Yep, I said it. Carnations. For your wedding. And I know this is going to be controversial, and that right now you’re making a face and thinking you may not bother reading to the end of the post because this isn’t for you. I know this because every single time I mention carnations to friends in any context, they get that same look and say “I’m not such a big fan of carnations, personally…”. Who is? They’re the flowers we overlook at the market stall, that we wouldn’t be caught dead giving a friend for her birthday, and probably the only flowers that can get a guy negative points for giving us. I get it. But bear with me, because you’re wrong. Seriously. Carnations. Trust me.


You don’t trust me? Well how about Martha? Because that’s where the gorgeous carnation (and ribbon) bouquet above comes from, and if Martha Stewart says something is good, then I’m with her. The lady knows.

More carnation love from Martha (Sources: Left; Right)

To get where I’m coming from, let me explain my affair with carnations. For a while now, buying them has been my dirty little secret, and today I’m coming clean. I too spent a long time turning up my nose at these humble little blooms. They were tainted by cheapness and eighties fashion, and it’s a fact that when they come within a mile of baby’s breath they become instantly horribolic (as my mom would say).

Sources: Left; Right

Then one of my friends gave me this book. For anyone with a starter knowledge of flowers, it’s wonderful, and even though it’s a few years old now, most of the pictures haven’t dated. When I first read it, two images specifically stuck in my mind, and ironically, the first was of baby’s breath – a giant cloud of it – the first time I’d ever seen it on its own. The other was of a bouquet made up entirely of watermelon pink carnations, and it was beautiful. Baby’s breath (once just a cheap and nasty filler) has truly had its revival – and now I reckon it’s time for carnations to start shedding their stigma also.

How cool are the colours in this real wedding and the way the bride’s bouquet pops against the green? Source

See, here’s the thing about carnations. They don’t make great fillers. But if you put them together and pack them closely (which you can afford to do, on account of them being dirt cheap), they look LUSH. All those soft jaggedy edges and rich texturing and ruffles, a little reminiscent of the much more expensive peonies. They’re mesmerising. I want to reach into these pictures and touch them.


Not just that, but carnations also work on their own. Separated out into small containers in ones or twos or threes. Fun and modern, but not stark.

Pretty, pretty sources: Left; Top right; Bottom right

And beyond the price point, here’s the other clincher. They come in the most incredible diversity of colours (over 300 species), including a range of soft and subtle shades and then brighter hues that pop dramatically in a monochromatic bouquet.


Not forgetting the striking variegated options either…

Sources: Left; Top right; Bottom right

So let’s review. They’re pretty. Unusual as wedding flowers but still readily available any time of year. Work on a budget. Come in a huge variety of gorgeous colours. And Martha likes ‘em. (Plus, according to my book they’re a symbol of marital bliss.)

Now, what’s not to love?


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