Wedding Flowers Part III: Emergency Floral Tips

Written by Katrina Otter

I’m back (it’s Katrina, resident wedding planner for Coco Wedding Venues BTW!) and taking over the introduction reigns again from Emma as today marks the third and final part of our practical and pretty three-part series about wedding flowers in collaboration with the inspirational, honest, creative and award-winning Jay Archer Floral Design.

In Part I, Jay provided an essential guide to wedding flower budgets (a MUST read for anyone planning a wedding or involved in wedding planning!) and in Part II Jay once again dished up a healthy dose of planning advice with another meaty topic – seasonality.

If you haven’t already done so, then both Part I and Part II are well worth a read and whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to pin the relevant bookmarks so that you can return at a later planning date.

Today’s topic, emergency bouquets and buttonholes (wrist corsages also get a shout out too!) is actually the main reason why this series even exists.

You see, a couple of years ago now I was providing on-the-day support for a marquee wedding in the peak of Summer and when I say peak, I mean no breeze, no shade, sticky skin, excessive sweat… nice! As the Groom approached the Church with his boys I noticed that their buttholes had wilted in the heat and in all honesty I had absolutely no idea how to resolve the situation other than delving into my emergency wedding kit and propping them back up with a healthy covering of sticky tape and safety pins.  At the time, it worked, but it also made me realise that I really should learn what the more professional solution was, just in case that situation ever arose again.

Cue my road trip to the Jay Archer Floral Design Flower School (alongside the lovely Hannah Duffy who was there to capture the experience – pretty pics from the day (apologies for my concentration face!) above/below) to expand my horizons, learn more about wedding flowers and most importantly, what to do if I was ever faced with a similar situation again.

So, here’s what I learnt and hopefully what you’ll learn in return so that if you’re ever faced with a wedding flower emergency, you’ll know what to do!

Firstly, Jay’s essential pieces of kit to add to your emergency wedding kit (most of which are available from Hobbycraft, whilst the more specialist items can be found online):

  • Milton tablets – GREAT for keeping water crystal clear in arrangements. Stocks for example, can deteriorate quickly in the heat and, as they’re related to brassicas (cabbages) the water can smell particularly nasty when it goes off! Milton tablets are therefore essential if you’re having a marquee wedding and especially if you’re planning to use the flowers the day after the wedding for brunch or another family gathering.
  • Wires – You can pick up mixed packs of florist wire from Hobbycraft. They’re super fine, and good for sticking in snapped or drooping flower heads and generally holding things together! (note to self – wires are probably what I should have used instead of the tape!)
  • Florist scissors… not the normal kitchen type!
  • Parafilm – For binding stems together if making emergency buttonholes
  • Ivory ribbon – For holding circlets together, binding stems and tying things up!
  • Magnets – For ladies’ buttonholes (often the backs get lost down, ahem, underwear!)
  • Buttonhole pins – These often get bent, or lost. Spares are essential!

So that’s the kit sorted, now what to do!

Well firstly, don’t panic! Panicking won’t help and if you need to do anything super fiddly then fiddly + being worked up = not a great combo!  And secondly, read on for Jay’s must-read advice and top panic free tips…

Notes from the Florist


Bouquet workshops are probably amongst the most popular you can attend. To make or fix your bouquet, you’ll need a few basic bits of kit including parafilm or twine, wire, ribbon and floristry scissors.

  • If your bouquet has been delivered out of water, depending on the varieties used and the weather, sometimes certain flowers can wilt – forget-me-nots, sweet peas, cow parsley / orlaya, hydrangeas and lily of the valley can all be susceptible to this. When a flower is out of water, it forms a seal over the end of the stem so it’ll need re-snipping before being placed into water (you only need to snip a small amount off the stems).Sometimes dipping the heads into water can help revive them too, as flowers drink through their petals as well. It’s always a good idea to ask your florist for a vase of water at your reception, just so your bouquet can have a quick refresh.
  • If a flower snaps, carefully insert the right size florist wire into the broken head and then into the broken stem to ‘join’ the flower back together and stick it into the bouquet, or move it more into the middle.

Top Tips!

  • Don’t hold your bouquet too tight! I’ve seen many a bride squeeze the daylights out of their bouquets, and as a result they’ve often wilted by the time they’re making their grand entrance into the ceremony. Remember that the heat in your hand and lap if you hold it *that* tight draws the moisture out, and the strength of your grip can also snap stems.
  • When holding your bouquet, hold it quite low, in front of your tummy… after all, it’s not a shield! Holding it in front of your chest is bad for posture and will also hide your dress.  Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back and hold your bouquet low –  your forearm should sit in front of your pelvis.
  • When storing your flowers, follow your florist’s instructions – keep them somewhere cool and away from the business of the wedding morning… the room where wedding prep is taking place (cue hairdryers) is not the best location!


I see many a wilting buttonhole picture on the internet! We personally deliver ours in water and pin them on ourselves when they’re just dry.  Some people place them in the fridge although I always worry they’ll blow open when they come into the warm from the fridge, in the shock of the temperature change.

  • If the buttonhole has wilted before you come to wear it, as above, re-snip the stems and place in water. I would suggest placing the whole thing in water for as long as you can, then dry on a paper towel.
  • If one particular bloom has wilted and cannot revive, DO NOT pull it out of the buttonhole as you’ll make the ribbon or wire loose and the whole thing could fall apart. Instead, snip as far down as possible to the top of the binding point.  If there is an obvious hole, insert another wired flower head into the stems.

Top Tip!

  • Always have some spare ribbon in case you need to remake the whole thing. Essentially, depending on the style of your wedding, you want a few clusters of small headed flowers and some thinner, tapering foliage.  Bring this all together in a fingers pinch and tie it off with thin, 3mm ribbon or twine.  The buttonholes can then be fully submerged in water to keep them fresh.

Wrist Corsages

Sometimes these can be floppy or petals can fall of. There are super delicate pieces and should be treated as such.

I would suggest having a couple of spares on hand just in case you need to replace part-way through the day.

Also, discuss with your florist how these will be tied – they can come on pearl bracelets, ribbon or some have magnets. If the latter, these can simply be glued back on should they come loose.

So, there we have it! The third and final installment of our practical, pretty and essential Coco & Kat series with Jay Archer.

Hopefully having read through all three parts you’ll be more clued up when it comes to budgeting, more prepared for what to ask your florist, aware of the value behind florists’ professional skills and clued up about what to add to your emergency kit to remedy any flower related emergencies.

Finally, a shout out to the lady herself… THANK YOU Jay for being the author of this series, for sharing your valuable insights and experiences and for inviting us over to Hampshire for a day of jam-packed, hands-on and insightful training at your Floral Design Flower School.

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