I absolutely love flowers! My very favorite flowers are hydrangeas, roses, tulips and daffodils. In fact, my own wedding bouquet featured a mass of hand dyed hydrangeas by none other than Jerry Littleton of GML Designs (http://www.gmlittleton.com/services.php) and my wedding cake had hydrangeas all around it. It was absolutely beautiful (no, I didn't do my own wedding cake! :) )!
As a baker and cake designer, I meet with brides every day who want flowers on their cakes either as a topper or as decorations on the side of the cake or around the base of the cake. I say, "Great, the more the better!" But here's the thing, there are many flowers that should not touch a cake (or anything edible) in any way as they are very toxic and could cause the bride and groom or their guests to get very sick. And regardless of whether or not a flower is toxic, flower stems should NEVER be pushed into a cake. That actually happened at a wedding I attended as a guest. The cake was beautiful and so were the flowers but the catering manager decided to "decorate" the cake herself with some extra flowers that were scattered around the cake table. She took individual stems and pushed them into the cake. I thought the bride was going to flip (and rightly so)! So if you absolutely must have real flowers on your cake, please make sure that they are not poisonous, and make sure that there is a barrier between the cake and any flowers that decorate the cake. The barrier can be just about anything, including extra icing that the decorator uses to "stick" individual flowers to the cake (the extra icing holds the flowers on rather than poking the stems in the cake). Flowers should be removed prior to serving the cake. Please also make sure that the flowers have not been treated by any pesticides. Don't rely on your florist to know which flowers are poisonous---educate yourself! I've included a list pf poisonous flowers at the end of this blog entry to get you started.
There is another beautiful, and more "permanent" option for your cake---gumpaste flowers. Gumpaste is a dough like substance that is made primarily of sugar and several other ingredients, that make the dough harden after it has been made into the shape of the flower of
your choice. Here are a couple of pictures of finished gumpaste flowers:
"Sugar" flowers are handmade, petal by petal, and are technically edible, although no one would ever want to eat one (yuck!). They are also hand colored and extremely safe for your wedding cake. Not only are they beautiful but they make a great keepsake of your wedding day because they don't wilt and die like real flowers. Because of the labor involved in making gumpaste flowers, expect to pay for this beautiful work of art. The trade off for the cost of the flowers is that you'll forever have a beautiful keepsake from your wedding.
As for which flowers to use, here's are lists of flowes that range from safe, to highly toxic: http://www.blueirissanctuary.fatcow.com/id181.htm .