Out of so many wonderful florists in the Middle Tennessee area, Harmony Hensley is outstanding in her field (pun intended!). In fact, we love her work so much that we used her as the florist for our own wedding! One of the number one comments I get from couples struggling with their wedding planning is that they're having a hard time finding the perfect floral arrangements to really capture the vibe of their wedding day and the feeling of their relationship. So, I've enlisted Harmony to help! Take it away!
Why should a couple hire a professional florist for their wedding day?
People often ask me why you should hire a professional florist for your wedding day, and I’m always eager to address that question. In the twenty plus years I have been working in and around weddings and events I cannot begin to stress the number of times the professionalism of a vendor (florist or otherwise) has literally saved the day. When planning your big day, you want the experience to be flawless with little interaction from the bride and groom (who should be able to be totally present for all the memorable moments, not the minutia of event execution).
Florals, in particular, are an important part of setting the scene for memories that you’ll treasure. Flowers frame the event space and create visuals that complement both videography and photography, which you’ll cherish for years to come. Can someone DIY their florals? Sure. But it doesn’t always turn out the way you’ve pictured it from your pinterest boards and Instagram feed and often causes unwanted stress. Floristry is sculpture made of organic material and it is at its best when practiced by a seasoned professional who knows not only how to get the most out of each bloom, understands the mechanics that allow designs to last through the day, but they also know what to do when things perhaps don’t go to plan. Have an outdoor wedding that needs moved inside at the last minute? Your florist can transform a cold barn into a beautiful botanical oasis in minutes. (Yes, I said MINUTES). That’s where professionalism and experience work to your benefit. We can also help you maximize your budget by repurposing design elements from the ceremony to the celebration.
If budget is an issue, where can couples cut a few corners if they don’t mind doing some of the florals themselves?
Budget is certainly something to be mindful of. There are many ways to trim your budget and still get the blooms of your dreams. Here are some ways to maximize your money to make some magic –
• Skip the centerpieces
o I know this one sounds controversial and counter-intuitive but the table spread (outside of the head table) are the least photographed (and remembered) part of your event.
o Opt for candles that you can purchase on wedding groups on social media from brides who are reselling them.
o Photos are a great substitution for florals on guest tables and create opportunities to personalize without breaking the bank. Even dollar store frames with some photos you print at CVS can dress up a table without breaking the bank. (editors note: PLEASE DON'T PRINT YOUR PHOTOS AT CVS! Order them directly from your photographer, or ask him/her where they recommend having your photos printed. You will thank me later.)
• Repurpose ceremony flowers
o Double duty is your friend here. Use bridesmaid bouquets in vases on the head table to create a gorgeous spread.
o Take larger pieces from the ceremony and repurpose them around the head table and dance floor to make sure they are present in as many of your photos as possible.
o Ask your florist to make a small toss bouquet that can be laid on top of the wedding cake (or at the base) to double as cake flowers, and then when it’s time for the toss they’re ready to fly!
• Greenery is a GO!
o Did you know you can actually rent plants? It’s a thing, and it can be a great way to soften a space without breaking the bank.
o Are you a plant lover? Depending on the season you can purchase large hanging ferns at your local big box store (or even grocery store here in the south) and tuck the hanger into the back of the plant, place them on the floor lining the aisle or anchoring the ceremony space and you’ve created a softer look for less.
o Like this idea but want to fancy it up a bit? You can stick a few well placed roses or carnations (they’re having a moment; go with me here) in the plants and the living greenery creates a great place for some blooms to rest for a bit.
o Did I mention candles? Because they really are magical and can be purchased in bulk or even second hand (hello FB Marketplace and every wedding group that ever was). Then you can even plan to resell them yourself after the big day.
• Corsages need not be present
o Few people I have ever met enjoy wearing corsages, and they don’t always photograph well (they do get hugged and smashed nearly to oblivion nearly instantly).
o Piece work like this eats up floral budget that could be better used elsewhere. Instead of a corsage what if you present each of those family members with a handwritten letter explaining what they’ve meant to you? I’m telling you right now – that will be more precious than any posey I could pin on a lapel.
Where should a couple DEFINITELY NOT cut corners to save a few bucks?
The brides bouquet is the center of the whole experience. She’s dreamt of it since she was a little girl and it’s a favorite photo prop for every photographer I’ve ever known.
I also think you should put your floral spend in the ceremony flowers, but be mindful and collaborate with your Florist to create something that can be re-purposed during the reception. That way you still get all the Instagram worthy photo opportunities without breaking the budget.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of real flowers vs. fake?
I am often asked if I do fake flowers and the answer is a very hesitant and weary “yeah….I CAN do that (but I don’t wanna)”. Often, people choose fake florals because they believe they are cheaper. This is largely a myth when you take into account the amount of TIME it takes to maximize the sales at big box stores to get items when they are 50% off, and the overall negative impact they have on the environment (another cost that is often not considered).
At the end of the day fake florals don’t photograph as well in those close-up detail shots that we all love on our vibe boards. Photography is often where it becomes more apparent that they aren’t the real deal.
Then comes the larger issue that many of us in the floral industry point out – those fake flowers last…..well, FOREVER. And that’s not a good thing. Most artificial plants are made of plastics that don’t break down and use dyes and other petroleum based products that are harmful to the environment.
Though the live floral industry certainly has some things to address in terms of sustainability, many of us have made concerted efforts to change the way we design to better support the planet we all call home. At Harmony Fields we are foam free in our designs 90% of the time. On the few occasions where we need to use floral foam we use a product that is made from wool and is completely biodegradable. After you wedding is over, we encourage couples to save as many arrangements as they would like to enjoy within the next few days (or to dry and preserve for longer enjoyment) and then the remaining flowers are donated to nursing homes, hospitals, etc. for others to enjoy. Any remaining items are then composted to reduce our carbon footprint. (We often snip stems straight into paper bags that can decompose themselves so that we are doing whatever we can to be thoughtful about waste). We also dry some florals for future use and actually reuse them. (For example, we have over 300 stems of beautiful dried pampas grass that we have repurposed for several events, which is both good for the environment and saves significant money for the couples who want those in their designs)
We also reuse chicken wire and glassware as much as possible.
So, I think this all started when you asked me about fake flowers and it often leads me to share about my passion for sustainability in floristry. Can I make you a gorgeous fake flower bouquet? I sure can. But gosh I would be so much more excited to make some magic with the real deal for you!
What are some questions that a bride should ask prospective florists to make sure they’re making the right choice for themselves?
When choosing a florist it is important that you find someone who wants to help you see YOUR vision come to fruition. Florists can, and certainly do, have styles they are more comfortable with but be sure that you partner with someone who is comfortable doing floristry in the style you are drawn to. Many of us who have been in the business for the long haul speak several design languages, meaning that we can do anything from black tie formal elegance, to bohemian chic without missing a beat. But that is a skill that is acquired with time, intention, and experience honing the craft.
It's also important that you partner with someone who understands the importance of communication. I know your wedding day is a big day so I will often text my brides (or grooms) to let them know that fun things are falling into place. A simple text that says “I placed your order today – cannot wait to see the magic we make!” or “just picked up your blooms and they are breathtaking!” Not so much detail that it is stressful, but just enough information to know that your day is a priority and we understand that anxiety can sometimes be the thief of joy. At Harmony Fields we do everything we can to eliminate anxiety and propagate moments of unexpected joy and excitement for our couples.
At the end of the day you want to partner with a florist who is in it with you, who respects and understands your vision, and has the capacity and experience to bring it all together.