After the wedding is over and the presents have been opened, the bride's dress carefully packed away and the tuxes returned, do not forget the wedding bouquet. Instead of placing in a vase of water to enjoy for a short time, learn how to preserve the bouquet to keep as a memento of the joyous day for years to come. There are several ways of preserving flowers, but no matter which technique works best for you, placing the preserved bouquet under glass is the final step in keeping it dust free and out of harm's way so it will stand the test of time.
Hang the wedding bouquet upside to dry. Separate the flowers in the bouquet into several smaller bundles so they dry faster when hanging. Remove the leaves from the stems and rubber band three to four flowers together. Hang the small groups of flowers upside down in a dark closet, room or basement. Let dry for one to two weeks. The best flowers for hanging to dry include roses, strawflowers, hydrangeas, baby's breath, and tulips.
Use silica gel to dry and preserve your wedding bouquet. Take the bouquet apart and cut the stems to about 6-inches in length. Spread a 1 inch layer of the silica gel on the bottom of a 2- to 3-inch deep container. Lay the flowers on top of the silica gel being careful not to overlap. Pour more silica gel over the flowers to cover. Set the container in dark place for at least 36 to 48 hours. When completely dry, use a soft brush to wipe away the remaining gel from the flowers. Good flowers for drying this way include carnations, asters, roses, dahlias, zinnias and delphinium.
Dry your flowers in a microwave to speed up the process of preserving them. Arrange a few flowers at a time in between a layer of paper towels, place in the microwave and heat on high for one to two minutes. Check the flowers and continue heating until completely dry. Repeat this process with the rest of the flowers. Use brightly-colored flowers for best results, such as lilies, roses, violets, dahlias and zinnias.
Press the flowers from your wedding bouquet for long lasting effect. Place a few flowers on a sheet of newspaper and place another sheet of newspaper on top of the flowers. Place inside a heavy phone book or lay several heavy books on top of the newspaper. Let dry for two to four weeks and once completely dry remove the flowers from between the newspapers and store in plastic containers until ready to use. Pressing works best for delicate flowers such as asters, sweet peas, lily-of-the-valley, pansies, poppies, and violets.
Preserve flowers using glycerin, a chemical that replaces the water in the flowers creating a soft, supple flower. Mix two parts water with one part glycerin in a vase, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle and place the flowers in the glycerin mixture in the vase. Allow to set for about two weeks in the mixture, then hang upside down for about seven to ten days so the chemical reaches the leaf tips. Sturdy flowers such as roses, lilies, daisies, tulips and dahlias work best.
Preserving Flowers Under Glass
Place a pressed flower bouquet in a picture frame with a glass dome. Arrange the pressed flowers on the matting in the frame in the shape of the original bouquet. Glue the flowers to the mat and replace the glass over the front of the frame.
Use floral foam to arrange glycerin or silica gel preserved flowers into a bouquet and keep under a glass dome. Arrange the flowers carefully in your hand to resemble the wedding bouquet and gently insert the stems into the floral foam keeping the shape of the bouquet. Once the flowers are how you desire, place the glass done over the top to preserve.
Preserve flowers that have been hung to dry or dried in the microwave inside a shadow box with a glass front. Arrange the dried flowers in your hand to resemble the wedding bouquet, secure with a rubber band around the middle of the stems and then tie a ribbon over the rubber band. Place this bouquet inside the shadow box and use pins if needed to hold in place. Replace the glass front and hand up.