Weddings are over far too soon—the hardest part about hearing the DJ announce the final song for the night, is knowing that just minutes later you’ll have to pack up your decorations, your gifts, and your keepsake items, and head home with just the memories of your big day.
The other hard part of the end of your wedding is having to let things go. Things like centerpieces, personalized cocktail napkins, and sometimes even decorative signs that you had made will end up in trash or accidentally ruined by guests.
Yet there’s one item that you might want to hold on to tightly: your wedding bouquet. Brides pick flowers in their bouquets to match their wedding color scheme but to also symbolize different things. Roses are known to represent everlasting love, ivy stands for fidelity, stephanotis says good luck, and lilac is usually representative of first love. Sometimes this bouquet is handed (or tossed) to one lucky single friend, in hopes that they will be the next to walk down the aisle soon.
But in 2018, as brides are ditching the tradition of tossing the bouquet, or asking their florist to make them a second bouquet to toss, finding ways to make their own personal arrangement of flowers last long after the wedding has become one of the most popular trends.
Christina Ruggieri, a Manhattan-based artist and illustrator specializing in watercolors and pastel and ink drawings, found herself getting handfuls of requests from brides and their friends and families over the past year to help them preserve their bouquets with a commissioned painting.
“Aside from being a deeply personal, incredibly thoughtful present, it's a gift they won't be receiving from any one else—a commissioned work of art elegantly preserving in perpetuity the emotion/joy/romance of the happiest day of the couple's life,” says Ruggieri.
While it’s a gift that’s outside the box, or the traditional registry, Ruggieri says that brides find this to be a functional gift they can hang on their walls and cherish for years to come.
“Making art out of your wedding bouquet elicits an emotional response a candlestick or bread and butter dish cannot,” says Ruggieri. “You are also giving the couple a piece of fine art/decor for their new life.”
Ruggieri asks for 3-5 photos of the bouquet, usually from the wedding (since most bouquets don’t make it home in one piece or they wither quickly), then does some preliminary sketches before sending a final sketch to the bride for approval. After that she gets to painting.
Another popular option: turning the bouquet into a 3D wedding flower paperweight.
Rachael Ruddle, the owner of The Flower Preservation Workshop, says that women come to her eager to hold onto something that’s precious to them. Using freeze drying machines, Ruddle and her team place the bouquet into a preservation chamber when the moisture is slowly removed.
“Once this process is complete and we are 100% satisfied with the flowers, designers use their wealth of experience to design a bespoke paperweight,” says Ruddle. “The whole process takes approximately six months to complete from the date the flowers are received at our studios.”
Just like Ruggieri, Ruddle agrees that finding a unique and beautiful way to hold on to the wedding bouquet is a great gift for a bride from her friends or family members (or one she can give herself!).