By Hannah Nowack
Let this Japanese style of flower arranging inform your own wedding design.
Contemporary couples, allow us to introduce you to Ikebana, a Japanese style of flower arranging that’s all about minimalism and creating striking displays that epitomize the less-is-more mentality. Also known as Kadō, Ikebana translates from Japanese to “arranging flowers” or “making flowers alive.” Although the Old-World style originated in the 7th century—and gained further momentum in the 1500s—modern couples are bringing the storied art form into the present by way of uniquely beautiful wedding details.
While these minimalist arrangements look effortless, a lot of careful consideration goes into creating them. With Ikebana-inspired arrangements, special emphasis is placed on shape, line, and form to convey meaning and drama through the pared-down designs. Ikebana arrangements typically feature only a few blooms, accented by greenery or plant stalks; their overall design structure is based on a scalene triangle.
Beyond the blooms, an Ikebana arrangement’s vessel is of utmost importance. Since lush greenery and flowers aren’t there to obstruct the view of your chosen bowl or planter, it’s important to consider how your vessel’s aesthetic can play into the overall vibe of your wedding design. A shallow concrete dish would work well with the colors at a loft or art museum, while a turned wood bowl would look right at home at an outdoor garden event.
Of course, your arrangement doesn’t have to be a centerpiece at all. A cake, like this one from Lilac Cake Boutique, can just as easily serve as the vessel or base for an Ikebana arrangement. We love the idea of asking your floral designer to work hand-in-hand with your cake baker to dream up an Ikebana-inspired dessert that flows seamlessly with the minimalist look of your entire wedding. Ahead, we’ve gathered our favorite Ikebana-inspired wedding arrangements to help you envision your own modern, minimal floral design.
Less Is More
Looking for proof that less really is more? This linear Studio Mondine arrangement featured just a few hellebore and scabiosa stems, accompanied by greenery—but it still had a powerful visual impact.
You’ve probably wondered how minimal floral designs, like these two dainty sprigs from Sweet Emilia Jane, manage to stay vertical. The spikes on flower frogs (or Kenzan, as they’re called in Japanese) add stability, so a refined arrangement can support itself without filler flowers (which is important if you’re striving for a minimal aesthetic).
Classic with a Twist
Even if you lean towards more classic wedding design, don’t be afraid to meld your romantic style with the art of Ikebana flower arranging. This Sinclair & Moore bouquet was predominantly traditional and compact, but featured a few meandering twigs that gave it a contemporary twist. A Nina Cherie gown and Yessie makeup added even more romance to this bride’s soft, blush-centric look.
Notice how your eye moves from the top left of this arrangement and down through the bottom right? That’s intentional! When you’re working with fewer stems, it’s especially important to place each one strategically. Here, Lambert Floral Studio, with styling from Natalie Choi, created ample movement and impact with only a couple floral components.
A contemporary all-white cube cake from Graceful Baker benefitted from curved twigs—they drew guests’ eyes to the sleek confection. Note how the two rounded twigs highlight each of the cake’s two tiers, further creating cohesion in the design.
One of the main design principles of Ikebana floral arranging is to focus on triangles, which makes this arrangement’s fern parts particularly notable. Bloomen made the fern the foundation of the design while ensuring the rest of the angular components felt complementary to the look as a whole, the School of Clay Arts ceramic vessel included.
Minimalist arrangements from Baura New York worked well with this sunburst-inspired color palette since each bloom was so bold individually. When you have a flower that is powerful on its own, like these orange pincushion proteas, filler flowers would actually end up taking away from the visual interest of the design.
A single stem of sugar flowers was all this Midori Bakery cake needed to feel complete. Since the confection embraced the skinny and tall cake trend, an accent that played to the dessert’s verticality was a smart way to reinforce that.
Looking for a unique flower variety to set your wedding’s floral design apart? Velvety black knight scabiosa blooms are known for their distinct pincushion appearance. Although the bloom often serves as a supporting flower in arrangements, it can be a main player. The blooms, styled by Leaf and Honey, brought held their own on this rustic tablescape by providing a dark pop of color.
Because Ikebana arrangements rely so heavily on verticality, low vessels work well with this arrangement style. Barely-there white vessels, placed atop textured pink linen, anchored this pink-and-mauve Clementine Botanical Arts arrangement nicely.
Similarly, this tonal arrangement used quite a few varieties of flowers—cappuccino roses, bronze spider mums, and red chrysanthemums all made an appearance—but Nord & Mae kept the overall aesthetic minimal by not straying from terra-cotta and rust-inspired colorways.
Small and Dainty
The Ikebana aesthetic can be applied to even the smallest wedding-day arrangements you may have, like those on your cocktail tables or food stations. Here, Mallory Joyce used flower frogs and shallow white dishes to ensure these dainty stems of scabiosa, sweet pea, and rose stood tall.
Opting for blooms that have a lot of texture and interest without the aid of foliage will help you achieve a beautiful arrangement that’s minimal, not sparse. Take these roses, for example. Selecting a ruffled variety, instead of standard spray roses, instantly gave the Hawthorn Flower Studio design a dose of eye-catching texture.
Just as Ikebana designs work during the winter, they fit in with warm, summer-inspired looks as well. Need proof? At this warm-weather Alison Rose Events wedding, a small Kelly Culbert cake, placed atop a Party Pleasers stand, featured the most cheerful, seasonal sprigs of apricot sweet pea from Rock Rose Floral.
Are you searching for a color palette that feels decidedly modern and unique? Enter jet black and soft blush. The blush spray roses and plum scabiosa that Sweet Woodruff paired together were unexpected, but absolutely eye-catching. Styled by Magdalene Kan with moody taper candles, the whole table top was a minimalist’s dream.
You may think Ikebana arrangements are mostly small and dainty, but that isn’t always the case. Not convinced? Take this design—an oversized urn filled with wiry cherry blossom branches from Sinclair & Moore was over-the-top in size, but aesthetically minimal.
Looking for a bloom that doesn’t need much support from other florals? Anemones are the way to go—they completely steal the show. The bloom’s center offers a stark visual contrast that makes it a great addition to any arrangement. All this Kitten Grayson centerpiece needed was a few branches to complete the design.
Sweet pea is a relatively fragile bloom, which makes it a great contender for Ikebana arrangements. Since designs of this style don’t have a lot of filler blooms, your sweet peas don’t run the risk of getting bruised. Hart Floral paired a few hellebores with sweet pea in this arrangement, styled by Ginny Au with art direction from Jenny Sanders, but left room for the flowers to breathe.
Since Ikebana arrangements are so minimal by nature, they lend themselves well to cluster-style tablescapes. Take this Hart Floral look, for instance. A variety of bud vases with pared down arrangements worked in harmony to create a contemporary, but textural, look.
If you want your minimalist arrangement to feel even more contemporary, consider playing with proportions. These branches, arranged by Nord and Mae, were drastically larger than the vessel holding them, which created a unique effect.
Roses are often used in classic centerpieces with lusher aesthetics, but that doesn’t preclude minimalist couples from using them. Since rose buds are so full, use just one or two stems in a flower frog (as Zinnia Floral Designs did at this Aravella Event Design wedding) for a contemporary take on the traditional bloom.
The tightly packed petal pattern found in ranunculus make them a great candidate for minimalist arrangements. While lusher blooms, like dahlias and garden roses, work well in classic designs, a tight flower (like the bright white ranunculus Nord and Mae used here) provides the crisp, clean lines that are inherent to Ikebana arrangements.
If you’re getting married during a season when your favorite flowers aren’t in bloom, consider using dried iterations in your arrangements, instead. Lunaria (a papery, translucent dried round foliage type) is a unique addition that works no matter the season, as Studio Mondine proved here.
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