After months upon months of preparation leading up to your wedding day, when the moment finally arrives it seems to fly by in an instant. That is why so many brides choose to save such keepsakes as their wedding dress, veil, invitations, even cake topper, as mementos of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. However, one of the most important elements of your wedding day—the flowers—is also the most fleeting. Brides spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on their flowers, from centerpieces to their bouquet, only to have them wilt away soon after the wedding. With modern freeze-drying technology, it is now possible to keep your flowers for years to come as artistic keepsakes and timeless jewelry.

Linda Saadeh, owner of Timeless Moments Floral Preservation in Broadview Heights, has been creating works of art with preserved flowers for almost 10 years. She owned a full-service bridal shop for several years, but got involved in floral preservation after noticing increased demand from local brides. “I had an in-house florist who did fresh flowers for weddings, and we always had customers that would come back to us with their bouquets and wanted to know what to do,” Saadeh explains. While she didn’t know the answer at the time, Saadeh learned of the freeze-drying process after reading about it in a trade journal years later. After leaving her bridal shop, she decided to start a floral preservation business to bring this unique service to brides in Northeast Ohio. With the company’s Web site, www.timelessmoments.com, Saadeh has expanded her floral preservation business nationwide.

All types of flowers can be preserved; however, daises tend to fall apart in the freeze-drying process due to their delicate petals. What is most important is the quality of the flower rather than the type, Saadeh emphasizes. It is best to plan ahead if you want to preserve your flowers, which should be kept in peak condition prior to the freeze-drying process. Saadeh recommends that bouquets stay hydrated and kept in a refrigerator and long stem flowers be trimmed and placed in water. You should plan to have the flowers dropped off the Sunday or Monday following the wedding. “The better the quality of the flowers and the sooner we get them, the better the end result will be,” she explains. “As you start going farther into the week the flowers will start to deteriorate.”

Before the flowers are processed for preservation, they are photographed, diagrammed and the bouquets are disassembled. The freeze-drying process involves a machine extracting water vapor from the flowers. Moisture blockers and color enhancers are then used on the flowers to add color vibrancy and to protect them from sunlight. Once the process is complete, the preservationist can then put the flowers back in their original design or create a new one.

Saadeh works with brides to create personalized keepsakes via in-person or online consultations. A variety of display options are available, including shadowboxes, display cases and glass-domed frames, all of which are UV protected to ensure the flowers are safe from environmental factors. “Shadow boxes have gained popularity recently,” Saadeh says. “You can get very creative with them because you can place items on the bottom ledge or add a frame within the frame.” For the displays, color options range from contemporary black and silver to classic cherry and rosewood. Brides provide Saadeh with keepsakes from their wedding to complete the one-of-a-kind design. “They give me invitations, pictures, tiaras, garters, pins, gloves—I’ve even done full veils in the display,” Saadeh explains. “All different kinds of brides have come through, and I really personalize it to what they want.”  The entire process, from preservation to designing the keepsake, takes several months to complete.

Saadeh’s latest venture is handmade floral jewelry, an ancient art form practiced for centuries by nuns overseas. The essence of your wedding flowers can be forever captured in beautiful floral beads or stones, which are assembled with sterling silver or gold components to create personalized jewelry that will bring to mind your wedding day. The complex process to transform your wedding flowers into beads involves freeze-drying the petals to preserve the brilliant colors and pulverizing them into a paste. Moisture is then added so the flower mixture can be rolled into beads or stones. Colors from different kinds of flowers can be combined to create a unique swirl effect. 

Brides can choose from necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, earrings and rosaries in a variety of styles. “We try to carry mostly styles that are classic and timeless,” Saadeh explains. Designs include heart or cross pendants, rings, bracelets, and earrings. “I had one bride who wanted a rosary made, thinking that one day she will have a daughter, and when the daughter gets married she can put the rosary into her bouquet,” Saadeh says. “It would be something special shared between them.”

There are few occasions in life that touch your heart the way your wedding will. Whether you decide to have your wedding bouquet made into a beautiful piece to display in your new home, or you decide to have a piece of jewelry made from the beautiful floral beads, you can be sure that preserving your wedding flowers will continue to remind you of this special day for years to come.
 

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