Every other bride we work with is in love with peonies and wants them everywhere! Not only are peonies beautiful flowers, but certain cultures give them special meaning as well.

In Chinese culture for example, peonies signal the beginning of spring and represent good fortune, romance and wealth.

Beyond just being symbolic, they are stunning flowers that many people adore. Unfortunately they aren’t always in season and can be expensive to import. So what are some options for brides who want peonies but can’t have them?

I’ve asked Sharon from Coquette Studios to talk about some beautiful peony alternatives for your wedding day. Read on for some floral inspiration!

Let’s talk Peonies!

One of the most requested flowers for weddings is the beautiful and romantic peony. From white through shades of pink and all the way to stunning coral and burgundy these blooms really add a romantic feel to your wedding day! But before you fall in love let’s talk about their season because this could be a deal breaker.

Modern peony bouquet
This bright and modern peony bouquet features coral charm peonies, from a Malaparte Wedding with Balloons. Florist: Sweet Woodruff. Photo: Olive Studios.
Large white peonies are the feature of this bridal bouquet, from a Blush Garden Wedding.
Florist: Royal Orchid Flowers. Photo: Elizabeth in Love.

Peony Season

Peonies are usually available from late April through to the beginning of July. Now of course this depends on how early spring starts and when the heat of summer kicks in. The time they are at their peak and consistently available is mid May – end of June. If you’re getting married at this time you can almost guarantee peonies for your wedding day!

The wonderful thing about the floral industry is imports from other countries. This means if you’re a peony lover planning a late fall/early winter wedding you’re in luck as they come back on the market from mid November until about Christmas.

If you’re not getting married during peony season don’t fret because we are going to talk about some substitute flowers for your special day!

Peony Alternative – Garden Roses

In my opinion garden roses are the next best thing to a peony. They have that same lush, romantic look and soft beautiful fragrance. Even better, these beauties are available all year long!

There are two different types of garden roses; David Austin are a favourite of many with popular varieties such as Patience, Juliette, Charity and one of my favourites Beatrice! In my opinion David Austin roses really are the closest rose to the peony.

There are also the more standard garden rose varieties that can really substitute for peonies nicely. White or Pink O’hara, Wedding Spirit and Queen Mayra to name a few can be more cost effective than the David Austin’s and still open huge and beautiful!

A beautiful bouquet of mainly garden roses (with a few additional flowers like anemones and ranunculus) from our Enchanted Garden Wedding. Florist: Rachel A. Clingen. Photo: Mango Studios
A variety of beautiful garden roses make up a majority of this centrepiece’s full and lush look, from a Blush Pink Winery Wedding. Florist: Rachel A. Clingen Photography. Photo: Carly Mills Photography.

Seasonal Peony Alternatives

Now, a few other choices to substitute the beloved peony. Keep in mind the next two flowers have a specific season as well so try and work with nature for the best blooms for your special day.

Season Peony Alternatives – Ranunculus

I would say after peonies, this is the second most requested wedding flower. Ranunculus are like a mini peony (unless you get the Cloni variety and then it could almost fool even the most seasoned florist because they open so huge). Ranunculus are generally available from mid-fall until the beginning of spring, although the best and biggest ones are in season from January – March, so winter brides you’re in luck!

Ranunculus come in a range of colours from white-pink, purple-coral and almost everything in between. On top of being a beautiful flower they usually have cute buds which can add great texture and movement to bouquets and centrepieces, and often used as accents for boutonnieres.

A bridal bouquet featuring large ivory coloured ranunculus, mixed in with garden roses. As seen in our Modern White and Fuschia Wedding. Florist: Delight Floral. Photo: Purple Tree Photography.
Peach and blush coloured ranunculus are the feature in this bridal bouquet, from an Elegant Pink Wedding. Florist: Rachel A. Clingen. Photo: Mango Studios

Seasonal Peony Alternatives – Dahlias

Dahlias have got to be one of my favourite flowers and although they have a different look than the peony I find that their big full shape can really give that same lush and elegant feel to a wedding (especially when mixed with garden roses).

Dahlia season overlaps with the end of peony season and they go through until the first frost hits, usually mid-late October. They come in all different shapes, from balls to a beautiful water lily shape and their sizes range as well. From a little smaller than a peony all the way to the famous dinner plate dahlias (these ones are literally as big as your head and absolutely amazing, especially the Cafe Au Lait variety). If you are a peony lover these could be the next best thing!

Dahlias are featured in this centrepiece, as seen in an Urban Industrial Wedding.
Florist: Fete Flowers. Photo: 5ive15ifteen.
Lovely peach coloured dahlias are seen here in this Whimsical Hot Air Balloon Wedding. Florist: Fete Flowers. Photo: Lisa Mark Photography

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning your wedding flowers is working with the seasons and what nature has to offer.

By choosing in season blooms you will always have quality flowers that will make your wedding day gorgeous and memorable!

Thanks again to Sharon from Coquette Studios for sharing these beautiful peony alternatives.

Rebecca Chan is a Toronto event designer and event planner. If you have a brand activation, media launch event, design project, trade show or a special event, connect with her today to see how we can collaborate on your next project.