Blooms and Plumes … Bridal Bouquets and Ostrich Feathers!!!
A few months ago, while I was perusing theknot.com for some flower and bouquet ideas, I spotted a photograph of a lush hand-tied bouquet of roses that had one particularly interesting detail — a collar of ostrich feathers! At first I didn’t quite know what to think of the combination of flowers and plummage. It seemed rather “edgy,” especially since most of the weddings I had been to in the past (primarily family weddings) featured more traditional arrangements. In fact, when my sister got married six years ago, her hand-tied bouquets seemed especially “modern” and exciting. I am, after all, old enough to remember when every bride, pretty much without exception, carried a cascading bouquet mounted on a little plastic handle thingy. In any case, I eyed this perplexing rose and ostrich feather bouquet for several moments and then emailed it to my sister and Lead Attendant Victoria with the accompanying message, “Do we like this?” She responded tepidly a few moments later, “I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it for a while.” Well, it turns out that she hated it and continues to do so. But me? I love it! I’m definitely having a bit of a love affair with ostrich feathers right now. I think they look especially lovely with my favorite flower, roses. The combination is ultra-feminine and soft, like in the photo below (which also features an adorable array of bridesmaid bouquets! If only I could convince my own maids to fall in love with plumage. Hmmm …):
Despite my designated wedding coordinator’s lack of enthusiasm, I think ostrich feathers are a fun, unexpected detail. Sure, they’re a bit trendy at the moment, and the idea of using them in a wedding didn’t exactly spring fully formed from my own creative labors; but given my rather traditional family’s adherence to the more conventional, I think I’ll be getting some surprised double-takes as I sashay down the aisle of Harkness Chapel with my lush bouquet of cream and blush roses and jaunty ostrich feathers. I have a feeling it’s the kind of detail a more conventional-minded audience might either love or hate, with few opinions in between, but I’m totally willing to play my “But I’m the bride!” card on this one. I think the feathers are soft and feminine, and I really like the juxtaposition of the plumage and the flowers and the mixture of textures. Though my ever-supportive Lead Attendant rushed to tell me that my mother dislikes them as much as she does, I’m quite devoted to my ostrich feathers. In fact, I think they’re consistent with the “vintage”-themed vision I’ve developed for my wedding — think ostrich feather fans, Jazz Age flappers with feather boas, and art deco ladies of the early 1930′s in slender gowns with skirts made of ostrich feathers! It’s divine.
A glamorous lady ca. 1920 with a large ostrich feather fan (left); Ginger Rogers ca.1930 wearing a dramatic gown with an ostrich feather skirt and cape (right)
Despite some detours, I’ve pretty much determined that I shall stick with my initial vision of roses. Though not terribly exciting or creative, the rose is my favorite flower. I initially imagined having a simple hand-tied cluster of very dark roses, like Black Magic or Baccara roses, which I thought would look especially striking juxtaposed against the color of my gown. Dark roses would also be consistent with the rich tones I envisioned for my reception centerpieces at the Branford House. I’ve since “lightened up” considerably in terms of the color scheme I want to follow for both the ceremony and the reception, however, after looking at photographs of the interior of the mansion. I’ve decided that I need more of a striking contrast between the dark wood walls of the Branford House and my centerpieces and linens. Similarly, Harkness Chapel has a very dark interior, with rich, dark wood on the walls and pews and stained glass windows that filter the sunlight through colored panels. I think darker colored flowers like the deep red and rich purples I initially wanted would either get lost visually or else seem too somber. I’ve decided instead to go with an elegant color scheme of ivory and gold for the reception, which will really “pop” against the dark wood of the walls and fit more consistently with my “vintage” vision. For the ceremony, I’ve decided to carry a more traditional bouquet of light-colored blooms, primarily a mixture of cream and blush pink roses (more on that in a moment). I love the look of the following roses, which are a combination of Sahara, white majolica and porcelina roses; and the bouquet, with its beaded and jeweled handle and its ostrich feathers, is one of my favorites:
I think I would like my bouquet to be similar to the above bouquet, which I think really demonstrates the modern reinterpretation of the “vintage” wedding — lush, glamorous, detailed and textured, classic and yet modern. It’s obvious that the bride who carried that bouquet (or at least her wedding planner or florist) really lavished a lot of thought on the little details. As an individual piece, it’s a little work of art. For my own wedding, I would love to have a round, hand-tied bouquet, a really full, lush arrangement of roses in various shades of white, but not actually white (which would clash against my dress) — more like cream and ivory, with blush pink blooms mixed in for more depth and contrast — and ringed by white or ivory wisps from an ostrich wing feather. I really like the idea of mixing some delicate shade of pink (not too bubble gum or Barbie pink, rather something soft and elegant), but there are some other pretty shades that might work as well, like this beautiful apricot color (I also love the shape and fullness of this particular bouquet. And the pearls! To die for …) :
As for the feathers themselves, my research has revealed that they come in an astonishing array of quality, prices and colors. The most beautiful (and the most expensive) is a naturally white wing plume. These can be quite expensive and therefore probably not a sensible choice for larger arrangements; but it might be worth it to splurge a bit more of the budget on a few feathers for certain smaller details, like the bridal bouquet. It might even be worth it for a dramatic arrangement of ostrich feathers on a tall vase for the cake and/or escort card tables, though less expensive feathers might also work; they would be of lower quality but still beautiful — but more of that in a later post. Here is a good example of a high-quality ostrich wing feather. Notice how soft and airy and delicate it looks. It has really beautiful texture, and I love the color. Not too white, but rather ivory. Really lovely.
So, I’m definitely excited about this idea. I’m still on the fence about how many more feather details to add to the wedding and where I should add them, but I definitely want them on my bridal bouquet. I think generally that ostrich feathers are elegant and add a touch of glamor and that they’ll really blend beautifully with my vision of a gold and ivory “vintage” wedding, so I don’t want to stop at just the bridal bouquet. I’ll give some thought as to how else I might use them and, as always, I’ll keep you posted!