Tropical flowers have such stunning shapes and bold colors that that simple bouquet designs show them off best. Try to upstage an anthurium or orchid with a complicated assemblage of many varieties of blooms and in the end you’ll wish you had left well enough alone.

Case in point: a cluster of dendrobium orchids (pictured below) tied with string or ribbon makes a beautiful bridesmaid bouquet. Knowing when to put the spotlight on the flowers instead of the design is what makes a good designer. Sometimes, nature has it all worked out for you.

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Then again, there are tropical bouquet styles that incorporate multiple kinds of flowers and a range of colors, shapes and textures that, when done well, make absolute sense.

How do you know if tropical flowers are right for your wedding? It’s all about location. If you are getting married in a warm climate where tropicals are native, you can build on the sense of place by using flowers that would naturally come from local gardens.

One of the first weddings I designed was for a couple of good friends who had chosen an outdoor pavilion at a gorgeous park in Florida as the venue for their nuptials. Surrounded by palm trees and live oaks with moss, they promised to stay together forever.

Flower-wise, there are so many directions you can go when a wedding is casual. We decided to play off the palm trees and do all tropicals. It went a little something like this: the day before the wedding, I went to the wholesale florist and bought orchids, anthurium, heliconia, birds-of-paradise and fabulous tropical foliage. I drove out to the coast with my flowers in boxes (tropicals do fine out of water for a few days), empty buckets and my toolkit of florist’s hardware.

All the bouquets, garlands and centerpieces were made on-site in the hours leading up to the wedding, and I did the work myself, following my creative whims. This is a florist’s fantasy: to be given an engaged couple’s complete trust and the go-ahead to be creative in the moment without any parameters but the flowers themselves.

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