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Carnations Are a Beautiful Option for Weddings

Guest Blogger with Kim McMullen of Something Spectacular Custom Floral Design and Something Floral

Today I'm happy to welcome Kim of Something Spectacular Custom Floral Design and Something Floral to the blog. She'll be sharing with you a little history on the carnations along with why they are a not only a beautiful option for your wedding, but they are budget-friendly too. If you've seen the new issue of Bride's, you probably saw the article that showcases an event Colin Cowie put together where he used carnations as the main floral element. I'm begining to think that 2010 might be the year that this lovely flower is given a more prominent feature in weddings.


The carnation, with a history dating back over 2,000 years, is one of the world's oldest cultivated flower varieties. Immediately recognizable for its ruffled appearance and clove-like scent that is said to be motivating and uplifting, the carnation is appreciated for it's heartiness and extended blooming period.

The carnation's botanical name is Dianthus caryophyllus, which when translated, means "flower of love" or "flower of the gods" depending upon the source. There are many meanings for carnations, but the most widely accepted are fascination, distinction, and love.

There are approximately 300 species in the Dianthus genus. Stems with a single large bloom are called standard carnations. Spray carnations, also called minis, bear several smaller blooms on each stem. Carnations are native to the Eastern Hemisphere, and they are found naturally in the Mediterranean region.

Most commonly seen in pinks, reds, and whites, carnations are also available in yellow, peach, purple, lavender, green, and bi-color varieties. They can also be dyed or tinted to match any color scheme. Because of their beautiful texture, pleasant scent, heartiness, and affordability, carnations are among the most popular cut flowers requested and used for corsages and boutonnieres.

Carnations can really stretch a bride's budget. The blooms of standard carnations are relatively large so fewer flowers are needed in each design. The flower heads can cover a large amount of space when used in modern pave designs, and their unique texture adds visual interest. Carnations are very durable and long-lasting, and we especially like to use them massed together to create uniquely-shaped designs items.  We frequently use carnations for pomanders and kissing balls, floral initials, and flower girl scepters.

While carnations have lost some popularity as wedding and special event flowers over the past 10 years, the key to keeping carnation designs modern and in-fashion is to select one or more of the newer color varieties, such as vibrant purples and lavenders, developed in recent years or use them as the one and only botanical variety in mass designs. Carnations can mix beautifully with other larger-bloomed garden flowers, but they look dated when paired with baby's breath (gypsophila) or other tiny bloomed, "filler" flowers.

Advantages of using carnations in wedding/special event flowers:
• Low cost for relatively large size blooms
• Longevity. Carnations will last nearly twice as long as nearly any cut flower, typically ranging from 6-14 days depending on variety.
• Fairly tolerant of heat so they work well for summer or warm climate weddings/events
• Available from florists year-round
• Hearty, durable flower that can be used in a variety of designs
• Can be dyed or tinted to any color
• Their unique texture add extra dimension to bouquets and other floral designs

Interesting facts about the carnation:
• The birth flower for January
• A scarlet carnation was designated as the state flower of Ohio in 1904
• It is the national flower of Spain and the provincial flower of the Balearic Islands
• Its history dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times when the flower was used in art and décor
• Carnations were known as "Jove's Flower" in ancient Rome as a tribute to one of their beloved gods
• Carnations were one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns, and some scholars believe the name "carnation" comes from "coronation" or "corone" (flower garlands)
• The founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, used carnations at the first Mother's Day celebration because they were her mother's favorite flower
• In the early part of the 20th century, carnations became the official flower of Mother's Day.
• In many parts of the world, carnations are more popular than any other variety of flowers, including roses

Kim McMullen is the founder, owner, and lead designer of Something Floral and Something Spectacular Custom Floral Design, both based in the metro Detroit area. Formally educated in fine/visual art, floral design, interior design, and communications, she is best known as "The Picky Bride’s Florist™" and "The Premier Silk Floral Designer™". Specializing in weddings and special events, Kim creates floral artistry in both fresh and silk/artificial mediums, for clients around the world. Her award-winning designs have been published in several issues of Florists' Review (an international magazine for floral designers), Woman's World magazine, and The Bridal Bouquet Book. For local or out-of-area special event floral design services, visit and


Thank you Kim for joining my readers today to share how carnations can be a beautiful wedding flower while keeping costs down.