What's more gorgeous than a wedding reception with tables overflowing with stunning flowers? How about those same incredible flowers but, instead of draped on the table, they're dangling from the ceiling? Overhead floral arrangements are the next big thing in wedding design, from floral chandeliers over the dance floor to artful installments of greenery spanning the length of the head table. But as you've probably guessed, there's a lot more to it than just tying some fishing line to a few blooms and calling it a day! So we've asked Bronwen Smith, lead designer and owner of B Floral in New York City, to give us the inside scoop on how it's really done.
"To add an elegant touch to a simple chandelier, incorporate delicate yet structured flowers, like orchids," says Smith. "Drape them carefully so they flow naturally throughout the arms of the fixture." She uses thin floral wire to secure the stems to the chandelier without distracting from the lush blooms.
Looking for a serious "wow" factor? "If part of your venue is more simple, dress it up with an elaborate hanging floral installation," Smith describes. Here, she built a modern wooden frame, with mesh stretched across it, to hang in the lounge area. She then strung eucalyptus and long-stemmed blooms, as well as clematis, from the mesh to create a robust statement piece.
If your style is more whimsical, floral garlands are your best friend. "String delicate blooms of varying sizes, like these soft pink garden roses and ranunculus, for a soft garland. Use clear fishing line and a thick, sturdy needle to thread your blooms straight through the center (with the petals all pointing the same direction) and knot them off at different heights," Smith explains. "Then drape the garlands behind your altar or throughout your venue."
Since this is a big departure from a standard centerpiece, there are a few logistical and budget-related things to keep in mind. First, says Smith: "Never underestimate the weight of the flowers! If you need to water-pick your flowers [those plastic tubes some blooms are tucked into], it will add significant weight to your hanging installment." Some can be arranged directly in floral foam (which, again, will be soaked in water and will be heavy), while other, hardier varieties may be able to last all night without a water source. "Always check with your venue first to see where you will be able to hang our installation. There might be restrictions, so where you can place the hanging elements will affect your overall design," Smith explains.
You should also talk budget with your florist before you get too attached. "Because hanging installations usually require a custom frame or structure, prices tend to be higher," Smith explains. "And because they are fresh and usually free-standing instead of in a vase or vessel, much of the work is done on-site." That could add to your floral budget because it requires additional labor. "However, if you're looking for a real show-stopper, a hanging arrangement can be priceless!"