Monday, January 24, 2011

Peacock Courtship: wedding bouquet on a budget


I thought it would be fun to show how cheaply I could make an extravagant wedding bouquet with just a  few unusual elements to give it a wow factor.   The total estimate for this bouquet is AUD$35/ USD$35/ GBP£21.

I found these lovely peacock feathers the other day and they really are magical.  I love their 'eyes', made up of azure blue, island sea turquoise and regal purple.  Male peacocks use these feathers to court female peacocks, so I think they are a perfect inclusion in a wedding procession.

The cymbidium orchids are from my the local fruit shop - they are so cheap here in Sydney.  They are often dyed gaudy bright colours, however when married with accompanying shades of lime green they really 'pop' and make the most amazing cascade wedding bouquet.


Peacock Courtship Bouquet Recipe

(all the leaves are from my garden)
  • 2 large lime green anthurium
  • 3 stems of small cymbidium orchids (dyed) blue
  • 6 stems of small cymbidium orchids lime green
  • 6 peacock feathers
  • elephant ear leaves in varying sizes
  • aspidistra leaves
  • birds nest leaves
  • floral wire (available from craft stores, floristry suppliers)
  • stem tape
  • floral tape
  • ribbon for handle
  • pins with coloured heads for securing and decorating the ribbon on handle of bouquet

Start with the largest elephant leaf.  If the edges are looking a little weathered or you want to make it a little smaller, trimming around the leaf for a clean finish.

The stems of all the other leaves and flowers in this bouquet will be trimmed to two inches, however I have left the stem on for the elephant leaves in order to support the weight of the leaf.


Pass a wire through the back of the leaf, over stem and back through the leaf.

Pull down both sides of the wire, keeping one side straight against the stem and twisting the other around the stem and straight wire.


Trim the Aspidistra  leaves at the stem to two inches and repeat the same wiring process as for the elephant leaves.   

Trim the stem of orchid to two inches.  Pass an 18"/ 46cm length of floral wire through the middle of cymbidium orchid stem pull down both sides of wire, twisting one side around both wire and stem as done before.


After you have trimmed (2 inches) and wired all your greenery and flowers you will need to tape everything with the stem tape.  Stem tape comes in white, brown and green shades. 

Starting at the top, hold the tape on the back of the stem and twist and wrap it around the stem, working your way down until you reach the base of the wires.

This takes a bit of perserverence, patience and practice but makes the assembly of the bouquet much easier.

The wires allow you to place and point the leaves, flowers and feathers in whatever direction you deem the most artistic.      
  

Finally - all trimmed, wired, taped and ready to start the fun!
  
Start with the largest elements of the bouquet, the elephant leaves in this case (one large and one medium).

Add three peacock feathers and the two large lime green anthurium's (I've use artificial anthuriums here as they look so real and add to the overall look of the bouquet).  

Begin layering your blue and green cymbidium orchids along with the smaller leaves, working your way up to the top of the cascade.

When you are half way through, gently bend the wires at base of the bouquet so that you create a handle (shown in the top photo).

This handle allows the bouquet to be held closer to the body without sticking into the bride's tummy.  Subsequent additions will be bent to fit the handle as well. 

You will surprised at how how effective this layering techique is, and the results are really worthwhile.  At the top I have looped the Aspidistra leaves under themselves, scrunching the end then wiring and stem taping them to create three loops.  

If your hand gets tired holding the bouquet as you are designing you can stem tape portions together as you go if you are pleased with how they look.   


Remember to finish the very top of the bouquet with flowers so the bride has something pleasing to look down on.

I wired about ten single cymbidium orchids by passing the wire through the thickest part of the base of the flower, gently twisting it, then covering the wire with stem tape.  Tape the single orchids together so that you have a little bunch, then add this to the top of the bouquet using the stem tape. 

Starting at the top of the handle, use floral tape to start winding over the handle, turning it back on itself and winding the other way so that the sticky side is facing up.

Work your way all the way down to the bottom of your 'handle', turning it back on itself again to stick it down at the base of the stems. 

With your chosen ribbon, start in the middle of the handle and wind the ribbon down to the base and back up to the very top.  Trim and fold the end of the ribbon under.

Use the pretty pins to secure your ribbon, inserting them on an angle to avoid pinning yourself (something I have learnt the hard way - ouch!)


As these flowers are wired they can't be placed in water.  You will need to make your bouquet the evening before the wedding and place it in a cool room.  It is probably not a good idea to mist the flowers with water either, as the peacock feathers will clump together!

Make sure you have a blue lagoon cocktail in one hand and the bouquet in the other - it will help get you through the day!

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