Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Flowers for a traditional New Orleans wedding can include magnolias, lilies, roses, irises, camellias, azaleas and more. Many times, a wedding is defined by the floral arrangements that adorn it. Nothing evokes the feelings of new life and celebration like flowers. Couples choosing to get married in New Orleans, a city whose motto is Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll), seek an aesthetic that embraces the historic city’s traditions while embodying New Orleans beautifully curated chaos. It’s no wonder that New Orleans is a dream wedding destination for native and out of town couples alike with 8,466 weddings taking place in 2018. As New Orleans’ premier florist, Margaret Williamson loves arranging flowers for traditional New Orleans weddings. Leaf + Petal’s sprawling floral arrangements capture the city’s energy. Margaret believes that flowers should entwine timeless elegance with the exuberant joy of a jazz band.
Flowers at Traditional New Orleans Weddings Embrace Catholicism
Leaf + Petal provides flowers for traditional New Orleans weddings that evoke thoughts of the Virgin Mary such as lilies, roses, and irises. The lilies help to symbolize purity. A beautiful Catholic wedding tradition is the act of giving flowers to Mary. After their ceremony and before the final blessing, couples lay a bouquet of flowers before the statue of Mary. The flowers await couples near their seats at the front of the church where they can easily pick them up and symbolically take them to the statue together. No matter your religious beliefs, the Catholic church’s adherence to tradition and elegance creates a symbolically rich and beautiful backdrop for weddings. New Orleans was deemed “that most Catholic of all cities” by theologian Timothy O’ Malley in Notre Dame University’s Church Life Journal.
You don’t have to make giving flowers to Mary a part of your ceremony to embrace this traditional New Orleans floral aesthetic. Leaf + Petal incorporates all different flowers into many of its designs. Not only are these flowers symbolically rich, but they are also timelessly elegant. The traditional church wedding lends well to classic floral designs such as all white bouquets, giving your wedding a romantic garden appeal. If you’d rather go a different route and add a splash of color to your arrangements, there is, of course, a floral creation for you. A couple’s wedding should embody their values, and the floral design they choose showcases who they are as a couple. Honoring the past is a beautiful way to begin the future.
Traditional New Orleans Weddings Honor The State Flower
Incorporating Louisiana's state flower, The Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is the perfect way to create a traditional New Orleans wedding aesthetic. While camellias, azaleas and crape myrtles are also associated with Southern-style gardens, only the Southern magnolia is native to Louisiana and the Southeast. In addition to their classic beauty, the Southern Magnolia is truly remarkable at retaining its foliage year-round. This resilient flower perfectly embodies New Orleans. Just as the Magnolia’s foliage isn’t destroyed by winter, the spirit of New Orleans remained strong through its ups and downs.
Adorn Your Traditional New Orleans Second Line With Flowers
The traditional New Orleans second line wedding parade has become an iconic part of the city’s wedding celebrations. The parade symbolizes the new life couples are embarking on together. The parade route takes couples from their wedding ceremony to their reception venue and is broken into two parts. The newlyweds, accompanied by their Second Line Band, lead their friends and family. The wedding party celebrates the newly married couple by dancing to the brass band’s music and twirling handkerchiefs or cocktail napkins. The second line band is believed to come from West African dance circles that consisted of children making a circle around dancing adults. The circles would later straighten into lines to create a processional of sorts for things like weddings, funerals or other life events. Following the Civil War, those customs were merged with military-style brass bands to form the second line bands that we know today.
The tradition has the married couple showcase uniquely decorated umbrellas or parasols while leading their second line. While the precise origin of this tradition is untraceable, anyone who has experienced a New Orleans summer can imagine the necessity of creating shade during a second line stroll prior to air conditioning. Umbrellas became New Orleans’ most fashionable wedding accessory and they allowed couples to showcase societal status. In the past, the usual way to go was for the bride to carry a white umbrella and the groom to carry a black one, but times have changed. To this day, New Orleans’ weddings embrace this tradition, but modern couples update their umbrellas and parasols by embellishing them with personal touches.
Leaf + Petal loves this spirited, elegant New Orleans wedding tradition. Couples who want to incorporate their personalities and aesthetic into this classic tradition can decorate their parasols with floral arrangements that match the bride’s bouquet or their receptions floral arrangements. Leaf + Petal prides itself on being able to decorate anything and everything, weaving together your fantasy wedding with beauty and grace. You can read more about our range of customizable New Orleans wedding flower arrangements here.
Don’t Forget the Cake
A beautiful cake is a crucial part of your wedding celebration. A traditional tiered cake can give your wedding a timeless feel. Customizing your cake, however, is easier than ever before. You can adorn your cake with floral accents to pay homage to tradition with a little modern pizzazz. Flowers are a cake topper that never seem to go out of style. The floral arrangement of your choice can also create an atmosphere of the seasons. Whether you’re tying the knot in the fall and would like to bring in accents of burnt orange and yellow or saying “I do” in the spring and want your cake to have a brighter feel to it. Adding floral pieces to your cake creates even more elegance for your special day.
Other Ways to Incorporate Flowers into Your Traditional New Orleans Wedding
At Leaf + Petal, we encourage you to embrace traditions, with a few twists and turns, of course. Florals can be incorporated into more than just bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids and toppers for your cake. If you are looking for something to stand out at your wedding, there are an array of creations to choose from. If you’d like to add a personal touch to your hair, a custom hairpin or flower crown can be created for you.
If you will be ascending down a set of stairs, a floral staircase garland can help create a grand entrace. Floral backdrops can be created to set the stage for beautiful photos. Your “I Dos” can be captured in front of a unique background that will result in photos that you’ll cherish forever.
Flowers can also be used as a garnish for name cards on the guest tables. Not only will this add a sweet touch, but your guests will be able to take them home as favors, reminding them of the fantastic time they had at your wedding.
Another unique piece that can be created is a floral chandelier. For instance, a floral chandelier made of local magnolias would bring a beautiful glow to your wedding day and leave the room with a light, sweet scent that is sure to create a peaceful, happy atmosphere.
At Leaf + Petal, we pride ourselves on sourcing our florals locally, making each design a living part of New Orleans. Couples can create an authentically traditional New Orleans wedding by decorating their venue with local magnolias. We love working with couples to create the wedding aesthetic of their dreams, and we know how to weave together New Orleans wedding traditions with modern values and individual style. Let’s create together.