Do Bridesmaids Need Bouquets? (Plus 14 Amazing Ideas)

The bridesmaid bouquet has long been a staple of a traditional wedding day. Not only are they a lovely accessory for the ladies in your wedding party, but they add to the beauty of your wedding photos.

But do bridesmaids need bouquets? With more and more brides steering away from a traditional celebration, however, bridesmaid bouquets have been on the receiving end of a modern makeover. Brides are using their imaginations to reimagine traditional bridesmaid flowers and, instead, are choosing accessories that best suit the mood and theme of their weddings. 

From modern bouquet and flower arrangements to fans and parasols, our guide will provide you with 14 of the best accessories for your bridesmaids to carry down the aisle.

The Top 7 Floral Ideas

Whether you choose a traditional bridesmaid bouquet, floral crowns or something in between, there are a lot of lovely bridesmaid flower options open to you. Here are some of the best ideas for incorporating flowers into your bridesmaids’ overall look.

1.  Bouquet

If you want your best gal pals to carry a bouquet, the arrangements you choose should not only complement your bouquet, but the dress worn by your bridesmaids. 

With so many styles to pick from, choosing the right b​​ridesmaid bouquets can seem overwhelming.

Keep in mind, bridesmaid bouquets typically range from $65 to $125 or more depending on the size and style you choose. While that may be doable if you have only one or two attendants, that quickly adds up if you plan to have a larger bridal party. Choosing smaller bouquets like nosegays will keep costs down without sacrificing charm. 

You can also ask your florist to create smaller versions of the bouquet you’ll be carrying. Popular bouquet styles include cascade, hand-tied, round and pageant. 

2. Single long-stemmed flower 

If you love the idea of your bridesmaids carrying flowers but prefer something simple or want to keep costs down, providing a single long-stemmed flower to each member of your bridal party could be the answer.

Dahlias, hydrangeas, magnolias, peonies, proteas, roses and sunflowers are great choices for bridesmaid flowers. They are fitting for any type of wedding as long as you match the bloom to the style of your event. Sunflowers, for instance, are ideal for simple, outdoor weddings while roses make a statement for a more formal affair.

3. Wrist corsage or cuff

If you like the idea of flowers but want to step away from a traditional bouquet, a wrist corsage or flower cuff is a good compromise. Corsages are a much more affordable floral option and are an elegant yet subtle bouquet alternative. 

If you want to glam it up, a floral cuff is the way to go. Simply have your florist attach the flowers of your choice to pearl or diamante bracelets for a flashier option. Your bridesmaid can keep the cuff as a memento of your big day, making it the perfect bridesmaid gift.

4. Flower crown

A floral crown is a popular choice for outdoor nuptials, adding a whimsical touch to the day. By showcasing flowers on the heads of your bridesmaids, you’re also leaving their hands free for a non-traditional accessory such as a fan or a lantern.

Fresh flowers, dried flowers and silk flowers are all options, depending on your preference — and how much you want to spend. Silk flowers are the least expensive while dried and fresh flowers are more — and cost roughly the same.

The flowers you choose for the crowns should also complement the hairstyles worn by your bridesmaids whether they opt for long wavy locks or an updo. Some of the best flowers for a long-lasting crown include baby’s breath, carnations, chrysanthemums, daisies, lavender, orchids, spray roses and sunflowers.

5. Wreath or hoop bouquet

If you’re a boho bride, a wreath or hoop bouquet could be just the accessory you’ve been looking for for your bridesmaids. Cheaper than traditional floral bouquets, this style is ideal for a bride on a budget.

Made of a round wooden or metal hoop with flowers and foliage wired to it, hoop bouquets can be quite cost-effective depending on the flowers you choose.

6. Paper flower bouquet

A paper flower bouquet is a great choice for any thrifty bride. Made from cardstock, scrapbook paper, tissue paper, metallic paper or crepe paper, you can pay to have them made for you or make them yourself. Choosing paper bouquets also means that you’ll have more color options such as a wide range of blues that could be hard to match with real flowers.

Paper can easily be used to make composite or pomander bouquets. A composite bouquet is designed using individual paper petals to fashion one large rose while a pomander bouquet resembles a ball of flowers.  A silk ribbon at the top makes it easy for your bridesmaids to hold. 

As an added bonus, bridesmaids can keep their lovely bouquets long after your special day without fear of them dying.

7. Garland Shawl

If you want to accessorize your bridesmaids with flowers, a lovely way to do just that is with a garland shawl. The garland of flowers and greenery, which can be chosen to match your bouquet, can be worn draped around the shoulders or lower, in the crook of the elbow.

Great for any bride who loves a dramatic arrangement of flowers but doesn’t want her bridesmaids to hold bouquets, the garland could be just the ticket.  Cost will depend on the flowers you choose and how elaborate the arrangement is.

The Top 7 Alternatives to Flowers

While bouquets have long been a matrimonial tradition, they’re not for everyone. So, whether you’re on a tight budget or you’re just not a bouquet fan, here are some nifty ideas for any bride who wants to forgo flowers:

1. Lanterns

Fast becoming a popular alternative to flowers, lanterns add visual interest to both your ceremony and your wedding pictures. 

They can be lit for evening nuptials or can be filled with rustic pine cones, silk flowers or Christmas ornaments for a holiday ceremony. They can also double up as decor for the wedding reception, making them both an elegant and economical choice.

2. A clutch

Both functional and fancy, having your bridesmaids carry an elegant clutch instead of wedding flowers is great for the thrifty bride. Not only does it double as a bridesmaid gift, you can match the clutches you choose to the theme of your special day. 

You can choose metallic or sequined clutches if you want to add sparkle or brightly hued silk clutches for a pop of color if you’ve chosen neutral bridesmaid dresses.

3. Fans

Ideal for summer nuptials, fans are a unique way to accessorize your bridesmaids. Both practical and pretty, fans come in a variety of colors just like flowers. They’re also available in a wide range of materials, shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the right accessory for your bridal party to carry. 

Bright paper fans work well at a retro-themed wedding, and are a low-cost way to add some color to your nuptials. Painted silk is ideal for a traditional or formal affair while a feather fan is a good choice for a boho wedding.

4. Leafy greens

An earthy stand-in for flowers, giving your bridesmaids bouquets of leafy greens to hold is a modern take on the traditional floral arrangement. Rather than flowers, opt for a mixture of baby blue eucalyptus, dusty miller, ferns, ivy, palm stems, pittosporum, seeded eucalyptus or tepee.

Another plus of choosing greenery over flowers? Green bouquets tend to cost less than flowers.

5. Winter muffs

Are you looking for a unique substitute to flowers for cool, winter nuptials? A faux-fur muff is a stylish choice. Not only will it add some pizzazz to your bridesmaids’ walk down the aisle, it will keep their hands warm if you have an outdoor photo session.

When choosing a muff, the key is to find one that will suit the dress you’ve chosen for your bridesmaids.  

6. Parasols

Nothing says elegance quite like a lace or silk parasol. A lovely addition to almost any style of outdoor ceremony, they are an outstanding alternative to flowers and work especially well for romantic or elegant affairs. 

Like fans, they are a handy accessory for keeping your attendants cool and make amazing props for your bridal party wedding photos. You can also choose parasols in cotton or linen for a more casual wedding.

7. Tambourines

Perhaps the most quirky substitute for flowers, tambourines embellished with ribbon are ideal for any bride who dances to the beat of her own drum.

This low-cost option is sure to make your guests smile more than flowers ever could. Your bridal party can shake their instruments after you and your husband are pronounced man and wife as well as during your send-off at reception’s end. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a bride looking for unique ways to use flowers or an alternative to the typical bridesmaid arrangement, our guide can help. Whether cost is a factor or the sky’s the limit, you’re sure to find the right accessory for your best gal pals to hold on your big day.

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