Several times throughout the year, my staff and I meet with new clients at their venue. Some of these clients are coming to the area during tightly scheduled planning weekends. But more and more, brides and grooms want to walk-though their venue and engage in the creative process in the space where their wedding will be held. This is a great idea.
I am providing the florals and décor for my nephew, Jake, and his fiancé, Susie, this fall in Groton, Massachusetts. Last week, in what can only be described as an action-packed Easter fling (see last week’s blog), I walked the space with my sister and her husband. I am so glad that I did. The Barn at Gibbett Hill is a renovated barn that has a very elegant and finished look. Susy and Jake are leaning a little more rustic in their décor. The ceilings are vast, the outdoor porch where cocktails will be served is expansive and the outdoor ceremony is positioned at the base of a graded pasture. All important things for me to know as I plan the shape and size of their florals.
Unfortunately, Susie was not there with me. If she had been, I would have walked the space with her, pointing out spots for florals and décor and trying to create imagery of how her floral arrangements will impact the space. Instead, I looked at the lovely lamps on every post, the dual staircases, the lofted area and the antique artifacts positioned around the room. I have a much better sense for the lighting and natural color. She loves deep fall colors and the space is the perfect canvas for her palette. Now, we have both seen the space and can share our ideas in our next meeting back in Virginia.
Brides always ask me if my staff and I have experience working in their venue. It’s a great question and an important one. Here are some of my thoughts about your floral consultation and an on-site walk through at your venue:
1. Visiting your florist’s studio or shop allows you to see sample flowers, vases, containers and arches.
I still think it is important to be able to look through rental inventory. You may have your heart set on a bronze bowl only to fall in love with a short pedestal vase when you are holding it in your hands. Your florist will have many, many container options and styles for you.
And, it may be a good idea to see where your floral company works and get a little insight about how they conduct their business. Our studio is set up with a consultation space and retail flower store front and a production space that is very expansive with floral refrigerators, rental storage and equipment. We have draping and lighting supplies, arches, Chuppahs, columns and urns available right on site.
Most importantly, you may get to see some of your floral options. It is nice to see the flowers that you like first-hand. Unfortunately, there are seasonal varieties that may not be available during your consult. You won’t get to see a Dahlia in March or Lilac in September, but you will get to see some of the standard varieties and colors.
2. An on-site walk-through makes it easier for you and your designer to have a shared vision
We have worked extensively throughout Loudoun County, Washington DC and even in some venues in Maryland. However, new venues open all the time. If your venue is new enough, your caterer, photographer, DJ or florist may be working there for the first time.
This may be an important time for a walk-through.
Even if the site is very familiar to your floral designer, she or he may suggest some things that you hadn’t thought of while walking the space. You may learn that you can tie all of your decor and florals together with four or five small but striking arrangements on side tables and bars. You may discover that with just a few tall centerpieces, you can fill a room with high ceilings, adding warmth and cheerfulness. You could end up designing something so unique that is a first-ever floral for that space.
Pictures are very helpful. We work at Stone Tower Winery here in Leesburg, Virginia many, many times a year. It is an absolutely gorgeous venue. I love to see the photos that a bride has snapped on her visit to the venue. It helps me to understand what she loves about the space. Similarly, if you are working with a florist that has never been to your space, you could easily share some photos during your consultation.
3. Consider doing both: In Studio and On-site
It's not as impractical as it sounds. Visit with your floral designer in their consultation space and then set up some time to meet again at your venue. We always do an in-person follow-up. Why not use this second important meeting to really make sure you are happy with your décor choices? You may have to pay a little for your designers extra time or travel. You are so busy with your wedding planning, yet, if you can squeeze out a little bit of time, it’s another opportunity to dot the “I’s” and cross the “T’s” for a perfectly seamless wedding day.