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Choosing Roses for Weddings

“a rose is honoured for its beauty, not its size”

This quote is often heard. but not generally in our wonderful floral world of wedding floristry!

Roses are beautiful and classic flowers that have captivated people for centuries. They have featured in so many eras of history, they have inspired countless poets, writers, composers, songwriters and artists over the years and they have evolved into one of the most sought-after flowers around the world. In the UK, they are the most popular flower. They are so versatile, well recognised and known for love and romance.

Weddings are one of the most popular occasions where roses feature heavily in floral decorations. No matter what the religion is, no matter what the size of the wedding is, no matter what the budget is.

Roses are grown around the world all year round, with key countries having a reputation for growing premium quality roses due to their climate and high altitude. Investment from governments also helps enormously. Among the best rose-growing regions are Ecuador, Columbia, Kenya, India, Ethiopia and the Netherlands, with Ecuador being the biggest producer of roses in the world.

There are thousands of rose varieties available to us all, and deciding which we like to work with, which ones we trust, which rose head/petal shape we require and if it needs to have a fragrance, are all key factors we should consider when we select rose varieties for our clients, making their day very special with the florals we create.

Key factors for selecting a particular rose:

· Colour

· Petal form

· Head size

· Guard petals

· Vulnerability

· Length of stem

· Foliage

· Availability

· Price

· Longevity

· Fragrance

· Volume of thorns

· Theme of wedding

The larger, fluffier, and multi-petaled rose varieties (similar to a country garden rose) make perfect showstoppers and are ideal for when you want to create the wow factor. They can look very similar to a peony and in some cases can be more cost effective than a peony.

Spray roses are beautiful miniature, petite roses, with several heads on a stem and can work beautifully and in harmony with the larger headed roses as well as amongst other types of flowers to give a soft, feminine look and feel.

When selecting roses, you may be a florist that is choosing primarily based on colour and cost and that is absolutely fine as you are the only one that knows your customer, what their expectations are, as well as their budget. However, you may be a florist that has clients that know exactly what they want and you have a budget that allows for these choices.

For weddings, I always work on colour first and foremost, then the form of the petals and head size. This will determine my expectations of the overall look of the design, whether it is the bridal bouquet, ceremony arrangements, an arch or the table centre pieces.

I would always recommend that you work with your suppliers in advance to secure the varieties you would like. Negotiate on price and check on availability weeks in advance. If the variety of rose is not available or cost prohibits ordering, ask your supplier for their recommendation, what can you have instead.

Looking after your roses and buying from reputable suppliers is key. Some rose varieties will require tender loving care, so don’t just leave them in their packaging and don’t have them pushed up against something as this will almost certainly result in bruised, creased petals and potential rotting. Use clean buckets and vessels, always use flower food and store in a cool temperature.

In my proposals to clients, I generally work to the cost of premium stems. I work with varieties I am familiar with, the ones that are great to work with, will ‘do the job’, exceed my client’s expectations and will stand up to the brief!

Warning, if you do order by variety, look at what length of stem you require; its often better to have the head size, but a shorter stem unless you need 80cm – 90cm length. Size does matter, but it often comes at a price.

Floral Designer: Katherine Murray


With over 35 years’ experience, Karen Barnes is one of the UK’s leading consultants to the floral industry and an expert in product development, future trends & colours, and floral photography design & planning. She’s an interior floral designer, high profile wedding and event floral planner, and prominent international competition judge.

From teaching on a one-to-one basis to coaching small, intimate classes and larger teams, Karen can encourage, motivate and mentor your next step in the florist industry. Sharing her vast experience, Karen can help you expand your knowledge and creativity.


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