The stems of a bouquet can be literally overshadowed by the flowers above, but they should be just as beautiful as the blooms. Much as you choose the right shoe for a dress or the right tie for a suit, give careful consideration to the stems. Whether a bride walks down the aisle with an elaborate bundle of peonies or outfits herself and her bridesmaids with modern sheaths of calla lilies, a thoughtful treatment of a bouquet's handle or stems will complete the look.
The ideas here illustrate basic techniques -- classic, square-end, exposed stems, fabric collar, and streamers -- but are by no means the only choices. Recreate them for your bouquet, or use them to inspire more personal designs. The first step in planning your stem treatment is to think about the flowers you'll carry, since particular flowers are more suited to particular dressings. A large rose bouquet, for instance, which will need to be wired and wrapped with floral tape to help keep its shape, will require a full wrapping of ribbon or fabric to hide the hardware underneath. But an elaborate wrapping needn't be based on function. Even the most delicate posy can be complemented by lengths of ribbon encircling its stems, finished with an extravagant bow. Still, it's a good idea to wrap the stems with floral tape first so they won't stain the ribbon.
Simple wrappings, like a single band of ribbon fastened with a button, or fabric held in place with decorative pins, are perfect for flowers with long, elegant stems, such as tulips, calla lilies, or sweet peas, which need only the most basic treatment to bind them together. Exposed stems should be trimmed neatly with a sharp knife so they look fresh when you carry them down the aisle.
What wrapping should you use? You might choose a piece of fabric from your own gown or your bridesmaids' dresses, an antique handkerchief for "something old," or the prettiest lengths of ribbon you can find. Look for dressings and embellishments in hues that match your color scheme, or select ones that will make a statement all their own -- just as a bride and her bouquet should.