Flower Q & A
By Cheryl Kimball
How can my flowers fit into the overall “green” theme of my wedding?
You can go green on many levels with your flowers. It can be as obvious as finding a florist who uses local vendors, who uses organic cut flowers, and/or avoids pesticides. Other less obvious “green” practices include things like direct shipping of one large shipment directly to the florist’s wholesaler instead of several small shipments going several different places.
There are many other layers of “green” besides just what flowers are chosen and how they are grown. For example, we make use of biodegradable corn plastics wherever we can. The printing and paper that we use in our shop is post-consumer recyclables.
Also, other areas that fall under the florist’s purview include accents like candles. Avoid paraffin candles, since paraffin is made from petroleum. At my other retail business in Kennebunkport, I sell all-natural soy and beeswax candles.
The most important thing to ensure your green wedding is truly green is to pick a florist who is willing to reveal behind-the-scenes business practices. We cut waste wherever we can and are happy to tell our clients about how we do that.
I want something different for my wedding flowers. What do you recommend?
I use a lot of different varieties of flowers, but orchids are one of my favorites. In fact, the shop’s name is a variety of orchid. People tend to think that orchids are delicate and expensive, when neither is the case. There are some delicate varieties, but most orchids are very hardy. They hold up well in water but can even be used out of water as hair flowers or laid on a table.
Brides come into the shop and say, “I would love orchids but I know I can’t afford them.” We can work with any budget— three more affordable orchid varieties are Cymbidium, Dendrobium, and Mokara. These three varieties come in a huge range of colors.
Another approach is that the whole bouquet doesn’t have to be orchids; they can be here and there in a larger bouquet. Orchids go well with hydrangea, roses, and calla lilies. And we often incorporate textural elements like berries, pods, grasses, and seed heads.
I love the elegant, exotic look that orchids bring.
We are getting married on the Maine coast. What floral ideas are specific to a Maine coastal theme?
Many things say “Maine” and can give your wedding flowers and accessories a coastal flavor. Using flowers that are native to Maine, of course, is a great option—native ferns can be added into bridal bouquets and native hydrangea is a perfect choice for late summer/fall weddings.
As for accessories and accent touches, we’ve done things like use starfish, periwinkles, and mussel shells inside the vases that hold the flowers or tied onto vases and bouquets. We incorporate natural materials whenever we can, such as stones and sea glass, perhaps showcasing them by using clear glass flower containers. Then we match the flowers to those colors. Sometimes brides bring in their own items for us to use, and that’s fine.
One of the more unusual things we have had to do is get flowers out to island weddings—Islesboro and Vinelhaven, for instance—on fishing boats. This means protecting them from the wind and the elements. Our brides fill out a checklist ahead of time which means we know the location in advance and can plan for something unusual like flower delivery by boat!
What flowers go with the bold color scheme of my wedding?
Lots of brides are picking daring, saturated colors—deep blues, mocha, wine—for their weddings right through to their flowers. I find there are now lots more flowers to choose from to get that bold color. For example, calla lilies used to always be available only in white, but are now available in shades like burgundy, mango, and buttery yellow.
I am even beginning to see black incorporated into bridal color schemes—mostly in accent décor like stem wraps. The closest to black we can get in flowers is a Black Baccara, which is the darkest rose available.
VALERIE RENAUD, Sweet Meadows Flower Shop,
I have a modest wedding flower budget—can I still work with a florist?
Absolutely! We florists can work within most any budget. Some ideas to help are:
Florists are a creative bunch and have great ideas for savings while still giving your wedding a fabulous floral design. So go ahead and be honest about your budget—it’s ok, really!
AUTUMN POULIN, flour! flowers & sweets,
My mother wants me to use antique milk bottles from our family dairy farm. Will a florist work with me on this?
I am happy to work with brides when they want to be involved or have a family member involved with the wedding flowers. It is important, however, to consult with your florist on all the details. You are hiring them because of their experience—and that experience can help you avoid surprises.
For instance, I would request that you bring in a sample of the container you want to use—that way I can be the judge as to how many flowers to order for these centerpieces. I don’t want to order flowers only to find that the containers hold twice as many flowers as ordered—which means we either need to change the containers last minute or the budget gets shot because we need twice as many stems.
A lot more goes into the florist’s job putting together wedding flowers than most people realize. Besides choices made based on budget and color scheme, availability of what you request, the general look you want, what goes together, doesn’t go together are also factors. Some of the choices I present are based on vendors that I use with whom I have developed long, strong relationships—I know they will not only give me top quality flowers but will be there ready to help if something unexpected comes up.
On top of the planning and choosing, the florist’s job includes ordering the flowers, picking them up or receiving them, loading, unloading, cutting, processing, assembly, arrangement, and delivery to the wedding site!
I can guarantee that almost every wedding has some issue that we as professionals know how to deal with and take care of so that the bride doesn’t ever have to know. Like every professional you hire for your wedding, trust your florist to know her job. Let her use the information you provide to provide you with the most spectacular wedding flowers imaginable.
HEATHER BATTAGLIESE, Calluna Fine Flowers,
How do I even think about the floral design for my wedding?
Don’t worry, lots of brides have no clue about their flowers but we florists have tons of ideas!
First, think about the colors you like to wear. What looks great on you? Go to paint stores, collect paint chips in those colors, and hand them out to your vendors.
I suggest my brides start by collecting pictures from places like magazines (Seacoast Bride!) and the internet and create a portfolio of what you like. As you collect, you will start to see a type and style pattern—you’ll almost subconsciously pick what you want!
Talk to other brides. Ask what they especially loved about their wedding flowers and what they might have tweaked in hindsight. This will help you think about things you wouldn’t even have imagined would be important.
Stand in front of a mirror in your bathrobe (great simulator for a full-length gown!). Hold up pieces of your table setting—the dinner plate, the dessert plate—and see what that will look like when it comes to the size of the bouquet you carry.
But especially, come into the store! I am totally willing to purchase flowers in your color palette for you to try so I will understand what your are looking for and you will know exactly what you will be getting.
Lastly, don’t cut back when it comes to the bride’s bouquet—you and this bouquet will be photographed over and over.
BETSY SCOTT, The Flower Kiosk,