Project Wedding: Highly Strung

Kyle Johnson

In Polynesia, shells, flower petals, and leaves make up elaborate décor swags, and in Hawaii you’re never fully dressed without a plumeria lei. In Thailand, they’re made of jasmine and are called phuang malai, while in India, marigold garlands are an honored tradition. On Capitol Hill, Marigold and Mint (206-682-3111, owner Katherine Anderson strings everything from peonies to pinecones, so we asked her to work with abundant hydrangea and rich Northwest Piano Freiland roses to craft a lavender-blue and red garland suitable for most any season.

Draped between trees in an outdoor setting, across the back of the bride and groom’s reception chairs, down the center of a table, or in an important entryway, these décor accents are timeless and worldly whether the celebration—rehearsal dinner, morning-after brunch, or main event—is fancy or folksy.

Kyle Johnson

1) You’ll need 26-gauge green florist wire, wire cutters, pruners for the roses, and a sharp knife for the hydrangea. Anderson says that last part is imperative; unlike the hardier roses, the common backyard flower is temperamental—which is why you’ll also want a bucket of warm (not cold or hot) water ready to hold the cut stems while you work. Hydrangea are available all year, but those plucked at the end of their season will hold up better. If you must use younger hydrangea, mist them as you go.

2) Cut hydrangea stems to five inches; lay them head on stem, and wrap with wire, adding a new bloom as you go. Make small bundled bouquets of three roses each, and space those between lengths of hydrangea. You can keep the leaves on or trim them. If the garland will be visible from front and back (for example, hanging between trees), you’ll need to make two sides and wire them together.

3) Working with smaller blooms and green florist tape instead of wire, crowns, partial crowns, and headbands can be made in much the same way. Garlands and leis for the big day need to be wired on the morning of the wedding, says Anderson. The mother of two adds with a smile that moms and brides should be exempt from the duty.