Plenty of things make good keepsakes from your wedding day, including that show-stopping gown, dreamy reception photos and guestbook of heartfelt, handwritten messages. Add your big day bouquet to this list – it is, after all, the second best accessory next to your groom and too pretty a splurge to toss out upon wilting. To help your blooms last a lifetime, we dish out five ways to preserve your bridal bouquet

Prior to preservation: Prolong the life of your flowers
It's best to begin the preservation process when your flowers are still fresh. Prepare a vase of water and add a teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of bleach to it. Cut the stems of your flowers at a 45-degree angle then immediately place them in the vase. Be sure to re-cut the stems every few days and replace water every day.

Three Nails Photography

Three Nails Photography

By silica gel:
With silica gel (easily found at craft stores), your blooms will dry close to their original colour. Trim a piece of floral foam to fit your air-tight container. Coat the bottom of your container with a thin layer of silica gel and place your foam above it. Trim the stems of your flowers, and then insert them into your foam, before pouring your silica gel completely over them. Your gorgeously preserved blooms should be ready in a few days to a week.

By microwave:
Yes, you read that right – you can speed up your flower drying process in mere minutes with a microwave. Place flowers, one at a time, in a microwave-safe container and cover them with either silica gel (or clay cat litter) over it to absorb moisture. Microwave on high temperature for two to three minutes. Once cooled, gently brush off the silica gel with a brush.

How to dry flowers. photo by Sweetsummerboutique on etsy

Summersweetboutique on Etsy

By air-drying:
This fool-proof method will result in your flowers taking on a more vintage hue. Leave your flowers as they are in a bunch and secure with a rubber band. Hang upside down in a dark yet well-ventilated corner.

By pressing:
This method works best for smaller flowers and looks best framed up or secured to the underside of your guestbook's cover. Place your flowers on a matte paper in a single row, then place another sheet of paper above it. Seal with tape and place under a heavy book. Replace the paper after a week and leave for another two weeks. Your flowers are ready once they develop a papery texture.

By freeze-drying:
You might want to leave this one to the professionals. Freeze-drying flowers involves spraying the flowers with starch, then dehydrating it in a freeze-dryer. The downside: It may be costly.

By water:
Simply place your flowers in a vase and leave it in a dark room. Once all water has evaporated, the flowers have dried. This is best for flowers with sturdier stalks to prevent drooping.

For a demonstration of these methods, watch the video below: