A person in a wedding dress holds a bouquet

How to preserve a wedding bouquet: 7 easy methods

By BBC Maestro

Your wedding bouquet looks so lovely – it seems such a shame that it won’t last forever. Happily, there are several tried-and-trusted methods of wedding bouquet preservation, which make sure you can keep this treasured memento. 
 
From pressing the flowers to creating a resin decoration, here are some innovative ways to preserve a wedding bouquet.

Preparing your wedding bouquet for preservation 

Before you start whichever bridal bouquet preservation process you choose, you need to prepare the flowers. Ideally, this needs to happen as soon after the wedding as possible while the blooms are still fresh and bright. We’re not suggesting you spend your wedding night trimming and drying flowers, so this might be a task to delegate to someone else. 

  • Most methods involve preserving the blooms separately, so you’ll probably need to carefully take the bouquet apart. Take photos of your bouquet from all angles before you start to dismantle it. 
  • Remove any wilting petals and browning stems, or indeed anything that looks past its best.  
  • Trim the ends of the stems.
  • Place the stems in a bucket or vase of fresh water.

One final thing to think about before you start preserving: if you want to keep your bouquet, you might want to skip the tradition where you throw it into the crowd. Maybe substitute it with an artificial bouquet or use one of the bridesmaids’ posies instead? 

A bouquet of pink, purple and yellow flowers

1. Air Dry 

Air drying is one of the easiest ways to preserve your wedding bouquet. You should end up with a bouquet of beautiful, dried flowers. This is florist Simon Lycett’s favourite way to dry flowers, and it’s a really low-maintenance method. 
 
Find a dry, warm and dark space – an airing cupboard or boiler room is ideal. The best way to dry the bouquet is to take it apart and hang the flowers separately, which ensures the air circulates around each stem. Rig up some sort of clothes lines to hang them from, or simply use coat hangers. Then, make hooks from florist’s wire and gently poke one end through the stems (bear in mind that the drying process causes the stems to contract, so if you tie them onto the line, they’ll simply slide off after a few days). 
 
Air drying takes around four weeks. Check on them occasionally to see how they’re doing – just remember that some flowers will dry quicker than others.

 

2. Silica Gel 

Silica gel is another easy way to preserve your wedding bouquet at home. The gel is a desiccant with a crystal texture that works by absorbing moisture. You end up with blooms that “look a bit like a pressed flower but still with all their dimensions”, explains Simon Lycett. 
 
Again, you’ll need to separate the flowers before placing them in boxes of silica gel. Simon cuts the stems really short and replaces them with wires, which speeds up the drying process. The blooms then go on a layer of silica gel in a box, are covered completely with more gel, then the box is sealed. Check them after a few days. A top tip is to separate the flowers into groups of similar sizes so they dry at the same rate.  
 
This method won’t keep your flowers looking perfect for long – it’s more about prolonging their beauty rather than preserving it. However, if you want to make a resin decoration from your bridal bouquet, this is the best way to prepare the blooms. 

3. Resin 

If you want your flowers to last forever, seal them in clear resin. You can create beautiful jewellery or a distinctive ornament using dried flowers and resin. The downside of this method is that unless you want to use industrial quantities of resin, you can’t really preserve your bouquet as a whole. Choose your favourite blooms from your bridal bouquet and turn them into a truly unusual souvenir. You can make ring holders, paperweights, coasters and trinket trays from resin and flowers, which would make lovely gifts for the bridal party as well as preserving blooms for yourself. 
 
The flowers need to be completely dry before you encase them in resin, and the silica gel method above is the best way to do this. You’ll need to get hold of the resin and moulds either from a craft shop or online. Pour the liquid resin into a silicone mould, then using tweezers, carefully arrange the flower or flowers in the resin. It typically takes around two days to cure, so you’ll need to make sure it’s undisturbed until then.

 

4. Wax 

You can help your bouquet last longer by dipping the flowers in wax; but like silica gel, this isn’t a long-term solution. However, for the few months they last, they will look absolutely stunning as the wax method of wedding flower preservation really keeps those glorious colours. You could use this method if you wanted to display the bouquet at a specific event (as the centrepiece at a dinner party, for example) but aren’t too concerned about keeping it forever. 
 
Take your bouquet apart and tidy the stems. Melt paraffin wax (or a lot of candles) in a heat-resistant container, which needs to be long enough to dip your flowers. You’ll also need to have a vase or bucket ready to take the dipped flowers. Leave the melted wax to cool a little before you start, because hot wax will simply wilt the blooms.  
 
Dip the flowers one at a time. Gently dip your first flower into the wax, turning it carefully to remove excess wax when you take it out. Double dipping gives you an even better result. Pop the flower into the vase to dry, then move onto the next stem. Dry them upright after dipping so they are preserved with the petals open. 

5. Freeze dry 

Unless you own a freeze dryer or dehydrator, you might want to pass your bouquet onto a professional to have it freeze dried. This is not the cheapest way to preserve a wedding bouquet, but it will give you exceptionally good results. 
 
Specialist florists offer this service, and you’ll need to book your bouquet in with them in advance. They’ll advise you how to prepare your flowers for freeze drying and let you know how long the process will take.

Pressed flowers in a book

6. Press 

This is one of the easiest ways to preserve wedding flowers yourself, although you will end up with flat rather than three-dimensional flowers. You can use a proper flower press or simply press them between the pages of a heavy book. 
 
Some flowers press better than others. As you can imagine, a plump peony or full rose head will take longer than more delicate blooms, as there’s a risk that they’ll rot before they dry out. Meadow flowers like poppies and buttercups press well, as do simple blooms such as sweet peas and cornflowers. If you have a more natural style of bouquet, this could be the best method for you. 
 
It can take between two and four weeks for the flowers to be fully pressed. When they’re ready, you can use them to make a botanical-style picture or preserve them in a book, a bit like a photo album of flowers. 

7. Create a painting

Speaking of making pictures, you might decide that instead of preserving the actual bouquet, you’ll find another way of capturing its beauty. Some brides commission a painting or sketch of their flowers, or you could speak to your wedding photographer in advance about having some special shots taken of your bouquet. Frame the painting or photograph, and your beautiful bridal bouquet will always be on display. 
 
 
In his BBC Maestro course, Decorating with Flowers, florist Simon Lycett takes us through different ways of preserving and drying flowers. If you want to create your own bridal bouquet, he also shows you how to do this, with absolutely stunning results. Take a look at Simon’s fascinating course, and try your hand at floristry yourself. 

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