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Putumayo carnations the color of antique lace hold their own against anemones, hydrangeas, Majolica roses, and passion vine, proving that the often-overlooked bloom is every bit as sophisticated as its pricier peers. To further lower costs, save the big-ticket flowers for your posy and centerpieces, and let carnations alone fill other arrangements.
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Layer cuttings of filler flowers, like goldenrod and mimosa, with herbs and fruit to make boutonnieres. Carry the look to your reception by turning a trio of bowls into a matching centerpiece.
To make the boutonnieres, cut each flower down to about 4 inches. Then stagger the clippings at different heights, and bind the stems together with floral tape. Cover with ribbon, and snip the ends to even them out.
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Miniature daisies, doily-shaped Queen Anne's lace, and baby's breath come together in a beautiful balancing act atop a tall, graceful candlestick.
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To replicate this tiered tower, fill three nesting bowls with wet floral foam, stack them on top of one another, and add dense tufts of goldenrod, fuzzy clusters of mimosa, and globelike craspedia balls. Accent with olive leaves, kumquats, lemons, and sprigs of fresh lavender.
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Arrange lone stems—a mix of full plumes and reedy stalks such as caspia and agapanthus—in vessels of various heights and shapes. Keep colors consistent for maximum impact.
To make a random assortment of flowers look anything but, map the vases out first. Place the tallest shapes in the center, anchor the outer edges with medium-size pieces, and fill them in with small containers. When you're done, add a stem or two to each.
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Freewheeling centerpieces in cheery colors practically shout "party time!" Here, fringed tulips and fruiting clementine branches create lush overhang from a compote (the perfect vessel for a large arrangement), while picotee-edged carnations, daffodils, sweetpeas, and ranunculus add volume.
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Chamomile, heather, white daisies, scabiosa, gooseneck loosestrife, raspberries, and wild sweetpeas mingle in a fresh-picked arrangement tied with a yellow bow.
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Create an enchanting ceremony path by adding untamed posies to a wooden flower frame. Echo the look with an equally abundant bouquet. At the reception, recycle your makeshift garden into an escort-card display.
Thanks to a pair of ingenious wooden panels, you can walk toward your groom flanked by hundreds of wildflowers, such as larkspur, lisianthus, bridal wreath spirea, and lepidium, pictured here.
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After the ceremony, have friends place the aisle runners on a table for cocktail hour, where they can serve as a blooming backdrop for your name cards. And at the end of the night, take them home and use them in your backyard as trellises.
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Slip plain white lunch bags over containers brimming with small white blooms for arrangements that look farmer's-market fresh.
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Locally Grown Centerpiece
A mix of farm-grown flowers create an arrangement full of color and texture.
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Saying "I do" before an ethereal curtain of carnations? Pure heaven. Each of these garlands was hand-strung and draped over a dowel suspended from the ceiling. To go the DIY route, you'll need monofilament, a large needle, and about 1,000 carnations (order them through Grower's Box). Make the strands a day or two in advance and store them in a fridge. After your vows, use them to decorate the bar.
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Rustic Harvest Centerpiece
A table arrangement of grains, such as wheat and dried grasses, found at craft stores celebrates the bounty of fall.
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Rose Bowl Centerpiece
Make a few roses go a long way by arranging them in dramatic bowls filled with water. Here, "Inge" and "Toscanini" roses float in an old-fashioned fishbowl.
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You don't have to be a master baker to assemble this gorgeous spread. All you need are basic premade fondant cakes in various heights, cupcakes, carnations in coordinating hues, and a few Fishs Eddy cake stands. The trick is alternating the decorating style for each dessert: Ring multitiered cakes with flowers, for example, crown cupcakes with single blooms, and cover a one-layer confection with a wreath of blossoms. To fashion the table swag, simply string petals on monofilament.
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Fresh German chamomile is placed in a jar, then enclosed in a white paper bag for an exuberant centerpiece that is also economical.
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One look at this handheld knockout and you'll wonder why carnations were ever considered filler flowers. Aside from a few ranunculus and a halo of wire vine, they make up the whole stunning shebang. Grouped by color, which intensifies from plumtrimmed white to deep magenta, they show off what Chezar calls "the peony effect": Five or six together mimic the popular (and pricier) wedding favorite. A riot of ribbon adds even more oomph.
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Carnation-Covered Escort Cards
Sitting pretty on a bed of coral-and-ivory blossoms, these tags come with a little something extra: a mini-carnation boutonniere. To compose your own display, line a tray with damp floral foam, snip off the flowers‘ stems, and poke in the buds. Two-tone varieties look especially striking, but a monochromatic scheme (think all pale yellow petals) can be just as fun. Calligraphy, Jill Velez
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Add some color and volume to smaller clusters of flowers with vibrant seasonal fruits. Here, white bowls and platters are filled with navel oranges, clementines, and kumquats, while lemon leaves and white gardenias, orchids, and stephanotis add contrast.
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A centerpiece of hyacinth bulbs and small stones is an inexpensive option, since bulbs generally cost less than cut flowers.
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For big-impact table decor on the cheap, cluster carnations in minimalist vases that offset their ruffled softness.
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A cluster of potted zinnias adds charm to the table at a country or casual wedding.
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These cloudlike arrangements of baby's breath and white hydrangeas are placed in vintage tureens.
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