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The Flowers

June 4, 2010

In keeping with the Thai/Southeast Asian theme of the wedding, we’re planning on featuring some beautiful traditional Thai flower garlands (called Phuang Malai) and other traditional Thai flower arrangements.  Here’s one photo of a traditional Thai flower garland at a flower market in Thailand

Phuang Malai - Thai Flower Garlands

“Phuang malai” became popular during the reign of King Rama V (1853-1910).  It was then that ladies of the court practiced their design skills in creating a feast of garlands; skills which were passed on to other ladies in-waiting, or to students completing their education within the palace walls.

A garland can take on different shapes. It can either be circular to resemble a necklace or bracelet ending with two or more ‘tails’ of flower ribbons, or long with two strands of flowers separated by a ribbon called “uba.”  The most common type of “phuang malai”  is held together by a string of tiny white malik (Arabic jasmine) blossoms. Yet another type of jasmine, this one without smell, is strung onto the garland. This particular flower called dok ruk or the flower of love neither looks nor feels like a flower.

Flower garlands were traditionally hung in front of windows, thus allowing the aromatic jasmine to waft into the house. Hung in front of Buddha statues, or pictures of monks, they act as offerings to celestial beings. Placed in front of photographs of relatives, they are offerings to the dearly departed. On spirit houses, “phuang malai”  are used to please the spirits with their smell. In the car, they are believed to have the power to prevent accidents and if offered to guests, they substitute for words like  ‘welcome’.

The higher the status of the person, the more elaborate the garland. A garland offered to the King, for example, is as intricate as any floor mosaic. Orchids, a reddish-purple flower called ban mai roo roi, roses or any other flower may be used to weave an elaborate pattern combined with the fragrant malik. Patterns of flowers are made out of a combination of smaller blossoms. An elaborate garland such as this may resemble knots on a rope with little rings of white blossoms, thus creating a stunning effect of thickness and weight.

Check out this site for more photos and info.

We’re hoping to mix things up a little bit and use these garlands as the bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids to hold during the ceremony.

And so, here is what we came up with…


After much searching, we found a small Thai flower shop in Thai town, L.A.  We ordered several simple Thai garlands from the shop, and our amazing friend/florist, Molly, used them as the base of the bouquets, with orange Asiatic lilies, orange alstroemeria, safflower and multicolored strawflower (mostly oranges, yellows and purples) bursting from the center of the circular garlands, with the tails of the garland hanging down with orchids underneath.  They were beautiful!

The moms and grandmas wore the Thai garlands on their wrists instead of a corsage.

My mom wearing her Thai garland and delivering one to each of the grandmas (she's also holding the extra 'toss' bouquet)

And the guys wore matching boutonnieres with alstroemeria, strawflower, and orange ribbon

The boutonnieres

We actually bought all of the flowers ourselves, and Molly put everything together the morning of the wedding (she is a champ!).  The alstroemeria we purchased in bulk from from Sam’s Club, which was a great deal and shipped right to our door the week before the wedding.  We bought the strawflowers, safflower, and some lilies from the flower vendor at the Riverside Farmer’s Market, which was also a great deal and great quality.  We were lucky that such awesome orange flowers were in season!

Strawflowers at the Riverside Farmer's Market

Safflower at the Riverside Farmer's Market

And here’s one more group photo just for good measure…


4 Comments leave one →
  1. leonard phay permalink
    August 24, 2013 9:00 pm

    Hi I was wondering where you guys found the Thai garlands from? Thanks


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