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    Wedding Flowers 101

    By Laurel Ann Winzler

    Wedding planning is a fun and sometimes daunting experience, but choosing your flowers and decor can be simplified if you approach it as an exercise in creativity. Remember that, whatever the size or level of formality, your wedding is an event that works best with a unified approach to decor and atmosphere. So, the first thing you want to do is…

    Define Your Look

    Step back and think about your vision of what your wedding will look like—classic, casual, boho, techno. Do you love elegant details like crystal and silver, or natural textures? Clean edges and minimalism, or country casual? Whatever your taste, you can choose the colors, style, details and specific flowers that express your vision.

    Think about your venue: how the spaces can work with your vision and what decor will pull the desired look together. A hotel ballroom needs different decor than a country meadow, and all the design elements like flowers, table linens, place settings and chairs should create a harmonious look appropriate to the venue. There are so many interesting details that can be added to personalize the space and create a look that’s unique to you and your wedding day.

    After getting an idea of the direction you want the decor to take, put together a visual representation of your ideas and a “wish list” with a mood board or Pinterest page. Don’t worry about finding exact replicas of what you want. Just look for images that have the vibe you’re hoping to create.

    Next you want to…

    Plan Your Flow

    Imagine your wedding from the viewpoint of a guest. What’s the first thing they see/experience when they arrive at your venue? How do they move from the ceremony to socializing over cocktails to dining? What about the decor and flowers will define each of these elements of the experience? And what are the categories of floral pieces you need for each part of the event—ceremony decor, reception flowers, personal flowers?

    Now you need to…

    Consider Your Budget

    This part is tough, because your decor will probably cost more than you think, and more than what most bridal guides will tell you. A lot of the cost is in labor, which is a big expense in the Bay Area, so even arrangements that seem simple can still be surprisingly pricey. 

    The number of pieces makes a difference, so a big wedding party and higher guest count add to your floral costs. Your florist understands the ins and outs of pricing, and can make suggestions to help you spend your money wisely. Ways to stretch the budget include working with flowers that are in season, and mixing high-cost blooms with compatible elements that are cheaper.

    Finally, it’s time to…

    Find Your Florist

    Now you’re ready to find a florist to bring your decor vision to life. A good place to start is with recommendations from friends or from your venue. Send an email with your ideas and images, and then follow up with a phone call to share the details of your event. You want someone who has experience, because creating the number of pieces needed for a wedding and then delivering and installing them is a complicated process. You also want someone who is open to your ideas and excited about your vision, and who can offer concrete suggestions and solutions. Find the right person to be part of your team, and then let their creativity take over to bring the magic to your wedding day!

    Laurel Ann Winzler escaped from the world of lawyers to live a life surrounded by flowers. She has more than 25 years of experience creating beautiful settings for weddings and other special events. Her designs can be found at, and she can be reached by phone at 415-386-8360. 


    1-PHOTO Fred and Jaime (1)Frederick Sullivan and Jaime Botello, who oversee the Weddings & Occasions page for the San Francisco Bay Times, are the talented wizards behind Sullivan-Botello Events ( and SnB Party Rentals (650 -877 – 0840 , Both are Certified Wedding Planners with extensive experience in creating memorable, personalized events for special occasions. Their rental service is incredible, offering everything from beautiful gold Chiavari chairs to LED dance floors, and all at competitive prices. They are the creators of the Gay Vanity Wedding Show and are longstanding members of the Golden Gate Business Association, which is the nation’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.