by Laura BlackFeather, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Swarovski crystal beads, cubic zirconia beads and cultured freshwater pearls have long been a favorite among brides. Now these traditional jewelry components are blossoming into bridal bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres--with some sparkling ensembles made up entirely of beads. Others are taking flight with wispy feathered plumes incorporated into their blooms.
Whatever style bouquet you're planning, adding beaded stems and sprays is an easy and inexpensive way to light up the aisle with glamour that lasts a lifetime. Kim, from the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Customer Service team, designed the wedding party flowers for her friend and co-worker, Traci, who was married recently. Kim shared her design tips and techniques for creating sparkling sprays of splendor that only look complicated.
Here's How: Use either silk or fresh flowers depending on how elaborate the bouquet design and your timeframe. Silk bouquets can be made well ahead of the big day and allow for more intricate detail, while fresh flower bouquets should be made no earlier than the night before.
Select Swarovski crystal beads, Celestial Crystal® beads, cubic zirconia beads and cultured freshwater pearls in crystal clear, crystal AB, white and hues that complement your wedding flowers. For crystals and cubic zirconia, use bicone or teardrop beads. For pearls use potato, flat round or round shapes.
Making Stems Using either gold- or silver-colored 22-gauge wire--or, for an extra touch of elegance, sterling silver or gold-filled twisted wire--cut several sections in short, medium and long lengths. The lengths for each will depend on the length of your bouquet clutch. The short segments should be long enough to rest just above the brim of the clutch. The medium lengths should be roughly two inches longer than the short segments. Cut the long sections of wire to be an inch or two shorter than your tallest flower in the bouquet. String a bicone, teardrop or pearl bead onto the end of a wire segment and secure with a wrapped loop. Repeat for each segment, alternating colors and types of beads as you go.
Arrange flowers and beaded stems in florist's foam and bind with floral tape. Wrap clutch with satin or velvet ribbon. For fresh flowers, leave enough unwrapped length of flower stems to place in water and refrigerate overnight. Trim ends before use.
Design Tip: For more elaborate bead stems, use the vining technique found in the Wedding Pearls of Wisdom Hair Vine How-To project.
Making Sprays Drip crystals, pearls and beads over the bouquet clutch by crimping strands of Accu-Flex® professional-quality beading wire or invisible cord beading cord onto several of the short lengths of wire used to make the stems. String beads intermittently along the length of each strand of beading wire or cord, and crimp the bottom end of each bead with a crimp tube to hold in place. Before stringing the last bead onto the strand, string a crimp tube, then your last bead, followed by a small seed bead or metal bead. Run cord back through the last bead and crimp. Use a crimp cover to conceal the crimp tube and give the strand a professional finish. Make as many or as few sprays as desired in varying lengths for an airy look of sophistication.
Added Charm Personalize bridal bouquets with monogrammed sterling silver charms in the initials of the bridal party. Attach charms to the base of the short stems in the center of the bouquet using a jumpring, or tie charms onto the bouquet clutch with ribbon.
Birthstones, keepsakes and omni-gel photo transfer components are other charming additions to customize bridal bouquets and arrangements. Simply cut a stem to your desired length and add a loop for attaching the embellishments. Depending on the weight of the embellishments, a heavier gauge wire may be needed.
Added Sparkle Flat back crystals can also be added to both silk and fresh flowers. For silk flowers, use G-S Hypo fabric cement to affix the crystals to the most visible broad areas of the blossoms. For fresh flowers, use either E-6000® or Jewel Bond™ adhesive as they are the least abrasive on organic materials. Apply glue with a toothpick to the back of the crystal and set in place using tweezers. Because some blooms are heartier than others, testing is recommended for fresh flowers to see how they will withstand the glue and weight of the flat back. Suggested flat back crystal size is 4mm or smaller.