We were married in the height of the summer rather a long time ago.
This was when the wedding flowers could be pretty much whatever the bride preferred - to decorate the church, for the bridesmaids to carry and for the bride’s bouquet. But the wedding industry … for surely there is a wedding industry nowadays, developed to a far greater degree than it was when we were married … seeks to emulate the tourism industry in developing a year-round product. And I am reliably informed that the ‘in’ colour for the flowers for a contemporary winter wedding is purple.
The received wisdom is that, if the bride and bridegroom want to evoke the brightness of summer, then purple is the colour which brightens up dull winter days, adding brilliance to bouquets, centrepieces and church flower arrangements while simultaneously setting off the bride’s white gown and matching a variety of colour schemes. Purple is often seen as a regal colour, bringing with it a sophisticated sense of elegance: but purple can also be overpowering and too much purple can seem dark and moody. Fortunately, purple can be matched with many other colours; and some of the more popular colour matches for weddings include purple and grey, purple and yellow, purple and blue and, perhaps most often, purple and cream.
And, perhaps surprisingly, there is no shortage of flowers from which to make a choice. Perhaps the most obvious is the purple tulip, but purple roses, purple orchids, purple sweet peas, purple lilies, and purple hibiscus are but a few of the varieties that are all available from good florists even in the depths of winter, although they may well be quite expensive. Of this selection, the rose has long been associated with love and with romance. The rose has all the merits one would look for in a flower; it is long-lasting, often fragrant, attractive and is associated with happiness and with enchantment.
A less obvious choice, but excellent for decorating the pews in church or for placing on the tables at the reception, is the purple orchid. Admittedly this will be an expensive choice and will have to be planned well in advance, for the florist may need time to source these in any numbers. However orchids do bloom for a long time; and careful planning should allow them to be collected from the church after the ceremony and taken to the reception; and there can be no doubt that members of the bride’s and groom’s families would appreciate the flowers being given to them at the end of the reception.
Alternatively, the tulip has many advantages for a wedding day. It has a wonderfully elegant appearance, tall and graceful, and can form part of the floral arrangements as well as being used in bouquets … be sure that the tulips are as fresh as possible, for they lose their grandeur if they start to droop. I have seen fresh tulip heads used as buttonholes by the best man and the ushers or even, for that matter, by the groom. And the calla lily is another purple flower that comes in different shades of purple, making it a good purple wedding flower; lovely to look at, calla lilies are also lovely to touch, with an attractive satiny feel.
And finally in this short look at flowers for a winter wedding, the purple hibiscus brings brightness and cheerfulness to the dullest winter day, its large, showy flowers being seen to best advantage when they are surrounded in arrangements by other, smaller blooms. Whatever the choice, I wish health and happiness to everyone planning a winter wedding.
Sandy Simpson, Polmont Horticultural Society