Where to start?

My guide to planning your wedding flowers, and avoiding brain overload when it comes to options!

Jessie Copper :: Tuesday 30th May 2017 :: Latest Blog Posts


It can seem over-whelming, I know. You don't know your alstro from you allium. You have seen pictures of bouquets you like, but you have no idea what flowers are in them, or how to communicate your vision to your florist. But don't panic. I am here to offer you a few words of advice.

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Image courtesy of Lynn Ann Studios 

The confusing and unnerving situation that I find most bride's have found themselves in, is as follows:

 

You have booked your wedding and are just starting to look for suppliers and get quotes. You haven't looked for your own dress yet, let alone bridesmaid's. You haven't confirmed any kind of colour scheme, and have only briefly looked at a few pictures of flower options. However, you know that you need to get a florist booked. So you need a quote, and therefore you get in touch with a florist asking for a consultation. To discuss what? You don't know what colours or flowers you like or need yet. Let alone how many tables, pew-rows, buttonholes, blah blah blah. Your plan for your big day hasn't even started to evolve, so any quote that you got at this stage would be so likely to change within the next month - let alone by the time your wedding comes round next year - that it really won't represent anything relevant to what you actually want, and need to budget for. What to do!?!

And breathe..........

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Image courtesy of Nadia Attura 

After over ten years meeting hundreds of brides-to-be at the early stages of their wedding planning, I have now fine-tuned a simple solution to this chicken/egg scenario. As a busy award-winning florist, we are usually taking bookings for dates between 12- and 24-months away, so the way I run my booking system is as follows:

Firstly, email me via my website here to let me know your wedding date, and to request a price-list and provisional booking form. My price-list is comprehensive, in order to give you an approximate idea of budget based loosely on the items you think you require at this stage. And I will let you know about the availability for your wedding date. Now, this bit is important. if you would like me to be your wedding florist, and are happy with the rough budget laid out by my price-list, make sure you complete and return the provisional booking form right away. There is no deposit to pay to do this, but it will hold the date for you. I run this on an honesty policy, and since most of my brides are fine, decent, upstanding citizens, I find it works perfectly well! Just remember - if your plans change, let me know right away, so that I can free the date up for another couple.

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Now, the next bit is down to you. Before you can consider booking your first consultation with me, you need to have done the following; 

  • Get busy trying those dresses on. It is important that you choose your dress before we can start the flower talk, as the shape and style of your dress will affect the bouquet type that we select together, but it is equally (if not more) important that you have chosen the bridesmaid's dresses. 95% of brides wear ivory/white dresses, and any colour scheme for their flowers is usually dictated by the shade of the bridesmaid's and flower-girl's dresses. So get these nailed and ordered before you come to see more. Try to ask for fabric swatches for all the dresses if at all possible. If not, the next best thing would be a paint chart swatch from your local DIY store, and be prepared to leave this swatch with me so I can use it as a precise reference point when selecting your flowers. If you are wishing to have a range of colours represented in your flowers, bring paint swatches for all these colours. A wide-ranging palette is a glorious thing for a florist, as it really sparks our creativity... but more about that later.

 

  • Collect pictures. It's that simple. You can do this by cutting snippets out of magazines and create a physical mood-board, or - the better way to do it - create a Pinterest board at www.pinterest.com .
    You can then invite me to this digital board, and we can use this as a reference point between us right up until the wedding, as the plan evolves. Pictures are the best way for you to communicate to me the things you do and don't like. Think about looking for images of the shape of bouquet you like as well as the style, types of flowers and colour scheme. As a highly-experienced florist, I can take a brief look at a bride's Pinterest board, and very swiftly recognise their likes and dislikes. And using images means that there's no need for you to know any specialist terms or flower names. Find images you like of all the different types of designs you will be needing, including table decorations, arches, hair flowers, etc. etc. As you can see from the images inserted into this blog, there is no single recipe for wedding flowers. And there are no two identical wedding bouquets. That's the beauty of nature... so many options! But it can be confusing. And your florist can't tell you what to have; they need a lot of information from you first, so that they can make suitable recommendations.

 

  • There are a few other things that it would be useful for you to have made decisions on prior to your first consultation, although they are not essential; your table layout and approximate table numbers, choice and structure of wedding cake, possible hair-styles, and details such as images and dimensions of other locations where you will be requiring floral displays at your ceremony and venue. To me, the flowers are the final flourish, the icing on the cake, or the last lick of paint. They can easily be the last thing you decide on, but will hopefully pull all your other ideas and choices together to give a clear look for your day.

 

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Image courtesy of The Studio Without Walls 

 

Once you have done all the above, you are ready for your first consultation. Don't worry, your wedding date is still held securely for you in the meantime, so there's no hurry. I first meet most of my bride's between 3-6mths prior to their wedding, even if they provisionally booked the wedding date with me over a year before.

 

I would like to talk a little now about creating a colour palette, and the use of a Pinterest board in formulating an overview of your wedding, bridal flowers and general theme. If you haven't done it before, I would suggest you sign up and get pinning. And it will allow you to invite your florist, stylist, Mum, bridesmaids, cake-maker and whoever-else to the board if you wish, so you know that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak.

 

Pinning images from across the web not only gives you plenty of ideas, but also allows you to see how your plan is evolving over time. Most wedding plans evolve organically, and something that many brides forget to do is to also removed pins when they are no longer relevant. When you begin your board, you will no doubt pin all sorts of things, but some will become less favourable over time, and it is important to weed these out, not only for your benefit but also for the benefit of any suppliers who have access to use your board, so that they have the most up-to-date information when they need it.

For purposes of demonstration, I have created an example Pinterest board, to show you how a board can be developed, where to start, and what it can become. You can view the board by following the link here. 


This board is particularly flower-focused, and is the way that I create a board for a bride who needs a visual reference, and who hasn't made a board herself. When you begin a board, your pins start from the bottom, so scroll down that board now, to see what I mean.

The first thing I do, and a very useful addition to any board, is to pin digital colour swatches. You can find these at the bottom of my board. The way I do this is to search on Google Images for the sort of colour I want, including the word 'Pantone' in my search - i.e. - "soft grey pantone". What comes up are colour swatches for print colours ... super handy. Keep searching and changing the words in your search until you find the exact colour you want. Then simply Pin this to your board. Continue until you have pinned all the colours you imagine in your wedding theme, across the range of decorations that you will have. And don't forget, it doesn't have to be just two or three colours, as you can see from the example 'autumn bohemia' Pin Board, which has a very wide-ranging palette of vintage tones.

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Next on the board (as you scroll up) pin images of your dress and those of your bridesmaids. You could also pin the men's suits, ties, or anything else that is relevant, such as hessian table cloths, coloured-napkins, ribbon on napkins, floral bunting, etc. All these are important elements of your bridal scheme, which have to be taken into consideration when making decision on your flowers.

At this point is important to mention that you should start to add captions to your pins from here on in. For any suppliers viewing your board, what they need to know is which aspects of an image we are taking from it. If you have pinned three pictures of bouquets, I need to know what it is you like about each one, and what features of it we are bringing into your flowers. I also want to know what you DON'T like about each image. I have put example comments on the images on my Pin Board, to show you the idea. If one bouquet picture is exactly what you are wanting yourself, in every aspect, then say so! But more often than not, ideas are being pulled together from a number of sources, and it's important to pin-point which these are.

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Next, scrolling up a little on my board, and if I am creating a board myself for a bride, I pin a host of flower type suggestions, listing the variety names and any comments about availability or shade. I appreciate that this is not so easy to do when creating your own board, without an encyclopedic knowledge of botany, but I have included it here so that you can see the process of turning the colour palette into reality. If you love sweetpeas or roses specifically for example, do pin close-up images of these to your board, in the colour you prefer, and likewise, don't forget foliages. They can have a huge bearing on a colour scheme, depending whether you like soft muted blue-green hues, darker green tones or variegation.

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And now begin to pin designs that you like, from bouquets to buttonholes, table decorations and other designs as well as adding other details such as your invitations, place-setting style, etc. If you have an elaborate idea, but are unsure whether you think it will be within budget, pin a selection of options as I have done with cakes, captioning the one that you prefer, and a plan B, C or D.

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By the end, you will have a board which excites you, and should inspire your florist too. It will be a work in progress, and will probably not end up quite as neat and organised as my example board (sadly, due to Pinterest not yet allowing pins to be moved around on a board after pinning) but it will become your bible for your big day, and will help you make further decisions, depending whether they do or don't complement your board.

Hopefully, after all this rambling by me, you are now feeling spurred on to get planning and creating your scheme. Don't forget that the more information, ideas and creative licence you can give to your florist, the more you will get out of them, and the more fabulous their creations will be. Push the boundaries, be yourself, and don't rein in your inspiration.

 

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Image courtesy of Columbia Photography 

 

After you have got a thorough basis of ideas together like this, you are ready for a consultation, during which you should discuss all the items you would have if you had your ultimate dream wedding, and budgets didn't exist. After which your initial quotation will be created, giving you a price for all the options, from which you can taylor your order to fit your budget, if necessary. 

It will be a work in progress, and we can update your quotation any number of times, as table numbers change, extra buttonholes are needed, and other ideas come to you. But all this preparation will give us both a great starting point. 

I hope that helps a little with resolving any confusion you may feel at the beginning of the process, and instead get your creative juices flowing. It's meant to be fun after all! :-)