by Catherine Amo
Freeze-drying, air-drying, flower pressing and silica-powder application are some of the methods used for preserving wedding flowers. Of these methods, freeze-drying flowers is the only one that must be left to professionals, although it is the best way to preserve fresh flowers in a natural state. You must begin each process as soon after the wedding as possible, while the wedding flowers are still fresh. Take pictures of the wedding bouquets from all angles before you begin so that you can reassemble them after the drying process.
Pour enough salt into a brown paper bag to cover the bottom of the bag. Put the flowers in the bag and shake it a few times to coat the petals lightly with salt. This preserves more of the color. Then place the flowers outside, in direct heat, for one to two days.
Bring the flowers inside and tie them together. Use strings instead of rubber bands and do not tie them tightly. Hang the bouquet upside down in a dark room or closet to continue to dry flowers. The flowers will dry completely in four to six weeks.
Display the air-dried flowers. Arrange dried flowers in a vase or make a wreath and hang your wedding flowers in a prominent area as they dry. Preserve flowers by pressing them beneath glass for a pretty photo frame or a platter.
Cut the stems off the flowers as close to the base as possible. Sift the borax to remove any lumps and, after putting on gloves, mix four parts of borax with one part silica. Pour a layer of the powder into the bottom of a bowl with an airtight cover for preserving wedding flowers.
Place one flower, face down, into the powder. Pour enough powder over the flower to cover it completely. Use your fingers to bring the powder up around the sides of the flower. Repeat this process with more flowers until the bowl is full.
Cover the bowl tightly and place it in a dry place where it will not be disturbed for at least four weeks. At the end of this period, open the bowl and pull the flowers out carefully, one by one. Blow the powder off gently.
Preserve your dried flowers in a display such as a shadow box. You can also place the dried flower petals in a glass coffee table for a fresh look or have a professional make a silk-framed picture for dried flowers.
Make arrangements to have your flowers freeze-dried. The process involves spraying the flowers with starch, which preserves the color, and then placing them in a freeze-dryer to draw out all moisture. It is best to make arrangements for freeze-dried flowers before your wedding. After the event, there may not be enough time to locate a professional before your wedding bouquet starts to decay.
Prepare your flowers for transportation to the company. Place ice or gel packs at the bottom of a cooler and cover lightly with paper towels. Place the fresh flowers on top of the paper towels. Surround and cover them with more tissue paper to prevent them from moving around and getting bruised during transportation. The intensive freeze-drying process takes six to eight weeks to complete, so send flowers to a professional as soon after your wedding as possible. Most professionals will not preserve flowers that are damaged or beginning to dry.
Protect your flowers in a decorative case. Professionals will place your freeze-dried flowers in a display, such as a domed frame, shadow box or tabletop dome, to protect them from damaging elements.
Cut pieces of cardboard, newspaper and tissue to the size of the book you'll use to press the flowers. Then snip off the flower stems, close to the base.
Place a piece of cardboard on a flat surface. Lay one sheet of newspaper on the cardboard, followed by a sheet of tissue. Place flowers on the tissue. Make sure the flowers do not touch each other and do not overlap the edges of the cardboard. Cover the flowers with a sheet of tissue, followed by a sheet of newspaper and a piece of cardboard. Repeat this layer until you have a stack containing all your flowers.
Place the book on top of the stack, followed by the brick. Leave the stack undisturbed for a period of two to four weeks. Remove the book and the brick when the flowers are dry. Uncover each layer carefully and remove the flowers.
Consider making a picture with your flowers. Arrange dried flower petals on a piece of wax paper cut to the size you want and cover them with a piece of clear self-adhesive paper. Press it around the flowers and frame your picture.
Lilac, chrysanthemum and bouvardia are some of the flowers that cannot be pressed or freeze-dried.
Wear gloves when handling borax, and wash your hands afterward.