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In with the old

In with the old

Written by Katie Byrne

Which formerly out-of-favour wedding flowers are now firmly back in fashion?


Vintage is officially in vogue, which means designers, florists and brides-to-be everywhere are thinking retrospectively and drawing inspiration from past trends. From bunting-covered tea parties to the glitz of the 1920s, vintage themes have taken over the wedding world.

“Floral design has always been influenced by current fashion and media trends but in the last couple of years the Diamond Jubilee and a certain ‘wartime spirit’ have made a homespun vintage look fashionable,” says florist Sabine Darrall from G Lily. “Part of the appeal is the opportunity to be creative and even DIY to save a few pennies!”

The nostalgia means modern brides are opting for previously outdated blooms in styles which their parents would never have considered for their own weddings a generation ago. 

Golden oldies 

So which previously unfashionable blooms have staged a comeback? “If you can imagine your granny's garden, all of those flowers are sought-after again,” says Clare Luke, director of The Traditional Vintage Flower Company. 

“Sweet Williams, lily of the valley, freesias, delphiniums, stocks, aquilegia, honeysuckle, ferns and carnations are all popular choices for brides today, explains Annie Jones, creative director at Pollen Nation. Another addition to the list is the small-yet-mighty gypsophila.

The rise of country wedding styles in recent years has meant it is back with a vengeance – and not just as a filler flower – some brides are opting for posies and arrangements solely of gypsophila, which creates a fabulous frothy effect en masse.

“Dahlias also used to be considered old-fashioned,” says florist Paula Rooney, “but they've been back in favour for a while.” It's the versatility of these blooms which make them desirable for modern vintage designs. “Dahlias used to be seen as a bit of an allotment flower,” explains Sabine, “but they're increasing in popularity and we're now appreciating the immense choice in colour, shape and style.”

Reinventing the carnation

For many years it's been a case of 'no carnations and no chrysanthemums' from brides-to-be, and these unloved blooms were scarcely seen at weddings.

“Carnations and chrysanthemums have had bad press,” explains Annie. “It's because they are so mass produced. But they were very popular in the olden days and prized for their durability, making them a really popular buttonhole choice.”

These days, the humble carnation is finally shaking off its reputation. “Carnations seem to be coming back into fashion,” says Clare. “Not so much the hot pink or white varieties, but more vintage-coloured blooms such as the two-tone'Antiqua' carnation.”

Evolution of the bouquet  

The hand-tied posy has been a firm favourite in recent years, but traditional trailing styles have a growing appeal. “Brides are asking for a trailing effect created using country garden flowers such as sweet peas and green bell,” says Clare.

In place of the extravagant, wired styles of the 1980s, more compact and manageable versions are increasing in popularity.

“Teardrops are coming back,” confirms Paula. “But brides are still wary so they're asking for small teardrops rather than shower bouquets. I think we'll see more of these in the future, as well as over-arm waterfall bouquets.” 

Also popular with modern brides (as well as Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and the rest of the fashion-pack) are floral crowns of all shapes and sizes: “When I first started in the industry every wedding had headdresses – the bigger the better – and now they're back in fashion for the bridal party,” says Paula.

The vintage vision

Vintage is an umbrella term for a medley of different styles: from the glamorous '20s, to the faded chintz of granny's tea-set. “Vintage designs are popular as they have a subtle, feminine palette which is romantic and works perfectly for weddings,” explains Annie.

Not only do these retrospective designs ooze romance, but they work well for thrifty brides who are crafting parts of the big day themselves. “In this economic climate, many brides want to do things themselves to make the wedding more personal,” says Clare. “Vintage lends itself to DIY , which is where the current trend lies at the moment."

Predicted trends include more foliage and an interest in botanicals to create a wilder, more lush take. “Floristry is about reinvention,” says Sabine. "We're always looking for new ways to create a vintage vibe, and flowers are the perfect tool." 

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