In addition to a groom, a bride also needs some blooms! Here's how to choose the perfect bouquet to carry down the aisle.

A beautiful bouquet completes your bridal look, so don't leave organising it until the last minute. Book a consultation with your florist at least six months before your wedding date, after you've chosen your gown. Take a photo or sketch of your dress and a swatch of the fabric if possible, so that the flowers can be coordinated with your overall look.

Choose a style of bouquet that reflects the theme of your wedding. The posy is a popular choice, suiting both informal and formal occasions. The more traditional trailing bouquet is also making a comeback due to 1930s and '40s influences, although with a more modern, streamlined look, but still favouring the delicate floral components. If you're after a simpler style, an arm sheath of long-stemmed blooms makes a strong visual impact.

When choosing your wedding flowers, bear in mind that they offer a sensory experience that not only appeals to the eyes, but also to the nose. If fragrance is important to you, include delicately scented sweet peas or stephanotis in your bouquet, or perhaps some aromatic herbs such as mint, rosemary or lavender. And remember to take any allergies into account, as you don't want to be sneezing your way down the aisle!

You may also like to personalise your bouquet by incorporating blooms with special meaning. Choose your favourite flowers, or ones that are a reminder of a special time. Alternatively, you could select varieties that convey a symbolic message – sunflowers, for example, signify adoration, while tulips are a declaration of love.

And why not individualise your bouquet with a few decorative touches? For a glamorous occasion, add some bling with crystals or diamantes, or go vintage by adorning your bouquet with pearls, an heirloom brooch or family photographs. Berries, succulents or shells create a natural, earthy look, while the more flamboyant bride might intersperse feather s among her flowers. For a romantic touch, affix copies of meaningful words, such as your vows or love letters, to the ribbon around the stems.

On the big day, pick up your flowers as late as possible, ensuring that the person who collects them from the florist has the air-conditioning on in their car. We recommend keeping them in a cool spot until needed.

If the stems aren't enclosed with ribbon, you could sit them in water – just be careful to dry the ends thoroughly before use. Take a spray bottle of water with you to keep your flowers fresh, but bear in mind that too much water will attract more of the sun's rays and may even sizzle your blooms.

Keep handling to a minimum until you arrive at the ceremony venue. Before you walk down the aisle, check that you're holding your bouquet slightly away form your gown to avoid marking it. At the reception, place it in the middle of the wedding party's table or on the cake table, and if you'd like to honour tradition, don't forget to toss it at the end of the night!

Beyond bouquets

If you decide that a bouquet isn't your style, you may like to hold a single flower or wear a wrist corsage. For summer weddings, parasols and fans are currently hot favourites, while a faux-fur hand muff will keep your hands warm during the cooler months.