Don’t Wilt! How Fresh Flowers Can Survive Hot Wedding Days

When it’s so hot groomsmen chill their jackets in a walk-in cooler, can you keep fresh wedding flowers cool?

This was the challenge facing three floral pros at a September wedding south of San Jose in Coyote, California, which normally enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate.

How hot was it? “According to our thermometer it was 115 degrees as the wedding began,” said Michelle Perry-White AIFD. “It was hotter than … well, it was hot!!!!”

Flowers work harder in the heat

Few plant species can survive temperatures greater than 115 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few minutes. Even in less extreme heat, fresh flowers benefit from protective steps. A rose at 87 degrees uses 26 times more food reserves than at the typical mid-30s cooler temperatures.

And Michele, Susan Standerfer AIFD and Kim Morrill had a lot of flowers to protect.

The outdoor ceremony and reception dinner included an arch and extensive table and chair-back arrangements plus the bar arrangement, bouquets and more. The arch was in direct sunlight.

How can you create and protect a cool fall flower vibe in lingering hot temperatures? The three share their design tips for surviving simmering weather with details on their flower and mechanic choices.

They also discuss working with the bride as well as how they commandeered on the spot, from other uses at the venue, several of a well-known California icon—wine barrels, a perfect fit for the wedding motif.

Choose flowers carefully

“We started with the bride telling me which flowers she did NOT want,” explains Michelle. “She had a few photos of mixed free-flowing, garden-style and loose bouquets that she liked. She didn’t want anything formal, as they are very casual people.”

“Once I asked for her personal likes and dislikes, everything else was up to my discretion. That made it easy,” says Michelle.

“The bridesmaid’s dresses were navy and the bride wanted a lot of color,” she says. “The couple planned to be married under the property’s full colored berry trees, so rich saturated hues accented with copper worked perfectly in that setting.”

Michelle chose the flowers carefully and relied on a lot of foliages to help withstand the heat.

The wedding arch

The wedding arch stood in a sunny spot, so the wedding was delayed about 30 minutes to allow the day’s heat to subside and shadows to lengthen—a good respite for people and flowers.

Two large Lomey trays were positioned atop the arch and filled with wet floral foam to provide a good water source for the large flower arrangements in the focal area.

Positioned on each side of the arbor frame were water-saturated Grande holders filled with cascading flowers. These holders were secured to the frame with waterproof tape.

Wine barrel beautiful!

When the designers arrived, they saw wine barrels used as tables throughout the venue. Recognizing that these blended well with the casual outdoor theme, they commandeered some for flower pedestals, a sweetheart table and the bar.

Ferns and other potted plants were gathered from the ranch’s outdoor decor and tucked onto and around the arrangements spilling off the barrels. This blend of materials added to the fresh from the garden look the bride wanted.

The bar was set up in the shade of a lush grape arbor on wine barrels.

A sweetheart of a table

Two large Lomey trays were placed on the sweetheart table and filled with a fall fashion blend of peach and fuchsia roses, green hydrangea, purple lisianthus atop draping magnolia, feather and seeded eucalyptus, green and burgundy amaranths, red agonis, pink pepperberry and red viburnum berries edged by live plant material.

A wooden sign was added to announce the newlywed Mr. and Mrs.

Guest table décor

Fresh garlands of foliage ran the length of the guest tables. Rose-gold candle holders, copper vases and Moscow mules were filled with flowers and tucked amongst the greens.

For the addition of flowers on the candleholders, floral foam was taped atop the stand to provide a stable mechanic and water source.

The extensive use of foliages, plants, greenery garlands and berries helped to dress the occasion in beautiful natural materials that could withstand the intense heat better than using only cut stems of flowers.

How did the designers keep the flowers fresh?

  • The floral foam was fully saturated with water in advance.
  • Fresh water was added to all containers before storage.
  • Each design was sprayed with an anti-transpirant when finished.
  • The designs were then placed in plastic bags, sealed and stored in the cooler.
  • Just before the ceremony, the flowers were misted again and positioned in place.

If flowers must be placed in direct sun, cover them before the event with a lightweight and light-colored damp cloth that can be swiftly removed. This will help deflect the burning rays and cool the flowers. Never use dark plastic, as it can hold in the heat and potentially damage the flowers.

When you hydrate fresh flowers on hot days, use water with flower food added. This will help replenish food reserves lost through respiration.

Click here to download Floralife’s 5 steps of Fresh chart with tips for keeping flowers fresh.

Have lots of cooler space!

Coyote Ranch in Coyote, California, is an event venue owned by the bride’s grandmother Margaret, who began hosting events there in her 60s. She’s almost 90 now.

“She’s amazing!” declares Kim. Margaret’s popular wedding site can host up to three outdoor weddings simultaneously—with lots of cooler space!

Take extra steps to beat the heat

Fall weddings are especially beautiful in their juxtaposition of rich color and texture. However, temperatures can fluctuate even as seasons change.

Flowers are alive. Like people, they need extra hydration and protection if placed outdoors in excessively hot temperatures. Prepare to provide extra care to keep them fresh in these conditions.

What tips can you offer for playing it cool when using fresh flowers outdoors in the heat?

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