Step 1: Choose your flowers. It’s simpler and more modern to go monochromatic. Seasonal flowers are cheaper, as are big blossoms (hydrangeas, big roses, peonies) because they take up a lot more room. Add leaves with texture (silver brunia, rosemary) and green filler (ruscus, dusty miller) to make the color of the blooms really pop, even if they’re white.
Step 2: Condition your blossoms. The flowers you buy have probably been shipped from somewhere and will usually need water immediately. Trim an inch off the stems and plunge into cold water. Cut off all unwanted leaves, and if you’re working with roses, de-thorn them (scrape the stem downward with a paring knife while wearing protective gloves).
Step 3: Build the bouquet by laying one flower at a time in the palm of your hand. Once the bouquet’s stems reach an inch in diameter, hold them in place with light (not dark) green floral tape (available at B & J Florist Supply, 103 W. 28th St., nr. Sixth Ave; 212-564-6086). Start at the base of the blossoms and wrap the tape around the stem like a candy cane. The tape should cover 5 inches of stem.
Step 4: Cut the stem, using clippers, never a knife. You want the stem to be 6 inches long—1 inch beyond where the tape ends, so the ends can be set in water. Cover the tape by wrapping it with 1-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon or leftover fabric from your dress. Use two corsage pins—pearl-head pins are the most elegant—to fasten the ribbon just under the blossoms.
Step 5: Keep it cool. Professional florists generally make a bridal bouquet the day of the wedding, but if you want to create it the night before, keep the flowers in an air-conditioned room or in the refrigerator.