the refrigerator from time to time.

When the wedding, procession or prom is over, think about whether you want to preserve your bouquet. If you do, the sooner you act, the better, as you want to preserve the flowers when they’re as close to fresh as possible. You can send your bouquet off to a specialist florist to be dried or preserved; however, there are some very effective methods you can use yourself. Read our article, How to Preserve a Wedding Bouquet for more ideas.

Find out how to make a flower bouquet from florist Simon Lycett, in his fascinating BBC Maestro course, Decorating with Flowers. As well as bouquets and posies, Simon will show you how to create table displays for your wedding along with hanging arrangements and garlands to make the venue look perfect.

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