KK is a writer, artist, and designer who loves to garden and take photographs.
Bridal bouquets are not only one of the most beautiful accessories for a bride on her wedding walk down the aisle—they can also be meaningful, fragrant and unique. Princess Diana’s wedding bouquet when she wed Prince Charles in 1981 was all of the above.
Many people have seen the iconic photos that show Diana’s enormous cascading bouquet, but it is difficult to see the individual flowers. Although this type of bouquet has gone out of style in favor of more compact, hand-tied bouquets, it contains traditional, high-end and timeless blooms, most of which can easily be found in bridal magazines and weddings today.
Diana’s iconic bouquet—designed by the since closed Longmans Florist and a gift from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners—was said to contain the following flowers:
- Odontolglossum Orchid
- Lily of the Valley
- Earl Mountbatten Roses
I think the flowers that stand out the most in Diana’s wedding bouquet are the large gardenias prominently placed centrally in the bouquet. Gardenias are intensely fragrant and sold without the stem, often with wax holding the center petals together and natural leaves attached to allow them to float in water. In a wedding bouquet, the leaf “collar” is usually removed and wire is attached, wrapped in floral tape and used to make a stem.
Gardenias are not always stocked and need to be special ordered at your local flower shop. There are small and large sizes available in white and although they are one of the more expensive blossoms, they are cost effective in that they can be used floating on their own for a dramatic and fragrant effect.
Stephanotis, along with the ivy, is what makes up the majority of the cascading or trailing portion of Diana’s bouquet. Stephanotis is high on the list of traditional wedding flowers, arguably right behind roses. They are one of the few flowers that are almost exclusively used in bridal bouquets and boutonnieres. Also fragrant and always in white, they too must be special ordered and are sold stem-less and without leaves.
Traditionally, pearl pins are poked through the center, as I’m sure they were in Diana’s bouquet, and wire and floral tape are used to create stems. Stephanotis are clustered together in her bouquet and given the illusion that they are growing on the vine.
Nowadays, stephanotis is still a popular wedding bouquet flower which has evolved with the times to showcase the endless variety of colored pearl pins, rhinestones, crystals and beaded pins that can be placed in the centers of the waxy blooms to complement any wedding color or style.
Tucked into Diana’s bridal bouquet, and barely noticeable, unless you know what you are looking for, are these exclusive orchids. These orchids are soft, star shaped and a handkerchief-like in their perfect contrast to the structured, waxy gardenia and stephanotis. They may have had a touch of yellow in the center to compliment the yellow roses and also must have been wired to ensure their stems did not break in the bouquet and that they can be placed in a precise location.
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These types of orchids come in many colors, but are not commonly sold as loose cut flowers. Most likely, these blossoms were cut from the plants and would probably perplex most florists if requested. Orchids that are not standard cut flowers are and extremely exotic and unique choice for a stunning wedding bouquet.
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley can be seen in a small cluster with their triangular natural leaves at the very top of Diana’s wedding bouquet. Used as just a small touch in the bouquet, I speculate that they were included for one of their symbolic Victorian meanings of sweetness, tears of the Virgin Mary, happiness, or humility.
Lily of the Valley have a light perfume, and at least half a dozen tiny bells on very fragile stems. They are mainly sold and used for personal wedding flowers, and arranged in small clusters with their natural leaves in Diana’s bouquet. They must always be special ordered from your local florist.
Earl Mountbatten Roses
Tucked deeply in Diana’s bouquet are several blooms of this variety of yellow roses. Depending on their soil and feeding, these garden variety and currently non-florist rose, may have had pink blush on the tips of their many petals.
To get the look of the Mountbatten roses, an open Ambience variety rose would be a lovely substitution.
Finally, a flower that is commonly found at your local flower shop, Freesia is a sweet perfumed, cluster of cupshaped blossoms on each slender, strong stem. The freesia in Diana’s bouquet was most likely white and contributed to delightfully fragrant collection of fresh flowers.
Veronica is also a little bit more common as a florist variety flower. Diana’s bouquet contained white veronica which provided a bit more of a lacy, delicate texture to the arrangement.
Myrtle is included in Diana’s bouquet as it has been in every royal English wedding since Queen Victoria. It is known as the herb of love.
The primary greenery in Diana’s bouquet, making up all of the hanging green cascade and serving as a backdrop to the trailing Stephanotis is the English Ivy. A trick I learned over the years in the flower studio is to purchase potted Ivy and (sadly) rip it right out of the dirt, so you can cut the stems down near the root. This allows you to use the natural curve of the vine when you arrange it with bouquets and centerpieces and give the illusion that it is growing just like it would be in a hanging basket.
This particular flower/greenery has me stumped. Here in the states, I have never seen nor used this particular plant in floral arrangements and I cannot see where this is used in the photos of Diana’s bouquet. I’m not sure if it is something that is just outdated or plucked from a garden for a deeper secret meaning.