By Brooke Johnson
Weddings are a declaration. A wedding is built around the couple expressing a heartfelt commitment to one another, and flowers mirror this bond in a tangible form for a fleeting time.
Couples in Alexandria have their pick of talented florists. The diversity of the flower market is dizzying. It’s helpful to take a step back and consider your shopping options in general before focusing on specifics.
A thoughtful florist weaves a motif through their arrangements that highlights the venue, augments the wedding party’s attire and reflects the couple’s personalities.
When looking for a florist, reminisce on your childhood and let your imagination guide your choices. Just make sure to bring your florist along for the ride. Be wary of designers that don’t have time to listen or want to push you into a style you and your partner might not be crazy about.
Some of your vision has a creative cost, not a material cost. The sooner you include your florist in your plans for establishing that vision, the more likely they are to find a spare moment to dedicate to a creative solution.
Is fragrance important to you? Is less more for your wedding? This is an art, so there are few objectively right and wrong answers. There’s nothing right about ginger and wrong about roses if you have a preference for one and not the other.
Love is love, and taste is taste.
Pricing, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Theoretically, the longer and straighter the stem, the fuller the flower, the more attractive the color, the fresher from the farm, the higher the price.
If you’re curious, ask your designer if you can accompany them to the wholesaler. Be prepared to spend at least half of your day literally walking through the floral rainbow of options. There is no better place to explore what’s on offer. A visit lets you see in person the quality differences that affect pricing. The outing gives you a taste of what’s available in that season.
Once you’re done brainstorming your options as a team, you can prioritize. Come back down to earth and sort out what really speaks to you and what you can live without.
Throughout this process, keep your florist in the loop. We might have seasonal sources that offer you a luxury choice at a fraction of the cost, and we can suggest substitutions or exotic blooms.
Expect your first consultation to be free, but don’t expect sample arrangements gratis. Make sure your florist knows if they’ve hit the mark at the sample consultation. The sample consultation is the best time to change your mind or make your style preferences known before it’s too late. Your designer needs several weeks to order your blooms.
The average wedding cost in D.C. in 2019 was $40,600, according to the Motley Fool. Virginia and Maryland enjoyed lower total costs at $33,300 and $33,800, respectively. When you’re drawing up your budget, it’s wise to allocate 10% to flowers. Frugal? Save money by cleaning up. Reuse the wedding party’s bouquets as centerpieces in your home. Try to avoid planning your wedding over Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, or even consider a midweek ceremony.
If you’re very particular about color, achieve the look you want through your choices in fabric and glassware. Consider a dried or white version of your favorite flower that can be spray painted to come close to what you want. Dyes can ruin attire, so be careful not to stain your clothes.
Treat promises regarding longevity, availability of specific blooms and color specificity with extreme skepticism. Agricultural products are literally at the mercy of the weather.
And if you’re a last-minute person, flexibility is key. Don’t expect things to match if you’ve given your designer less than a month’s notice.
The writer is a member of Del Ray Artisans and the founding floral designer of Blooms of Paradise. Visit www.bloomsofparadise.com for more information.