No one wants to say goodbye to their wedding bouquet, especially not after all the painstaking planning and flower budgeting that went into carefully choosing each and every bloom and lovingly crafting that floral showstopper that accompanied you down the aisle. After everything that went into creating the bouquet, it's no surprise many couples wonder how to preserve it.
"A part of what makes flowers so special is their fleeting beauty. After months of metamorphosis from seed to stem, they have finally reached their pinnacle in your wedding flowers," says Shannon Morrow, founder of Arvo Floral Studio. "Couples are always looking for ways to make a keepsake from their florals so that they always have a little bit of their floral design to remind them of their special day."
Meet the Expert
- Shannon Morrow is the founder and lead designer of Arvo Floral Studio. Founded in 2013, Arvo has served countless couples on their wedding day by bringing their floral dreams to life.
- Sarah Ferrell is a flower preserver, presser, and founder of Pressed Floral. Pressed Floral produces bespoke pressed and framed wedding bouquet creations for clients.
If you want to keep your blooms forever, you can—and there are numerous ways to do it. "My No. 1 tip for someone who wants to preserve their flowers is to decide what way will be most practical and can be easily implemented into your home," says Morrow. "Deciding on an option that will result in a piece of art that can be displayed in your home year-round is truly the best option for couples wanting to have everlasting enjoyment."
Read on to learn how to preserve your beloved wedding flowers and hold on to them forever as a floral keepsake from your special day.
Press the Flowers
To press the flowers in your wedding bouquet, select as many flowers as you'd like, or even the entire bouquet as pictured here, and spread them out on clean wax paper so they will lift easily after pressing. Morrow suggests arranging them in a way you are happy with during this step—once they're dried and pressed, you won't be able to manipulate them.
- Lay the wax paper with the flowers inside the pages of a heavy book, like a phone book or a textbook. Add another piece of wax paper on top to keep the flowers free of ink and shut the book.
- Weigh it down with something heavy, like a vase or more books. You can also simply place heavy objects on top of the wax paper-flower sandwich if you don't have a heavy book. Leave it to dry for seven to 10 days.
- Once the wedding flowers are flat and dry, you can arrange and frame them however you like.
You can also choose to have a professional press and frame the bouquet for you. "You only have one shot at preserving flowers," says Sarah Ferrell of Pressed Floral. "Find someone whose style you love, and don't be afraid to ask them for customizations. You are the one keeping it forever."
When you preserve flowers, you'll want to start the process when petals are still vibrant, colorful, and unstained. If you wait too long, they'll have more time to die, wilt, and become discolored.
Hang the Flowers Upside Down to Dry
Another simple way to preserve your wedding bouquet is to let it air-dry.
- Unwrap the bouquet and cut away any tape or ties. Instead of lumping the bouquet together, Morrow suggests hanging the stems one by one so each has the best form possible.
- Hang them upside down in a dry, temperate area, such as a hallway closet.
- Let all the blooms air-dry for at least a week or longer if it's cool.
"Arrange them in a vase or create a wreath with your dried flowers to enjoy," says Morrow. "Bonus, if you kept your ribbon from your bouquet—be sure to use that on your wreath!"
If you're drying the flowers yourself, remember to handle them with extra care. The dried stems will become brittle and fragile.
Submerge Them in Silica Gel
Silica gel isn't an actual gel but a porous sand that works to absorb water and dry flowers in one to seven days. This method keeps your flowers looking the closest to how they did on the actual wedding date. While freezing your bouquet in time isn't an option, silica gel is the next best thing. You can pick up silica gel at any craft store for less than $10.
- Form a base of silica gel in an airtight container and nestle your blooms in the sand.
- Gently pour the silica gel around the petals, making sure the shape of the flower isn't compromised.
- Keep filling until the container is full to the top, and seal it with the lid. Be sure the container is airtight, or your flowers could succumb to mold from any moisture.
Silica gel preserves the color of the flower nicely, too. When the week is up, remove the flowers carefully and spray them with either an artist-fixative spray or hairspray.
Make a Resin Paperweight
You can also use clear epoxy resin to preserve your flowers in decorative shapes. To make a resin paperweight, get a mold from the local craft store in whatever shape you want, like a sphere or a cube.
- Fill your mold halfway with the epoxy resin and delicately arrange the flowers in the fluid.
- Fill it to the top, and let it dry.
- After you take the mold off, you'll have a gorgeous decoration that will keep your wedding bouquet in bloom forever.
Don't want to tackle the project yourself? Send the blooms from your bouquet to an artist. The one above was created by Etsy artist Leman Floral who also creates resin ring holders and jewelry trays with wedding flowers.
Dip the Flowers in Wax
Wax flowers are not a permanent form of preservation, but they will extend the life of your flowers for up to six months and keep the original integrity and color intact. You won't be able to tell fresh flowers from wax-dipped aside from the feel. To wax-preserve your bouquet, you'll need paraffin wax and a saucepan.
- Melt the wax in boiling water until the fluid is even and smooth.
- Turn the stove to low so the wax mixture cools down slightly but is still warm.
- Next, take your best blooms (avoid any that are stained or wilting) and gently dip them into the wax solution.
- Immediately pull them out and hang upside down.
- After they're dry, you'll have beautifully preserved flowers for months to come.
Preserve Them With Glycerin
Using glycerin is a unique way to preserve your wedding flowers. The process replaces the water that was in the blooms, keeping them just as they appeared on the big day.
- Fill your vase or container with two parts lukewarm water and one part glycerin.
- Place your flower stems into the container.
- Wait two to three weeks for the absorption process to complete.
Freeze-Dry The Flowers
While it is one of the costlier and more time-consuming preservation methods, freeze-drying can keep flowers as close as possible to their original appearance. Doing it yourself would require the purchase of a freeze-dryer, which freezes the flowers while they are in full bloom, preserving their original brightness and color. Unless you're looking to do this often with other flowers, it is probably easier (and more cost-effective) to find a professional who can freeze-dry flowers.
There is a little bit of prep work prior to having wedding flowers freeze-dried:
- Recut the flower stems.
- Remove any leaves.
- Place the flowers in water at least 12 hours prior to freezing.
- Deliver them to a professional florist to freeze-dry the flowers.
Once these steps are complete, place the freeze-dried flowers into a shadow box.
Paint Them (or Hire an Artist To)
While having your wedding bouquet painted is not preserving the actual flowers, it's still a lovely way to preserve the bouquet. This is one of Morrow's favorite methods. "Since your flowers will never look the same after your wedding day, even with the above preserving options, it is nice to have a permanent reminder of the flowers in all of their glory," she says.
Commission your favorite artist to paint an interpretation of your arrangement or bouquet to live on in your home forever. "It can be as literal or as abstract as you like, and that is probably the best part," Morrow says. "From acrylic to watercolor to minimal line drawings, you are sure to find an option that will fit your style." The beautiful piece of art above is by Salt Stains on Etsy, who creates custom paintings of bridal bouquets.
What can I do with dead flowers from the wedding?
Dead and dried-up flowers can also be repurposed, so consider getting crafty before tossing them! Options include making homemade potpourri, adding the petals to homemade candles, creating a DIY floral bath soak, pressing them in a journal, or simply composting them.
What do I do with leftover flowers after the wedding?
You probably aren't interested in preserving every floral arrangement at your wedding. For flowers used as decor, send them home with guests, bring them to a local hospital or nursing home, offer them to your vendors, or bring some to the burial site of a deceased loved one.
How do I keep my flowers fresh for the wedding?
To keep your bouquet fresh before and after the wedding, cut the flower stems diagonally and submerge them into warm water about six inches deep. Store the flowers in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight until you're ready to use them or preserve them.
What is the average cost of flowers for a wedding?
The cost of wedding flowers will vary based on factors like the type of flowers you get and the size and location of your wedding. Average flower costs include $250 for a bridal bouquet, $80 for bridesmaid bouquets, $120-$600 for reception centerpieces, $1,500-$4,000 for ceremony structures, $1,500 for head table florals, and $20-30 for boutonnieres and corsages.