We spend months (even years) planning a wedding, and it’s over in one day. We do what we can to preserve our memories — we take photos and hold on to our gowns, or pack away keepsakes like invitations, napkins, or the cake topper — but, what about the bouquet? The flowers you held as you walked down the aisle can be one of your greatest keepsakes, and drying them allows you to enjoy them just like you did on your perfect day.
No matter what your crafting skill level, we’ve got the instructions to help you preserve them as a forever memory.
Hang Your Flowers to Dry (2-3 Weeks)
If you aren’t DIY-inclined, hanging your flowers may be the option for you. It’s one of the easiest ways to dry your flowers, and doesn’t require a lot of tools. All you need is a dark and dry space with good circulation and a way to tie the flowers together.
- Strip excess foliage, remove the leaves carefully, and cut stems to desired length (no shorter than 6 inches). Sunlight will strip your flowers of colour, so get them into the dark as quickly as you can after cutting the stems.
- Remove all the ribbon and wire from the bottom of your bouquet. The stems will shrink as the flowers dry, so tie a few stems at a time using a strong elastic band, and bunch them together afterwards. This keeps them from sagging as they dry. Alternately, you can dry the flowers separately, and reassemble them afterwards.
- Place the leaves on a flat airy surface (like a screen or tennis racket), and cover with a newspaper to weight them down – that prevents curling as they dry. You can also press the leaves in the book. If you chose this option, follow the steps found under the Press Your Flowers section below.
- Hang the flowers upside down in a cool, dry space, like a closet. Be sure to check on them every few days. Your bouquet is dry when the flowers feel stiff and the stems easily break.
- Reattach the leaves using hot glue and reassemble the bouquet. Complete the look by spraying with unscented hairspray, dried flower spray, or craft spray.
Press Your Flowers in a Book (2-3 Weeks)
If you don’t have the room to hang your bouquet, pressing them in a book is an easy alternative. Once pressed, you can also use the dried flowers in homemade cards, jewellery, or as a piece of framed art.
- Find a heavy hardcover book to weigh the flowers down. Moisture from the flowers can damage the pages, so make sure it’s a book you’re okay with trashing afterwards.
- Lay the book open and line it with a layer of cardboard, newspaper, and tissues (in that order).
- Arrange the flowers on top of your layers. The flowers will be pressed exactly as you lay them, so let your creative juices flow. For example, laying the flowers flat on the top sheet of tissue or overlap them for a windblown effect. When ready, top your flowers in reverse order: tissues, newspaper, and then cardboard.
- Close the book and store it in a cool, dry place, being careful not to disturb the arrangement of your flowers.
- Check on your flowers and carefully change the blotter (tissue) sheets every few days.
- After a few weeks, your flowers will be completely dry. Gently open the layers of paper and remove the flowers with your fingers or tweezers — your flowers are now ready for your craft project.
Dry Flowers with Silica Gel (1-2 Weeks)
The most complex way to dry your wedding bouquet is to use silica gel, a sandy crystal substance that aids in the drying process by drawing moisture away from the flowers while preserving their colour and shape. This process is more expensive and requires you to follow several steps to be successful, but preserves your flowers much to their original form. So, if you’re looking to keep your bouquet just like it was on your wedding day, this option may be worth the time and effort.
- Take a ‘before’ picture of the bouquet, for later reference. Carefully disassemble your bouquet so as to not damage the flowers, unwrapping any sashes or ribbons holding it together.
- Remove all parts of the bouquet that have gone soft or mushy – this includes stems, leaves, buds, etc….
- Take a large, deep, sealable container and pour a one-inch layer of silica gel on the bottom.
- Arrange the flowers on the gel, making sure they don’t touch each other or the walls of the container. If needed, use more than one container.
- Cover the blooms completely with silica gel, sprinkling gently to avoid flattening the flowers under the weight of the crystals.
- Cover the container and put aside in a warm, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
- Check on your flowers in about four days. Remember, the gel will change to a pink colour when it’s absorbed the moisture, and the flowers should be stiff and dry to the touch. If any of the flowers still feel soft, cover again and leave for a few more days.
- When all of the flowers are dry, pour out the silica gel into another container and carefully brush any remaining crystals off the flowers.
- Once the flowers and stems are dry, reattach them together using a hot glue gun or by very carefully pushing a length of wire inside the stem, and then into the flower head to join together. If there are any problems with the stems, you can also purchase green wire stems from a craft store.
And there you go — give one of these options a try for a unique way to make your perfect bouquet last forever.
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