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Building A Better Bouquet

When it comes to flower arranging, less may be more.

With a simple glass container, some river rocks and a few well-chosen blossoms and foliage, you can create unique floral arrangements that are sure to draw compliments. And for brides hoping to keep the budget in line, the less-is-more approach can result in savings for attendants’ flowers as well as decorations for a reception.

Bill McPhail, a floral designer with Always Flowers, makes it look easy in the demonstrations he gives to local civic groups. But he offers reassurance that even a novice can be successful by following a few simple techniques.

Whether it’s a reception, rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon or a simple dinner party for friends, it’s possible to cut costs yet have a beautiful setting by using some of his ideas. Flowers and greenery could come from the backyard, a local store or florist shop.

For his minimal arrangements, McPhail likes to use clear glass containers, especially cubes, which can be found at craft stores. “A glass container keeps everything enclosed and magnifies what’s in it, making it appear bigger,” he said. “They give a very luxurious look without using lots of flowers.”

He often uses river rocks, which come in several hues, in the bottom of the container for added interest. McPhail adds interest as well as support to nosegays and boutonnieres with bullion wire, a fine gauge decorative wire, also sold at craft stores.

McPhail’s interest in flowers goes back to his childhood and the influence of his grandmother who, he said, made simple but beautiful arrangements of flowers from her garden. “Everything we do could be considered one of a kind,” he said. “You almost compete with yourself to create something different.”

Here are some of McPhail’s creations and ways you can re-create them at home for your next event.

For the mothers

Mothers of the bridal couple often don’t want to pin corsages to the delicate material of their dresses. Besides, tender petals can be bruised when the moms are hugged by well-wishers. Instead, McPhail suggests a tiny hand-held bouquet.

For the bridesmaids

White hydrangea sections, red roses and cymbidium orchids, tied with a green bow, may be fashioned into a small nosegay for bridesmaids to carry. McPhail begins with an Oasis orb covered with eucalyptus leaves, attaching the leaves with boutonniere pins. At the reception, the nosegay can be placed in a fountain vase and used as a table decoration.

For the groomsmen

Boutonnieres fashioned of seeded eucalyptus leaves and green berries taped together and entwined with decorative aluminum wire may be worn by the men in the bridal party.

Table arrangements

In a large cube container, McPhail places three white and pink cymbidium orchids accented with seeded eucalyptus berries and curly willow, placed on a bed of river rocks.

A dramatic arrangement (shown in the picture above) features miniature calla lillies placed at an angle in a clear horizontal glass container. McPhail adds river rocks and a small section of a hydrangea blossom to complete the elegant design.