Let me guess, you’ve seen the beautiful brooch bouquets becoming increasingly popular on pinterest and popular wedding blogs and you’re thinking “that’s beautiful, how can I do that?” Well, I am here to help.
My name is Nicole Hudson and I am a filmmaker in Toronto, Canada. I got engaged in December of 2010 and despite not having any of my ‘dream wedding’ planned out, I knew I wanted one thing (aside from my dreamy husband): a vintage brooch bouquet. My maternal grandmother loved jewelry and had passed away a year prior, and my paternal grandmother wasn’t able to travel to my wedding. Because of this I knew I wanted pieces from their lives to help me feel like they were there on my special day.
My sweet and helpful mother collected her mother’s vintage brooches and clip-on earrings (yes, I totally snuck in a bunch of clip on earrings into my bouquet as well. Fun fact: I took one pair and put one in my bouquet and the other was incorporated into my husband’s boutonniere). My best friend gave me one of her mother’s brooches, my sister-in-law gave me a couple from her family, and my aunt gave me some of her jewelry as well as my other grandmother’s. The rest were collected at vintage markets, mostly by my Mum, but occasional shopping dates with my now husband down to the antique market.
I was married on August 26th, 2011 with my brooch bouquet in hand, and I could not have been happier with how it turned out. It was so special and was with me for my entire wedding planning journey. (True Story: I literally started the mission to make it a couple days after the ring was on my finger and the final details were completed the day before I said ‘I do’).
So, where do you begin?
-Lots and lots of brooches. My collection consisted of about 85 and I think 75 made it into the final bouquet. I had ‘fillers,’ which were underneath and from a cheaper modern jewelry store, and the ones that were more exposed were the family ‘heirlooms’ and beautiful vintage brooches. Just know that you’ll need a lot. I know etsy and eBay and places sell them in bunches as well.
-Different wires. I had floral wire, craft wire and some really sturdy wires that were pre-cut and hard to bend. You’ll need the flexible wires to weave through the brooches, but the sturdy ones to create the stems.
-Wire cutters, for obvious reasons.
-Pliers, because sometimes your hands just can’t pinch the pieces together the way pliers can.
*Note: you’ll also need to bind the entire bouquet together in the end, and I haven’t included supplies for that. But don’t fret, I’ll cover that later on in the post!
Choosing the Right Brooches
I originally intended to stick with two colors, but quickly saw the beautiful sentimental brooches I was receiving and threw that idea out the window almost immediately. I still had the majority of them in an icey light blue, and a raspberry red (part of my wedding palette), but the colorful bouquet worked with my very simple lace dress. Bigger brooches are better (fills the bouquet easier), and obviously floral shapes and patterns work well (as opposed to birds and butterflies, etc.).
‘Wiring’ Your Brooches
Always use the strongest wire you can work with, as it will result in the most sturdy bouquet. It will also make it oh so heavy. Take a piece of wire (about 2 feet, or ‘two bouquet stem’s lengths), and begin wrapping it around the pin (with a lot of wire at both ends), starting at one end and making your way to the other. I’d always try to weave the wire through hidden parts of the brooch as well just to make sure I had the most secure wiring. Note: You can also glue gun the brooches closed if you don’t want the pins to open. I didn’t do that, in case I wanted to use any of them again (which I doubt I ever will), and none of them opened, but I considered the option.
Making a Stem
Once you feel like you’ve wrapped that wire around as much of the brooch as you can (be prepared for very tired, but also strong hands. Oh, and maybe some early arthritis), begin to twist the two ends together creating what looks like the stem of a flower. If the wire you used isn’t sturdy enough, you may need to twist the ends around a new piece of firm wire. I mixed and matched depending on my mood, the brooch and which supplies I had.
Creating the Bouquet
As soon as you feel like you’ve made a good amount of ‘brooch flowers’ you can start forming the bouquet. This takes some fiddling and adjusting to create the desired look. I started with about 5, and adjusted them to what I thought looked esthetically pleasing (which ones were on top, which were tucked underneath) and then wrapped some wire around those 5, and so on and so forth. I kept adding to the bouquet, until it was the final size. For the most part, I’d work in the round and my bouquet grew outward, but as I’d notice holes and gaps I’d stick a stem through them and weave it into place.
This part I found the trickiest. To be honest, I had found so many images online of brooch bouquets, but no one wanted to share how they did it. So I tried a few ways, and the wire stems were the best in my opinion. However, covering all the wires and making it into that beautiful wedding bouquet was a challenge. I tried different fabrics, and craft supplies that hold real bouquets and nothing looked quite right. In the end, I left some of the light blue fabric on there (which is mostly hidden) and took my unfinished project to the florist who created the bridesmaid bouquets and he helped bind my bouquet to match theirs. He even attached a little brooch just above where I held the bouquet (which has since fallen off), but it looked perfect.
It was really fun creating my bouquet, and I had to say it was the most rewarding craft I’ve made. I spent countless hours chatting about life and wedding planning with my Maid of Honor, and cuddling up to my husband and a movie while twisting wire. The best part is that it’s still sitting in one of our centerpiece mason jars atop a shelf in our home. Now, how many other brides can say they have their bouquet for life?