Photography: AMY NEUNSINGER
Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2002
A bride's flowers usually go down the aisle clad in a satin bow, but you can give them a new outfit. Turning them out in something a little fancier will add a refreshing artistry to your ensemble. Bouquet collars -- or cuffs, if you will -- fan out from the base of a cluster of flowers, surrounding them like a special frame around a well-loved painting.
Guests will be impressed by such a bouquet's sophistication; brides, pleased by its usefulness. Cuffs make bouquets neat and easy to carry. And they give you a chance to express your personality -- or show a side to friends and relatives that they never knew you had. A chic bride-to-be might be charmed by a couture-inspired polka-dot cuff; a dreamier soul, enchanted by a magical border of translucent silk leaves. When deciding how to match cuff to flower, think about the same elements you would consider when choosing an outfit for yourself: color, style, and proportion. And take into account a gown's embellishment: A richly ornamented cuff can be a breathtaking counterpoint to a simple, unadorned dress.
Fashionably clothed flowers aren't new. Posy holders were all the rage in the nineteenth century. Shaped like vases or bowls, some of these Victorian holders are surprisingly elegant, made of carved ivory and delicate fluted crowns. Others are amusingly ornate; one green-and-black ceramic holder, for example, has a gold filigree angel perched on the handle. Often encrusted with jewels, these bouquetiers were carried by society ladies, who wore them as accessories. The holders were more versatile than they might at first seem: Many were made with a ring on a chain that went around a lady's finger, making it easy to remove the holder for dancing.
The cuffs on these pages are nine inches in diameter; tell this to your florist, and ask her to make your bouquet slightly smaller so the cuff peeps out. To use a cuff, slip your bouquet through the center, and tie a bow around the stems on the other side. All that's left to do is walk down the aisle. Afterward, your bouquet may fade, but the cuff, like the gown, can be saved -- perhaps to give to a daughter to frame her own flowers one day.