The very day that I met with our florist to discuss the beautiful sunflower bouquet I would carry down the aisle, I saw a picture of a vintage brooch bouquet and fell in love. I convinced myself that it would be too much work, that I’d never be able to get enough brooches, and that I couldn’t renege on the bouquet I’d just picked out. Luckily, my mom convinced me otherwise and I got to carry this gorgeous bouquet down the aisle, complete with gifts and heirlooms from my closest family and friends.
Thank you to Geoff Johnson for these wonderful photos!
So how does one go about making one of these beauties? Well, I read a number of ‘how to’ guides on the best methods to make a brooch bouquet. What I found was that no two seem to be made alike. This is kind of one of those things that you have to make up as you go along. However, I can describe for you how I made my bouquet and a key few pointers I learned along the way that I think you will find quite helpful.
First, a Few Do and Don’ts
Brooch bouquets can be incredibly time intensive and expensive to make and there are a few things you can do to minimize your blood, sweat and tears.
- DO enlist the help of family and friends. All of the ladies brought a unique brooch to my bridal shower. This gave me a good start to my bouquet and also made it a whole lot more meaningful!
- DON’T pay a lot for any one brooch. You need over 50 in all, so unless you have a sky high bouquet budget, don’t plan to pay more than a dollar or two a pop. Flea markets and E-Bay are both great.
- DO narrow your bouquet to a general theme. If you start throwing too many different colors and styles on, it will start to look tacky.
- DON’T wait until the last-minute. Wire your brooches as you go along. I did a couple a night, as I collected them. Trust me, if you wait until the last-minute you will regret it. Wiring is very time-consuming and can even get a bit painful.
- Needle nosed wire cutter
- 22-gauge green floral wire
- Hot glue gun
- 50+ brooches, depending on size
- Artificial hydrangea (I used two large bunches)
- Green corsage tape
- Duck Tape
- Ribbon to wrap stem
- Additional ribbon and decor for bouquet bib
Assembling your bouquet:
- The first step is wiring the individual brooches. Wiring is generally done through the clasp of the brooch, but your wiring method will vary depending on the backing of each particular piece. Start by cutting two pieces of wiring twice the length you want the stem of your bouquet. Fold one piece around one side of the clasp and twist the two sides of the wire you have strung through the clasp, tightly.
- Repeat on the other side of the clasp. Now tightly twist these two piece together. For some of the smaller brooches, you may be able to wire only one piece through and twist. Ultimately, you will need to get a feel for what it takes to make a secure stem. You will know it’s secure if the brooch doesn’t flop over when held midway down the stem.
- Finish off by wrapping the corsage tape around the wire, gently overlapping.
As I mentioned above, I highly recommend making these stems as you go along, preferably over a couple of months. Wiring these made my hands sore with just 1-2 a night, I can’t imagine having done them all at once!
Next is the tricky part, putting them all together. For this, I actually headed to the craft store not knowing exactly what I would pick up to assemble my stems. I had seen many different recommendations for assembling. I ended up picking up several stems of artificial hydrangea, which turned out to be a lifesaver! The artificial flowers provide a base to brooches and also give the bouquet volume.
- Start by trimming the hydrangea stems to the length you want your bouquet stem. Next use wire to bind them together.
- Now, pull your brooch stems one at a time through the flower and attach them to the hydrangea stems at 2-3 points, using wire. Start with your favorite brooches, and place towards the center. You will see that certain brooches fit together well. As you add each stem in, you will start to see where you need more of certain colors and shapes and what areas need to be filled in. You can actually adjust the brooches a good deal once they are attached so that they sit how you want them,
- Once you are satisfied, wrap the entire stem tightly with duck tape, being careful to trim and cover any sharp spots. Next, using a hot glue gun, carefully wrap and attach the ribbon you want to cover your stem.
- The last step is making the “bib.” Cut another piece of ribbon–you will want to cut it longer than you might expect to allow for the ruching. Attach one end with glue gun and let dry. Fold the ribbon almost as if making a bow and glue the base of the loop. Continue until you have a full bib.
I finished the stem off with the decorative pearl ribbon, as shown below. There is a lot of flexibility as to how you finish off your bouquet, based on how you want it to look. Be creative and remember, the glue gun is your best friend!