Peonies, Obviously
By:Rita Jo Shoultz


Peonies, Obviously

Peonies are the obvious floral choice for weddings. They stand for wealth and happiness and who doesn’t want both? But deciding the exact variety/color, amount, figuring out how long they last, what do they mean when they say ‘true red’, and how to talk with my florist are all questions that can cause angst. Instead, enjoy every minute of the planning with these tips and ideas.




The most subjective topic with choosing your peonies is color. Peonies come in all shades of pink, red, hot pink, maroon, cranberry, ‘true red’, brick red, corals, blush, white, ivory, and everyone has an opinion what blush is, or ‘light’ pink, or... Be kind to your florists and do some research before your first appointment. With Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, you can arrive to your florist with a list of ideas. Bring snippets of bride’s maid dress material, a the wedding stationery, cake icing or paint chips.

Next is determining how many peonies are needed for the event. You will only need a few totally open peonies for each use as they are quite larger than the closed peonies. Some varieties are 8 to 9 inches in diameter. If you want mostly buds, you’ll need more. Bridal bouquets use from 15 to 60 flowers. Not sure how that bride carried the 60 flower bouquet down the aisle. The same formula goes for the table vases and the cake. Does the wedding style call for a full blown open blowsy look, or a more subdued look?



Some peony varieties naturally lean towards a formal look and some have a very romantic feel, while others are great for the outdoors. For example, Duchess de Nemours is a smaller flower excellent for hair pieces, cakes and boutonnieres. Dr. Alexander Fleming is more of a relaxed bloom perfect for blowsy, casual, relaxed or outdoor uses. If given choices, take the time to look at the varieties and their distinct attributes. And don’t forget fragrance. Some varieties have really soft fragrances and some are pretty strong.

Until recently there were three months where peonies were not available but with Alaskan peonies now available late June through September weddings can have peonies any time of the year! Check with your florist to confirm a good source. Peonies mix well with almost any other flower and your foliage choices will be unlimited.

Start planning early and take your time. Flowers are a huge component of the wedding decor. With research and planning, choosing your flowers can be an enjoyable and memorable part of your planning process.