Archive for May, 2011

May 30, 2011

“Going Green” with wedding floral arrangements

Plantable invitations, recyclable wedding programs, organic reception menus and bio-dynamic wines… brides really seem to be going “green” lately! We would like to applaud our clients for being so environmentally conscientious, and we thought we’d do our part as well by suggesting ways for brides to make the greenest part of their wedding, the flowers, become even “greener”! Thanks to Stacey from Stunning Stems, who answered our questions on how to make our flower arrangements environmentally-friendly. We are excited to share them with our readers!

Forego arrangements that require floral foam (Oasis)

Floral foam, also known by the popular brandname Oasis, is used to secure flowers and provide continuous hydration.  As Stacey says, “It works wonderfully for certain designs (pomanders – balls, tall arrangements without stems showing etc.) but unfortunately it is made out of plastic and chemicals that negatively impact the environment: it’s not biodegradable and can leach chemicals in landfills.” Ouch! Stacey suggests: “If possible, opt for designs that don’t require floral foam for stability or where your florist can use other armatures, such as balled up branches or recyclable balls of wire”.

Willow branch floral ball with solar powered lights inside

Reuse containers

Get creative! Work with your florist to incorporate reusable containers into your arrangements. As Stacey said, “For my home I tend to scour garage sales, second-hand and antique stores and trade amongst friends.

Garage sale tea cup with local flowers

I’m now applying this approach to my business and hope to acquire a supply of unusual containers.” Your vendor might be open to being creative and finding other materials: Stacey adds, “I love to make structures from used lumber and found items when possible. These items will then be made available for rental for weddings and events.” Brilliant!

DIY recycled floral tin containers

 

DIY tin floral finished product

If possible, buy seasonally, locally, and organic

As Stacey says, “By buying seasonally and locally, brides can keep their wedding carbon footprint to a ‘strappy-sandal’.”  According to Stacey, the fuel cost to grow plants in a green house or to import them via plane is huge: the U.S. imports nearly 70% of all its fresh-cut flowers from Colombia, and transportation costs (and the carbon footprint) just to get them to Miami are astronomical: flowers are shipped via a 747 or large cargo plane, which on average burns five gallons of fuel per mile. The distance between Miami and Bogota is 1,500 miles, resulting in 7,500 gallons of fuel each way for each plane used! And this number seems to be increasing annually: in 1971, the U.S. produced 1.2 billion blooms of the major flowers (roses, carnations and mums) and imported only 100 million.  By 2003, it was reverse; the US imported 2 billion major blooms and grew only 200 million. (For more reading on this trend, Stacey suggests a great article on Columbia and the flower industry in the Smithsonian’s February 2011 issue.)

To be fair, Stacey also notes that this is just one side to the story. She adds that William Miller, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, said the carbon footprint of imported flowers is not fully understood yet; however, he states that “There’s definitely more CO2 production in the transportation process of the imported flowers… but in Colombia they can effectively grow roses using less greenhouse emissions because the weather is better. Growers in California might have to heat greenhouses to produce quality flowers.” We are glad to see both sides to the story… but regardless of the pros and cons of transportation and growing costs, we think that buying organic and supporting local growers is always a good idea!

The best option, of course, is to focus on flowers that thrive in the local ecosystem and do not need greenhouses. This also means buying flowers that are in season. Consult your local florist to find out what flowers will be in season during your wedding, and make sure to ask if they use local flowers to cut down on transportation.

 

Donate your flowers

Sadly, all arrangements must eventually wilt… but they still have some life in them after your wedding day! We absolutely love the idea of sharing the beauty of a wedding day with those who could use a little cheer. Stacey reminded us that “Hospitals, convalescent homes, hospice etc. house many people who could use the positive effect of flowers in their day.” Couples can choose a charity or organization to donate their stems to, and then designate a bridesmaid or groomsman to donate their flowers after the wedding.

Stacey adds that “some cities have organizations that will appropriate flowers and deliver them to folks in need. San Diego has an organization called Blooms from the heart (http://www.Bloomsfrom theheart.org).  Check your community for similar options.”

 

Opt for potted plants

Aisle ways, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements don’t necessarily have to be cut flowers: opting for potted plants is an incredibly green (and economical!) option for brides. After the wedding, plants are still alive, well, and ready to be transplanted into your home or garden. We love this idea!

We have to admit, we had NO idea that there were organizations like Blooms from the Heart, and wish we had known about before our own weddings! Thanks again to Stacey for giving us these incredibly helpful suggestions for how to make floral arrangements environmentally-friendly. We hope we inspire our brides to not only make their special day colorful and “green”.

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May 14, 2011

Vendor Profile: Stunning Stems

One of the best parts about being an event planner is the wonderful people that we get to work with on a daily basis. From beaming brides to creative vendors… we are surrounded by truly inspirational people! We have spent years developing relationships with our vendors and look forward to working with them, but we realize that working with a vendor to plan a wedding is often a very daunting task for a bride! So we recently sat down with Stacey from Stunning Stems to get to know her, and get some advice for our brides on the “dos” and “don’ts” of working with a flower vendor. Thank you, Stacey, for your advice, and for sharing your inspirational story of the birth of Stunning Stems with us and our readers!

LVB: Could you give us a little background of your business: how you got started, how long you have been in business, what the focus of your floral business is, etc?

Stunning Stems: I’ve always had a passion for design and in college I studied many forms – graphic, landscape, and interior.  So when I finally had a chance to take floral design at City College in San Francisco in 1997, it was a natural fit. After taking courses at City College, I worked as a freelance designer while working full time as an IT project manager and executive.

In late 2008, I had a significant loss when my mother, brother and brother-in-law died within a 3 month period.  I knew then that I needed to change my life and take a risk; a risk I always wanted to take but didn’t have the courage.  I decided to start my own business… in 2010, I started Stunning Stems and haven’t looked back.

 LVB: What is your number one tip for a bride working with a florist?

Stunning Stems: If you have determined your budget, please share this in your initial consultation.  There is nothing more disappointing to a bride (or us) if we recommend designs that are outside of their budget.  By having clear guidelines we can recommend budget-friendly flower choice and balance overall arrangement sizes. I work with brides on every budget and I believe the key to loving their flowers on their wedding day is to understand from Day One what can be achieved.

If a bride has a floral vision that requires a floral budget of $10K, but their budget is $2K, then my goal is to help them see all their options allowing them to make an educated decision that aligns with the original vision. We choose key elements from what they love most in the design and play with options to give them the most their money can buy.  They may not get everything they originally wanted, but I find most are pleasantly surprised with the end result [more so than if we were to just make a smaller version of the original inspirational arrangement].

LVB: What kind of research should a bride do before she comes to you for a consultation?

Stunning Stems: On our website we have a wedding questionnaire that we ask brides to fill out prior to our initial consultation.  (We sneaked a peak: it’s a great resource!)

Overall I think the best thing a bride can do is look at their home, their favorite space, and the place they go when they want to relax.  What colors, styles and objects do they like best? Once they understand this [concept], we can apply this to their floral designs.

Many brides already have picked out their dress, determined the wedding colors and the overall look and feel of the wedding by the time they meet with us.  This makes it extremely easy for us to walk through flowers and designs that would complement and accentuate their wedding day.

Thank you to Stacey for her candid answers and best of luck to our brides as they plan their upcoming weddings! Need some more inspiration or help? Make sure to check out her blog coming soon on choosing spring and summer flower arrangements.

May 2, 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Sparkle

Confetti, bubbles, flower petals… there are dozens of ways for guests to send a bride and groom off after their big day, but few are as stunning as the sparkler.

Shannon Ho Photography

Little did we know… not all sparklers are created equal! We recently met up with Libba, owner of Sparkle, a company whose long-lasting sparklers have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Modern Bride, Brides, InStyle, Southern Living and The Knot magazines, as well as in movies and a recent Coldplay tour. Whew! Libba’s certainly been busy since she and her husband opened their store eight years ago, but she was kind enough to take some time and answer our questions regarding this unique send off, plus provide our brides with some important tips when it comes to using her product. Thank you, Libba, for the answers to our questions. We look forward to seeing our brides use your sparklers during their send-offs!

1. What was your inspiration for starting Sparkle?

When my husband and I were 27, we attended 12 weddings… for 8 of those, the bride and groom did a “sparkler send-off” but used the small 10 inch sparklers which burn out in 45 seconds.  For my wedding three years prior, I did a sparkler send-off, something I had never seen before. as a nod to my family who has been in the fireworks business for over 50 years.  After a little research, I learned that no one knew 20 and 36 inch sparklers existed. I decided to take a risk, set-up a website, buy an ad in Martha Stewart Weddings and see what happened.  We have had orders every day since for the last 8 years.

2. Could you provide me with a brief overview of your products/services? Which is your most popular product?

We offer 10, 20 and 36 inch sparklers.  Our sparklers burn the brightest and longest of any sparklers I have seen on the market.  Our 36 inch sparklers are the most popular as you only have to give one per guest and they last for 4 minutes each.  With the 4 minutes, you have plenty of time to get the sparklers list (and if you have 200 guests, it takes a little time), your guests lined up and plenty of time for a grand exit.

3. Any advice when it comes to setting up the perfect sparkler photo?

The more sparklers lit, the better.  Have guests hold two if there are any left over.  And be sure to tell your photographer in advance so if they are unfamiliar with photographing sparklers, they can study up beforehand.

Melanie Mauer photography

4. Any other advice for brides planning their wedding day?

Have fun, enjoy the process.  I love that brides tell me that their sparklers photo is their favorite and that sparklers were the detail most guests remembered.   They also laugh when they realize they only spent about $100.  Sparkers provide quite the impact for such a little amount of money.

Thanks again to Libba for answering our questions. We loved perusing the many amazing photos on her website of couples using sparklers, and can’t wait for our future brides to create their own brilliant, unforgettable moments!