Weddings

Alternatives to Arches and Pergolas for Your Ceremony Decor

A view of the Anacostia River awaits wedding couples at    District Winery    in Washington, DC. White and ivory flowers with loose and flirty greens flank the officiant. Image by Abby Grace Photography.

A view of the Anacostia River awaits wedding couples at District Winery in Washington, DC. White and ivory flowers with loose and flirty greens flank the officiant. Image by Abby Grace Photography.

Meeting with wedding couples as they plan their ceremony and reception décor is so much fun, our goal is to make sure you can relax and enjoy yourself, too. As designers, we get to get personal about your vision for the day and your personal style. In the earliest stage, we’ll talk about colors and design styles and look over the pictures that we have both brought to the table. Then, we’ll start to ask a lot of questions about bouquets and boutonnieres, the site for your ceremony and the feeling that you are hoping to create with your décor. We’ll also talk about your priorities.

Four arrangements made with Orchids and greenery set on gold and glass stands at the back and front of this ceremony. These were re-purposed on tables set on gold candlestick stands. The petals add a bit of romance at    Landsdowne Resort and Spa    in Leesburg. See below for a close-up of the arrangements. Image by Kristen Gardner Photography.

Four arrangements made with Orchids and greenery set on gold and glass stands at the back and front of this ceremony. These were re-purposed on tables set on gold candlestick stands. The petals add a bit of romance at Landsdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg. See below for a close-up of the arrangements. Image by Kristen Gardner Photography.

For example, you may be planning to have central focal structure (arch, pergola or Chuppah) as the key component for your ceremony. They are beautiful, and, they frame your wedding party with the flowers and greens that are most important to you. The resulting photographic images from your ceremony will be lovely. But, what if you have another idea for your décor that may make a significant focal structure less of a priority? Realistically speaking, a well-designed arch can consume a quarter to even a third of your floral and décor budget. What if your reception space is your first priority? More and more couples like the idea of doing something noteworthy that will contribute to the “party-like” atmosphere of the evening. If reception decor is your main focus, we’ll help you create designs for your ceremony that can be moved inside or under your tent later, a strategy referred to as repurposing.

If you have chosen an outdoor venue, you may want to consider letting the natural setting serve as the backdrop for your wedding. So many venues have chosen the sites for their ceremonies because they know wedding couples will enjoy a beautiful vista, meadow or wooded area. Indoor ceremony spaces are often designed so that there is enough space for a floral structure if you want one, but not necessary, if you don’t. At District Winery, Washington DC couples stand in front of a long window that looks out on the Anacostia River. The team at Fleetwood Farm Winery, in Leesburg, Virginia, suggest that ceremonies be held in front of a massive tree on the property. Stone Tower Winery, also in Leesburg, has two sites available. The first is a spot on a hillside next to the vines with a view of Blue Ridge Mountains, the second skirts a small lake with a stately stone structure visible on the opposite shore. A stand of trees or a hedge, a brick wall in a restaurant or a sloping hillside are all ideal locations for your ceremony. We’ll still use flowers and décor elements to express your style, but we’ll focus on items that can be used again.

Flowers on columns, stands or wine barrels

Phaleonopis Orchids in a gold compote on a glass and gold stand flank the officiant. Kristen Gardner Photography.

Phaleonopis Orchids in a gold compote on a glass and gold stand flank the officiant. Kristen Gardner Photography.

When my nephew Jake got married in the Fall of ’17, he and Susie knew that I would have done anything they asked for their ceremony. But, the hillside dotted with cows behind the ceremony spoke more to them than an arch, so we created two wine barrel arrangements in a riot of Fall colors to frame the wedding party. Later, a member of our team moved the arrangements to a buffet table in their reception space and an escort card table on the porch where their cocktail reception was held.

Arrangements in the front and the back of the space help to dress the occasion. We can design in a large compote or vase that can be used as a lower feature on your tables. Or, we’ll pull flowers from your color palette and design in a low dish that sits directly on the stand. These can easily become tall centerpieces for your tables.

Chair posies and petals

Greenery only chair bundles with ribbon at District Winery in Washington DC. These can be repurposed at your cocktail hour, on a bar or in a lounge. Image by Susie and Becky Photography.

Greenery only chair bundles with ribbon at District Winery in Washington DC. These can be repurposed at your cocktail hour, on a bar or in a lounge. Image by Susie and Becky Photography.

Bundles of hand-tied stems attached to your chairs or the pews in your church are another way to include the flowers of the day. And, if you want to repurpose them at the reception, we’ll trim the stems so that they can be put back in a vase with a half-inch of water. They make great cocktail arrangements or can be used in a table-scape.

Petals can line the side of the aisle or be spread throughout the aisle as a natural runner. Petals are one of the few items that we can’t re-use, but they may still work well in your budget. Keep one thing in mind as you consider petals. It takes a lot of Roses to get the petal effect we are looking for, and while simple, this is labor intensive work. An alternative is to hire a skillful and beloved flower girl who can provide a light smattering of petals for effect.

Draping, wood doors, rings of flowers or a wreath

We can erect a simple birch pole structure with draping to add just a bit of romance to your indoor space. These rental materials will be less xpensive and can be left to serve as a backdrop for your sweetheart table.

One of our Washington DC couples used the courtyard of Via Umbria for their ceremony. We designed a beautiful wreath to hang on the wall using of the flowers she chose for in her bouquet. As this space served as their cocktail hour, the wreath continued to add to the festivities.

We love the look of doors as a ceremony backdrop. “Opening door to your future” is a theme you might want to embrace. Because they are in our inventory, the doors are a rental item and the flowers and greenery that we add can be simple but elegant.

Cylinders with candles or Lanterns

Candlelight is warm and romantic and there are several ways to include candles in your ceremony decor. This is another opportunity to repurpose decor as all of these elements can be moved into you reception space. We peppered candles and votives of varying heights on the altar at Church of the Holy City in Washington DC last December. Pairs of cylinders lined the aisle to create a wonderful warmth. This same look can work outside. Do you have a tree anchoring your ceremony? How about lanterns hanging from the branches. A lantern can be an inviting look at the back of the ceremony space and they can also line the aisle. 

Ready to learn more? Contact us now about a creative consultation in our Leesburg studio.

Your Wedding Flower Checklist

Future brides often remind me that their consultation is the first time that they have really spent any time talking to a floral designer. Here we are talking about a full array of  bouquets and arrangements in an area of decor that has been relatively unexplored by most brides. My staff and I always start our consults with a brief overview that is intended to calm the nerves, add a little flower knowledge and simplify the process. We also like to use our website as a vehicle to share some of that important information ahead of the consultation.

Here's another example. We created this form so that you can organize your thoughts and prepare a "list" of things you might like to include in your decor. Take just a moment to complete this form before you meet with your floral designer. 

Use this downloadable checklist to determine your basic floral needs. Click here.

Learn more about Bridal bouquet styles and trends.

Check out some samples of our work on arches and Chuppahs.

Meet the Wedding Design Team

The arrangements that leave our studio each week aren’t just beautiful because they are filled with amazing flowers, they are beautiful because the team that puts them together is truly amazing.  

Members of the J. Morris Flowers team, Heather, Myriam, Jennifer, Sofia, Jaime and Katie. 

Members of the J. Morris Flowers team, Heather, Myriam, Jennifer, Sofia, Jaime and Katie. 

We take flowers shipped to us from all over the world and present them throughout our community knowing that we are sharing friendship, creating romance and lifting hearts. The J. Morris Flowers team is so visibly passionate about the work that we do and it’s easy to understand why. Our industry rewards creativity, craftsmanship and skillful experience. If you have ever worked with your hands, then you know the true sense of accomplishment that comes from beginning with an idea and finishing with something beautiful.

We have a wonderful line of every day and event flowers produced daily in our studio. But, it’s the weddings that involve every member of our staff. Each wedding week begins with the arrival of extremely fresh and delicate ingredients that have to be handled with the greatest care. Our timeline is kept very tight so that the arrangements that adorn your wedding are perfectly poised to be brilliant. Like an orchestra, this perfectly timed crescendo requires every moving part to be right on point. Here are the J. Morris players that make that moment happen.

Jennifer Morris Owner, Floral Designer, Bridal Consultant

Jennifer Morris, Owner

Jennifer Morris, Owner

Jennifer is our creative director. Her vast floral experiences guide the direction for the company and our future and yet she works closely with each wedding to ensure that the quality and design exemplifies the trademark she has so carefully crafted over the last decade and more.

Jennifer is involved in every step of the process. “Consulting with our brides and grooms is still the most important moment in the execution process. These talented couples know the look they are trying to achieve guided by their own personal taste and style, they just need us to interpret that look with our flowers. We work diligently to create the perfect combination of colors and textures. I still look at every arrangement as if I am a guest sitting at one of the tables admiring the flowers. I may be the only guest that will see our work from that specific angle, but it must be beautiful.”

Heather Lipp Initial Consult

Heather Lipp

Heather Lipp

Heather is the first person to reach out to you from our company. With this initial contact, she’ll find out a little bit more about your wedding plans and requirements and then share some important details about the process for creating your wedding proposal.

According to Heather, “The brides are so creative, they have so many individual and unique ideas, I love to hear about the day they are planning and share some initial thoughts about how we can help them create that perfect setting.

Katie Black Floral Designer, Bridal Consultant, Purchasing

Katie Black

Katie Black

Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Virginia Tech. We call upon her extensive knowledge of the floral kingdom each week, yet her true talent lies in her ability to engage in the creative process with you and then interpret your vision in captivating and stunning floral designs. She is careful and contemplative when executing each design, calling upon the understanding that she gained during your consultation process.

She also works diligently with our local and non-local wholesalers to purchase the most beautiful blooms on the market, holding each stem to the highest standards. “When I sit with a bride and groom, I begin to see our flowers through their eyes. As a newlywed, I know how hard couples work to create a magical and flawless day. Each wedding becomes so important to me and that begins with the quality of the flowers.”

Myriam Marquez Floral designer, Wedding Day Coordinator

Myriam Marquez

Myriam Marquez

Myriam Marquez has been making wedding flowers for nearly twenty years, it's truly her life’s work. Every day she arrives at our studio with incredible energy, enthusiasm and passion for her work and for the brides and grooms who will celebrate their day-of-all-days surrounded by her craftsmanship. Her knowledge and creativity are seconded only by her artistry.

Your wedding day flowers will pass through her dedicated hands as she coordinates the delivery and set-up of your décor. “As the delivery team gathers in the morning, I begin right away, to talk about each wedding and what we will do to execute a flawless setup. We have to be 100% sure that every detail has been handled from cooler to truck to venue. In those moments, I ask each of our stylists to view every design with a fresh set of eyes. At the venue, I present the bridal bouquet and take just a moment to express the joy that we feel because we have been allowed to share in this day. We always have to work quickly, but I linger for a moment or two over every element, making sure that we have used precision in our placement.”

Carlos Wong Logistics Coordinator

Carlos Wong

Carlos Wong

A floral company has a lot of moving pieces and Carlos has a hand in the floral production process from the moment the flowers arrive until the first candle is lit at your ceremony. Maintaining the perfect environment for fresh flowers is critical which is why Carlos emphasizes cleanliness, efficiency and organization in our studio and during deliveries. Carlos knows how important it is for us to have great partnerships with each wedding venue. “We have to make sure that each venue team is confident that our delivery and setup will be efficient and expert."

Additionally, Carlos is a craftsman with a keen artistic sense. His many talents allow us to create unique one-of-a-kind structures for your wedding. “I love to create focal points that allow our brides and grooms to express their individuality with arches, Chuppahs or even more unique designs.”

Sofia Spivey Production Assistant

Sofia Spivey

Sofia Spivey

Sofia is our resident artist. You know, the kind that deals with paint and canvas. Now, she is learning and growing her artistry with flowers,  apprentice style, and as a true student of design. In her role, Sofia works with the flowers when they arrive from the wholesaler using methods specific to each variety that help us preserve longevity. She also cleans and maintains all of our rental inventory and begins preparations for our weekend deliveries.

Sofia loves her role in the creative process, working from the recipes created for every wedding. She had an opportunity to experience the process from conception to finish  with her daughter Corrine, who was married in May. According to Sofia, “It was so fun to talk about her dream wedding, to discuss the beautiful flowers and designs and to get it all on paper. I had the unique experience of working hand-in-hand with the designers to make it all happen. It was so rewarding. I love the idea that I am making that happen each week for our brides, they are always on my mind.”

Carla Cameron Vendor Relations

Carla Cameron

Carla Cameron

Carla works closely with all of our vendors. In order to make your day perfectly seamless, we have to have a clear understanding from our vendors about how they want the delivery and set-up to proceed and honor their wishes as if they were your own.

“We have so many gorgeous venues in Loudoun County and Northern Virginia. I am so fortunate to be able to work with all of the talented men and women who host these weddings each weekend.”

There are several other members of our staff who will contribute to your wedding day with the same commitment and passion that you'll get from the team members listed above. Members of our front desk staff, including Jaime, Kathleen, Connie and Sarah, are always available to answer any of your questions. Krista and Alyssa, who work with us part-time in the floral design process, our dedicated to every detail and are mission critical as we get closer to delivery day.