Samantha Pendergraft is preparing to marry the love her life on April 1 – no joke. She’s been busy putting the finishing touches on plans for her dream wedding, while also looking for ways to save her wedding mementos, including a bouquet made of daisies.
“I’ve chosen daisies because my fiancé, in high school, got them for me on Valentine’s Day and told me he wanted to be unique,” she said. “I was so mad and upset at the time; I just wanted roses. Earlier this year, he admitted to me that he waited until the last minute and couldn’t find roses, so he got daisies.”
“I have never laughed so hard,” she added. “I love that my fiancé is truly always there for me.”
And she wants her bouquet to always be there too! That’s why she’s planning to consult a professional to help preserve the flowers.
But if you’re a do-it-yourself bride looking to learn how to preserve wedding flowers, read on for easy tips from a flower preservation specialist who has saved thousands of flowers for customers to enjoy for years to come!
Choose a Flower Preservation Method
There are three main methods for preserving flowers: air drying, freeze drying and silica gel drying.
For more than a decade, professional flower preservationist Catherine Tornero of South Bay Floral Preservation has saved hundreds of bridal bouquets in Southern California with silica gel crystals, similar to what is sometimes used in new boxes of electronics or shoes to keep them dry.
“I use between two to five pounds of silica per bouquet and the process takes a couple of weeks,” she said. “In the preservation process, the drying silica product must be able to surround and cover each bloom to keep its natural shape.”
The floral freeze drying process, like silica gel, preserves flowers by extracting the moisture out to help keep the shape and color of the flowers, but requires a loud, large, expensive machine, so it is usually only done by professionals.
And although many brides choose the cheapest option by learning how to air dry flowers (you hang them upside down in a dark place for two to three weeks), the results will likely be disappointing, said Tornero.
“Air drying – in my experience – will turn flowers a rusty color and they will be crinkly,” she said. “You don’t get the full effect.”
Pendergraft plans to take her bouquet to a professional like Tornero in her home state of North Carolina.
“I am not sure if I would do a great job doing it myself,” she admitted.
Some DIY brides have learned how to preserve flowers with hairspray, but Tornero said she would never use the method for her clients.
“I tried (hairspray) on personal flowers and did not see the same professional results,” she said.
Separate Flowers in a Bouquet before Preservation Process
To keep each flower beautiful, make sure to take apart the bouquet for drying. Separate each blossom to avoid moisture build up and to ensure the ideal drying position.
“Every bloom needs to be trimmed and positioned in a bed of the silica gel, so the shape can be preserved,” Tornero said. “Once the flowers are completely dried, I am able to group them back together to create a similar (bouquet) appearance.”
And make sure to start preserving the flowers as early as possible for the best result, she advised.
“Flowers need to be fresh and firm to preserve,” Tornero said. “Don’t wait longer than four days, after that the flowers are weakened, and once flowers start to brown and wilt, I can’t bring them back.”
Already past that point?
“Replace the flowers with fresh ones to preserve a replica,” Tornero added.
Store Preserved Flowers Away From Sunlight
Choose a spot in your home that is away from heat and humidity to make sure the fragile flowers last a long time.
“I tell my clients to keep them out of direct sunlight and high-humidity places like bathrooms,” said Tornero. “You want them in a bedroom or living room, some other area where you can enjoy them.”
Her clients can choose handmade, UV-protected shadow boxes as a part of their flower preservation package, which usually range from $425 to $480 depending on the size of the bouquet and the amount of blooms.
So she can enjoy her flowers every day, Pendergraft is going to keep her preserved bouquet in the living room.
“I plan to display them on my mantel for everyone to see!” she said.
Photos courtesy of Catherine Tornero