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Hydrangeas

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2006

Hardy, cloud-like hydrangeas are among the most enduring and versatile flowers for a wedding.
 
Their fluffy heads, so dramatic from afar, turn into small, perfect flowers up close. Today, hydrangeas can be found in a rainbow of watercolor shades, often mingled on the same bloom: Violet-blues might have pink edges, or gold-greens a rosy flush. A single flower can inspire the entire color palette for a wedding -- from the hue of the invitations to the tint of the buttercream on the wedding cake.

They are primarily known as a summer flower but are also widely available in fall. If you've attended many weddings, you'll probably recognize the puffy mopheads and the lacecaps (which look as if they are studded with tiny pearls). Recently, though, hundreds of new hybrids have expanded the flower's range to include larger, longer-lasting blooms in mottled greens, creamy browns, and coppery pinks.

Among the choices are 'Antique' hydrangeas -- rich, mature flowers picked just as their colors darken and their petals begin to dry. Striking stars of any bouquet, these big flowers can also be divided into dainty florets for boutonnieres or be reproduced as sugar petals on a cake. And perhaps best of all: Within a few days, the blooms that transform your wedding day will dry into lovely keepsakes.

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The Centerpiece
Multicolor mauve, blue, and pink hydrangeas showcase a wedding palette in an abundant centerpiece. Pink spray roses are a simple contrast. Raspberries on leafy vines add a delicate note. A reflective silver bowl enhances the effect, as do individual florets scattered on a matching tray. Favor boxes at each place are decorated with ribbon and silk hydrangea petals.

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The Bridal Bouquet
This white bridal bouquet features lacecap and mophead hydrangeas; some blooms are fully open, others still tightly budded. Wired hydrangea leaves and snowberries offer contrasting color.

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The Floral Arrangement
Green-and-white hydrangeas, some with violet edges, look dramatic arranged in an antique garden urn, perfect for a reception room or altar. Evoking the richness of Flemish flower paintings, the hydrangeas mingle among broad hosta leaves and cascades of snowberries, jasmine, and amaranth.

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The Color Spectrum
A medley of boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen illustrates a range of hydrangea colors, from pink to blue to green and many shades in between. One small sprig from a flower head, wired, wrapped, and tied with coordinating slim taffeta ribbon, makes a lively splash for the lapel. Choose either a single color or mix them up.

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The Stationery
Even your stationery can allude to the flower of the day. Here, ink in the hues of hydrangeas is rendered on aubergine cards. An invitation and reply card (top row) introduce the color scheme. Programs and menu booklets (center row) are tied with coordinating ribbon. Inside the program's front cover, small glassine envelopes hold fresh hydrangea petals to shower on the couple. Seating cards (bottom) are calligraphed in all the colors of the palette.

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The Bridesmaid Bouquet
Hydrangeas are ideal for single-flower bridesmaid bouquets. These green-and-yellow bouquets complement silk-shantung sheaths by Simple Silhouettes and are finished with silk ribbons that we dyed by hand.

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The Cake
This five-tier buttercream cake, made by Sylvia Weinstock of New York City, is covered with sugar hydrangeas, which we also added to French macaroons.