Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Saving Money on your Wedding Flowers

Recently a wedding blogger asked me for quotable material for a post about saving money on wedding flowers. She asked about trends -- are brides using branches, brooches, paper lanterns, silks, etc. -- to save money on flowers?

My experience is that brides want beautiful flowers, and they want their budgets respected. Those other ideas are just "different ways to decorate," because they aren't really flowers at all. And if couples want those things, they go ahead and do them.

So here is what I wrote for her, and she was able to quote liberally, but didn't. This material is worth knowing. Professional florists have an insider's perspective, and are visual artists, and cringe when we see brides spending good money (which could be used toward flowers) to buy trendy decor items that may not be exactly what they want, but a blogger told them, "this is how you save money."

Read her blog post here.


And now for my unedited thoughts on the subject:

The emerging trend in wedding flowers is lush, lavish opulence. As brides
and groom are spending more time online researching options, their
knowledge and appreciation of flowers is growing.

So how can you have an amazing look within the framework of a "realistic"

The very best way to save money on your wedding overall, is to have fewer
bridesmaids, and to limit your guest list. Intimate weddings with finer
attention to detail are a growing trend, because it's challenging -- and
expensive -- to create a blog-worthy wedding when your budget is stretched
to entertain hundreds of people.

Couples who need to keep their flower budget under control must be honest
with their floral designer from the start. Please be up front with your
budget, if you know it. Then be open to the professional's recommendations
as to how to achieve the best look with the dollars at hand.

Some additional advice:

Never skimp on the bridal bouquet! It's in more photos than any other
floral piece. It should be amazing.

Use Pinterest only as a reference tool, to inspire a "look" for your
wedding. Deciding your "must have" floral pieces and bouquets on
Pinterest, often leads to disappointment later as you learn just how
expensive "celebrity wedding flowers" can be: peonies, anemones, poppies,
ranunculus, Phalaenopsis orchids and garden roses-- especially when out of

"Local and seasonal" does not always mean "less expensive." These are
specialty blooms with short seasons, often organically grown, which
provide incredible interest to your floral designs. Allow your florist to
choose the best value and quality flowers available in your color palette
for a winning look that respects your budget.

Many of my couples wisely "repurpose" aisle to tabletop flowers. Again,
trust your florist to guide you in this process, because some designs
(like large filled glass cylinders) are nearly impossible to move without
the florist's staff there to do it, which will add to your bill.

Another idea: Rent! Many florists have wonderful props that help evoke
your wedding mood. You'll save time and money over tracking down these
items yourself, and they can be delivered and installed with your flower

Above all, once you have hired a reputable florist who you connect well
with, and in whom you can trust, please resist the urge to "micro-manage."
Extra consultations can incur extra charges for many florists.

The best florists are booked solid all wedding season long, giving their
100% to brides and grooms every week. When it's your turn, they'll give
you their very best as well.

 -Julia Miller, Julia's Floral, Edgewood, WA

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Will all the normal brides please speak up?

I read an interesting blog post yesterday called, "Dear Wedding Bloggers, you Suck." 


And I'd been lately thinking much the same thing, but not directed so clearly at wedding bloggers.

Normal brides who want normal weddings may be feeling the pressure to be weird, so that their wedding will be "special" enough to attract the attention of the blogosphere.  That's one way to have your wedding live on in perpetuity, aside from the classic wedding video.

Be so cool that you make the wedding blogs, and your special day will live on in links and blog archives forever, or until the blogger dies.  But then, your wedding images can also be pinned!  And re-pinned a'la Pinterest.

Whatever unique ideas you have, a skilled floral designer would be thrilled to design them for you.  I do hope that in the quiet of your mind (when you're not on Pinterest or scouring wedding blogs for other people's "unique ideas"), you open up your heart and soul to your true essence, summon down some creativity from Heaven, and think about what is going to reflect your personality in the sincerest possible way.

Who knows. Your own beautiful personality may not want mason jars, burlap, feathers, vintage suitcases, or any of the stuff that will be thought of in the future as "so 2011."  You've got to read the post in the link above.  It is one red-hot rant!
If you want a "unique" cake, get a talented florist to trick it out with fresh flowers.  It will be a show-stopper, maybe even wedding blog-worthy!  Cake by Celebrity Cake Studio, Flowers by Julia's Floral

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heirloom Brooches enhance Wedding Flowers

As a hopeless romantic, I think there isn't much on earth as beautiful as flowers, except perhaps, gorgeously crafted heirloom jewelry.

So when Juliet met with me, and revealed her fondest desire for a vintage, romantic wedding in Tacoma's beloved historic, Gothic-style Holy Rosary Catholic Church, I just had to ask: 

"Do you have any heirloom brooches in your family?"

Juliet's maternal grandmother left behind some lovely things, including a nice variety of pretty brooches.  Selecting a clear rhinestone brooch and matching earring set, I adorned the peony, dahlia and garden rose bridal bouquet, and then added a pink tourmaline brooch to contrast with its ivory organza handle.

Juliet wanted some eclectic design in her wedding as well, so I styled unique combination bouquets for each attendant.  I still remember trying those five different brooches with the array of bouquets, finally deciding to contrast the jewels with the flowers, so they would be more visible and memorable features of the wedding.

These photos, by Gash Photography, give an idea of how heirloom jewelry can enhance a wedding.  And the intangible benefit in this case was Grandma's presence with this family on Juliet's wedding day.
Look closely and you can see the brooches in these bouquets.

Each bridesmaid carried a different bouquet, all adorned with a family heirloom.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Sweet Bride's Guide to How to Win Over your Wedding Florist

Here is how to win "The Sweetness Award" by your Wedding Floral Designer (She will award you with AWESOME Flowers and service because you're easy and fun to work with).  C'mon, you can do it!!  Remember the "Golden Rule?"  Well, this advice is golden...

1).  TIME IS MONEY.  Realize that her time is as important as yours.  Your florist will have set aside specific time for your consultation, and she could have used it to run errands, set other appointments, get stuff done. Only cancel if it's impossible to meet, then apologize profusely, try for another time, and KEEP it.  She will appreciate that you care about her time.
2).  COMMUNICATE WITH CARE.  Ask about her communication style and try to adapt to it.  Not everyone has internet-phones with instant access to text messaging.  If your florist is good on the telephone, but not so good on texting, realize this and try to be patient with communicating.  Some of the very best and most experienced florists came of age before instant messaging and texting.  Don't assume she's as comfortable texting as you are.  If you text or e-mail an important message, also phone her office number to let her know you've sent a text or an e-mail, and leave a voice message.

4).  BE YOURSELF.  I know you're nervous, because you're meeting someone new.  Let your essence show!  Come dressed and accessorized in a way that really shows your true personality.  So that your flowers are a lovely representation of who you are, your florist will be trying to figure out your style.  Give her true clues about that in the way you appear and express yourself.  If it's not possible because you've just come from the gym or something, at least show her photos of what you look like when you're being normal, and behave in a genuine way.

5).  RETURN PHONE CALLS and E-MAILS.  Back to #2.  When she reaches out to you to communicate, answer her back.  If you have decided to use another florist, that's information she needs to know, so don't just vanish -- TELL her!  That way she knows she's free to book another bride's business.

6).  SET A TARGET.  Let her know your budget.  People don't shop for cars with an open-ended, undeclared budget.  It's hard to hit a bulls-eye blindfolded, with no idea where the target is.  When you share  your targeted flower budget with her, it will save her a lot of time and guesswork. 

7).  THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED.  This goes for more than just numbers of bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres.  Do you need rental items?  Do you need "servicing" of your wedding?  If details are important to you, you may need full set-up and delivery service with flower pinning.  She will want to know that in advance, in order to plan your timeline correctly.

8).  PICTURES OF HER DESIGNS.  Do what you can to get a few images to her after the wedding.  That may be as simple as finding her on facebook and sending her a link to your online album.  This is important.  Future brides will be checking out her photos, and they may really love what your florist designs for you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bride-Zilla's List of How to Really Annoy your Wedding Florist*

From the beginning to the end, these are sure-fire, tested techniques you can use to compromise the patience, flexibility and sanity of your wedding florist.  Use these techniques with caution.  You don't really want to cause her any irreparable harm -- or do you?

1).  Make an appointment and not show up.  Assume that if you texted her alone, or e-mailed her alone, she got your cancellation message.  You will have wasted hours of her time, and caused her undue worry and frustration, while she waited for an actual phone call.  And you can blame her for not being a good communicator because she didn't see your text or e-mail.

2).  Reschedule and then cancel again at the last minute.  Insist on another appointment.  This will cause her to want to call her therapist.

3).  Have no idea of what you want or even like for flowers.  And when she shows you a lot of beautiful and creative options, act passive and emotionless.  She'll wonder why you even came to see her, and how you managed to get engaged.

4).  Be completely stuck on hard-to-get, out-of-season, very expensive flowers, because you saw them in a magazine and they're pretty.  She will suggest other options.  Accuse her of being closed to new ideas -- after all, the magazines are always "on trend," and she just "ties flowers together with a ribbon."  What does she know, really?  She will try hard not to be flustered by your lack of regard for her experience.

5).  Don't bring any color swatches, pictures of dresses, samples of fabric, copies of your invitation, or anything at all to your consultation that might help her figure out your tastes.  Leave her guessing all along.  And when she finally comes close to guessing your taste, tell her she's the fourth florist you have interviewed, and you don't think you like her "style."  She will try very hard to be nice to you as she walks you to the door, but as soon as you leave, listen for her to start slamming her head against the wall, or throw herself to the floor in a total melt-down.

6).  Have no budget to pay for your expensive tastes, and still expect that your florist will come through for you.  After all, you've read all of her reviews, and past brides have said she's a "miracle worker!"  This will give her stress-induced colitis, and make her head for the medicine cabinet.

7).  Insist on micro-managing every detail, like exactly what number of rose petals will go into each paper doily cone, how many gel marbles will go into each centerpiece, and how many loops will make up each aisle bow, exactly what combination and quantity of flowers will be used in every single arrangement.  This will tie her creative hands behind her back, and really make her nutty.

8).  Change the parameters, drastically, after your initial consultation.  Lead her to believe you have thousands to spend on your large and complicated order, let her work hard on a quote for you, and then after the fact, tell her that you have less than $500.  Or, let her know you have a simple budget and simple needs, and then surprise her later with 40 complicated centerpieces.  Be self-righteously annoyed that her estimate went way up.  This will make her want to drink heavily.

9).  Vandalize to Scandalize.  After she creates picture-perfect bouquets for you, let your photographer convince you to throw them up in the air, or jump with them, to get a fun, active shot.  Then, when they break, innocently send your bridesmaids running to her to ask her to "fix" them.  Stand back and watch her reaction carefully.  Did she stifle a very shocked expression? Then, CONGRATS!  You've succeeded in scandalizing her!

10).  Think of other ways to abuse the flowers early in your wedding day.  Insist on hand-tied, very thirsty flowers, and then DON'T put them in vases at all during the day.  Better yet, plan to cook them thoroughly in the hot sun hours before the wedding during your outside photos.  Then accuse her later of giving you "flowers that died."  She will really not know what to say, and just stand there, wondering if she should cry.

 And a Bonus tip!

11).  Have her make a nice tossing bouquet for you.  Then don't throw it.  Throw your own gorgeous masterpiece, or your maid-of-honor's bouquet instead, because you couldn't find the toss bouquet, even though your florist told you she would place it in a vase by the guest book.  When she hears about it later, she will go bonkers -- especially if you fixate on it, accuse her of not supplying a tosser for you, tell all your friends about it, and actively try to gut her reputation online with uncharitable reviews.

*Author's note:  These tips are intended only for True Bride-Zillas.  Nice Brides will be given a list of their own in the next post.

Copyright 2011, Julia Miller, Julia's Floral.  Content may be shared with proper attribution and this link:  http://juliasfloral.com

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two cakes. One with a florist, one without.. You decide...

This five-tiered wedding cake was the labor-of-love of  a bride's friends.  In fact, they were so emotionally attached to the cake, that they dared not let me touch it.  I provided a bucket full of lilies, tulips, genistra, leptospermum, and gently draping deflexus sprengeri, and they chose what they wanted.  Later on, I stealthily added tiny sprigs of Ming fern to soften their tulip insertions, and then filled in around the base of my 18" silver cake stand.  Pretty, don't you think?

The cake below was set up by the baker who then departed, leaving me to do whatever I wanted with the fresh flowers.   To the bottom left of the cake is the bridal bouquet, collared with white ostrich plumes.  My personal opinion is that a professional floral designer can do wonders with cake flowers.  If that's an option for you, please allow your designer to do their magic!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Julia's Nuts!! The Best Recipe I ever created! Candied Pecans or Walnuts

John & I received a gift of commercially produced candied walnuts during the holiday season of 2009, and we thanked the recipient for their thoughtfulness, tasted the nuts and decided to dispatch with the batch.  They were horrible!  That set me on the quest to develop a recipe that everyone could enjoy.  These are so wonderful that a bride made them as favors for her entire wedding, and then they were also cooked to serve on a women's retreat -- and I continue to get thanks from people who've made them, for all the compliments they've received.

Now that the holidays are over, people may still enjoy a sweet treat.  This is the perfect time to try this recipe.  They'll be incredible on salads and served with fruit and cheese.  Make them, but please give me credit.     

JULIA’S NUTS  (it’s true, and these are amazing!)  by Julia Miller

Preheat Oven to 250 F.

4 T. Unsalted Butter
4 C. Walnut or Pecan Halves
2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
3 T. Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Ground Black Pepper

1 C. Brown Sugar
1 t. Ground Cinnamon (to taste)
Pinch of Salt

Melt unsalted Butter over medium heat.
Add the nuts and stir well, cooking for 3 minutes.
Add Balsamic Vinegar and Sugar, stirring well until sugar is dissolved.
Sprinkle with pinch of pepper.  Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

Combine Brown Sugar and Cinnamon and Salt in a medium bowl.  You may add more Cinnamon to taste-- even consider a few dashes of pepper or paprika.
Move the nuts from the skillet to the bowl, and toss them thoroughly in the sugar mixture using a wooden spoon or your fingers, coating very well.

Spread the candied nuts over a large nonstick cookie sheet (I use a cookie sheet with a silicone mat), and place in the preheated oven.
Bake at 250F for 30 minutes, turning nuts every 10 minutes.  Store in an airtight container with a folded paper towel in the bottom.

(If you don't have unsalted butter, use regular butter and eliminate salt from the coating).