Invite this garden standout to your wedding.

Planning a spring wedding? The perfect flower for your bouquet might be blooming right outside your window.

Peonies are big, dramatic flowers that exude old-fashioned romance. They are a remarkable combination of boldness and delicacy, and they are making their way to the top of many brides’ floral wish lists.

Peonies originated in the Far East and are documented as far back as 4,000 years ago. They have long been revered for their beauty and have been attributed with special qualities – both medicinal — as a cure for stomach pain in the Middle Ages — and mythical — the Victorians believed that if you dug up a peony bush, you would be cursed by fairies.

Surely the fairies would be pleased to see these large, ruffled blooms with a starring role in a bride’s bouquet or in a reception centerpiece. Peonies come in a wide variety of colors, from snowy white, to sweet pink, to brilliant coral, and beyond. Because they are such showy flowers, two or three blooms can stand alone as a bouquet, or join in with a mix of other flowers and greenery.

The blooming period for peonies is brief – just a few weeks. That rarity can add to their cost, but it is considered a plus for true peony fans. Some brides choose their wedding date specifically to coincide with peony season!

DIYers may be tempted to forego the florist and gather peonies from their own gardens. That can be a beautiful option, but use care. It’s best to cut blooms when they are still in the bud stage (but you may want to experiment because a tight

 bud that is cut too early may not open at all). Place the stem in cold, clean water, removing any foliage that will go below the water line. Keep the container in a cool, dry place and allow the buds to open naturally. You can speed up the blooming process by putting the stems in warm water and placing the container in a sunny place.

The romantic peony is a natural fit for the most romantic day of your life.