How To Preserve Flowers

Wedding flowers are a hugely important part of organising a wedding and, during the months or years of planning, you’ll likely have carefully chosen your dream flowers to complement the big day. Flowers add a touch of beauty and romance to a wedding, and different flowers have different symbols attached to them—typically, for example, a rose is a symbol of love. To keep them with you for a long time, learn to how to preserve flowers.

Unfortunately, flowers don’t last very long, which is why some couples decide to preserve the ones from their wedding, particularly as bridal bouquets hold a special memory. If you’re planning on tossing yours after the ceremony it’s worth considering having another one stand-by—one to throw, and one for preserving.

Wedding Flower Preservation Techniques

Press your flowers
Pressing flowers is a traditional method of preserving plants, which is inexpensive and easy, requiring only a heavy book or two. Line one of the books with parchment or newspaper, and place your wedding flowers on top. Add an additional layer of paper before closing the book to prevent ink from leaking onto the flowers. Weigh the book down with more heavy objects, and store them in a warm dry place. Leave the flowers for a week or so until they’ve completely dried out, but note that it may take longer, depending on the size or type of the flowers.
Hang them to dry
Another easy method of preserving wedding flowers is to simply hang them dry. It’s as simple and easy as it sounds. This method traditionally works better for larger flowers such as sunflowers or peonies. To hang-dry your flowers, tie the stems together with wire or string, and hang them upside down in a cool dark place like a wardrobe or cupboard. Keep them away from direct sunlight, as this will cause the colours to fade, and don’t forget to check on them at regular intervals. When your flowers are dry, spray them with hairspray to add extra protection, and to stop them crumbling. That's the simplest way to preserve flowers.
Cover in Silica gel or wax
There are other methods of preserving your wedding flowers that can be done at home. By using silica gel—the little sachets you find in a new handbag—you can easily preserve your flowers by putting them in an airtight container and covering them. Silica gel can be bought from any craft store, and is great for retaining the shape and colour of your wedding flowers. However, there’s the risk of toxicity from the sachets, so make sure to use rubber gloves during the process. Fill a container with the gel and place your flowers on top, then cover with more gel until the flowers are covered. Seal the container and place in a dark, dry place. This is a quick method for the impatient or those heading for their honeymoon, as it only takes a few days to preserve the flowers.

By comparison, preserving your wedding flowers in wax isn’t a permanent solution—it will only prolong their life by 6 months. To do this, you’ll need paraffin wax and a saucepan or, for a more natural version, use soy wax, which is derived from vegetables. Melt your choice of wax in boiling water before dipping the flowers heads in—they only need to stay in the water for a short time before being removed. Once your wedding flowers have been dipped, simply hang them upside down for the wax to dry. 
Take your flowers to be freeze-dried
If you’re ready to set off for your honeymoon, chances are you won’t have the time for a DIY method. Luckily, you can leave your bouquet in the safe hands of a professional. Although freeze-drying your wedding flowers this way will come at a cost, you’ll be happier knowing your flowers are with an expert. Companies use freeze-drying technology to remove moisture from the petals, which preserves their original colour, shape, and even their scent! Be careful handling freeze-dried flowers, though, as they can be fragile. 

What to do with your preserved wedding flowers

Turn your wedding flowers into a beautiful paperweight for yourself, or as a gift for family and friends. This is a particularly creative way of letting your wedding flowers live on as a treasured keepsake. After having your flowers freeze-dried, the preserver can then keep them in glass. You have up to 10 days to send your flowers in after the big day, but remember—the quicker you send them in, the fresher they will be. 
After pressing your wedding flowers, choose your favourites and display them in a photo frame as a reminder of your day. You can use any style of frame to display your flowers, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, which is good news if you’re trying to be frugal after the cost of your wedding. 

Top tips to preserve flowers

  • Choose your method to preserve flowers as quickly as you can, especially if you have a honeymoon planned soon after the ceremony

  • Use hairspray or artist’s fixative spray to preserve and protect dried flowers for longer

  • Cut your flowers to an appropriate size for each method to preserve flowers

  • Remove any dull foliage from your bouquets. You want to use the most vibrant flowers, like orange or yellow, for the best effect 

  • Keep some of the wedding confetti, and include it in your frames for an extra special touch

  • Flowers with high water content, such as lilies, are not suitable for drying

  • Read more about how to preserve flowers on Flower Council of Holland's website.

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