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Fantastic Arrangements

From bouquets to boutonnieres, flowers add those finishing details that can really make a guest say "wow." But as amateur florists, brides-to-be are left to wonder everything from color schemes to pinpointing placement, when it comes to planning the floral elements of your big day, experts say to keep key photographs in mind and let your inspiration guide you.

Florists' Guide to Style

For Rebecca Henry, owner of Petal's Edge Floral Design in Alexandria, Va., her inspiration comes from the colors and styles of each wedding. She recommends that brides flip through magazines to find actual arrangements so florists understand their preferred style. "Even if they don't know anything about flowers, they can still communicate the 'look' they are trying to achieve through design pictures and colors they find, and through communicating their own personal tastes," she says.

Leanne Kesler, owner of the Floral Design Institute in Portland, Ore., advises brides to take their cues from Mother Nature. Gardens provide us with what works color-wise, Kesler says, adding that paint and hardware stores also offer an opportunity to mix and match colors with paint chips or swatches.

Your color choices also should depend upon your actual location. "It's more advantageous to use lighter colors in a larger setting because dark colors will just recede and disappear," Kesler says. "You can use bolder, darker colors in more intimate spaces."

Experts recommend that brides choose one to three colors for floral designs. "They should also consider sticking with colors that are in the same spectrum, as in staying with only cool colors, purples and blues, or warm colors, reds and yellows," Henry says. "Combining colors that are completely opposite from each other in the spectrum, such as purple and orange, can result in a really strong statement."

To avoid a color clash with your gals' gowns, avoid trying to match the color of the bouquets to the dress. You'll never find a perfect fit and the flowers won't show up as well in photos, Kesler says. Try blending colors, choosing a vivid contrast or a direct complement to the dress' color.

According to experts, green floral has become a very hot color trend this season. Teal also has become a popular choice, a mix of green and blue together.

You may want to choose colors depending on the season of your wedding. "In the fall, shades of red, orange and yellow are popular, as well as darker colors, like eggplant or chocolate brown with green. In the winter, blue and white or silvers and reds are nice," Henry says.

Petal Details

Each member of the wedding party, as well as close relatives, should have flowers. "Basically, the rule of thumb is that the members of your wedding party should have flowers. For the bride and her bridesmaids, bouquets; the groom and groomsmen should have boutonnieres," Henry says. "Generally, parents and grandparents should get either corsages for the women or boutonnieres for the men."

Create a focal point for your ceremony with a larger display and keep sight lines in mind for your reception. Each guest table should also have some kind of centerpiece. "If there is room in your budget, it's nice to include an arrangement for the place card table and the buffet table, if there is one," Henry says. "Other possible places to decorate include the cake, the aisle chairs/pews during the ceremony, or something for the guest book table."

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Experts warn that creating your own centerpieces can end up being more work than they're worth, but here are a few tips to craft your own arrangements:

• Grow pots of wheatgrass or plant your own herbs, which can be used as both centerpieces and keepsakes.

• Potted orchids in cache pots are simple to do and easy to transport.

• Use short narrow-necked vases and place bunches of flowers inside, but remember to by the highest quality flowers you can.