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Could Purple Flowers Ruin Your Wedding?

Updated on July 19, 2012

Why Purple?

OK, so the headline got your attention, but surely it's just hype? How can the color of your flowers ruin your wedding?

Nothing should be able to spoil the joy of a wedding, but I have seen brides in tears over purple flowers both at the wedding and when studying the wedding photographs they hoped to cherish for a lifetime, so this lens is designed to explain what those problems could be so you can see if any of them would apply to you.

Thanks for reading.

Please don't get me wrong. I love purple, and I love purple flowers, but they can cause quite a few problems, and as a result I know several florists who advise brides to avoid them, for three very different reasons. You may find they all apply to you, you may find none apply to you, but if you are planning to use purple flowers you might like to consider all the problems carefully before you make your decision.

This lens looks at the reasons purple can be a serious problem and what you can do about it, and then takes a look at the best purple flower options and how best to use them.

Photo shows a lovely blue/purple bouquet from angels accents.

2012 Wedding Color Themes - Vineyard

Image taken from 2012 Wedding Trends, distributed by Floral suppliers Smithers Oasis
Image taken from 2012 Wedding Trends, distributed by Floral suppliers Smithers Oasis

Purple flowers are once again seriously on trend. 2012's wedding colors were released at the end of 2011, and one of the most stunning color combinations was called 'vineyard'. I think you can guess why.

Here are the details of the 'Vineyard' color scheme, direct from Smithers Oasis, who send helpful newsletters to all florists and floral suppliers.

Although many wedding bouquets feature only flower heads, the 'vineyard' theme emphasizes the use of green with purple. These days there are a number of green flowers to choose from, but why not display flowers in their natural form, against luscious green foliage?

This is great for brides as foliage and fillers are usually pretty inexpensive and when added to a wedding bouquet of arrangement somehow give it a more natural look. Purple flowers used with green foliage will help to stretch your budget, and since you can easily purchase both from online flower wholesalers, there's every reason to save even more money by doing the flowers yourself.

White Dahlia with lavender edged petals, from Fifty Flowers
White Dahlia with lavender edged petals, from Fifty Flowers

The Problem of Purple

Like most things, purple flowers have a downside, and it's one most brides need to consider. Purple flowers (like blue flowers) dissappear when seen from a distance.

Yes, I know this sounds really weird, all I can do is assure you it's true. If you are planning a wedding in a large church, and you use blue or purple flowers in your arrangements, you'll find that the flowers can't really be seen from the back, in fact, if you're unlucky, it may look as though your arrangements have holes in them.

Does this mean you have to avoid purple flowers?

No, of course not. But it may mean it's best to avoid purple flowers in anything designed to make an impression from a distance.

Your wedding bouquet will mostly be seen close up, against a white background (your dress). It will be no problem. For large distance arrangements, stick with white flowers, or pale lilac which has very little blue in it.

You can easily tie white flowers to your purple theme by using a bicolor flower such as this beautiful white dahlia from internet wholesaler Fifty Flowers, which has a large number of wonderful white petals, all edged in lavender.

The other major problem with purple flowers is their symbolism. Although purple as a color is associated with emperors and wealth, purple flowers don't have the same association. For hundreds of years the Church has used purple as a color for repentance and mourning; you'll see purple in church during Lent for example, and as a result in many countries purple flowers are traditional at funerals. Some flowers are associated more closely with death than others, but, for example purple carnations are a traditional funeral flower in France. Purple flowers are also used for funerals in Brazil. Purple Chrysanthemums, though lovely flowers and long lasting are used as funeral flowers in many countries around the world.

Does this mean you have to avoid them? No, of course not. The choice of flowers for your wedding is yours, but do be aware of the way these flowers may be viewed by others at your wedding. If, for example, your husband to be comes from a country where purple is the color of funerals, having a purple bouquet may not be the best way to bond with your new family.

Tantalising Tropicals - Purple Flowers for a Beach or Destination Wedding

Purple Anthurium from Fifty Flowers
Purple Anthurium from Fifty Flowers

Living in Florida (and having been married on the island of Cyprus) I'm all too aware that flowers can droop when subject to extreme heat. Some hold up better than others, and not too surprisingly, tropical flowers seem to hold up best of all.

Purple orchids are easy to find and beautiful. They are ideal for long trailing bouquets or for over-arm sheaths, but if you're looking for something a little more unusual, how about a purple anthurium?

Also known as the 'Flamingo flower' anthuriums have a waxy surface and survive heat extremely well. You can find them in pink, white green and most famously in red as well as purple. They are available all year round, though you may find that purple anthuriums are not that common. We found them at Floral wholesaler FiftyFlowers and direct from Hawaiian supplier Wholesale Tropical Flowers, who has both purple and lilac varieties.

Selection of purple, violet and lilac carnations available from fifty flowers
Selection of purple, violet and lilac carnations available from fifty flowers

Carnations Stage a Comeback.

The flower that came in from the cold.

When I was married in Cyprus (more years ago than I am willing to admit) the choice of flowers was very easy. There were carnations or carnations or carnations. I wasn't happy because I thought they were old fashioned (my Grandmother carried them at her wedding and that was 1926) and boring, but the florist pointed out the important thing, we could expect the temperature to rise to around 40 in the Church during the long ceremony. All the pictures would be taken at the start, just to be safe, but who wants to totter back to their reception carrying a bunch of wilting flowers? Carnations can take the heat and still look good next day, never mind a few hours later.

Carnations come in two sizes, the small multi-head stems, and the larger single head stems. You'll find them in all sorts of colors, but for the lover of purple, sadly lilac and purple both seem to be slightly more expensive that the more common pink, red or white.

Carnations have a long history and symbolism. To the French, they are a funeral flower, and purple carnations especially have negative associations, however Carnations are the national flower of Spain, Monaco, and Slovenia and a red carnation is the state flower of Ohio. They are also the 'birth flower' for those born in January.

Popularity Plus - Calla Lilies - still the most popular wedding flower?

Beautiful Purple Wedding bouquet from the Little Bouquet Shop
Beautiful Purple Wedding bouquet from the Little Bouquet Shop

Calla lilies, fashionable in the 20's and thirties, became a big hit when smaller varieties (mini-callas) and more colors were developed. Gathered together in a simple bunch they make a pretty, and fairly robust display, making them very popular with DIY brides and florists who found it much faster to create hand-tied bouquets that the complex, carefully wired bouquets which had been popular.

Calla lilies are available in several shades of lilac, through to deep, deep, almost black purple. Their shape somehow gives them an exotic feel and they look wonderful mixed with feathers or with other flowers. Purple calla lilies have become very fashionable for gothic brides, as in this example, a gorgeously gothic bouquet in purple/pink silk calla lilies from bouquet maker The Little Bouquet Shop.

Lavdender Spray Rose
Lavdender Spray Rose

The Romance of Roses

Would roses be the ultimate symbol of romance if the poets had never written about them? I like to think so. The Empress Josephine of France is credited with building one of the worlds first major collections of roses. They were so important to her that the governments of England and France agreed on a truce during the Napoleonic wars in order to get precious roses to Josephine's gardens at Malmaison.

Traditionally white, red (or both) pink or yellow, roses have now been bred in many sizes, shapes and configurations. Where once any lilac rose would have been a fake, lilac and purple roses are now commercially available, and symbolize mysticism and mystery. Some popular varieties include 'Ocean Song' (pale lavender) Purple haze (lavender pink) Blue Bird (small, pale lavender with pink undertones) and Double Party, a bicolor rose with 3 inch blooms, white petals all edged with purple.

If you do decide to use make your own bouquet and arrangements, remember that you can open roses by hand to get a more 'open' look, just peal back the petals, but beware, purple and lavender roses have the same shelf life as other colors, but they do tend to open very quickly.

If you want to use roses but have to save money, choose spray roses. These have a delicate look and are generally less expensive, when mixed with foliage, than the full size flowers.

Don't be afraid to do it yourself. There are many blooms on one stem. In addition to wedding bouquets, these are very effective used in floral centerpieces.

Viceroy Tulip.In 1637 one bulb of this tulip cost ten times as much as a skilled craftsman could earn in a year.
Viceroy Tulip.In 1637 one bulb of this tulip cost ten times as much as a skilled craftsman could earn in a year.

Tremendous Tulips

Tulips are another flower which can be found in shades from lilac through to purple and violet, but even more noteworthy are the bi-color fancy tulips with their 'splashed' petals which can combine colors you might never have thought of. There's even one variety, Princess Irene, which combines purple with bright orange!

For variations in texture, look at standard tulips, which have straightforward smooth petals, to peony tulips, which are a great substitute for peonies and have the same 'ffrilly' cup and parrot tulips, with extravagant cut and frilled petals, often splashed with more than one color.

Tulips have a fascinating history. The bulbs were once incredibly valuable; trading in them caused an economic crisis in Holland in 1637.

When it comes to bouquets, tulips would not be my first choice for a DIY project. Their stems can droop if not kept hydrated. If you have your heart set on tulips, cut the stems very short, and use a foam bouquet holder which has a detachable cap and can be left in water until needed. Alternatively, make an overarm bouquet where the graceful droop of the stems just makes the bouquet look better!

When it comes to centerpieces, the stems can be an advantage. Let them dehydrate a little and then, using your hands, very very gently bend the stems, but don't break them! Once the stems are bending you can create minimalistic (and inexpensive) centerpieces by bending them around the inside of a vase or bowl. One charming idea is to bend 3 or four stems around the inside of a low bowl, then fill the bowl with water and float some matching candles. It's quick, easy, effective and thoroughly affordable,

The same technique works well with calla lilies.

Purple Iris from Whole Blossoms, flower wholesaler
Purple Iris from Whole Blossoms, flower wholesaler

The Iris

Symbol of Luxury

The Iris, in its other persona as the fleu-de-lis, has become a worldwide symbol of luxury, as well as of the nation of France. While fleu-de-lis are traditionally golden, Irises are also found in blue, violet and purple shades. The most dramatic being the bearded iris, deep purple/burgundy with splashes of gold on the petals.

These wonderful flowers have stems a little like tulips and calla lilies; with care they can be bent to form graceful arches and to bend around the inside of containers. A traditional spring flower, the iris is available all year, and an ideal flower for a purple bouquet.

Blue/purple anemone from Whole Blossoms
Blue/purple anemone from Whole Blossoms

Anemones

Available in blue and purple, these are beautiful flowers with an interesting texture. They look wonderful in bouquets of garden flowers, the only downside is their vase life which is only a couple of days, making it difficult to prepare a bouquet in advance.

This picture came from WholeBlossoms - an online flower wholesaler.

PurpleBerry Hydrangea
PurpleBerry Hydrangea

Hydrangeas

Popular, but Purple?

Hydrangeas, once common garden flowers have become enormously popular as wedding flowers. Just a few large blooms make a wedding bouquet, and if you're looking for a beach theme of blues, then really hydrangeas, one of the very few naturally pale blue flowers, are the best choice.

But Purple?

Hydrangeas are usually seen in pink, blue or white, but believe it or not there is a natural purple variety called 'purpleberry' which has a fabulous variety of purple shades. Gather one or two together, add some greenery and hold in place with some florists tape, a bouquet couldn't be easier to make, and to create a centerpiece you just drop 3- 5 stems into a vase and surround the vase with candles.

Striped Purple Dahlia from Fifty Flowers
Striped Purple Dahlia from Fifty Flowers

Delicious Dahlias

Not high on the list of popular wedding flowers, dahlias are, never-the-less, excellent flowers for bouquets, arrangements and centerpieces. You'll find them in shades of lilac and purple, and from time to time there are some striking bi-color varieties, such as this one, available from Fifty Flowers, which shows stripes of two colors of purple

Planning a DIY wedding? - It's a great way to save money.

Planning to do your own flowers? Its perfectly possible and can end up saving you a great deal. Here are some books to help get the creative juices flowing.

Do It Yourself! - All you need are the right tools

Yes, you can do your own wedding flowers. Plastic bouquet holders make it easy, just soak the foam and add flowers, but do yourself a favor and practice a couple of times before the event!

Foam bouquet holders also make a great basis for floral centerpieces and the foam will work with silk as well as fresh flowers (though don't soak it for silk flowers)

You'll find many books filled with bouquet ideas on amazon, but since most are written by florists or even planners, they don't usually show you how to achieve great bouquets when you DIY, which is why this book is so useful. Don't take my word for it, browse the contents online and see for yourself.

FloraCraft Gala Bouquet Holder with Artesia Foam, 3-Inch-by-7-Inch, Crystal, 4-Per-Box
FloraCraft Gala Bouquet Holder with Artesia Foam, 3-Inch-by-7-Inch, Crystal, 4-Per-Box

The easy way to make your own bouquet, or add flowers to one of these and place in the top of a narrow vase to create a tall centerpiece, or if you are working to a narrow budget, pop one in an empty wine bottle.

 
Bouquet Chic: Wedding flowers
Bouquet Chic: Wedding flowers

I first encountered Kimberley Aurora when I found an Etsy shop featuring gorgeous wedding bouquets made from seashells. Later I found this book with its step by step approach - not just bouquet ideas, a genuine 'how to'.

 

More Purple Flowers for your wedding - Stunning flowers you don't see quite so often

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Freesias have a  delightful scent and are easy to arrange.You'll find them in shades from white through lilac to deep purple, they add the dimension of fragrance, something which will enhance your memories.Pom pom dahlias make wonderful fillers in arrangements, table centers and of course, wedding bouquets.Some wholesale flower sellers provide filler 'packs' of flowers you can use to add color to arrangements and bouquets. Add them to white or purple flowers, or simply add them to greenery.Campanula are delightful bells shaped flowers. Ideal for bouquets seeking a 'just picked' look, or for rustic, country weddings.Lilac, the flower which gave the color its name. Fragrance and beauty in the perfect purple package.Purple orchids, expensive but very durable.The spectacular bearded iris, deep purple splashed with gold.
Freesias have a  delightful scent and are easy to arrange.You'll find them in shades from white through lilac to deep purple, they add the dimension of fragrance, something which will enhance your memories.
Freesias have a delightful scent and are easy to arrange.You'll find them in shades from white through lilac to deep purple, they add the dimension of fragrance, something which will enhance your memories.
Pom pom dahlias make wonderful fillers in arrangements, table centers and of course, wedding bouquets.
Pom pom dahlias make wonderful fillers in arrangements, table centers and of course, wedding bouquets.
Some wholesale flower sellers provide filler 'packs' of flowers you can use to add color to arrangements and bouquets. Add them to white or purple flowers, or simply add them to greenery.
Some wholesale flower sellers provide filler 'packs' of flowers you can use to add color to arrangements and bouquets. Add them to white or purple flowers, or simply add them to greenery.
Campanula are delightful bells shaped flowers. Ideal for bouquets seeking a 'just picked' look, or for rustic, country weddings.
Campanula are delightful bells shaped flowers. Ideal for bouquets seeking a 'just picked' look, or for rustic, country weddings.
Lilac, the flower which gave the color its name. Fragrance and beauty in the perfect purple package.
Lilac, the flower which gave the color its name. Fragrance and beauty in the perfect purple package.
Purple orchids, expensive but very durable.
Purple orchids, expensive but very durable.
The spectacular bearded iris, deep purple splashed with gold.
The spectacular bearded iris, deep purple splashed with gold.

And Finally - Don't forget the greenery! Adding green will give your bouquet the 'Vineyard' look, and there are lots of greens to choose from.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Curly Willow. Take a close look at many tall centrpieces and you'll see that a lot of the height comes from the use of this inexpensive filler. No colour, but still useful.I love the texture of seeded eucalyptus - it also has a pleasant scent. Ive seen tables decorated with vases of this, surrounded by votive candles. It's easy to do, looks great and doesn't cost much either. From Fifty Flowers.A fairly standard green filler, but green really does help to show off the color of your flowers.Myrtle - a traditional inclusion in all weddings bouquets. This is an ancient association. Myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, and hence a symbol of love. Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bouquet, after the wedding it was planted and grew well. SinceThis is a very delicate, textured fern, called plumosa by some, asparagus fern by others. Its adds a delightful airy almost ethereal feel to any wedding bouquet.Another color of seeded eucalytpus. At Christmas time some wholesale floral suppliers spray eucalyptus gold and silver. The texture drapes beautifully over the edge of a vase, and creates bulk so you don't need too many flowers in your arrangement, bWhen you choose a wholesale flower company you'll find some charge by the bunch and add shipping, while others have a minimum order (usually around $100) which includes shipping. Rather than buying a lot of a single type of greenery, you mind it mostVariegated ivy - the perfect trail from tall wedding centerpieces or add just 2 or three pieces to a bouquet to give it more of a 'cascade' feel.
Curly Willow. Take a close look at many tall centrpieces and you'll see that a lot of the height comes from the use of this inexpensive filler. No colour, but still useful.
Curly Willow. Take a close look at many tall centrpieces and you'll see that a lot of the height comes from the use of this inexpensive filler. No colour, but still useful.
I love the texture of seeded eucalyptus - it also has a pleasant scent. Ive seen tables decorated with vases of this, surrounded by votive candles. It's easy to do, looks great and doesn't cost much either. From Fifty Flowers.
I love the texture of seeded eucalyptus - it also has a pleasant scent. Ive seen tables decorated with vases of this, surrounded by votive candles. It's easy to do, looks great and doesn't cost much either. From Fifty Flowers.
A fairly standard green filler, but green really does help to show off the color of your flowers.
A fairly standard green filler, but green really does help to show off the color of your flowers.
Myrtle - a traditional inclusion in all weddings bouquets. This is an ancient association. Myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, and hence a symbol of love. Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bouquet, after the wedding it was planted and grew well. Since
Myrtle - a traditional inclusion in all weddings bouquets. This is an ancient association. Myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, and hence a symbol of love. Queen Victoria carried myrtle in her bouquet, after the wedding it was planted and grew well. Since
This is a very delicate, textured fern, called plumosa by some, asparagus fern by others. Its adds a delightful airy almost ethereal feel to any wedding bouquet.
This is a very delicate, textured fern, called plumosa by some, asparagus fern by others. Its adds a delightful airy almost ethereal feel to any wedding bouquet.
Another color of seeded eucalytpus. At Christmas time some wholesale floral suppliers spray eucalyptus gold and silver. The texture drapes beautifully over the edge of a vase, and creates bulk so you don't need too many flowers in your arrangement, b
Another color of seeded eucalytpus. At Christmas time some wholesale floral suppliers spray eucalyptus gold and silver. The texture drapes beautifully over the edge of a vase, and creates bulk so you don't need too many flowers in your arrangement, b
When you choose a wholesale flower company you'll find some charge by the bunch and add shipping, while others have a minimum order (usually around $100) which includes shipping. Rather than buying a lot of a single type of greenery, you mind it most
When you choose a wholesale flower company you'll find some charge by the bunch and add shipping, while others have a minimum order (usually around $100) which includes shipping. Rather than buying a lot of a single type of greenery, you mind it most
Variegated ivy - the perfect trail from tall wedding centerpieces or add just 2 or three pieces to a bouquet to give it more of a 'cascade' feel.
Variegated ivy - the perfect trail from tall wedding centerpieces or add just 2 or three pieces to a bouquet to give it more of a 'cascade' feel.

Choose your favorite - What's your favorite purple flower?

A wand style bouquet made from the ultimate purple flower - lavender, teamed with white roses.
A wand style bouquet made from the ultimate purple flower - lavender, teamed with white roses.

Has this lens given you any ideas? Have you thought of purple for your wedding bouquet? Please vote in our poll!

Which of the purple flowers from this lens would you use in a purple wedding bouquet?

See results

Is purple a good color for a wedding Bouquet?

What color would you blend it with? Popular choices are pink, blue and red.

If the flowers are purple, what color should the bridesmaids wear?

Let us know what you think!

What do you think?

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    • Anime-e profile image

      Anime-e 4 years ago

      I find that all flowers look best when in that season for a wedding, but purple is really eyecatching!

    • LesleyOC profile image
      Author

      LesleyOC 4 years ago

      @Anime-e: I agree. Purple is a very popular color for flowers for a good reason! I love purple flowers, but I still think it's a good idea to be aware that they can cause problems in some cases.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I like lilacs, but after reading how purple tends to disappear from distances, I think that I would recommend people simple choose a contrasting color rather than purple for their wedding flowers.

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 4 years ago from USA

      I didn't realize that purple flowers disappear from distance. But I do love purple flowers!

    • LesleyOC profile image
      Author

      LesleyOC 4 years ago

      @CoeGurl: Most people don't realize that blue and purple disappear over distance, I learned that at flower arranging class and then noticed that the purple flowers in my front garden don't seem to be there if I look at them from the end of the road! Thanks for commenting

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      This is a lovely lens. I didn't realise that there was a flower for the birth month. Now I know mine is carnation!

    • Phoenix2361 profile image

      Phoenix2361 4 years ago

      This was pretty lens. Not just to read about the various flowers but to look at as well.

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      How interesting. I never considered the problem very dark colored flowers could make. I'd use pale purple shades like mauve perhaps. I do like purple a lot.

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