Last month I had an AMAZING conversation with Seattle wedding florist (and flower farmer), Carolyn Kulb with Folk Art Flowers, who shed some light on all things floral design. If you’re a couple looking to learn more about wedding flowers and what floral design is all about, I highly suggest starting with that post!
But there’s so much to learn about wedding flowers and design (and what it all means for your wedding) we knew we needed to continue the convo!
In the second part of our conversation, Carolyn guides us through the process of finding a florist AND addresses sustainability in the flower industry. I hope the useful information Carolyn shares will help couples find a florist that’s a perfect fit for them and make more eco-friendly choices with their wedding flowers.
1. What should a couple look for when choosing a floral designer? What are the most important questions they should they ask?
Once you are ready to find someone local, I recommend using the Slow Flowers Directory. These florists pledge to use locally grown and seasonal flowers whenever possible. I have a lot of other tips about finding the best wedding florist for you in this blog post – including why Google and aggregate sites can be deceiving. No matter where you find names, make sure you view their portfolios and make a short list of people you’d be excited to hire.
As far as questions to ask, my biggest tip is to make sure you click with your floral designer! You should be excited to work together! When you choose vendors for your wedding, you are building an all-star team. And you want your teammates to support you, listen to your concerns, and go to bat for you. If you are not feeling those things from a vendor, you should keep looking. The other big tip I have is to make sure you know what is or isn’t included in your proposal. Every floral designer structures pricing differently, so make sure you know what you’re getting.
2. What should a couple do to prepare before meeting with a floral designer?
Before starting your search, it’s helpful to know what style you are looking for. Many couples start with a Pinterest board, but you can also take my fun quiz to determine your ideal floral style – or get more ideas! You should also use social media to find florists’ work that you like. A great way to do this is by using hashtag searches on Instagram. You can do this for style, like searching “#bohowedding” or “#fineartwedding,” or by location, like “#seattlefloraldesign” or “#seattleflorist.” Hashtag searches are extremely granular and will give you immediate, visual, actionable results!
In addition to having ideas about your floral style and vision, it’s helpful to have an idea of what wedding flowers you need. This will depend on your venue, the number of guests, seating (i.e. types and approximate number of tables,) and your potential budget. And it’s always helpful to know what items you can and cannot live without.
3. I know that all flowers are not created equally, and there’s actually a lot of sustainability concerns within the flower industry that many people aren’t aware of. Could you share some of the biggest concerns that couples should be aware of before they purchase their wedding flowers?
The traditional floral industry can be truly ugly despite the beauty of the flowers. About 80% of the flowers sold in the US come from places like Kenya, South Africa, and Holland. Just importing those stems has a massive carbon footprint! And in these settings, pesticide and fungicide use are rampant. These chemicals are harmful to humans and the environment at large. Traditional floristry also generates a ton of trash, including toxic floral foam. Floral foam contains formaldehyde and breaks down into microplastics. The floral industry also pollutes waterways, both from floral foam microplastics and agricultural chemicals leaching into watersheds. These are all reasons why we buy local and organically grown flowers whenever possible, and are a #foamfree practice.
In terms of social issues, international floriculture gets even more depressing. Flower farm workers in countries without strongly enforced labor laws are often exploited. They may be underpaid, underage, abused, enslaved, exposed to harmful chemicals, or fired for getting pregnant or sick. Unfortunately, none of this is hyperbole or a scare tactic. There are documented cases of each of these scenarios. When we buy local, not only do we avoid supporting these practices, but we reinvest in our American farming communities and local economies. It’s a huge win-win!
4. What are the biggest things a couple can do to make more sustainable choices with their wedding flowers?
Just like you want to know who farms your food, you should want to know who farms your flowers! ASK! Ask your designer if they can source American-grown flowers. Send them my way if they need help. I will gladly share my sources! Use the Slow Flowers directory to find someone who prioritizes our interconnectedness. And be willing to pay more to avoid the ecological and social fallout of “cheap” flowers.
5. How far in advance should a couple book a floral designer?
If you are getting married in 2021, do it yesterday!! There are so many couples who have had to reschedule their weddings this year. You are now competing with them for your 2021 date. My business is a little bit different since I custom grow flowers for my clients’ weddings. So, sometimes folks are booking me more than 18 months in advance! I would say the average is more like 9-12 months in advance. In general, off-season weddings will have better luck booking someone with less notice, although that will probably not work for 2021.
If you are hoping to wed this year, especially in the first half of the year, I’d encourage you to check out my guide to Seattle COVID weddings. It is packed with great info for couples trying to get married during this pandemic.
6. As a floral designer, what are the things you absolutely love to see at weddings?
I absolutely LOVE seeing my clients’ reactions to their florals – there are few things that bring me more joy. Those reactions are the culmination of an entire life cycle that we’ve traversed together, from seed to wedding, and it’s incredibly special to be a part of that.
But as far as design, I love seeing things that really showcase the personalities and journey of the couple. I’ve seen badass brides in leather jackets, a family roasting the groom through song, and family heirlooms that have passed through generations. I love a good nontraditional twist, too. There are no rules for a wedding besides signing the paper. The rest can be whatever makes that couple happy! And I absolutely love seeing the creative ways each couple makes that happen.
7. If you could offer a couple ONE piece of advice related to their wedding floral design, what would it be?
Find a designer who earns your trust, and who you are excited to work with. Your trust in their skill, sourcing, and creativity will pay huge dividends!
Thank you AGAIN, Carolyn for sharing your expertise with us! Where can we find more of your work?
Carolyn Kulb is the Seattle wedding florist (and farmer) behind Folk Art Flowers. Carolyn’s happy place is surrounded by blooms, creating bespoke designs for couples who want breathtaking weddings. Inspired by her love of art, the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, and the natural grace of botanical elements, she uses locally-grown materials to create luxurious wedding florals. Carolyn also operates a small organic farm just outside of Seattle, where she specializes in custom-growing flowers for each couple. On the farm, she curates a collection of stunning varieties for each couple’s wedding, including varieties that cannot be found elsewhere.
Photo by Missy Palacol Photography