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The Floral Details

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The beautiful bouquet of peonies you envisioned carrying down the aisle in all those post-engagement wedding fantasies may not be the most realistic floral option on your inspiration board.

Although that stack of bridal magazines and all those Pinterest boards might be full of flowers from all over the country (the world, even), brides-to-be may need to consider what’s in-season, what’s available in their location and what works with their budget when planning floral arrangements.

“There’s just so many details when it comes to flowers people don’t think about as far as the storage is concerned, and ordering, and how far out you need to order and what kind are available – it’s just such a complex part of the wedding planning process,” says Sarah Chancey, owner of Chancey Charm, a wedding planning and design company based in Atlanta.

Chancey, who used to work in floral design, recommends that brides research which flowers are available in their location at different times of the year and how much they cost.

“You don’t want them to get their heart set on peonies, and they’re getting married in November and we can’t get them peonies,” Chancey says. “Or, they want these flowers that all cost an arm and a leg and they have a really small budget. They need to be realistic about … availability and price before establishing which flowers they are set on using.”

Jessica Switala, founder of the Fleurs de France in Sebastopol, Calif., has been in floral design for around 30 years. Though she agrees seasonality is important, she says it’s not as limiting as it used to be.

“What is local and seasonal really doesn’t have the same parameters as it used to. People don’t plan their weddings that way,” Switala says.

Instead, some brides are heading to websites and gathering inspiration from all over – can you say Pinterest? – and then bringing their ideas for their wedding to their florist.

“The tricky part is really putting a dollar value on their expectations or scaling back the expectations to meet the dollars,” says Switala, who estimates that 90 percent of the brides she works with bring her ideas they’ve gleaned from Pinterest, magazines or her website.

Sometimes a floral designer has to “get creative” and offer alternatives to fit a bride’s budget or compensate for availability.

“Depending on the flower and the month, there may be alternatives,” Switala says. “For example, peonies are not always available, so the David Austin rose is an alternative. However, they’re not that much less expensive, but it’s that ruffled look.”

“And if it’s a white hydrangea, white hydrangeas generally are less expensive than the colored one, but it depends,” Switala adds. “In the summer, they can be comparable, but some of the deeper colors, which are getting imported, are three times more.”

With so many factors to consider, when should brides start picking the flowers for their big day?

Rani Hoover, who operates her own wedding and event planning business, Inspired Weddings & Events in Santa Barbara, Calif., says picking the right flowers depends on the size and scope of the event, and the right time to start planning depends on the bride’s tastes, in addition to — you guessed it — the flower’s seasonality and availability.

“If they have exotic tastes, some things that need to be imported, the earlier the better,” Hoover says. “If they’re more into a fresh, kind of wildflower, local, seasonal-type of arrangements, then certainly that time gets dialed way down, but it really varies according to the bride’s taste.”

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Tags: bouquets, centerpieces