Ask McQueens: Will Lily of the Valley Last in a Wedding Bouquet?

Lily of the valley is a remarkable flower and a much-requested inclusion in bridal bouquets. The fragrance and delicate nature of this flower makes it a perfect choice but, as one reader learned, it comes with some very careful care instructions. To answer today’s question we selected the rather knowledgeable senior florist of 25 years, McQueens social media manager, Duncan McCabe.

I adore lily of the valley, it was my late grandmother’s favourite flower, and I would love to include it in my wedding bouquet. However, I’ve heard that it can be quite temperamental and wondered if you have any advice to help avoid any disasters?

Philippa, London

Unfortunately, the rumours you have heard about the temperamental nature of this flower are all true and most florists will carefully sit a client down and break the news very gently! It is notoriously difficult to work with and most florists will have had an unpleasant experience with this flower which is prone to premature wilting. That shouldn’t however, stop a good florist from working with them for someone’s dream wedding. These are the considerations that I would share with anyone wishing for a gorgeous lily of the valley wedding bouquet.


Lily of the valley has a very short season and is at it’s best in late spring so check availability with your supplier first; it’s a risky choice for either early or late in the season. You still may be able to get hold of this precious flower then, but the quality can be affected.

The Day of Your Wedding

Most flowers for weddings are robust enough to be made up in plenty of time for a wedding. Some can even be prepared the day before and finished on the day of the wedding. Bouquets including lily of the valley will usually need to be made on the day of the wedding and as close to the wedding time as possible, especially for a wedding later in the day. So if you are getting married abroad or your florist needs to travel a distance to deliver your flowers, play safe and opt for another flower.


Lily of the valley wilt very quickly when out of the water so it’s important to leave them in water until the very last moment. This is easy to do if the bouquet is a delicate hand-tied. As the stem length is very short, it is often necessary to wire lily of the valley. I would always do this by plugging the bottom of the stem with a miniature ball of cotton wool that has been soaked in water. This will give well-needed moisture and help to keep them fresh.

Plan B

It would be foolhardy for any florist not to be clear about the limitations of lily of the valley from the very first consultation and it is often best to play safe if brides insist on this flower. It would be very advisable to have surplus lily of the valley on hand in the event of any mishaps, and even have an alternative bouquet in mind if all else fails. Better safe than sorry.

Duncan, McQueens

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Lily of the Valley, a beautiful yet notoriously difficult flower to use
Lily of the Valley, a beautiful yet notoriously difficult flower to use
McQueens Senior Florist and Social Media Manager, Duncan McCabe
This week’s ‘Agony Aunt’, Senior Florist and Social Media Manager, Duncan McCabe