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Southern Stems: Gardenias

by in Inspirations, Main on

With the promise of a sweet Southern spring around the corner, we thought it was time to dust off our Southern Stems column! So far we’ve covered south of the Mason-Dixon Line favorites camellias, wisterias, and Texas blue bonnets, and today, it’s the gardenia’s turn.

Though I have many loves, gardenias are without a doubt my favorite Southern flower. Aside from their gorgeous looks, their smell is absolutely divine. (Strong, but divine.) I also love how something so precious is at the same time so common, at least in the South. Almost every house in my neighborhood has a bush, and I snapped this perfect bloom — one of many we passed! — on a walk one evening last June.

Elizabeth Messina via Mindy Weiss, Martha Stewart Weddings, Beaux Arts Photographie

The most common variety of gardenias, gardenia jasminoides, is native to Southern China and Japan, but has found a happy home in the American South. No surprise, since they are a majorly heat-loving plant! Gardenias are also known as Cape Jasmine.

Elizabeth Scott Photography via Southern Weddings, Eric Kelley via Wedding Chicks

Another reason gardenias are perfect for the South? They represent grace and hospitality — perfect for planting beside your front porch! Gardenias are actually a species of evergreen, so they keep their gorgeous glossy dark green leaves all winter. The leaves are beautiful to include in wedding arrangements, too!

Kallie Brynn via Southern Weddings, Kate Harrison via Style Me Pretty, Simple Color via Elizabeth Anne Designs, Brookelyn Photography via The Bride’s Cafe

Gardenias were particularly popular in weddings in the ’60s and ’70s, and are still a favorite with classic brides today. A few tips if you’re planning on using them in your own celebration: Make sure you like the smell! As noted above, gardenias have a strong scent, so even one bloom in a bouquet can make an impact.

Ashley McCormick via Southern Weddings, Eclectic Images, Elizabeth Messina via Style Me Pretty, Laura Gordon via Southern Weddings

Also, while gardenias’ petals are delightfully creamy, they’re also exceptionally fragile, and too much handling can cause the petals to turn brown quickly. If you’re planning to pin a bloom in your hair, reserve two blossoms with your florist — that way, you can change it out post-ceremony to keep things fresh for the reception. Or, opt for a faux version — DK Designs makes a clay beauty we love!

Nancy Ray via Southern Weddings, White Loft Photographie via Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart Weddings

Speaking of faux gardenias, sugar flowers are a perfect option on a wedding cake!

A Bryan Photo via Martha Stewart Weddings and unknown

Do you love gardenias as much as I do? Anyone out there who can’t stand the smell? Will y’all incorporate them into your wedding? I’d love to hear!

Nancy Ray is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar Kristyn M reply

    I love Gardenias! We always had them in the yard growing up and the smell instantly brings me back to my grandmothers yard! I plan on using them in my wedding but not too much because I’m sure not everyone loves the smell like I do!

  2. avatar Jessica B reply

    Gardenias and magnolias both will having starring roles at my wedding! They are so undeniably Southern. Delicate looking, elegant, but both make an impact! Gardenias with their smell and magnolias with their size.

  3. avatar anna reply

    Love the idea of handwritten notes for family members at their seats!

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Tradition is BIG in the South. It’s woven throughout our lives, from how we make our beds to how we design our homes (with wide front porches, obviously!). Nowhere is it more present, though, than when we’re planning our weddings. Whether we’re toasting with the same flutes our grandparents did, carrying a hankie embroidered with the initials of all of our siblings, or cutting our cake with a knife engraved with three generations of wedding dates, the past has a way of making itself known on the day we say “I do.” We filled this shoot with ways — both new and old — to honor your past and celebrate your future. Add in the abundance of gardenias and graceful Spanish moss, and you’ve got the inspiration for a sweetly Southern soiree.

Nancy Ray photographed all the beautiful details, including this stationery suite by Regas. I adore the magnolia envelope liner!

We were lucky to have sweet readers standing in for our models this time around. Stacie and Nick, newlyweds themselves, posed as our bride and groom, and Alex and Ashley stood in as bridesmaids.

This lovely gown is the “Blossoming Weir” from BHLDN. With detailing like that, you’d hardly need any jewelry at all.

I love this alternative ring pillow!

As soon as we saw the City Club at de Rosset in Wilmington, we knew it would be just perfect for this particular shoot — after all, the shutters were the exact shade of green we were incorporating elsewhere! We adored the wide front porch and all the silver details.

Aren’t these notes the sweetest? Hardink Calligraphy penned them for us, and we think they’d be such a lovely addition to a small wedding. Your guests would certainly feel welcomed and loved, no matter how good (or bad!) your own handwriting is!

Gardenias are a notoriously fragile flower, which is why we love the clay version from DK Designs. They’re a perfect takeaway for guests, and look lovely gracing a dinner plate or napkin!

This gorgeous cake pull set is available from Weddings Etc. Read more about the cake pull tradition here!

That about sums it up, does it not? Beautiful work by Hardink Calligraphy! Be sure to pick up your copy of V5 to see even more goodness from this shoot!

Nancy Ray and Hardink Calligraphy are fabulous members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
22 Comments
  1. avatar Jessica Thornton reply

    We had magnolia leaves in the sanctuary for our wedding ceremony! Being from Mississippi, we love our state flower!

  2. avatar Megan reply

    Hi! I have a question for yall! I’m wanting to get an embroidered patch of my initials and wedding day put on the inside of my wedding dress. Do I use my maiden monogram or my new monogram?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Megan! I’m so excited to hear you’re going to do a monogram inside your wedding dress. Traditionally one puts their maiden monogram inside their wedding dress. This was done long ago as a way to identify who wore the gown when it had been passed down. Wishing you all the best! xx

  3. avatar Lisa reply

    Gorgeous calligraphy and magnolias…two of my weaknesses!

  4. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Gosh I love that BHLDN gown. It’s so understated, yet so pretty. The cake is STUNNING. It’s my new obsession ruffled cakes.

  5. avatar Kate Collison reply

    Ahhh! I’ve been collecting charms for weeks for the charm pull we’ll have at our wedding! Hydrangeas will be everywhere. I love this shoot! It’s so classic and relates to “real-life” brides very well! Thank you!

  6. avatar Kristyn M reply

    Can we buy that print at the very end? I want to frame it for my home! Its perfect!

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  8. avatar Cameron reply

    Oh my goodness, this shoot is beautiful! The calligraphy and the classy southern touches….wonderful! Can’t wait for the V5 to be in my hands so I can swoon over this some more! Thanks for the Spring inspiration….there’ s so many great ideas here!!

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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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