Silk or real; what’s a bride to do? For many brides, the question is really perplexing — especially for those who want to mix a dash of “Do-It-Yourself” into their wedding flower preparations.
Obviously, silk comes with some advantages — it’s tough and shelf stable, and the petals won’t come off at the worst possible moment. On the other hand, silk flowers don’t always look real, and they aren’t always a bargain, either.
The fact is, the silk versus real dilemma is more confusing than ever, thanks in part due to the increasing sophistication — and accompanying cost — of silk and latex flowers. To navigate this new terrain, we interviewed Paul Ajao, a professional florist and cofounder of Pure Botanics, a UK-based floral designer who specializes in weddings.
You keep hearing that silk flowers have gotten “better and better.” Yet when you go to the local craft store, they look just about as artificial as ever. Where are these super-realistic flowers, and how can a bride get her hands on them?
It’s true that artificial flowers have improved. But the quality varies widely from brand to brand. In addition to craft stores, take a look at which brands your local florists are using. After all, their reputation depends on delivering a beautiful result. Also, they might be able to order in artificial flowers for you — ones that you can’t get in the craft
One brand with a great reputation that florists use regularly is Sia, which you can find in the UK, US and Australia.
Is it true that artificial flowers photograph poorly? And does that include the high-end latex type?
When you take close-ups of artificial flowers, yes, it can be pretty obvious that the flowers aren’t real. But this depends a lot on the quality of the artificial flowers you’ve used.
Remember that any shiny surfaces may cause the camera flash to “bounce,” which looks pretty unnatural for flowers. The common off-the-shelf flowers can be pretty shiny.
One argument for silk flowers is that fresh flowers are seasonal, but some florists are suggesting that season isn’t so important these days — that almost everything can be imported all year round. Are you finding this to be true?
Well, some of the most common cut flowers, such as roses, gerberas (gerber daisies) and orchids, are available all year round. So you don’t have to worry about seasonality with these flowers.
But others, like peonies, lily of the valley and ranunculus, have a definite season. Expect to pay more if you buy out of season. And the quality may not be as good.
Just to illustrate how important season can be: a florist we know planned her whole wedding around the very brief time in spring when lily of the valley was in season, so she could use fresh!
What’s your personal feelings on silk vs. artificial flowers? As a professional florist, would you mix them in arrangements — for example, use silk for the super-pricy flowers like calla lilies or orchids?
Personally, we love working with real flowers. But it’s true that silk definitely comes with some advantages. For starters:
– They won’t wilt.
– They’re a lasting memento of your big day.
– They’re easy to transport if you’re getting married abroad.
– You can prepare them long in advance.
The last point’s important if you’re preparing flowers yourself. By their nature, you have to arrange fresh flowers the day before the wedding at the earliest — and usually the morning of. This doesn’t leave you much time to switch gears if you aren’t happy with the results. On the other hand, you can experiment with and arrange silk flowers weeks in advance. That leaves you plenty of time to relax and pamper yourself in the run up to your wedding!
And yes, you can mix artificial and real flowers with great results. A friend of ours loves ranunculus and wanted them in a mixed bouquet with roses and gerberas. Unfortunately, ranunculus was out of season for her wedding date, and would have cost a lot. So she opted to tuck artificial ranunculus into a fresh bouquet. The results, and the photos, were beautiful.
Anything else you want to add?
Contrary to popular opinion, don’t think that silk flowers are always going to be cheaper than real. Many of the quality ones are as expensive as the real thing — if not more.
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