Rediscovering Roses

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2004

No matter how many different kinds of exotic blooms flood the floral shops, one flower always stands out as a favorite: the rose. The iconic power of roses is indisputable. Roses are classic, beautiful, meaningful, and romantic. They convey a message of love -- but they don't have to be arranged in a standard red dozen to do so. And the bride who wishes to reconcile her soft spot for roses with a desire to carry something extra special on her wedding day doesn't have to compromise.

Roses can be surprising: Mixing them with less-familiar blooms in unconventional color combinations -- shades of purple, say, or browns with pinks -- will showcase their fashionable flair. Roses can be classic: Carrying a free-form bundle of lush, old-fashioned garden roses will make you feel as if you stepped out of a Renaissance painting.

Roses can be carefree: A handful of roses needs only a few sprigs of wild grass and a casual bow to reflect the giddy happiness of a new bride. Roses can even have a sense of humor: A bouquet full of striped roses (who knew that they grew with stripes?) is sure to elicit smiles of delight from everyone. When choosing your bridal bouquet, take inspiration from the lovely ones on these pages. Consider the colors and shapes that grow side by side in the garden, as well as the fantastical arrangements that are formed only in your imagination. The final result will be a bouquet as wonderfully unique as the bride who carries it.

A bouquet that combines roses with seasonal blooms and greenery will have a fresh-from-the-garden feel. Here, these late-summer purple clematis, pale hibiscus, and fuchsia-speckled caladium leaves surround luxurious Dutch and garden roses. One vintage silk ribbon overlays another to form a billowy bow.


Striped 'Abracadabra' and 'Hocus Pocus' roses make an arresting foundation for a bouquet. Their yellow and aubergine shades are mirrored by an assortment of butter-hued roses, bright yellow marigolds, deep burgundy ranunculus, and orange-colored rose hips. A vintage ribbon in a sparkling golden-yellow hue completes the arrangement.

Though these garden cabbage roses, miniature spray roses, and hybrid roses form a classic dome, each variety is placed in clusters to better display its individual style and shade. The spiral of the stems provides an added bit of artistry.


A white rose bouquet doesn't have to be formal -- wild grasses and bamboos, along with clematis and limegreen lady's mantle, give these garden and hybrid roses a more casual look. The bouquet's breeziness is emphasized by a trailing silk gingham ribbon.

Dreamy, romantic garden roses in shades of terra cotta and pink blend with other flowers, such as begonias, that emulate the rose's form. Dusty pink caladium leaves reflect the blooms' hues. A cream-trimmed grosgrain ribbon ties the bouquet -- and the colors -- together.


Saturating a bouquet with an unexpected shade creates a beautiful, formal arrangement, especially when it's presented in an elegant round shape. In this vivid version of the single-color bouquet, spray roses, garden roses, and viburnum berries recall the oranges of a sunset. A swath of smoky-teal Ultrasuede secured with a vintage buckle dresses the stems.


Roses can vary greatly in appearance; here is a guide to some well-known forms. Spray roses have multiple flowers on each stem, making them a cost-effective choice for a lush grouping. Miniature roses are excellent counterpoints to full size roses and come in almost any shade. Modern hybrids, with their familiar layered petals, can be found in many sizes. Garden roses, which are more expensive, open fully and have vintage charm but are not available in winter.

1. Sprays
2. Miniatures
3. Modern hybrids
4. Garden


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