How to make your own beautiful bridal bouquet from foraged florals

Grab your floral snips, we’re going on a flower hunt!

Grab your floral snips, we’re going on a flower hunt!

(All photography by Lady Hayes)

It's that wonderful time of year where forests and gardens are blooming in full force and eager flower lovers like myself are sharpening their scissors with a devilish grin, ready to hunt, snip and arrange. "My wedding is in a week Lady Hayes! I need a bouquet, get to the good stuff!", you say. I know, I know, but before I get ahead of myself — and possibly get both of us arrested for grand theft flora, let me take you through a few tips and tricks I abide by when it comes to hunting for blooms!

First thing's first, clip responsibly! This means if you see a pretty flower in your neighbour's yard, you gotta ask. And of course they will say yes because it is your BIG DAY! If you are taking a stroll in the woods and see something you fancy, try not to snip at the path's edge; consider walking off the path and cutting there to keep our trails looking gorg! Always make a clean cut with floral snips, don't rip, and just take what you need. It is illegal to collect flowers in national parks so best to keep it to areas you can get permission from. See this link for more. Something else to consider is plants and flowers that might be poisonous. Giant hogweed and spotted water hemlock look a lot like Queen Anne's lace. Not to fret though! A little research and you'll learn the differences quickly. Check out some poisonous plants here!

Find out what is in season. Queen Anne's lace and garden roses seem to be ready for picking in roadside ditches or your mum's garden most of the summer. Some other flowers have an early season and some have a late one, which unfortunately means they might not be available for your nuptials. I was really hoping to have Lily of the Valley for this DIY, just like Meghan Markle's stunning bouquet did, but I was one week too late, and the stuff I was eyeing in my friend's garden was all dried up. I did however find some wolf willow on the side of the road. It has silvery leaves and small yellow fragrant flowers. Although it is a beautiful green, it is actually quite invasive and considered a bit of a pest. In other words, no hearts will be broken if a few stems get snatched and make their way into a bouquet! Wolf willow is around all summer, but if you can't find some, ivy is available for just as long! Beautiful big blooms like peonies are everywhere in June but will be very hard to find later in the summer. Flowers such as dhalia's are in bloom mid-summer to the fall and are a wonderful substitute if you're heart was set on the peony.

Feel free to mix up some store-boughts. Forage what you can, but if you're feeling a little lacklustre about your selection, don't hesitate to add a little something extra such as homegrown roses to your arrangement. Ask your local florist what is in season.

Pick the day before you need them, not earlier! Cut flowers are at their best within a couple days of picking.

OK, now let's talk about how much we all adored Meghan's bouquet. It was simple, small and seasonal. And it had me at hello! With its small white blooms, short stem handle and tidy bow, this bouquet style is sure to bring elegance and class to everyone. The wonderful thing about this arrangement is that it is actually very easy for you to do on your own. Let's get to this DIY!  

Here's what you'll need:

  • 5-7  stems of astilbe
  • 5-7  stems of spray roses (these are smaller roses with multiple blooms on each stem)
  • 4-6  stems of Queen Anne's lace
  • 2-4  stems mock orange
  • 2-4 stems of wolf willow
  • Floral snips
  • Scissors
  • 8-inch piece of green floral tape
  • 18 inches of ¼-inch wide white ribbon

Here's how to do it:

1. Source your flowers! I found mine in my own garden, my mum's garden and got some some from a roadside ditch. Be sure to make clean cuts and place your flowers in water right away. The great thing about this style of arrangement is that you won't need many flowers. Think whites and greens and about six stems of each flower will suffice. When hunting, collect a variety, however. Our main blooms will be the larger flowers like roses. We also want smaller flowers called filler, like the Queen Anne's lace and the astilbe. Filler flowers complement our central flower and do exactly as promised, fill the empty space. Lastly, for greens I love the silvery nature of wolf willow, but ivy looks great, too.

Mock orange
Spray roses
Queen Anne's lace
Wolf willow

2. To begin your arrangement, select one of your rose stems. We will be arranging all of our flowers around this central stem. I used spray roses which have more than one bloom per stem. Leave approximately four inches of leaves below the blooms and then remove the rest so that the stem is completely bare.

3. Remove the leaves from the bottom of three stems of mock orange. Place one stem angled at the right of your rose stem, and another stem angled at the left. Angle the third stem away from your body and into the central rose stem. Now we have our central rose with three mock orange stems surrounding it. Fiddle with the spacing of your mock orange a little so that they are surrounding the rose evenly in thirds when looking above your bouquet.

4. Take three pieces of your Queen Anne's lace and place in between your mock orange, filling in the spaces. As we add more flowers holding them together will become a little trickier. I keep my grip fairly firm but loosen it up as I add my flowers, then tighten again. Next, add more roses. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the stem and grip the stem near the bottom. Add one rose stem near every piece of Queen Anne's lace, sliding your flower on an angle and into your grip in between the other stems. This style of arranging will allow us to fiddle with our florals later, pulling them up and down if needed.

5. Now is the time to add in some more filler and some greens. Place six pieces of astilbe evenly around the outside of your bouquet. I found mine needed some more filler in the centre, so I added another piece of Queen Anne's lace. Hold the flower by the bottom and slide it into your bouquet through the top. I also added two pieces of wolf willow.

6. Have a look at your arrangement and see if anything needs to be changed in your design. For this style of bouquet, most of the blooms are arranged at the same level, so if any of your flowers are sticking out too high, find the stem from the bottom of the bouquet and pull it down, gently tucking the flower into the arrangement. We can keep the astilbe higher than the rest of the bouquet which will give the arrangement a bit of a wild feel.

7. Once you're happy with the design, it's time to tape it up. Take an 8-inch piece of floral tape and hold just above your grip. The closer the tape is to the actual flowers, the tighter the bouquet will be. Be sure to keep the tape up high and wrap it tightly around the stems. Floral tape gets sticky as it warms up in your hands, and if you find your flowers are too loose, don't be afraid to re-tape and try again. Remove any green leaves below the tape and trim the ends evenly, leaving three inches of stem.

8. Finally, tie it with a bow! I used approximately 18 inches of white ribbon and wrapped it around the floral tape a few times. Tie and knot to secure and then make a pretty bow. Cut the ends on an angle so both sides are even. Place in a small vase in one inch of water. Pat yourself on the back, tomorrow it's time to say "I do"!

Don't be afraid to try different flowers depending on the season. I put together another bouquet with the same technique, but used peonies and ranunculus as my main flowers, and wolf willow as my green. Since the wolf willow was blossoming yellow flowers at the time I collected it, it also worked well as a filler. I wanted a wild and romantic look for this arrangement so I left the greens fuller and let them fall to the sides more loosely. For bouquets later in the summer, I would definitely recommend dahlias and sunflowers because they are so colourful! Think outside of the box too — I've seen some absolutely gorgeous autumn bouquets made with cabbage.

Lady Hayes is a designer, photographer and mama, known for her beautiful floral inspired projects and lifestyle. Her love of flowers shines through her couture crafted Flower Crowns and Petal Pop, her line of Floral Confetti with sun dried roses and gold confetti glitter. Stay connected! Visit Hayes over on her Instagram or visit her website to shop and say hi!