Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crash Course in Wedding Flowers Part II

I'm going to skip around and go ahead and post the interview with Julie Mendenhall Schaffer today and post the trends in wedding flowers as Post III. Julie did the flowers for my wedding over six years ago and we lost touch over the years, but now that we are both in the same business I decided it was the perfect time to interview her! For the purposes of this post, A Party to Perfection will be shortened to APTP... :-)

Meet Julie Mendenhall Schaffer, Owner of Jules Design Events

APTP: How did you get started in floral design?

JMS: My first job in High School was working for a wedding rental company in Van Buren, AR. I did all of the silk arrangements for the retail end of the store, ad we did all of our own delivering setup ad invitations. I started my interest in floral design at this time and made fresh arrangements for fundraisers and small events. I was not experienced enough to take on the task of wedding florals at this point and started at the University of Arkansas and went to Floral Design School so that Icould begin a part time job at a Fayetteville, AR florist. After graduation from the U of A, I moved to New York to get my foot in the door working in an architectural firm. Much to my surprise, my experience in floral design landed me a job within 7 days of heavy footwork searching for work. I had only thought of my love for floral design as a hobby an less as a career until this point in my life. My experience in New York made me realize that I could make this passion for floral design something I could enjoy everyday and turn into a "real job"!

APTP: What do you specialize in?

JMS: I specialize in Weddings, Corporate Events, and small parties. I am not a regular florist, which means I don't do daily deliveries to funeral homes, hospitals, etc. I concentrate on what I do best, large productions.

APTP: Do you work with the budget bride?

JMS: When asked "Do you work with the bride on a budget" it's always Yes, Yes, Yes!! Every bride has a budget. When working with a coordinator it's easy for me to determine how to spread the budget. The wedding coordinator has already worked out the budget over the many vendors and has already set my allowance aside. It is difficult for the average bride to set a budget. Some professionals say 20% of your wedding budget should be reserved for flowers, some price out per table, some say reception florals should be the majority of the budget because that is where the guests spend a majority of their time. I say-every client is different therefore, I am going to determine what is most important after our initial consultation.

APTP: Who is your favorite client to work with?

JMS: Those who have an open mind to what flowers are available during the season of your wedding date. Clients who are friendly and excited about exchanging wedding vows. I love to take the ideas that brides find in magazines and online and add a special touch that will make their flowers even more unique than they imagined.

APTP: Do you visit the venue(s) with your brides?

JMS: I do on site consultations for clients after they have booked me for their wedding date, at an hourly rate. Weddings that are booked at a higher price range are given a complimentary on sight consultation.

APTP: What trends are you currently seeing in wedding floral design?

JMS: I have several of my favorite designers and websites that I recommend by clients research before our initial consultation. It is hard to buy ten magazines with only ten photos of floral arrangments featured. I have a huge library with over fifteen years of photo collections. I think trends for flowers are mainly led by the color pallete that starts from the invitations, then linens, then florals are the accents that bring it all together to make that "big statement".

Trends that I'm seeing:

I started a small resale shop of Rhinestone accessories to help my brides who could not find these locally. I use brooches on the stems of bridesmaids' and bridal bouquets, and have used as accents on the front and back of wedding gowns and for cake decoration. I have bracelets that can be worn on wrists, wrapped around bridal bouquet stems, and have been used in place of wrist corsages for guestbook attendants.

APTP: Are you by appointment only?

JMS: I am by appointment only. You can email me what time(s) work best for you. During the busy season I do not set up consultations on Friday or Saturday. I am also available for evening appointments.

APTP: What is your favorite design to see?

JMS: I carry a wide range of birch and bark baskets and containers that I love to use. They are made locally from Arkansas products. I also use local mood grass, sheet grass, reindeer moss and pods. My favorite style of design is European design (loose fragrant flowers with unique foliage arranged loosely in a clear vessel with modern clean lines; no greenery, just local flowers.

APTP: How about going green?

JMS: I try to use as much local product as possible. I cannot use most standard flowers because they do not hold up for more than 48 hours, especially during the summer months. I try to use all local greenery, curly willow, sticks, peonies, gladiolas and iris. The cost of flowers that are grown in a "green" farm have not met my clients standards for quality vs. cost. These still have to be transported from out of the country or state which defeats the whole purpose of "being green" anyways. I also reuse. I strongly recommend using flowers from the Rehearsal dinner that coordinate with the colors of the wedding, so they can also be used at the reception. It has become harder to "double use" the ceremony altar flowers at the reception because guests are already gathered before flowers arrive from the church and it's just awkward walking through all of the guests to place an arrangement from the church on the buffet table. However, it is appropriate to reuse arrangements from the guestbook table because once doors are closed and the ceremony begins, the arrangements can be moved to the reception site. Guestbook arrangements can also be used as the toss-away bouquet or placed on the cake table. I have also made a small toss bouquet that was the cake topper with long ribbons streaming down the sides of the cake.

I would like to thank Julie Mendenhall Schaffer for taking time out to answer my questions. You can find Julie on her site , her facebook page or at the Bridal Fair on September 27th at the John Q. Hammons Center.

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