The problem with red roses

As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen all sorts of different floral arrangements and bouquets over the years. Each piece is completely unique, even if the design was inspired by something from Pinterest. Roses and other flowers obviously come in a variety of different colors, but finding complete color uniformity is actually very difficult when they are grown naturally.

I’m not a florist, so don’t ask me why this is the case, but not all red roses are naturally that deep red we all know and love. For some reason and somewhere in the growth process, a dye is added to deepen the color. This can pose a big problem when red roses are used in a bridal bouquet or red rose petals are placed on floors or carpets.

Just this past weekend, I photographed a red and white color scheme wedding. The bride’s bouquet consisted of solid red roses, and the bridesmaids carried a mix of white and red roses in their bouquets. Against the bride’s white gown, her bouquet was beautiful, and the red dresses the bridesmaid’s wore were stunning with their bouquets. However, after some pre-ceremony portraits, I noticed a purple smudge on the bride’s white gown, just along her bust. My first thought was lipstick, but a brief look around the room proved no one was wearing purple lipstick. My spot-cleaning skills set in, and I was able to remove the stain from her dress using a paper towel and a bit of rubbing alcohol. After the ceremony, I saw even more purple stains across the top of the gown, and we went back to the bridal suite to spot clean the dress once again. That’s when I realized the dye in the flowers was leaching onto her dress when she happened to brush her bouquet against her body. We were out of rubbing alcohol wipes, so the flowers were set aside for the remainder of the portrait sessions for the sake of the dress.

Earlier in 2017, I photographed another red color scheme wedding at a beautiful bed and breakfast, The Lang House, in Rogers Park. The design of the entire home is amazing, but hardwood floors in this place are absolutely gorgeous. The living room was transformed into a small ceremony space, with a white aisle runner lined with red rose petals leading from the staircase to the fireplace. The room was beautiful. However, while we were cleaning up the area to turn it into a dance floor, I noticed that the rose petals had stained the floors. The fabulous proprietors are now aware that real red rose petals are a bad idea for floor decor.

Many churches also have rules about flower petals being used by flower girls. Even if you provide an aisle runner, there is no guarantee that some of the fresh flower petals won’t fall off the runner and get smashed into the carpet as people walk up and down the aisle. Add extra dye to the petals, and this can really destroy a carpet.

My recommendation would be to ask your florist about any possibility of the color bleeding onto fabrics. Just because I’ve only noticed this about red flowers, doesn’t mean that other flowers in other colors won’t do the same. Also be considerate of your venues and their flooring. You might pay a deposit for any damages, but that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to make damages. If you really must have red roses with dye in your bridal bouquet, then have a lot of paper towels and rubbing alcohol on hand.

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