There are a few things that stand out in your wedding memories—the first look, the food, the “I dos,” and of course, the bouquet. Wedding flowers are a favorite tradition that’s remained relatively untouched as a natural choice for romantic decor and beautiful centerpieces. Whether you choose an elaborate floral arrangement or local wildflowers, there’s something sentimental about your wedding bouquet, so you’ll want to know how to preserve flowers.
Wedding flowers incorporate so much of your wedding into one beautiful arrangement. Perhaps you chose bold California Poppies as the attention piece in your bouquet—the perfect spring bloom for your April wedding in Southern California. Of course, they were yellow with lots of greenery and matched your color palette for an outdoor wedding in the sunshine. They’re a perfect reminder of your big day.
The reality is, if you choose natural flowers for your ceremony, they won’t live forever. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can keep them longer and incorporate them into your life as a beautiful wedding keepsake. Here are eight ways you can preserve your flowers and creative ideas to display your bouquet as home decor.
1. Press your petals.
Pressed flowers may be the easiest and most recognizable way to dry your flowers. You use weight to press your flowers flat and give it some time to press all of the moisture out. This is a great choice if you’d like to frame your flowers, but if you want your flowers to keep your shape you’ll want to try another method.
How to Press Flowers
Drying time: 3–4 weeks
- 2 Heavy books
- Coffee filter or parchment paper
- Choose the blooms you want to press and trim the stems away.
- Place your blooms inside the coffee filter, side-by-side.
- Place the coffee filter of flowers inside the middle pages of one of the books.
- Place the additional book on top for extra weight and dry for at least three weeks.
2. Hang your bouquet to air-dry.
Air drying your bouquet is another simple and traditional way to save your flowers. This process also takes a few weeks to complete, but your flowers will preserve more of their shape with this method than with pressing. Your flowers will lose some color and aren’t the easiest to craft with, but they look great in a vase or hanging on the wall.
How to Air Dry Flowers
Drying time: 2+ weeks
- Tie your bouquet upside down in a warm, dry area.
- Hang for at least two weeks before removing.
3. Dry your flowers with sand.
If you want to naturally dry your flowers and maintain as much of their color and shape as possible, sand drying may be your best bet. The sand supports the form of the flower and leaves your bloom looking fresh and vibrant.
How to Dry Flowers in Sand
Drying time: 2 weeks
- Fine sand
- Sturdy boxes
- Florist’s wire
- Pour a half-inch of sand into the bottom of your box.
- Place in the box and on top of the sand. If the bloom is particularly delicate, use the florist’s wire to support the stems and blooms.
- Use a cup to gently pour the sand around and over the flower until completely covered.
- Place in a warm, dry area for two weeks.
- After two weeks, gently pour the sand out of the box, lifting the flower the direction you’re pouring to prevent damage.
4. Preserve your blooms in silica gel.
Silica gel will produce dried flowers similar to the air-drying method, but in only two to six days and with a little more color preservation. The process is easy, but does require more supplies and therefore can get a little costly compared to air-drying.
How to Dry Flowers in Silica Gel
Drying time: 1 week
- Silica gel
- Airtight container
- Optional: hairspray or Mod Podge
- Trim the stem to one inch or shorter, leaving the bloom.
- Add one inch of silica to an airtight container.
- Place your blooms into the container and gently fill the rest of the container with the silica gel.
- Close the container and leave to dry for one week.
- Remove the dried bloom from the silica gel, using the paintbrush to gently remove the gel capsules.
- Coat the flower in hairspray or Mod Podge to seal moisture out.
5. Microwave your flowers.
Microwaving your flowers is definitely the quickest way to dry your flowers, but it has its limits. For one, every microwave is different, so you may have to do a few test runs before you use your wedding flowers. It’s also a form of pressing, so you won’t be able to keep the bloom’s shape, and if you don’t have a large enough microwave-safe press, you’ll be limited in the size of bloom you can press.
How to Dry Flowers in the Microwave
Drying time: 1+ minutes
- Paper towel
- Flat, heavy, microwave-safe item (a glass baking pan works well)
- Fold the paper in half around your blooms.
- Fold the paper towel around the paper.
- Place in the microwave with the heavy, flat-surfaced item on top.
- Microwave in bursts for 15–30 seconds, for a total of one minute or until dry.
6. Dip your bouquet in wax.
Dipping your flowers in wax won’t preserve them forever, but it can extend their use by about six months. The real benefit of dipping your flowers in wax is that you don’t have to trim them too short, and they will maintain their color and shape better than the drying methods.
How to Wax Dip Live Flowers
Process time: 5 minutes
- Paraffin wax (you can also substitute unscented candles)
- Double boiler or half-quart cooking pot
- Melt the wax in the cooking pot or using a double boiler until just melted about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dip the bloom into the wax twice. If you see bubbles appearing your wax is too hot and the flower will wilt.
- After dipping, hold the flower until the wax is set—about three minutes. You may also place it into a small glass to keep it upright.
- Once the wax on the bloom is set, repeat the dipping process with the stem.
7. Save your flowers with epoxy resin.
Epoxy resin is a great way to make lasting art with your flowers, but they do need to be dried first. The beauty of resin is that you can make just about anything—from a new tabletop to a wedding guestbook cover, there’s almost no limit.
How to Preserve Flowers in Epoxy Resin
Process time: 3 days
- Dried flowers
- Epoxy resin
- Mixing cup (non-metallic)
- Stir stick (popsicle sticks work well)
- Project mold
- Mix the epoxy in your non-metallic cup and avoid bubbles by stirring slowly all the way through.
- Fill the mold with epoxy until the bottom layer is covered.
- Add your dried flowers with tweezers.
- Fill the mold with the remaining epoxy mix.
- Allow to set per the epoxy resin’s instruction.
- Remove your project from the mold and finish with any accessories needed.
8. Protect your florals with glycerin.
Glycerin preserves flowers well because it actually replaces the water in the flower, keeping the flower supple and bold. Glycerin is the best method to keep the flower looking and feeling fresh, but it can darken the leaves and stem of your florals.
How to Preserve Flowers with Glycerin
Process time: 2+ weeks
- Fill a vase with two parts lukewarm water, one part glycerin.
- Place the stems of your flowers into the vase.
- Leave to absorb for two to three weeks.
- If the petals look wilted, hang the flowers upside down to help glycerin reach the petals.
Try these creative ways to display your flowers.
After you’ve dried or preserved your flowers, the real fun is deciding how to use them. Dried flowers can be beautiful on their own, but are also great for creating art for your home. The options are only limited by your imagination, but here are 13 ideas to get you started.
- Frame your flowers to display your pressing as wall art.
- Press coasters with flowers in fresh clay and cut with a cookie cutter before baking.
- Pour candles and add your dried petals to the wax and scents to match your wedding bouquet.
- Craft sun catchers with dried flowers pressed between glass panes.
- Decorate pottery by pressing fresh flowers onto the unglazed pottery, transferring their color and shape.
- Display a vase of your beautiful dried or preserved bouquet.
- Make a wreath of your flowers to adorn your door.
- Build a shadow box with your dried blooms and other wedding keepsakes, like your vows.
- Weave a flower crown to hang on your wall and wear on your anniversary.
- Create monogram art of epoxy resin, molding your flowers into initials.
- Shape a heart with epoxy resin or as a wreath to display on your mantle.
- Design jewelry with pressed flowers in glass or with an epoxy resin mold.
- Cast a ring stand by pouring epoxy resin into a cone for your nightstand to keep your wedding rings safe.
After all of your planning, including hours of addressing invites and brainstorming ceremony ideas, you’ll want to celebrate every moment of your big day forever. Preserving your wedding flowers is an easy and beautiful way to display a wedding keepsake in your home, and a daily reminder of the beginning of the rest of your life in love.