Dramatic Floral Arrangements Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations

Putnam & Putnam flower arrangment

Classic botanical illustrations are a beautiful marriage of art and nature—and the muses for these wedding blooms. The talented floral designers behind Putnam & Putnam created arrangements that look simultaneously vintage and new, ornate and unfussy, intellectual and wildly romantic. All of which makes them ideal for celebrating another beautiful union—yours.

Hold the Drama

Vintage inspiration isn't just for your gown. When designing these arrangements, "we chose flowers that were common in Victorian prints," says Michael Putnam, who is one half, with husband Darroch, of the NYC-based floral design team. Those include tall, dark Fritillaria persica, black hellebores, and parrot tulips with the bulbs still attached. That unexpected touch, says Weddings flower pro and style director Naomi deMañana, "shows the cycle of growth." So it's just the thing to carry on a day when you're putting down roots. Vintage silk-brocade ribbon ($50 a yd., eastcoasttrimming.com) tied the entire look together.

Flower specimens

Spotlight Specimens

Displayed under a glass cloche ($6.25 each, collectingwarehouse.com), a stem or two of a single varietal become an enchanting token of thanks for your wedding party or family members. Putnam adhered a pin frog to the bottom of each cloche with Flora‑life Sure‑Stik floral putty, then staked sturdy‑stemmed blooms onto the pins. To make them last all day, add a petri or Lomey dish filled with water, suggests Naomi.

Victorian greenhouse-inspired floral centerpiece

Set a Dreamscape

"A display like this will make guests feel like they're walking into a Victorian greenhouse," says Michael. The spring ephemerals—tulips, ranunculus, fritillaries, grape hyacinths—and orchids are arranged in test tubes, cloches, brushed-brass bud vases, and clear bud vases resembling beakers; vintage black chamber candlesticks anchor the scene. At each place, rose-petal-flavored sugar cubes make sweet favors. For extra magic, Naomi pinned a few preserved, sustainably raised butterfly specimens to blossoms, immortalizing them in mid-flight.

Shop Now: The Butterfly Company Dried Butterflies, from $1 each (minimum order: $35), thebutterflycompany.com. Teaspressa Rose Sugar Cubes, from $9 for 6, teaspressa.com. L'Objet Soie Tressée Black Dinner Plates, $64 each, l-objet.com. Mepra Vintage Collection Michaelangelo Oro Nero Flatware, $151 for a 4-piece place setting, theluxuryartmepra.com. Luigi Bormioli Sublime Wineglasses, $30 for 4, potterybarn.com.

Flower escort cards for guests

Sit Pretty

Guests will pluck these escort cards with aplomb. They feature single blooms slipped into water tubes ($15 for 100, amazon.com) and attached with white washi tape. Each cut flower will last for hours; when you get home, put them in a bud vase in water, and keep the party going.

Tiered chocolate cake with flower decor

Go Dutch

In the 1700s, artists began painting in this style, showcasing flowers against a dark background to bring out their vibrant hues. Here, chocolate-ganache frosting serves as the dramatic setting, and real blooms "grow" up and over the tiers, says Michael. The pansies, small palms, orchids, grape hyacinths, sweet-peas, and nigella are held in place with toothpicks, poised in a tableau vivant that would make the Old Masters smile.

Art direction by Abbey Kuster-Prokell; Styling by Naomi DeMañana.

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