By Howard Lewis Russell Contributing Writer

Don’t worry about going all-out on flowers — that’s what they’re there for

COLOR MY WORLD: A spray of flowers, like these from All Occasions, can add a sparkle of color to any wedding.

All wedding guests remember exactly three things once the shoes come off: what the bride wore (white), how the cake tasted … and whether the flowers were gorgeous.

In times of economic thrift, there are areas where one can scrimp when throwing a wedding, and areas one cannot. Invitations can be printed rather than engraved; banquet food doesn’t need to be elaborate; venues can run the gamut from cathedral to backyard garden.

But guests will surely remember the centerpiece of flowers on their table, and whether they were allowed to take it home with them. Whether the bride wore Vera Wang or a veil in her hair will fade, but that her nosegay contained white roses, lily of the valley and orchids — and that Betty Sue caught it — will be forever emblazoned.

There is a certain necessity to splurging on bouquets of rarest botanicals in these hard times. Why buy cheap daisies or economically-priced tulips when drop-dead gorgeous peonies and azure-grotto hydrangeas and tropical birds-of-paradise make you feel so much . . . lovelier? As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously deadpanned, "Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves." He must have been referring to wedding flowers.

Jeff Neighbors, owner of All Occasions Florist, says weddings "are the one thing people will still splurge on, no matter how much they may be feeling the economic pinch. Hydrangeas, cymbidium orchids, calla lilies, vibirnum — all the high-maintenance/high-end flowers are selling, and selling well."

We get the term referring to a bride (male or female), but what makes a flower "high-maintenance"?

"These particular flowers take hours per stem," Neighbors explains. "First, they have to be left in the sun for a while, followed by immersions in multiple cold and hot water baths. Then they must be held in cold storage at exactly 42 degrees to keep them at their optimum look." He smiles. "Of course, when happy brides or grooms are spending well into the five figures just to rent a venue such as Arlington Hall, what’s the price on a few dozen, if not hundreds, of perfect flowers?"

Other Dallas florists are stepping up to this plate in similar fashion for flaunting flamboyancy amidst the new frugality.

Sterling’s Floral Design offers an online wedding "flowers and bouquet gallery" from which to best glean "botanical inspiration." Enoc Gonzalez Jr., Sterling’s manager, encourages all prospective bridal parties to request a floral consultation to plan their event, conveniently breaking down floral options into three categories: 1. wedding party, 2. wedding ceremony, 3. wedding reception.

Sterling’s offers the botanical gamut, from bridal bouquets to boutonnieres and bridesmaids’ en grande toilette, to centerpieces, tiered cakes and Sunday-go-to-meeting corsages.

Gonzalez advises, however, that all flower decisions should be made at least two weeks prior to the ceremony. "Many of the top-end flowers require a whole week to fully open: peonies, for instance, minimally take a week, roses take a week; stargazer lilies take a week."

Conventional wisdom has it that, when confronted with two evils, a person will always choose the prettier; and, rest assured, where flower are concerned, the prettier is always the more expensive: Dahlias are more expensive than daisies; calla lilies more expensive than carnations; gardenias more expensive than geraniums.

The most expensive stems are "calla lilies, hydrangeas and peonies, in that order," sighs Gonzalez. "Calla lilies, mini or big, easily run $9 a stem, hydrangeas $8 and peonies $5 . . . no matter whether they’re out of season or in."

According to, if you’re having trouble picking your flowers from the thousands of varieties available, picture yourself walking through a gorgeous garden with every flower at its peak. Which flowers would you pick for your wedding? The commonplace? The colorful? The rarest? Most fragrant? Unscented? To help you narrow down your bouquet and centerpiece choices before you meet with your florist, consider this overview of the top 10 most popular wedding flowers: 1. rose; 2. tulip; 3. calla lily; 4. lily of the valley; 5. hydrangea; 6. peony; 7. ranunculus; 8. stephanotis; 9. sweet pea; 10. gardenia. (The three most popular wedding flowers of only a century ago — orange blossoms, violets and tea roses — are nowhere to be found these days.

The most expensive wedding flower of our modern times, the Casablanca lily, does not even crack the top 10 of the most popular, while the most popular of all wedding flowers (rose) in only the eighth most costly. With the exception of lily of the valley, a general rule of thumb is that the bigger the flowers are, the pricier they tend to be . . . thus throwing a bit of droop into impassioned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s immortal words, "It is easier to be gigantic than to be beautiful."

Let’s splurge!

All Occasions Florist, 3428 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-528-0898.

Sterling’s Floral Design, 18352 Dallas Parkway, Suite 120, 972-447-9151.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 1, 2009.wifininjaадвордс гугл ком