• Using Fruit and Vegetables for Centerpieces: "Dutch Masters"-Inspired Still Life

    In a recent blog post about making your wedding more eco-friendly, I mentioned the idea of incorporating fruits and vegetables as decor to supplement flowers. 

    As a follow-up, I styled a still life of florals, fruits and vegetables, inspired by the tradition of the Dutch Masters, whose paintings exude vibrancy and abudance. My inspiration board can be found over on Pinterest

    Once your reception is over, you can re-use the fruits and vegetables to nourish your family. You could also provide little paper bags for your wedding guests to "shop" the tables like a local farmers market, sharing the bounty as a favor. Lastly, if you arrange for it in advance, your local food bank or soup kitchen may be able to accept the fresh produce as a donation. Not only do these tablescapes look stunning, but you can do some good at the same time. 

    Have you considered reducing the total amount of flowers at your wedding by adding some fruits and vegetables instead? What do you think of this idea? As the Dutch Masters paintings teach us, it's certainly not a new idea, but it's a good one! 



  • How to Make Wedding Flowers More Earth-Friendly

    On Earth Day today, I want to share my thoughts on a topic that truly hurts my heart: The environmental impact of the flower industry, and "big" wedding flowers. 

    While I love over-the-top, luxurious arrangements and installations, extensive flower use can have an ugly side. I struggle with cut flowers being a beautiful aspect of events, but certainly not a green industry unless you truly go out of your way to make that factor a priority.

    If you want to learn more about this background, hop on over to this informative article over here.

    I found this piece of information from the linked article particularly poignant: 

    "Chemical pollution is an issue. The cut-flower industry is a short-cycle production process that requires the extensive use of agrochemicals which have a negative effect on the air, soil and water supply.

    The industry has loose regulatory status because flowers are not edible crops and are exempt from regulations on pesticide residues, although they carry significantly more pesticides than allowed on foods. It is estimated that one-fifth of the chemicals used in the floriculture industry in developing countries are banned or untested in the US." 

    So, where does that leave me, as a florist, but also as a person who cares greatly about the future of this earth?

    It may not be a popular opinion, and it may not be something I thought through earlier, but I'd like to share some ideas for how you can "greenify" your wedding and still have beautiful florals: 

    1) Ask for Organically Grown, Local, In-Season Flowers

    This may sound great in theory, but please understand that it will require flexibility of you for your wedding. Please also understand that selecting this option will not always mean a reduction in cost, as instead of the high cost of transporting cheaply grown flowers around the world, you are now helping to pay a living wage to a local farmer. 

    Local and in-season flowers may in many cases look more rustic than elegant, and they are more often brightly hued, rather than in typically "bridal" neutrals. Further, you will not be guaranteed certain flowers, as each year, the growing seasons are a bit different. Even if a flower is typically in-season during your wedding day, Mother Nature won't operate predictably on schedule. 

    Go with the flow on this one, and the floral designer will create magical arrangements with a perfect link to the place and time of your wedding. There is true beauty in the fleeting moments different flowers pop up in the natural growing seasons. 

    2) Use Potted Plants, Fruit and Vegetables 

    In addition to a cut flower bouquet, you can use more sustainable, natural decor additions to make your centerpieces shine. Creating a tablescape with flowers, but also with potted plants, fruits and vegetables results in a beautiful scene of total abundance. After the wedding, you can keep the plants in your home or re-plant them, and enjoy some meals made with the fruits and vegetables. 

    Of course, you will want to ensure these were grown organically and locally if your focus is environmental. 

    Jump on over to my blog post here to see an example of how you can incorporate fruits and vegetables into your tablescape.

    3) Choose a Beautiful, Single Location

    In this case, by beautiful I mean an outdoor location that is naturally beautiful. Think botanical garden or state park, where nature abounds and your florals need to merely accent this beauty. Though transformations of industrial, "blank canvas" type spaces are imaginative and can have jaw-dropping results, starting in a place with breath-taking views simplifies the process and the costs to both you and the environment. 

    In addition, if possible, select a location convenient to the majority of your guests, and host both the ceremony and the reception in a single location to limit additional driving needed from every guest. As my family and friends are spread around the world, I fully acknowledge this may not be an option for many couples. Please view this list as an ideal-sceario, and make what you can work for your special day if being conscious of your event's impact to the environment is important to you. 

    4) Choose Larger Tables 

    If you are budgeting for one centerpiece per table, increasing the table size from 8 people rounds to 10 or 12 people will cut down the number of centerpieces needed. Again, you can accent with other items mentioned in point 2 above to ensure the centerpieces look appropriately-sized for the larger tables. 

    5) Select Living Guest Favors and Green Traditions

    If you decide to gift your wedding guests a favor, consider giving them a succulent or seeds which can be planted and live on to enrich this world. Often, wedding favors are gimmicks that are immediately thrown away, so choosing something that can add to the world, and is bio-degradable even if guests to decide to chuck the item, is a huge win. 

    Additionally, I am a big believer in carefully selecting a few traditions to incorporate that are meaningful to you. How about planting a tree as newlyweds? If you have a backyard wedding, you can do so immediately following the ceremony, and spend future years sitting under the tree that grows with your relationship. If that isn't a sweet gesture for Mother Nature and to celebrate your love, I don't know what is :). 

    What are your thoughts? You could even purchase carbon offsets for your wedding day. 

    I'd love to tackle the challenge of creating stunning floral and plant centerpieces for your wedding, while adhering to green practices such as purchasing only organic, local and in-season flowers. Please contact me to begin planning. 

  • Understanding Wedding Flower Pricing

    Illuminating a Unique Process

    Do you have any idea how much to budget for your wedding flowers? Are you overwhelmed by the process, or have you been surprised by your quotes?

    You are not alone, and I'd love to help. Unfortunately, the wedding flower industry is often quite opaque, and couples struggle with planning their first (and potentially only) large event. 

    For other items, such as the catering, couples may have a larger range of realistic reference points from their own experience. It's easy to understand that a food truck serving fast food will be a different price than a seated 5 course meal of steak and shrimp prepared by a celebrity chef and served by plentiful staff. For flowers, most people have little experience, often limited to seasonal flowers from a farmers market, or flowers sold as loss leaders by supermarkets (meaning the supermarket is selling them at less than whole sale cost!). 

    Because of this information hole, I spent some time trying to illuminate what to expect over on the Catalyst Magazine blog. I cover multiple factors that impact pricing, ranging from the types of flowers most often seen on Pinterest and in wedding blogs to the hardiness of flowers. 

    One More Reason: The Timing (and Effort!) that Impacts Wedding Flowers

    I tried to keep the blog post linked above to a relatively digestable length, so there were additional factors I didn't mention. So, I'll share one more little tid bit with you that might not have crossed your mind.  

    Floral Designer Secret: It's Difficult! 

    Wedding flowers (or event flowers in general) are hard to handle, because of this goal: You want all sorts of different flowers to be at their absolute peak on the day of the wedding. Different flowers have different bloom times, and arrive from the wholesaler in different states. Think peonies, roses and amaryllis, for example, which can take 5+ days to open up into the state that you see in wedding photos. So, those need to arrive at the flower studio quite early in the week for a weekend wedding. Other flowers are so fragile and arrive in an open state, so they need to arrive the day before the wedding. It's quite a bit of coordination, conditioning and playing with temperature to get them to all look perfect at the same time. 

    In other situations, like a supermarket, flowers are sold early in a closed state. That's quite different from how luscious and open wedding flowers look. Often, wedding flowers are so close to their peak (intentionally!) that they won't look good for more than a day or two after the wedding. This is a nail-biting, challenging process for your floral designer. 

    Bonus: Behind the Scenes

    Kate of Kate's Captures Photography collaborated with me on getting these beautiful supporting images for the Catalyst Mag blog post. After meeting at the SF Flower Mart during their wholesale hours, we spent half a day together as I started arranging flowers, and she worked her magic with the camera. I think the photos turned out beautifully, especially given the lighting situation we struggled with. Those gloomy San Francisco days are not conducive to airy flower photos... 

    Shown here is a bit of a trick of the trade that I once learned from the talented, famous (and totally deserving) Tulipina: Having great photo backgrounds on hand that put flowers in focus... Even when the reality around it looks much busier, like in the photo below. Not visible are the two giant light boxes that turned the photo into anything but dark shadows. 

    What other questions do you have about wedding flowers? 

    Hit me in the comments,

    Cora Hardin of Blumenkiss