The importance of capturing the historical era of wedding bouquets
There is nothing like a Royal wedding to get the floristry industry all revved up! Who will be chosen to create the iconic bouquet? What flowers, forms, colours and style will the Bride chose and Meghan Markle herself – is a breath of fresh air – and we are very excited to see what she has chosen for her big day to capture this moment in time. We will watch with interest all the factors that potentially could start a whole new trend.
In honour of the up-coming wedding, the Academy takes a closer look at past Royal wedding bouquets, how iconic they became in the era they were made and take a closer look at the techniques used.
1860’s Queen Victoria
At the time of Queen Victoria’s wedding the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and would grow stronger with Victoria and Albert’s support and it was a very exciting age for life becoming easier through mechanical and electrical processes. Creatively, Victoriana was filled with a pretty idealism of Britishness, paintings of villages filled with thatched houses and cottage gardens. Floriography caught the imagination of the privileged classes and today we can still see the interest in finding meaning in nature.
Sadly, there aren’t any good pictures of Victoria’s bouquet, but we know that fresh flowers were sown directly onto her dress and concentric circular bouquets, known today as Victorian Posies, became popular during her reign although at her own wedding it seems she held a small posy of Lily of the Valley, myrtle and white roses. In the second picture, the Academy students, having explored the era, were inspired to create something with a ‘steam punk’ theme, a fashion trend based on Victoriana, creating their own version, using the concentric circles and adding mechanical elements such as cogs and chains etc.
1920’s Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
The 1920’s saw tremendous social changes across the world following the Great War, and immense contradictions between the haves and have nots. Wedding fashions saw hem lines rise but wedding veils lengthen. Accessories became popular, feathers, diamanté and ribbons, this was the age when celebrity florist, Constance Spry, opened her first shop, whose notable unstructured style of the time is still fashionable today in wedding bouquet trends in both Britain and America.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married Prince Albert, Duke of York in 1923, the second son of King George V, with no expectations of succeeding to the throne. A modest lady, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, she would later become, had simple tastes. There are no photographs of her with her bouquet because, as the story goes, whilst waiting at the Abbey for the ceremony to begin she went to the tomb of the unknown warrior and laid her bouquet on the tomb, no doubt thinking of her brother whom she lost in World War I only a few years before. Her bouquet consisted of white roses to represent the House of York she was marrying into and white heather for the Royal Scottish house she came from. You can see a clip here of the wedding day and the only glimpse of her bouquet being carried by a servant as she gets into the carriage. Although we know that bouquets of the time were quite large with clouds of asparagus fern, they used a technique where each flower was cut to length, wired and put through a ball of moss as the moisture source, and the wires were then ribboned into a handle. As the decade progressed, accessories were added. Below you can see from left to right. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother with her Bridesmaids, a replica made by the Academy students. An American Bride circa 1928 with trailing ribbons and again a replica with the trailing ribbons and feathers.
1940’s and 50’s HRH Queen Elizabeth II
HRH Queen Elizabeth II was married in 1947, but we looked towards the 50’s for inspiration and what the era had to offer, bouquet’s were in fact, much smaller, probably due to the aftermath of rationing and the difficulties WWII left in it’s wake for sourcing things, in fact people very generously sent in their coupons to the Princess Elizabeth for her wedding day but they were all returned because only the bearer of each coupon could exchange it for goods.
HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding bouquet was wired and filled with orchids, however, it was reportedly lost when they returned to the Palace, so in many of the official family pictures, like her Mother she is not holding it, however, since this event, two bouquets have been prepared for Royal brides, one for the ceremony which is then laid at the tomb for the unknown warrior, (which is now a tradition) and another for the official photographs at the Palace. You can see that an orchid bouquet was created by the students when we first visited RHS Malvern Flower Show in 2016 to honour the Queen’s 90th birthday year.
1980’s Princess Diana
With the 80’s came a sense of abundance, everything was BIG and we meet Lady Diana Spencer whose wedding suited the age with a dress and bouquet to match.
Princess Diana carried a fully wired and taped shower bouquet including pale yellow spray roses, eucharis lily, gardenia, stephanotis and trailing ivy. In capturing the essence of the period, students created the large shower bouquet form using more foliages and including orchids, and the overall Princess Diana wedding ensemble ambiance is beautifully embodied by our lovely model Katie.
2010’s Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
Which brings us finally, to the trends of today and those things around us that affect our everyday lives. We are more conscious of our health, our state of mind, what we are being told, what we do for a living and a deep desire to connect with each other, nature and the things that matter to us on an individual basis.
We can see that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was inspired by Princess Grace of Monaco, enhancing the elegance, modesty and the meaning of the flowers themselves, she chose Sweet William for her husband, Lily of the Valley for happiness and Hyacinths for beauty and constancy. Her Grace kept to something she loved, not what trends dictated at the time, which shows a pragmatic thoughtful sense of style. The final picture the Students looked at how to wire these delicate flowers and the form of the bouquet in the replica. It is interesting to see how many of the bouquets were wired.
And here we are, looking forward to Miss Markle’s British Royal wedding next Saturday 19th May 2018 to HRH Prince Harry, the Academy will be teaching in both Exeter and Bristol, and we shall be following the wedding on TV as part of our wedding courses, and we cannot wait to see what Miss Markle feels is right for her special day. We send our very best wishes to the happy couple.
If you would like to take a closer look at wedding bouquet designs and how to make them, or would like to update your wedding bouquet skills, we have created a special two day Bridal Bouquet Workshop on 4/5 June, for more information and to book click here.