November 13, 2020
Welcome to the blog version of Episode 3 of Wedding Insiders with Brian Ly! I had the pleasure of speaking with Carol-Anne (CA) Barnes, who is a wedding florist based out of Courtice, Ontario! Our viewers were able to learn about CA’s inspiration to become a wedding florist, her personalized customer service she provides for all the couples she works with, as well as her top 3 tips when searching for your wedding florist and considerations with respect to COVID. If you need some help on choosing a wedding florist or just want to learn more about wedding florals for your micro wedding or large wedding, keep reading below!
For those new to Wedding Insiders with Brian Ly, this is an Instagram Live show I host every week featuring Durham Region wedding vendors to help future newlyweds plan their weddings! Each guest specializes in different segments of the wedding industry such as wedding planning, wedding florals, venue coordination, etc.! They all have a different perspective on the wedding industry through their experiences and expertise in their niche, and we get to hear directly from them on the Instagram Live shows! The goal of this show is for an engaged couple to take back at least one helpful tip that they can apply towards their own wedding!
I’m a wedding florist, specifically. That means I don’t have a shop where I do special occasion flowers. Mostly weddings and events in southern Ontario, cottage country, Peterborough, east-west of Northumberland County, and Prince Edward County.
I also do mentoring for other florists, sharing techniques, and mechanics on certain things. I write articles for a US based association of professional florists, wedding florists, and they have an international membership. So, my articles reach quite a wide audience. I like to host workshops, but this year of course because of COVID, we’ve had to cancel our holiday workshops. What workshops taught me is that I really enjoy the teaching aspect, showing and reinforcing to people that they can create as well. I really like seeing them get excited about something they’ve actually made for themselves that they didn’t think they could do.
It was a lifestyle change. I was an interior designer before I became a floral designer. I found with interior decorating I was busy through the winter months, so from September until May I was really busy. Then when the kids were out of school they’d go to the cottage and it was dead. So, I needed to flip that, I needed to find something I could do where my summers were going to be busy and my winters I was away. I thought floral designs, weddings.
Then I went to school and studied floral design. I went to the Canadian Institute of Floral Design (CIFD). They’re the largest accredited flower school in Canada. From them I learned more classic, traditional styles of floral design, which I think was a really good foundation to have. Wiring, taping, the golden ratio, and all the rules in floral design. From there I continued to expand my knowledge in workshops and travelled for some of them, and I am always interested in expanding and trying new things.
They reach out through my contact form and there’s some questions there they have to fill out. This information helps me give them the information that they’re looking for. It typically starts with an email where I learn a little bit more about what they want and what their floral requirements are. We’ll set up a FaceTime, Zoom, or a phone call. It used to be where they would come into my daughter’s shop and we would have an initial consultation there. So, we’ll chat a little bit more, I’ll understand what their budget is – narrow that down, narrow down their colour palette, and their aesthetics.
The next step is if they decide that I’m their gal and if I decide that they’re my client, we’ll take the next steps which are the retainer and signing of contract. Then after that, that’s when the fun really begins. I’ll create a mood board for them and start fine tuning the designs, the types of flowers, and colour palette.
My goal is for them to not have to worry about their flowers and that they enjoy the journey. I understand that wedding planning is really, really stressful, so I try to make it a fun process. Wedding flowers are the pretty side so that should be the fun side for them.
Every bride has got a Pinterest wedding mood board. Typically, I’ll join their Pinterest board or they’ll send me all their images first. I always ask that they tell me what their budget is, so that I can tell them immediately after looking at their budget and looking at their list of floral requirements, if they’re a match. Majority of the times they’re not a match and I’ll either have them fine tune their needs or we’ll discuss the best places to get the wow factor and the best bang for their floral budget dollar. Sometimes they just have to increase that budget to get everything they want. It’s a bit of an education process and a bit of a design process, but really setting that expectation right from the get go.
First off, a lot of caffeine at 5:30am. We go to the shop to make sure the flowers are still looking perfect and beautiful. Tweak anything that needs to be tweaked, load up the van, and then head out. Once we get to our venue, we unload the flowers and equipment and we set up workstations. I’ll do a quick tour of the venue just to see where our installations are going and which ones to tackle first. Then, I start assigning people and if it’s just me, then doing my game plan and knowing where I need to go.
We’ll get everything done; I’ll deliver the bouquet. I insist on delivering the bouquets personally to the bride. I find with my clients over the 18 months or two years, that we tend to develop a relationship and that’s my payoff through working with them. I want to see that I’ve made their dreams come true, handing that bouquet, and seeing their reaction to their bouquet just makes the whole time worthwhile for me. Handing off that bouquet to them, to me, that’s the biggest highlight of the day.
Pampas grass started in about 2018 and it’s still going strong. A lot of brides have been requesting that. Mixing dry flowers to fresh bouquets as well, that seems to be quite popular. The colour palette for 2021 is going to be more on a warm colour palette. Brides tend to pick a lot of white and blush flowers because it’s classic, but for myself as a designer I just love designing with colour. Also, neutral palettes.
Flexibility and start early with your search. Most of the vendors are fully booked for 2021. So, if you plan on getting married in 2021 and don’t have a florist or any of your vendors yet, I suggest you look outside of Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the Saturdays are going to be gone by now. Be a little flexible – get married on a Wednesday, Thursday, or a Friday. You get the cream of the crop that way for vendors if you want to get married on a Wednesday to Friday.
My number one suggestion is let’s try to use flowers that are in-season – they’re going to give us the best bang for our buck. I can get a peony in September, but we’re probably going to pay three times as much, maybe seven times as much, as we would in June when they’re in-season. Let’s be flexible with our flowers.
Because I only do one full-service wedding on a day, you get personalized customer service. They can expect flowers that are specific to them and unique to them as a couple. I have this thing that I say to all gals that are working with me, “good enough” is not in my vocabulary. I don’t care how busy I get or the time it’s taking, I will never compromise my design for time or anything else. Nothing is ever “good enough” and has to be perfect.
They can also expect beautiful flowers professionally designed. Again, because I’ve got that knowledge and experience behind me.
Start thinking about the size of your wedding, build a budget, build a colour palette, and start researching your vendors and knowing which vendor you want. Have a list of two to four photographers, florists, and venues because I think it’s going to be difficult to get your first choice.
Thank you for reading the third blog post of Wedding Insiders with Brian Ly. What you just read was not even all the content! Head over to my Instagram to watch the full conversation I had with CA (timestamps listed below)! I hope you were able to take something from this conversation and can apply it to your wedding. Happy planning!
One of the most important vendors is your photographer that you select for your wedding. You can learn more about my approach towards your wedding day here!
Unfortunately, IGTV doesn’t allow for quick timestamp jumps to particular sections in the video, but you can use the below times as reference to drag the slider to a particular section you wanted to learn more about!
What services do you offer and what areas do you cater to? – 2:32
What’s the process to join your workshop? – 4:37
What inspired you to become a wedding florist? – 5:37
CIFD certification? – 6:30
What is your process from initial inquiry from a couple and leading up to the wedding day? – 7:15
Do couples approach you with their own Pinterest wedding mood board? – 9:07
Do you find most couples exceed their budget? – 10:10
How far out in advance should couples reach out to you? – 11:45
What is your game plan on the day-of the wedding? – 12:15
What type of wedding flowers do you love working with? – 14:45
What are the wedding flower trends? – 15:50
What are your top 3 tips when searching for a wedding florist? – 17:15
What should couples consider with respect to COVID and its impact on wedding flowers? – 19:53
How many weddings do you service? – 21:02
What are you doing to ensure the wedding flowers are preserved? – 22:52
Is being CIFD-certified a requirement? – 25:09
Do you have any recommendations for types of wedding flowers to go with? – 27:07
Are you sourcing wedding flowers locally? – 28:24
What can couples expect having you as their wedding florist? – 30:07
What is one actionable step couples can do right now when searching for their wedding florist? – 32:08
Do you have galleries of past work on your website? – 33:35
What is your favourite wedding flower design you have done so far? – 34:33
A Durham wedding photographer in Ontario, Canada, Brian Ly Photography specializes in candid wedding photography, storytelling real moments for laid-back couples who live in the now.
Brian Ly Photography provides services at wedding venues in Durham Region as well as the GTA.